“…He continually drives together the highest abstract truth and the most specific call to action, spanning the continuum of the whole of Jewish study.”

—Dr. Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the UK

Torah, the Rebbe would often state, is derived from the word “hora’ah” – lesson. He made this a fundamental principle in his approach to Torah – that Torah is a blueprint for life and every letter and nuance is a lesson to guide a Jew’s life.

The Rebbe’s study of Torah was permeated with a deep respect for the “Giver of the Torah.” Hence, his sensitivity toward each letter, let alone a word or sentence, in the Torah, the Talmud, and the commentaries.

A Torah of Life

The Rebbe repeatedly emphasized that Torah is a Toras Chaim, a “Torah of Life,” permeating every area of life.

Its every aspect – from the loftiest concepts in Kabbalah to a Midrashic aphorism to Rashi’s grammatical notes – has practical lessons in a person’s daily life. The Rebbe would often expound on seemingly minor details of a Torah passage and demonstrate their relevance and lessons for this very day.

Additionally, every aspectThe Rebbe was known to take the pragmatic view of the natural world of the myriad mundane issues with which we are confronted daily – all are illuminated, informed and directed by the Torah. G‑d vested His infinite wisdom inside the Torah, the blueprint of the world, to direct even the simple material aspects of life. We need to probe the Torah’s depths to find that direction.

The Rebbe was known to take a pragmatic view of the natural world. He directed people to consult doctors, seek expert advice, and ask caring friends for their opinions. He believed in being proactive and would measure success on the basis of results.

However, this practical approach, too, emanated from the depths of the Rebbe’s extraordinary appreciation of the Torah. Because Torah, the very wisdom and manual of the world’s Creator, says that these practical remedial means are useful – this empowers them to become useful. In His Torah G‑d tells us that one is to be healed through a doctor. These very words give the physician the ability to cure; the doctor is the medium through which G‑d chooses to grant healing.

So not only is Torah a guide to life, the Rebbe saw the Torah as affecting physical and material existence, empowering or altering the course of even the most mundane matters.

A Torah of Truth

The Rebbe would often cite the biblical descriptions of the Torah, Torah Achas, “One Torah,” and Toras Emes, the “Torah of Truth.”

Though the Torah is divided into the Written Law (Bible), and the Oral Law (Midrash, Talmud, Halachah, Kabbalah, etc.), in truth they are one.

With clarity, ingenuity and compelling logic, the Rebbe synthesized all these and more.

Truth is the same everywhere. The Rebbe showed how the teachings of seemingly disparate disciplines in Torah are all expressions of one wisdom, manifested on various levels – and the esoteric wisdom that determines a Divine emanation in higher realms is in fact the very same wisdom that informs the practical teaching given to each
of us.

Note: As stated at the opening of this booklet, it is impossible to offer an accurate account of the Rebbe’s personality. The attempt to depict his personality is only in order to bolster our own values and morals on the basis of his teachings and conduct, and not to express any assessment of the Rebbe or his greatness. Hence this chapter does not include anything about his genius or his greatness in Torah.

Nevertheless, the end of this booklet includes a brief discourse on the Rebbe’s Torah study culled from a number of sources.

To Live With the Times

The Rebbe would frequently repeat the statement of the Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of the Chabad movement, that “one must live with the times” (mehn darf lebbin mit der tzeit) – with the content of the week’s Torah reading. Because the Torah is “Toras Chaim,” a “Torah of Life,” the weekly Torah portion is meant to be a guide, providing life lessons for that particular time.

For Real

The Rebbe launched his nowTefillin is the channel through which G‑d bestows his blessings ubiquitous Tefillin campaign at the onset of the Six Day War, as Israel’s surrounding neighbors threatened to destroy her.

In doing so, he cited the Talmud, which interprets the Biblical verse, “All the nations of the land will see that the Name of  G‑d is called upon you and they will fear you,” as referring to Tefillin. The Tefillin campaign was a means to win the war. Tefillin,  said the Rebbe, is the tool, or channel, through which G‑d bestows His blessings. Furthermore, since all of the Jewish people are like one body with many parts and organs, when a Jew on one end of the world puts on Tefillin, he affects the people defending lives on the opposite end.

When asked for advice and blessing, the Rebbe would often instruct to check one’s Tefillin and Mezuzos to ensure that they are kosher, or take upon oneself to be more meticulous in other specific mitzvos in order to elicit G‑d’s blessing in all matters of life.