The following teachings are excerpted and freely translated from the inaugural address of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, delivered on the 10th of Shevat, 1951. Mentions of “the Rebbe” refer to the Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, the sixth Rebbe of Chabad, who had passed away exactly one year before the inaugural address of his successor. Click here for a more complete transcript in Hebrew. Click here for original audio recordings of this address.

1. If You Want to Love G‑d, You Need to Love People

(Courtesy of JEM/The Living Archive)
(Courtesy of JEM/The Living Archive)

Love of G‑d, love of the Torah, and Love of the Jewish people are bound up with one another, so much so that they are all one. Only when you love your fellow as yourself are you able to love G‑d, who transcends the world and is the master of all things. For this reason the Rebbe relinquished his own physical and even spiritual interests out of love for the Jewish people. If you have love of G‑d but not love of the Torah and love of people, you are actually lacking in love of G‑d. On the other hand, if you love people you will ultimately come to love the Torah and love G‑d as well.

2. When a Rebbe Ascends, We Must All Ascend With Him

Histalkus (Art by Hendel Lieberman)
Histalkus (Art by Hendel Lieberman)

The Rebbe’s ascent beyond the physical might lead you to think that it has become ever more difficult to connect to him. Know that the contrary is true: Your connection must only increase more and more. Just as the Rebbe constantly ascends to new heights, so we must gather additional strength in order that we may accompany him.

3. Your Purpose is Far More Profound Than You Think

(Courtesy of JEM/The Living Archive)
(Courtesy of JEM/The Living Archive)

The Zohar teaches that there is depth within depth, there is the revealed and the hidden, and within the hidden is concealed yet deeper purpose. The Rebbe gifted people with various kinds of missions. Some of us were instructed to engage in a trade or in commerce, but the inner intention was to advance Torah study and mitzvah observance. Others of us were instructed to become spiritual educators, disseminators of Judaism, or simply to teach children the Aleph-Bet. We must all realize that these are all but external garments for a more profound vision. The deeper vision is to spread the wellsprings of Chassidism, and thereby to attain ultimate redemption.

4. The People and the Leader Are One

When a maamar is spoken, a new light is entering the world. (Courtesy of Jem/The Living Archive)
When a maamar is spoken, a new light is entering the world. (Courtesy of Jem/The Living Archive)

All who had and have a connection with the Rebbe will continue to have a connection to the Rebbe in the future. You must know that all the instructions received from the Rebbe have an inner intent, and that inner intent is to reveal the inner core of the Torah, that the wellsprings shall be spread to the outside … and then “Moses and the Jewish people shall sing.” The “and” in this verse (Exodus, 15:1) signifies ultimate connection. The verse uses the singular form of the verb “to sing” (yashir) rather than the plural (yashiru), indicating that the people and their leader become a single entity.

5. Feed Bodies and Feed Souls

(Courtesy of JEM/The Living Archive)
(Courtesy of JEM/The Living Archive)

Each one of us is required to recognize that our purpose is to emulate our forefather Abraham. When arriving in a place where the people didn’t know of G‑dliness, didn’t know of Judaism, Abraham put himself aside. His priority was to see to it that even such people would ultimately go into the streets and shout “G‑d world!” (el olam, Genesis, 21:33) meaning that G‑dliness and the world are one. Your love of the Jewish people should not only be actualized physically, in giving food to the hungry and water to the thirsty, but also in bringing Jews to love of Torah and to love of G‑d.

6. Your Earthly Work Transcends the Loftiest Heavens

(Courtesy of JEM/The Living Archive)
(Courtesy of JEM/The Living Archive)

The ultimate purpose of creation does not lie in any supernal realm, for all those realms entail a descent for G‑d. They are but revelations. It is specifically in this world that G‑d’s transcendent essence is most tangibly encountered. Through the earthly labor of subduing all that is unholy and transforming it into holiness, we uncover G‑d’s most intimate and transcendent self within the earthly garden.

7. You Are In the Driver’s Seat

(Courtesy of JEM/The Living Archive)
(Courtesy of JEM/The Living Archive)

In Chabad it was always demanded that each individual must take responsibility for their own spiritual work, and that they must not rely on the Rebbes. In Chabad we each have to work independently, with every limb and sinew. As the Talmud says: All is in the hands of heaven except for fear of heaven (Brachot, 33b). I am not refusing to help you, heaven forfend. I will help as much as I am able. But unless you work independently, what will be gained if I distribute new teachings, if we sing inspiring melodies, and say l’chaim?! Each person must independently transform their worldly excitement into holy excitement.