The fourth Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch, Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch, known by the acronym "Maharash," was born in the town of Lubavitch (White Russia) on the 2nd of the Jewish month of Iyar in the year 5594 (1834). Read more »
Rabbi Shmuel was the youngest of seven sons born to Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch, the third Chabad Rebbe, known as the "Tzemach Tzedek," and Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka. A timeline »
At an early age Rabbi Shmuel excelled in his studies; by the age of seven he was proficient in large sections of the Talmud along with the commentaries.
Rabbi Menachem Mendel would regularly administer tests his son’s class, and grant monetary prizes to those who excelled. With that money Rabbi Shmuel would purchase books of Torah study.
When Rabbi Shmuel reached the age of twenty-one, his father requested of him to become involved in communal activism. His first task was to attend a conference called by the Russian government to discuss the publication of Jewish textbooks with German translation for use in the instruction of Jewish children. From that point on, Rabbi Shmuel continued his communal activism on behalf of a variety of Jewish causes. Read more»
A Scroll of Esther handwritten by Rabbi Shmuel (courtesy of Agudas Chassidei Chabad Lubavitch Library)
Rabbi Shmuel’s elder brothers were famed Torah scholars, well-known for their vast Torah knowledge. Rabbi Shmuel, on the other hand, chose to assume a low profile; his piety and scholarship went unnoticed by most. Read more »
A year before his passing, Rabbi Menachem Mendel requested that Rabbi Shmuel publicly deliver discourses in Chabad philosophy – though he was only thirty-two years of age – a practice normally reserved for Chabad Rebbes. Rabbi Menachem Mendel instructed his followers to “listen to him [Rabbi Shmuel] as you listen to me.”
Although Rabbi Shmuel was the youngest son, he was chosen to succeed his father as "Rebbe" and leader of Chabad in the movement's capital, Lubavitch. (Four of his brothers established branches of the Chabad dynasty in other towns in White Russia and Ukraine).
In addition to mentoring and teaching his disciples and penning many discourses on Chassidic teachings and philosophy, Rabbi Shmuel – despite his frail health – traveled extensively throughout Europe, meeting with government and business leaders and lobbying them to exert pressure on the Czarist regime to halt its instigation of pogroms against its Jewish citizens. Read more »
His fluency in languages such as Latin, French and Russian assisted him in these selfless ventures.
The tombstone of Rabbi Shmuel in Lubavitch
Today, Rabbi Shmuel is perhaps most known for his saying (known in Yiddish
as “lechatchilah ariber”
): “The world says: If you can't go under [an obstacle], leap over; I say: In the first place, go over!”
Many of Rabbi Shmuel’s writings have been published by Kehot, the Lubavitch Publications House. Over twenty volumes of his works have thus far been published and additional volumes are being prepared for publication.
Some short teachings by Rabbi Shmuel were recorded by his grandson Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, the sixth Chabad Rebbe. Teachings »
Several melodies are also attributed to Rabbi Shmuel. Listen »
Rabbi Shmuel, who throughout his life suffered from many ailments, passed away at the young age of 48, on the 13th of the Hebrew month of Tishrei in the year 5643 (1882). He is buried alongside his father in the city of Lubavitch.
Rabbi Shmuel was succeeded by his second son, Rabbi Shalom Dovber of Lubavitch.