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Discovering the Rebbe

There Is a Lot to Be Read Between the Lines

December 22, 2010 9:46 AM

One of the mailmen, in the 1970’s, serving the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, New York. (Photo: The Menachem Wolff Collection/Lubavitch Archives)
One of the mailmen, in the 1970’s, serving the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, New York. (Photo: The Menachem Wolff Collection/Lubavitch Archives)
Bags of letters written to the Rebbe, of righteous memory, would arrive daily at Lubavitch World Headquarters. The letters would come in many languages. A very talented linguist, Uriel Zimmer, would translate the letters that were written in languages that the Rebbe did not know.

Uriel Zimmer was the U.N. correspondent for several newspapers, and at one point served as an official translator there. He knew seventeen languages, and took on various tasks in writing and translating material for Chabad-Lubavitch.

For a while, when he passed away in 1961, there was no one to take his place in the task of translating the letters.

At one point, the Rebbe’s secretariat turned to me and asked me to translate the letters that were written in the languages that I knew. Every so often, for many years, I would receive a package of letters from the secretariat, and it was my job to send them back with their translations.

In the first package of letters that arrived, there were a lot of letters that had accumulated over time. To me, most of the information in the letters seemed boring and irrelevant. To avoid wasting the Rebbe’s precious time, I thought that it would be a good idea to write synopses of the letters instead of translating them in their entirety. Before doing this, I wrote to the Rebbe, asking what I should do.

The Rebbe responded that I should translate every letter in its entirety, with all its details. The Rebbe explained that in the way a person writes, in the nuances of the letter, one can learn a lot about the person and what he or she is truly asking for.

Advice for Life: Holiday Lessons


Menachem Wolff Collection/Lubavitch Archives
Menachem Wolff Collection/Lubavitch Archives

Every detail of the holidays we celebrate,
including their chronological order,
has something to teach us
in our daily life today.


Adapted from a letter of the Rebbe, of righteous memory.1


Footnotes
1.

Vol. 29, p. 54.

Advice for Life: The Holidays


Photo: Algemeiner Journal
Photo: Algemeiner Journal

The days that we commemorate the miracles
that occurred to our ancestors
—their purpose is for us to contemplate
and meditate on what we are commemorating,
until we feel as if it is
actually happening to us
in our day and age.


Adapted from a letter of the Rebbe, of righteous memory.1


Footnotes
1.

Vol. 29, p. 54.

Many have struggled to describe Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, the seventh leader of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. A task so daunting due to the multifariousness of the Rebbe’s personality and achievements.

Rather than attempting to describe the Rebbe, this forum will share hitherto unknown tidbits of information about his life and teachings — information that was recorded in writing, audio and video.

Join us as we explore the Rebbe’s life and teachings. Manuscripts, letters, firsthand experiences and more.
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