G‑d said to Abraham: Go from your land, from your birthplace and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you . . . (12:1)

From the time that G‑d said to our father Abraham, “Go from your land,” and “Abraham went on, journeying southward,”1there began the process of birurim, the process of “extracting” the sparks of holiness which are scattered throughout the universe and buried within the material existence.

By the decree of Divine Providence, man wanders about in his travels to those places where the “sparks” that are to be extracted by him await their redemption. The Cause Of All Causes brings about the many circumstances and pretexts that cause him to arrive at those places where his personal mission in life is to be acted out.

Rabbi Sholom DovBer of Lubavitch

Whenever two Jews meet, something good must result for a third.

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok of Lubavitch

The chassid Rabbi Raphael Nachman (“Foleh”) Kahan related:

In November 1917, Rabbi Sholom DovBer of Lubavitch left Rostov for a conference of rabbis in Petersburg, accompanied by Rabbi Nosson Gurary, Rabbi Zev Fallei and Rabbi Shmuel Katzman. He reached Moscow as the fighting between the Bolsheviks and the “White” forces raged in the city’s streets.

For several days, including Shabbos, the Rebbe was stranded in Moscow, neither able to continue to Petersburg nor to return to Rostov. My parents prepared the Rebbe’s food, which we took to his lodgings with bullets whizzing over our heads.

One afternoon, my father and Reb Zalkeh saw the Rebbe pacing in his room, a distraught expression on his face. They heard him saying under his breath: “I set out for Petersburg, but remain in Moscow. Nu, it seems that this is the way it was meant to be . . .” He turned to my father: “I would like to get together a few chassidim. I know these are difficult times, but still . . .”

The Rebbe prepared a list of several wealthy members of the Lubavitcher community, and my father rounded them up. At first the invitations were extended by telephone; but soon the lines went down, and my father ventured out to call on the invited himself. Despite the menacing conditions, every last one of those invited arrived.

The Rebbe said to them: “Many Jews have been made homeless by the war, and refugees are stranded throughout Europe and Russia. Many have been displaced to areas where no Jew has ever lived. They now find themselves without any of the books essential for a Jew, particularly prayerbooks.”

The Rebbe then proposed that a printing company be formed, with shares offered for 1,000 rubles a share. Each participant was asked to purchase as many shares as he wished. All those present signed up.

On Sunday, the Rebbe walked to the train station (the conditions did not allow for any vehicular traffic to pass in the streets) accompanied by several chassidim, and returned home. Back in Rostov, the Rebbe formed the “Ezra” press, and published the first Tehillat Hashem prayerbooks (the old thin edition) as well as prayerbooks according to the Ashkenazic version. He then dispatched the prayerbooks to wherever Jews were to be found.