One may be tempted to enjoy this selection of talks of the Rebbe Rayatz as fascinating relics of a faraway world of long ago. Yet, though the talks date back to the years 1930-1949, a perceptive chassid will be repeatedly shaken by their uncanny immediacy: “Look,” he will say, “the Rebbe Rayatz is addressing the challenges distressing me and my family, my friends and my community — today.”

Three examples from this volume will suffice.

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The state of Yiddishkeit in Latvia between the World Wars made it hard to be an optimist. Nevertheless, confronted by the despairing fatalism that beclouded the Latvian Rabbinical Conference held in Riga in 1932, the Rebbe Rayatz surprised the delegates and declared: “Before my eyes I have a clear picture of the major rabbinical conference that was held in Vilna 34 years ago. […] Each rabbi in turn depicted the state of Yiddishkeit in his home region, and each one concluded his description with anguished sighs of woe.After a few such hours, that great hall was shrouded in despair. Then, just before the session closed, a ray of light shattered the gloom.

“My father [the Rebbe Rashab] stood up, and his heartfelt words at that moment live with me still: ‘The situation… is indeed grim. We empathize with the heartbreaking predicament of Jewry in our lands and we sympathize with your sighs […] about the sorry state of Yiddishkeit in your respective provinces. However, my dear brothers, we must always remember that one deed is better than a thousand sighs. If every individual rabbi holds on fast to his community and resolutely works to fortify the practice of Yiddishkeit without compromising, G‑d will grant that the sighs will vanish, and the Jewish people will be blessed with light, which is Torah.’ ”

We have been taught that “the words of tzaddikim endure forever.” Just as the above message was true in Vilna in the 1890s and in Riga in the 1930s, it is true on Yud Shvat, 5760 (2000). Today, too, one deed is better than a thousand sighs.

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On another occasion, during a visit to Gluboka in the Vilna region in 1934, the Rebbe Rayatz addressed a gathering of rabbinic and lay leaders: “I am deeply pained by the disharmony and controversies which in some communities mar the relations between rabbanim and shochtim, and between rabbanim and lay leaders. I appeal to them all to set things right — peacefully, lovingly, and in friendship […] in the spirit of the Torah — to bring estranged hearts together in perfect peace.”

Through centuries of exile, our people have tasted the bitter fruits of disharmony and controversy. At this critical point in our history, when every one of us is straining to do his bit to bring that exile to an end, the Rebbe Rayatz continues to address these same words to us, in our own not-yet-harmonious communities: “I appeal to [you] all to set things right — peacefully, lovingly, and in friendship […] in the spirit of the Torah — to bring estranged hearts together in perfect peace.”

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Pausing in the midst of describing one of the memorable strolls which he shared in 1899 with his father, the Rebbe Rashab, the Rebbe Rayatz writes: “The appearance of his holy face that year stands alive before my eyes today, and may G‑d grant that through all the days of my life I will never forget one solitary move of his, nor any of his holy words — whether in Chassidus or in nigleh, whether concerning avodah or public affairs or worldly matters — that I was privileged to hear in the course of about forty years.”

This fifth English volume of Likkutei Dibburim, which completes the translation of the four original Hebrew/Yiddish volumes, is appearing on a historic milestone in the chronicles of LubavitchYud Shvat, 5760 (2000). This day marks fifty years since the histalkus of the Rebbe Rayatz, and fifty years since the Rebbe assumed the mantle of leadership. What better time to pray that through all the days of our lives we will never forget one solitary move of his, nor any of his holy words — whether in Chassidus or in nigleh, whether concerning avodah or public affairs or worldly matters — that we were privileged to hear in the course of over forty years.

And all those words speak in one voice. Today, too, the Rebbe is urging us and encouraging us to energetically prepare ourselves and our environments in ways that will hasten the imminent coming of Mashiach.

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As these three examples illustrate, Likkutei Dibburim is an Old World classic with an uncannily contemporary immediacy. In 1986, after the Rebbe examined the translation and annotation of its early chapters,it becamethe first major project that he entrusted to the then-fledgling publishing house called Sichos In English.

Like its predecessors, this volume too was researched, translated and annotated1 by Uri Kaploun; its layout and typography were professionally handled by Yosef Yitzchok Turner; and its contents and presentation were scrutinized by the discerning eye of Rabbi Yonah Avtzon.

Above all, a kind Providence has enabled its preparation to be a harmonious labor of love.

Sichos In English

Yud Shvat, 5760 (תש"ס; 2000)