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Discovering the Rebbe

He Did Not Want to Shame Him

July 15, 2010

My father-in-law, Berel Ludmir, was a merchant of etrogim, the citrus fruit that is used (as one of the Four Kinds) during the holiday of Sukkot. There are many detailed laws and customs attached to what kind of etrog one uses and there is even a tradition that many have to use an etrog grown in Calabria, Italy, for there's a tradition that the fruits from the Calabria region are purebred.

Every year, my father-in-law would bring to the Rebbe some exceptionally beautiful etrogim, produce of the Land of Israel.

The Rebbe would always inquire about that year's crop and the quality of the year's fruit. The Rebbe would always offer some advice on the growing of the etrogim.

Once, my father-in-law asked the Rebbe on which etrog he would recite the blessing during the holiday. The Rebbe, who would make the blessing on an etrog specifically brought from Calabria, did not want to in anyway embarrass him by saying that he did not use the one he brought. So the Rebbe avoided responding to the question.

"I understand," my father-in-law said, "that the Rebbe, according to tradition, only uses a Calabria etrog." The Rebbe smiled.

They then discussed the possibility of planting an etrog from Calabria in Israel. The Rebbe gave several suggestions on how to make this possible.

I later learnt that this was indeed done in Kfar Chabad, where there are several "Calabria" etrog orchards.

The Problem With Drugs

July 4, 2010 6:56 PM

I once heard from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, in a private audience, an observation about drugs.

He was speaking about the effect on a person taking drugs. He was, incidentally, very careful about not saying anything negative about anybody. He said that the opinion of the Torah in general is that the person should be the master over his or her self, and enslavement of any sort is wrong.

Can a person still be the master over himself when involved with drugs and other addictive substances?

The problem with using any kinds of drugs or almost anything that has a little bit of psychoactive material is the same. Indeed, almost everything is psychoactive, including bread. If one fasts and then takes a piece of bread, it is possible to see how many changes are made in one's psyche.

The specific problem, however, with drugs is that people come relatively fast to a point of no return. In truth there is never a point of no return; but one quickly reaches a point from where it is very hard, almost impossible, to return...

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.

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