Celebrating 50 Years of the Rebbes Leadership: Introduction

"In the old days there was a person in every town who would light the street lamps with a flame he carried at the end of a long pole. On the street corners, the lamps waited to be lit. Sometimes, however, the lamps were not as easily accessible... there were lamps in forsaken places. Someone had to light even those lamps so that they would fulfill their purpose and light up the paths of others. Today too, someone must be willing to forgo his or her conveniences and reach out to light even those forsaken lamps&"

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson,
of righteous memory.


This is the recurring theme in the Rebbes life. A luminary in his lifetime, the Rebbe seemed always to think of people in terms of light. And he taught us to think of ourselves as lamplighters.

The tenth day of the Jewish month of Shevat, 5760 (2000), marks the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Sixth Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, of righteous memory. It is also the date on which chasidim and Jews around the world began looking toward his son-in-law, the Rebbe, for guidance, inspiration and leadership. Now, a half century later, we can wax eloquent and endlessly about the Rebbe, about his shaping of post-holocaust Jewry, about the direct and indirect, conscious and subconscious, impact he had and has on the lives of every single one of us.

But there is no question that the Rebbe would prefer less be said and more be done. Indeed, the Talmud states that the righteous need no memorializing, for their accomplishments are their memorials.

Today, there are some 2,600 Chabad-Lubavitch institutions around the world, each one a kernel of study, outreach and inspiration, each one a promise for Jewish continuity. Thousands of men and women are dedicating their lives to the lamplighter's calling.

Thousands more, perhaps millions, of people have had their souls rekindled, their spirits lifted, and their lives illuminated by the Rebbe. What greater testimonial can there be?

Jewish mysticism teaches that the influence of the righteous is more deeply felt in this world after their passing, than during their lifetimes. In fact, since the Rebbe's passing, the activities of Lubavitch have intensified: new centers are being built, new schools are opening, new communities are thriving. Lubavitch is reaching out to more people, in more distant places than ever before. With quiet persistence, the unsung lamplighters keep at their work, illuminating the dark spots in this world: one more cry to be heeded, one more soul to recover, one more void to fill. This, ultimately, is what Lubavitch is all about, what the Rebbe pursued all the years of his life.

Moreover, more people than ever way beyond the reach of even the Chabad-Lubavitch movement are tapping into the Rebbes teachings and adapting his exhortation and example of personal and communal responsibility toward their fellow human being.

In honor of Shvat 10, people around the world will be paying tribute to the Rebbe's life. We will redouble our efforts to emulate all that the Rebbe represented. We will give more charity, fulfill an additional mitzvah, attend a Torah-study class, and devote time for prayer. We will strive to bring the Redemption one day closer.

To help us and you do something special today and during the upcoming year to celebrate fifty years of the Rebbes leadership and inspiration, we present you with this site, in which you can find:

Samples of the Rebbes teachings, both in brief ("Thoughts") and in longer ("Essay") form;

Samples of the Rebbes correspondence ("Letters");

Some personal accounts of and reflections on the Rebbes deep, personal impact ("Impressions"), as well as examples of the Rebbes conduct ("Stories").

We also present an admittedly incomplete Biography and a few Video Clips.

We plan to keep adding to this site as the year progresses; we are eager to hear your comments and suggestions. Please send them to: editor@chabadonline.com.


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— THE CHABADONLINE STAFF