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Autobiographical Writings

The Heroic Struggle
The Rebbe’s Prison Diary
A personal account of the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn's arrest and imprisonment, and subsequent liberation from Soviet prisons in 1927.
A Prince in Prison
The Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Account of His Incarceration in Stalinist Russia in 1927
In this unparalleled historic first-person description the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe graphically documents the cold truth behind the cynical Stalinist facade of religious tolerance — midnight arrest, intimidation and interrogation, incarceration without trial, the humiliation of prison routine, the torture of dissidents, and so on.
The Leaf
Absentmindedly, I tore a leaf off a passing tree. Holding it a while in my hands, I continued my thoughtful pacing, occasionally tearing small pieces of leaf and casting them to the winds.
I heard the voice of my 3 year old daughter Chanah, may she live, calling to me: "Father, father, where are you…? Father, father, answer me…", repeating her call twice and three times.
Though motivated by an inner love and a sense of concern for the spiritual health of one's fellow, these rebukes often come in the form of a pricking needle
The Direct Approach
Serving Father
Though Reb Zalman was short and elderly he strode sturdily, whereas I stumbled in the snow at almost every step until we finally reached the ohel. Even before I opened the door my little heart leaped up within me and released rivers of tears
Serebrinka, 1902
I heard the voice of my three-year-old daughter Chanah calling to me, "Father, father, where are you? Father, father, answer me..."
A Rebbe's Education
When I was 11 years old, my father gave me the manuscript as a gift. “This is a chassidic kiss,” he said. “In time I will explain.”
The Opening Remarks of the Rebbe Rayatz at the 45th Anniversary Celebration of the Foundation of the Tomchei Temimim Yeshivah in Lubavitch in 5657 (תרנ"ז; 1897)
The Schoolteachers of Beshenkovitz
Father Prays
Father is standing with his face to the wall, praying. But I do not understand: Why is he entreating more than all other worshippers? Why does he need G‑d’s mercy more than other people?
Monotheism in Rostov
The three emissaries from the court of death entered the room, dressed in their uniforms of red and black, rifles in hand, their belts filled with bullets and hung with a pair of revolvers and another pair of Cossack knives, with helmets of brass and their faces aflame
A Boy and a Calf
At the age of eleven, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak was thrown in jail for helping a fellow Jew. This story is indicative of the pattern that the rest of his life would follow.
The Rebbe's New Clothes
Inside, Outside
"Always remember," said my teacher, "that it is better to be on the outside looking in, than on the inside looking out..."
In the face of Tsarist anti-semitism, communism, and the Holocaust, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak resolutely perpetuated traditional Jewish life and the potent spirit of Chassidism.