In the last two hundred years and more, a great movement started among our people, which has brought new life to Jewish communities in all parts of the world. To hundreds of thousands of its followers it has given a new understanding of the deeper meaning of the Torah and Mitzvoth, opening their eyes and hearts to see and feel the light, warmth, joy and happiness that can, be found in the simple every-day practices of our faith. At the same time it has strengthened the feeling of brotherhood among our people, and the feeling of mutual responsibility for each other. In a nutshell: it is a movement based on 'three loves': .Love of G‑d, love of the Torah and love of Israel.

This movement is known as Chassidism.

We cannot here take up too much space to tell you all about this movement, what it teaches and how it translates these teachings into actions. But here are a few words to give you a better idea of the 'three loves' which we mentioned above.

Just imagine a happy and devoted family: There is great love and devotion between the parents and children, and among the children themselves, and all love and cherish their home. When the children are young, cannot even talk, and understand very little, there is still that great love among them, for it is born with them. Later on, when they understand more, their mutual love and devotion is even more strengthened.

So it is with us Jews. Our soul is a part of G‑d, and we are born with a great love for our Heavenly Father, and for each other, as members of the same family. In this there is no difference between rich and poor, scholar and unlearned. We are also born with a great love for our Torah and faith, which is like our 'home.' Just as a child is happiest when he is close to his father, so are we happiest when we get close to G‑d. How do we get close to G‑d? By studying the Torah which is G‑d's Wisdom and by fulfilling His commandments, which is His Will. The most important of all, perhaps, is prayer, for when we pray to G‑d we know that we are in G‑d's presence. Besides, prayer is something we can all do. Not everybody can study the Torah every day, morning, noon, and evening. But we can, and we do pray three times a day, and almost everybody can pray out of a Siddur. That is why prayer has been likened to Jacob's ladder which he saw in his dream, and which stood on the earth but reached into heaven. For prayer, too, links us with G‑d.

Chassidism teaches many truths about G‑d, and the wonders of His creation, and how He lovingly takes care not only of every man, woman, and child, but of all creatures. It fills our hearts with awe for G‑d's majesty, and with love for His goodness, and with happiness because we can serve Him.

The Chassidic movement was founded by the saintly Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, whose birthday was last month (the 18th of Elul), 253 years ago. Chabad Chassidism (ChaBaD is a word made up from the initial letters of the Hebrew words: Chochmah, Wisdom, Binah-Understanding, Daath-Knowledge. It has enriched Chassidism by the philosophical study of the principles of our faith, in the light of the inner meaning and secrets of the Torah revealed in the teachings of the 'Cabala.') was founded by Rabbi Shneur Zalman, whose birthday was also on the same day, 53 years later. He was a famous scholar, philosopher and saintly Sage, author of his Shulchan Aruch, Tanya, and many other books on Chabad Chassidism and Jewish law. Rabbi Shemuel, whose life story we want to tell you here, was a great grandson of his, that is, the fourth generation in direct line of succession.

The seat of the leaders of Chabad Chassidism was a small town in old Russia, called Lubavitch. For this reason they were called "Lubavitcher" Rabbis. The family name of the Lubavitcher Rabbis is Schneersohn, or Schneerson, meaning, the son of Schneur (referring to Rabbi Schneur Zalman, the founder).

Rabbi Shemuel was born in Lubavitch on the second day of Iyar, in the year 5594. His father was the illustrious Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch, author of the famous work on Jewish law "Tzemach Tzedek," and many other works. Shemuel's first teacher was his own father. At the age of seven, Shemuel began to attend an advanced class in cheder. By then he already knew well the whole Chumash, and a great deal of the Holy Scriptures, and was learning Gemoro. Once a month he was examined by his father, and usually received money prizes every time. The boy collected the money thus "earned," and spent it on books.

One day, when Shemuel was about eleven, a bookseller came to Lubavitch. Shemuel went to his father, who was his 'banker,' to withdraw all his money, and to borrow a large sum in addition. His father was not a little surprised, on learning that he wanted to spend all the money on books, but suggested that before he buy new ones, he ought to know the books he had already bought before.

"Do you know all the books in your library?" the son asked. "Yet you continue to buy new books all the time."

"Take any book from the shelves and test me," replied the "Tzemach Tzedek" with a smile.

The boy took one book after another, and each time his father told him the name of the book, its author, and what the book was all about. He even recited whole passages from it.

Little Shemuel was greatly amazed and decided he would also try to be as wise as his father. He received the money, and bought all the books he wanted.

In addition to his lessons, Shemuel learned Mishnayoth by heart. By the time he was Bar Mitzvah, he knew all the six tractates of Mishnayoth by heart, and recited the holy words of our sages to himself every time he had a chance.

When he turned seventeen, his father advised him to take the examination for Semichah (rabbinical ordination). He was then ordained by outstanding scholars.

At 21 he began to take part in the public activities of his father. I ought to mention, that the Lubavitcher Rabbis, since the founder of Chabad, were always recognized leaders by all Jews (and not only by the movement) in matters concerning our people as a whole, and devoted a great deal of their life's work to helping their people to improve not only their spiritual life, but also their economic conditions. Owing to their position, the Lubavitcher Rabbis enjoyed: the respect of the court and government officials. They used their influence to defend the Jews against persecution, pogroms and all sorts of hardships which they suffered in Russia. In this connection, Rabbi Shemuel made frequent visits to the capital St. Petersburg, and also abroad.

In the beginning of the year 5626 (1866), his father instructed him to give public lectures on Chabad Chassidism to the numerous visitors who used to make pilgrimages to Lubavitch. In the spring of that year (Nissan 13th) the great "Tzemach Tzedek" passed away, and Rabbi Shemuel accepted the leadership of Chabad, with Lubavitch as his residence. His brothers (he was the youngest) became leading Rabbis in other communities.

He continued his work with great devotion to the interests of his people as a whole, and found time to write many works on Chassidism.

Rabbi Shemuel (known as MaHaRaSH, the initials of the Hebrew words meaning Our Teacher Rabbi Shemuel) passed away on the 13th day of Tishrei, at the age of 49. His saintly life, selfless work and holy writings continue to inspire many Jews in all parts of the world.