In preparation for the 20th yahrtzeit (anniversary of passing) of the Lubavitcher Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—on the third of the Jewish month of Tammuz, corresponding to this coming Tuesday, July 1, the chief rabbis of Israel have publicly called for worldwide commemoration of this day with increased mitzvah observance.

Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef called upon “each and every person to continue [the Rebbe’s] vision and carry out his directives,” enumerating that on the day of the yahrtzeit, people should “set aside time to study the Torah and Jewish law, enhance our prayers, increase our charity, perform random acts of kindness and draw our brethren near.”

Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi David Lau issued a call for “increased vigor in the perpetuation of his legacy,” explaining the unique relevance of the Rebbe’s yahrtzeit to all Jews by citing the Talmudic sages’ as saying, “The righteous are considered alive even after their passing.”

Although “20 years have passed [since the Rebbe’s passing],” Lau said, “the impact of the Rebbe's legacy is tangibly felt throughout the world,” and his work “bears increasingly more fruit with each passing day ... as Torah and Jewish identity are continually strengthened.”

Lau further cited age-old Jewish teachings, noting that “the unique role of a tzaddik—a righteous person of spirit—is to strengthen the bond between G‑d and Man.”

Explaining this in earthly terms, Yosef said that the Rebbe was a “Jewish leader of towering stature who lived a remarkable life,” who “kindled the flame of faith” and “guided thousands of Jews [to] return to their roots.”

Yosef also lauded the Rebbe’s prodigious Torah scholarship, writing that both he and his father—Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, of blessed memory—quoted the Rebbe’s opinions in their books and “deeply analyzed his holy words.”

“The Rebbe worked tirelessly to unite all segments of Jewish society,” Yosef continued, and “words cannot describe his self-sacrifice on behalf of all Jews, whether on an individual or communal level.”

Rabbinic groups from the United States to Australia have similarly called upon rabbis to dedicate their Shabbat sermons this week to discussing the Rebbe’s legacy of unconditional love and scholarship.

The National Council of Young Israel cited the “the Rebbe’s erudition and unparalleled dedication to outreach” and his “continued unique impact” in calling upon its member congregations’ rabbis to dedicate this coming Shabbat “to help our congregants reflect on the passing of this Torah giant.” The council also offered a number of sermon ideas on the topic.

The Rabbinical Council of America sent out suggestions of resources on the subject to its member rabbis, and local rabbinic groups like the Chicago Rabbinical Council and the Organisation of Rabbis of Australasia also issued similar calls.

Many other prominent Israel rabbis who are part of the council of the Chief Rabbinate, such as the chief rabbis of Safed, Holon, Mevasseret Tzion, Kiryat Ono, Beersheva, Midgal Ha’Emek, Haifa and Givatayim, and the rabbinical advisor to the Israel Defense Force, amplified the chief rabbis’ call as well.

 Letter penned by Israel's Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef and signed by 10 other leading rabbis
Letter penned by Israel's Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef and signed by 10 other leading rabbis

Letter penned by Israel's Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi David Lau
Letter penned by Israel's Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi David Lau