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Discovering the Rebbe

Advice for Life: Fiery Love

Photo: The Schaffran Family/Lubavitch Archives
Photo: The Schaffran Family/Lubavitch Archives

Sometimes a person does not realize
that he is a slave to his surroundings.
He commits improper acts,
he is sold to his money-making,
he is possessed by a desire for honor,
and is a prisoner to his desires.
By awakening the fiery love of G‑d
imbued in one’s soul,
one frees oneself from slavery.


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


Footnotes
1.

Igrot Kodesh Vol. 29, p. 128.

The Rebbe on Jan Peerce

July 12, 2011 11:57 AM
The Rebbe and Jan Peerce (Photo: The Harlig Family Collection/Lubavitch Archives).
The Rebbe and Jan Peerce (Photo: The Harlig Family Collection/Lubavitch Archives).

When looking through the personal archives of the Peerce family, I was surprised to find a letter from the Rebbe, of righteous memory, to Mr. Zalmon Jaffe, of blessed memory, a Chabad-Lubavitch activist from Manchester, UK. The letter referred to a concert in Manchester.

Here is an excerpt from what the Rebbe writes:

I need hardly emphasize that a concert arranged for a Jewish cause should have a Jewish character, and not be just a theatrical show. Certainly a concert arranged by and connected with Lubavitch. It is quite understandable therefore that I began to look for Jewish topics in the Programme, and I only found something of that nature at the very end of the Programme, after the intermission, and even there the topics are of a mixed nature, and suffice it for the wise.

I do not know who arranged this Programme, but it is well known that the artist has a rich repertoire of truly Jewish pieces.

I assumed that Zalmon Jaffe must have given Jan Peerce the letter because he was the singer the Rebbe referred to. However, that was purely an assumption; I did not know if Peerce had in fact performed for the Jewish community in Manchester. I refused to run on any assumptions and starting to wonder how I could find out if I had hypothesized correctly.

Rabbi Avrohom Jaffe, Zalmon’s son, made available to me the entire “My Encounter with the Rebbe” series (Zalmon’s autobiography), in text version. A quick search brought up what I was looking for:

In volume 25, he introduces the letter:

We were holding a big public concert in one of the largest halls in Manchester and Jan Peerce, the famous, international operatic singer was the star of the evening and he had submitted to us his programme.

In due course, we sent the printed brochure to the Rebbe - just as a formal matter of courtesy, because that has been our procedure since Manchester Lubavitch had been established.

We never expected to receive such a strong reply.

I had my answer.

Advice for Life: Blessings

Photo: Yossi Melamed/Lubavitch Archives
Photo: Yossi Melamed/Lubavitch Archives

Our sages teach
that the blessings that are
spoken from the mouth
of a son or daughter of
Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca,
Jacob, Rachel and Leah
are brought to fruition speedily.


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


Footnotes
1.

Igrot Kodesh Vol. 116, p. 76.

The Rebbe’s Letter was Missing

July 6, 2011 5:22 PM
Jan Peerce sings at a Chabad concert in S. Francisco, California. (Drizin Family/Lubavitch Archives)
Jan Peerce sings at a Chabad concert in S. Francisco, California. (Drizin Family/Lubavitch Archives)

After many years of research, I finally found the collection of letters written by the Rebbe, of righteous memory, to the late Jan and Alice Peerce. Jan Peerce, known as the “American Tenor,” was considered the longest-standing performer at the Metropolitan Opera House during his career. He became close to Rabbi Chaim Drizin while visiting Chabad at Berkley University with his grandson.

Although Jan and Alice had kept the Rebbe’s responses, they had not kept copies of the letters they had written to him. I did, however, find three drafts in their personal files. I spent time trying to piece together the sequence of the correspondence and it turned out that the Rebbe’s response to one of the letters – the very first letter the couple ever wrote – seemed to be missing. I was perplexed but decided that the couple must have received an oral response, relayed through Rabbi Drizin, as much of their communication had been.

But recently Rabbi Levi Garelik donated his personal collection of correspondence from the Rebbe to Lubavitch Archives. Upon looking through the letters, to my great joy, I discovered the Rebbe’s response to the Peerce’s first letter.

Alice Peerce’s first letter to the Rebbe:

Dear Rabbi,

Perhaps you will think we have waited a bit too long to express our thanks.

It has been eleven weeks since Jan had his accident. The time has been very difficult due to the complications that befell us. We say, with humility, thank you for your blessings, interest and concern.

At the time when we needed moral support Rabbi Cunin and Rabbi Drizen never failed us, giving us strength and courage.

When Rabbi Drizin explained the Lubovitch theory to me, to give of ourselves to the Lord[,] one might be fortunate to receive. I became Shomer Shabbis [Sabbath Observant]. I have found peace and happiness in doing this and, of course, Jan’s very recovery continues.

Jan and I have become staunch Chassidim of Lubovitch [Lubavitch disciples], more so than ever before.

With thanks to G‑d and you,

Mrs. Jan Peerce

Excerpted from the Rebbe’s response:

Your joining this ever growing Chasidic family who have found a new meaning in life and, with it, peace and happiness, has a special significance in that you are a Kohen, and also in that Divine Providence has given you a gift of song and melody. For this is a medium that directly communicates with the heart and the inner aspects of the soul, unlike prose which speaks to the intellect and only then can probe deeper. Through the medium of song and melody one can touch directly upon the heartstrings of the listener and inspire his inner soul, which is the reason why song and melody have such a prominent part in Chasidus [Hassidism] in general, and in Chabad in particular.

In the light of the above, I extend to you both my prayerful wishes to utilize to the full the capacities and opportunities which G‑d has given you in the above mentioned direction, and to do this in the Chabad way – with complete trust in G‑d and with inspiration, and may G‑d bless you with Hatzlocho [success] to go from strength to strength in all above, in good health and with gladness of heart.

Advice for Life: The Temple Within


Photo: The Schaffran Family/Lubavitch Archives
Photo: The Schaffran Family/Lubavitch Archives

Just as with the physical death of the body,
where the soul still survives
—it has only entered
the spiritual world of truth—
so too, one can only destroy
the physical Holy Temple in Jerusalem,
built from wood, gold and silver,
but the spiritual temple
within each and every one of us,
no one could ever destroy.


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


Footnotes
1.

Igrot Kodesh Vol. 29, p. 76.

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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