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Twenty-eight articles, each encapsulating a period of the Rebbe’s life, and highlighting key themes that distinguish his ideas.

Scholar, Visionary and Leader

Scholar, Visionary and Leader

A chronological overview of the Rebbe’s life and ideas

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In the recent and not-so-recent past, many letters, documents, interviews and books have been published, in addition to the many volumes of the Rebbe’s own teachings. But the sheer wealth of available material makes it difficult to get a brief and systematic view of what most significantly contributes to the Rebbe’s lasting influence as a scholar, visionary and leader.Torah scholarship, philosophical vision and communal leadership . . . a single narrative.

Each of the twenty-eight articles in this series encapsulates a different period of the Rebbe’s life, and highlights key themes that distinguish his ideas. Drawing on the Rebbe’s public talks, private journals, and other primary sources, as well as on many excellent interviews conducted by Jewish Educational Media, this series weaves threads of the Rebbe’s Torah scholarship, philosophical vision and communal leadership into a single narrative.

This is by no means an exhaustive treatment, but a series of snapshots designed to provide rich insight, detail and color.

1902
Children, the Rebbe observed, have a strong sense of themselves as the center of the universe.
1915
The Bar Mitzvah boy delivered a scholarly dissertation - a drasha - before the assembled guests, as is customary, and they were duly impressed by his eloquence and erudition.
1916-1921
Jews close to the war front were forced to flee eastward, and the Rebbe’s hometown, Yekaterinoslav, received a large influx of refugees.
1923
The early 1920s were years of turmoil for Russia in general, and for the Chabad-Lubavitch movement in particular.
1928
A wedding is a cosmic occasion, a mystical union of souls, and it is to be approached with seriousness as much as it is to be celebrated with joy.
1928-1932
Rabbi Menachem Mendel’s studies at Berlin’s Friedrich Wilhelm (Humboldt) University coincided with Erwin Schrödinger’s tenure as Professor of Theoretical Physics.
1929
After their wedding the couple moved to Berlin, where both pursued university studies; he in philosophy and science, she in German and mathematics.
1933
As the climate in Berlin became increasingly anti-Semitic, Rabbi Menachem Mendel and his wife decided to move to Paris.
1933-1935
A decade after their first meeting, the correspondence between R. Yosef Yitzchak and R. Menachem Mendel reveals the extent to which their relationship had developed.
1935 - 1939
By the mid 1930s Paris was home to increasing numbers of East European Jews and refugees from the threat of Nazism and there was growing pressure on R. Menachem Mendel to play a more public role.
1940-1945
The Rebbe lost several family members at the hands of the Nazis, including a brother, grandmother, sister-in-law and several cousins.
1941
In the summer of 1941, R. Menachem Mendel and his wife arrived in New York from Nazi occupied Europe.
1942-1943
The Jewish calendar and its festivals endow the passing days and seasons with a cycle of significance prescribed by Jewish law.
1942-1946
R. Menachem Mendel constantly encouraged people in possession of manuscripts to publish them, and scholars to publish their own works.
1947
In 1947 Rabbi Menachem Mendel returned to Paris, there to be reunited with his mother, Rebbetzin Chana. It was two decades since they had last seen each other.
1950-1951
After Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak's passing, it soon became clear that the great majority of chassidim were looking to Rabbi Menachem Mendel for leadership.
1951-1953
Rather than encourage women to imitate their male counterparts, the Rebbe helped them recognize and actualize their feminine qualities.
1958
The Rebbe turned Chabad into a movement with global reach and impact.
1960
The Rebbe publicly encouraged the use of new media to spread knowledge of Judaism and chassidism.
1965
The Rebbe articulated a vision of Chassidism that illuminates the theological and methodological principle at the core of all his teachings.
1967
The Rebbe never allowed such ideological differences to become catalysts for alienation.
1969
The Rebbe dispatched emissaries to accommodate the spiritual and material needs of those Jews who remained in the former Soviet Union, ensuring that Russian Jewry would endure not only in body but also in soul.
1974
Both the Mitzvah tanks and the Menorahs brought Jewish observances to the fore of public consciousness in a very visible way.
1977
In the middle of the dancing the Rebbe’s face turned suddenly pale and his gestures lost their vigor. Something was clearly wrong, and the chassidim quickly cleared the synagogue.
1980s
The universal mandate of divinely inspired morality is central to the Rebbe’s wider vision of Judaism as a path that will ultimately raise the entire world to a higher station.
1986
Each Sunday afternoon the Rebbe stood outside his office, sometimes for seven hours straight, handing freshly minted dollar bills to thousands of men, women and children who filled by to receive his blessing.
1988
Unlike her husband, Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka did not practice her dedication to the Jewish people in the public eye, but in the privacy of her own home.
1991-1994
The word tzaddik is usually applied exclusively to saintly leaders, but the Rebbe applied it to everyone.
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