"The Ohel" is where the Lubavitcher
Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson,
of righteous memory, was laid to rest on the 3rd of Tammuz, 5754 (June
12, 1994), next to his father-in-law, the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi
Yosef Y. Schneersohn, of righteous memory.
The term Ohel (lit. "tent") refers to the
structure built over the resting place of a tzaddik,
a righteous person. It is also known as the tziyun (marker).
During our long, painful
journey through history, the holy resting places of our righteous forebears
have served as spiritual oases. While Jewish law and tradition dictate that a
person direct his prayers only to G‑d, and not to any other entity,
the resting place of a righteous person is considered hallowed ground, a place
where ones supplication to the Almighty are heard in the merit of the holy soul
connected with this place. Gravesites such as Mother Rachel's and King David's, referred to in the
Bible and Talmud, have provided solace to
During the Rebbe's lifetime, he would frequent the resting place of
his father-in-law, the sixth Rebbe (Rabbi Yosef Y.
Schneersohn) two, three, four, sometimes even six times a week, bringing
people’s troubles and prayer-requests to the holy resting place. The Rebbe
responded to hundreds of thousands of people by writing (in Hebrew), "I
will mention [your request] at the tziyun." He would painstakingly
read every single of the thousands of notes, then tear and leave them at the
grave, perhaps as a physical memento of the supplicant.
Now chassidim, Jews and
non-Jews from all walks of life come from around the world to the Rebbe's
resting place for blessing, spiritual guidance and inspiration.
There are numerous
observances related to visiting the Rebbe's resting place, such as refraining
from food (though not drink) before the visit, removing leather shoes before
entering the mausoleum (as did Moses before nearing the burning
bush), and more.
most importantly, one goes not to the Rebbe without the minimal preparation of
charity giving, Torah study and some degree of spiritual
visitation center near the Ohel is
open 24 hours a day. Click
here for travel directions.
If one is unable to come
in person one may join the hundreds of thousands who send letters (via postal
mail, fax or e-mail) to be placed at the Ohel.
"The righteous are greater in death than during their
lifetime," say our Sages. Commentaries explain that while freed from their
physical limitations they are able to be even more unconstrained in their
concern for us left down below.
As in the Rebbe's lifetime, stories abound of miraculous reprieve
resulting from a gravesite visit. This should come as no surprise as we
recognize the Rebbe's life-span as a continuum of spirituality and holiness.
While on this earth the Rebbe related to G‑d on higher plains, our Sages tell us
that after leaving the physical constraints this only intensifies.
But as during his lifetime, praying in the Rebbe's presence has
not only a salutary, redemptive effect, but motivates and charges one to
continue, indeed to strengthen, one's thought, speech and actions in the realm
of goodness and kindness.
In fact, again as in the Rebbe's lifetime, many carefully observe
the custom of adding a resolution to enhance one's mitzvah observance
to a letter one writes to the Rebbe; these are the "conduits" through
which G‑d's blessings can flow.
The visceral experience at the Rebbe's gravesite has the potential
to fuse the supplicant and the Rebbe together in spirit, in an experience of
unmitigated truth. One stands before the Rebbe sensitized and uplifted to
examine one's relationship with G‑d and purpose on earth.
One prays for the spiritual and physical wellbeing of one's own
self, one's loved ones and the entire Jewish People.
Many who remember the Rebbe go not only to pray, but to
re-experience, relive the moments of spiritual elevation one had in the Rebbe's
presence in his lifetime.
One cannot help but be affected, be charged with a renewed,
uplifted spirit, a deep sense of renewal.