At the farbrengen on the 10th of Shevat 5711 (1951), when the Rebbe officially accepted the mantle of leadership of the Lubavitch movement, he opened with the following words:

“When the Previous Rebbe came to America he said, ‘When you go to a city follow in its customs.’ Here in America, people like to hear an announcement — something new. Even better, an astonishing announcement! A statement! I don’t know if such conduct is necessary, but when in the city, do as the people in the city do.

“My statement:

“The three loves: ahavas HaShem (love of G‑d), ahavas HaTorah (love of Torah) and ahavas Yisrael (love of a fellow Jew) are all one. One cannot divide them, as essentially they are one.

“Chassidic philosophy quotes the Baal Shem Tov (who quotes from previous sources) the teaching, ‘An essence is indivisible. To take a part of the essence is to take the whole thing.’

“Since all three loves are one, and of the same essence, it follows that each of the three is a composite of all three loves.

“If there is ahavas HaShem but no ahavas HaTorah or ahavas Yisrael, then there is something missing in ahavas HaShem. On the other hand, if there is ahavas Yisrael, although it is one of the intellectual mitzvos (i.e., the intellect necessitates such a mitzvah), even so, at the end of the day it will bring one to ahavas HaTorah and ahavas HaShem, as in the well-known story of the Rebbe the Tzemach Tzedek that through giving a Jew a gemilus chessed (an interest-free loan) he reached heights hitherto inaccessible through Torah and avodah.

“This is the statement that needs to be publicized:

“If one sees a Jew who has ahavas HaShem but no ahavas HaTorah and ahavas Yisrael, he needs to be told that he should know that ahavas HaShem without ahavas HaTorah and ahavas Yisrael will not endure. On the other hand, if one sees a Jew who has just ahavas Yisrael, one is required to bring him to ahavas HaShem and to ahavas HaTorah. One also has to see to it that his ahavas Yisrael should not only consist of feeding the starving and giving drink to the thirsty, but that his ahavas Yisrael should lead him to bring others to ahavas HaShem and ahavas HaTorah.

“These three loves together form a thread that will not easily be broken; one that will bring the final Redemption. The exile was due to the opposite of ahavas Yisrael, and through ahavas Yisrael we will merit the final Redemption speedily in our days.”

Thus the Rebbe began his leadership with a declaration of ahavas Yisrael, and continued throughout his leadership to demand and nurture ahavas Yisrael throughout the Jewish world. By setting up over two thousand Chabad centers worldwide to bring Yiddishkeit to the wider Jewish community, he took ahavas Yisrael from an abstract concept and made it a reality.

In this spirit, it is significant that in the last sichah heard from the Rebbe’s mouth before 27 Adar I, 5752 (1992)1 , he urged us to reach out to all our fellow chassidim and to all our fellow Jews with unconditional love and with a sense of achdus.

From the very beginning and throughout his leadership, the Rebbe stressed ahavas Yisrael. This then is our task, until the clouds of galus finally lift, may it take place immediately. We have the Rebbe’s assurance that making this effort will disperse them.

Sichos In English

Chai Elul, 5759