The sixth Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch, author of the present work, was born on 12 Tammuz, 5640 (1880), and by 5655 (1895) was involved in public affairs as the personal secretary of his father, the Rebbe Rashab, whom he also represented at international Rabbinic conferences. Soon after his marriage in 5657 (1897), he was appointed director of the pioneering Tomchei Temimim Yeshivah in Lubavitch. He also traveled extensively for a wide range of causes, such as planning a weaving factory that supplied employment for 2000 families; providing for the Jews conscripted to the czarist army during the Russo-Japanese War of 5765 (1905), and activating influential investors to lobby for the abortion of anticipated pogroms.

Succeeding his father as Rebbe in 5680 (1920), soon after the Communist Revolution of 5677 (1917), he fearlessly delivered Torah teachings in public, and inspired a silent army of idealistic chassidim whom he deployed in a unique countrywide underground educational network. It was those self-sacrificing activists who kept the spark of Torah and mitzvos and Jewish identity alive throughout all the dark decades of religious suppression.

Pitilessly hounded by the informers of the Yevsektsia, the notorious “Jewish Section” of the Communist Party, he was incarcerated under capital sentence in 5687 (1927), in the KGB’s infamous Spalerno Prison in Petersburg, but was eventually released. At each of his subsequent destinations – Riga (Latvia), Warsaw and Otvotzk (Poland) – he founded yeshivos and initiated Torah publications. In 5689 (1929) he visited Eretz Yisrael and the US.

In 5700 (1940), rescued from wartorn Europe, he settled in the US, determined to defy the ravages of assimilation. Insisting that “America is no different,” he launched an unprecedented avalanche of educational initiatives – such as schools and yeshivos, the extensive publication of classic chassidic works, and training programs for religious professionals. Indomitable even in his last years, when physically broken, both by the maltreatment of 5687 (1927) and by serious medical challenges, he founded the Kfar Chabad village as a lighthouse of Yiddishkeit throughout Eretz Yisrael, and dispatched emissaries who utterly changed the face and future of the Jewish communities of Morocco and Australia.

At his passing on Yud Shvat, 5710 (1950), he left a rich heritage of maamarim, sichos, diaries and letters. He was succeeded by his younger son-in-law, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe.