This volume presents the first English translation of the talks delivered by the Rebbe Rayatz throughout the whole of the critical year 5700 (ת"ש), from late 1939 to late 1940.

Part One: The earliest sichos in this volume, which the Rebbe Rayatz delivered in the winter of that year, while still in Europe, conclude with his highly-charged parting message to his chassidim at the airport of Riga, Latvia, before his departure to Stockholm and thence by ship to New York.*

Part Two: Most of the sichos in this volume date from his arrival in New York on 9 Adar II, 5700 (March 19, 1940), until erev Rosh HaShanah.**

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After surviving a lifetime punctuated by painful and life-threatening crises, Yaakov Avinu “yearned to live a life of tranquility.” Nevertheless, the Master of the Universe said: “Are tzaddikim not satisfied with what awaits them in the World to Come, and they also seek tranquility in This World?!”***

Similarly, throughout his lifetime in This World, the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, experienced more turbulence than tranquility. After having survived torment and incarceration and capital sentence in Russia, and then challenges of other kinds in Latvia and Poland, he might well have yearned to live a life of tranquility. Yet awaiting him were three months in the blockade of Warsaw, whose wartime horrors he describes graphically in chapter 8 of this volume. Then, after his remarkable release and a brief stopover in Latvia, he left Europe for the last time, and proceeded via Sweden to America.

The Land of Gold did not greet the Rebbe Rayatz with a smile. That understatement does not refer to American society at large. It does refer to the complacency of the Jewish communal establishment, and to some of the veteran chassidic migrants who, instead of working desperately to revive and actualize the shining ideals of the Old Country, had allowed them to fade into tarnished dreams. Characteristically, the Rebbe Rayatz never allowed his sense of trauma to paralyze his optimism. On the contrary, it spurred him ahead to vigorous and pioneering outreach activity.

The talks in this volume were delivered in Riga, New York and Lakewood. They pulsate throughout with creative and inspiring interpretations of Biblical and Talmudic teachings; heartwarming descriptions of incidents and encounters in the village of Lubavitch; pungent but good-humored admonition; candid childhood recollections; energizing stories and oral traditions of his forebears; and, predictably, a veritable gallery of colorful personalities whose verbal portraits spring into life.

The present volume was translated and annotated**** by Uri Kaploun, designed and typeset by Yosef Yitzchok Turner, and scrutinized and prepared for publication by Rabbi Yonah Avtzon. Thanks are due to: Rabbi Sholom Dober Levin, editor of Toldos Chabad BeArtzos HaBris, 5660-5710, for historical information; Rabbi Sholom B. Wineberg for constructive input; Rabbi Aharon Leib Raskin of Otzar HaChassidim for his willing assistance in locating sources; and to our many fellow chassidim who volunteered valuable background information.

In publishing this volume, we at Sichos In English are happy to invite our readers to take a seat and join us in an unforgettable farbrengen that is entitled – The Sichos of 5700 (1939-1940).

Sichos In English

Motzaei 9 Adar, the 75th Anniversary of the Arrival of the Rebbe Rayatz in America 5700-5775 / 1940-2015