“The Holy One, Blessed be He, Did Not Redeem Me Alone”

In the renowned letter sent by the Previous Rebbe to his chassidim in connection with the celebration of the first an­niversary of Yud-Beis Tammuz,1 he emphasizes the collective nature of the event:

“It was not myself alone that the Holy One, blessed be He, redeemed on Yud-Beis Tammuz, but also those who love the Torah and observe its commandments, and so too Kol Asher Beshaim Yisroel Yichunah — all those who merely bear the name ‘Jew’.”

In Jewish law,2 the word Yechunah, translated above as “bear the name,” has a distinct technical meaning. A Kinui is a name other than one’s given name, which is perhaps used by only a small number of people. In the context of the above letter of the Rebbe Rayatz, this usage alludes to people estranged from their Jewish identities to the point that “Israel” is a name they are called by others and not by themselves.3

By using this term, the Previous Rebbe implied that the redemption of Yud-Beis Tammuz left its impact not only on the lives of Lubavitcher chassidim, nor only on those devoted to the study of the Torah, nor only on the religiously obser­vant. For the ripples of change produced by Yud-Beis Tam­muz are unbounded in scope, influencing the future of our entire people.

Caring For the Needs of the People as a Whole

The all-encompassing effect of the Previous Rebbe’s redemption is a direct result of his life’s work. In the face of adversity, a natural impulse might be to restrict one’s sphere of activity and devote oneself to a limited circle. Instead, the Previous Rebbe expanded his activities and reached out to our entire people.

This is reflected in the activities for which he was ar­rested. He established centers for training rabbis and com­munal leaders, encouraged the use of mikvaos, and strength­ened the practice of ritual slaughter, circumcision, and other basic Jewish observances. Most important, he established a network of underground chadarim and schools for the con­tinued education of Jewish children.

Instead of secluding himself with a small group of schol­ars and focusing on theoretical study (a course of action which the Soviet authorities might have sanctioned), the Rebbe Rayatz demonstrated concern for the future of our people as a whole; he sought to provide them with whatever would be necessary for the maintenance of their connection with their Jewish heritage.4

His concern for Jewish continuity was most visible in his efforts on behalf of Jewish education, the area of activity which aroused the fiercest opposition of the Soviet authori­ties. In fact, the immediate cause of his arrest in 1927 was his delivery of the maamar entitled Vekibeil HaYehudim,5 whose central theme is Jewish education.

One might question the propriety of such a course of ac­tion. After all, Jewish education is a particularly difficult un­dertaking. It requires extended and continuous effort, and is not always assured of success — especially within the frame­work of a threatening environment. Nonetheless, despite the self-sacrifice this required, the Previous Rebbe directed his energies toward this goal. For, to borrow a proverb of our Sages,6 “If there are no kids, there will be no goats”; the fu­ture of our people depends on our youth.

“The Nasi is the Entire People”

This course of action was natural to the Previous Rebbe, because “the nasi is the entire people.”7 A true leader is not conscious of his individual identity; his only concern is for the people as a whole.

Leadership of this kind is characterized by a unique di­mension of self-sacrifice.8 We are all familiar with instances of people who have been willing to sacrifice their energies, and even their lives, for an ideal. Self-sacrifice of this kind — while praiseworthy — is, however, often limited in scope. When the individual realizes that his ideal cannot be achieved, he considers refocusing his energies. The Previous Rebbe’s self-sacrifice, however, was all-inclusive in nature, extending beyond the limits of reason, because it stemmed from the essence of his being. “Israel, the Torah, and the Holy One, blessed be He, are one.”9

This inseparable bond was the core of his being, the en­tire focus of his life. Therefore, when this threefold bond was threatened, he was moved to unrestricted self-sacrifice.

Granting Others the Potential for Redemption

Ultimately, the Previous Rebbe’s approach led to a re­demption whose scope knew no bounds, and whose effects are still felt today. Indeed, with the annual commemoration of Yud-Beis Tammuz, these effects increase from year to year.

Our Sages state,10 “The body follows the head.” The re­demption of the Previous Rebbe, the head of the generation, enables every member of our people to experience redemp­tion from those forces which restrict his own observance of Torah. May this personal experience of redemption spread and spiral until we merit the ultimate Redemption. May this take place in the immediate future.

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos, Vol. VIII, p. 329-330; Vol. XVIII, Yud-Beis Tammuz; and other sources