The Rebbe’s binder with his handwritten notes, discovered following his passing in 1994
The Rebbe’s binder with his handwritten notes, discovered following his passing in 1994

In the Rebbe's correspondence and his annotations to Chassidic texts, there are occasional references to his reshimot--“journal” or “notebooks.”

Three such notebooks came to light about a month after the Rebbe's passing, when they were discovered in a drawer in his room.

The entries in these journals date between the years 1928, the year of the Rebbe's marriage, and 1950, the year of his father-in-law's passing, which was followed by his assumption of the leadership of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. Throughout these years—which included his evacuation from Berlin in 1933, his escape from Nazi-occupied Paris in 1941 and his subsequent wanderings as a refugee in Vichy France and Fascist Spain—the Rebbe kept these notebooks with him at all times, jotting down the scholarly and sublime products of his phenomenal mind also in the most precarious of circumstances. One entry, for example, is dated the evening before he boarded the ship that was to rescue him from Nazi-occupied Europe in June of 1941.

Over the next five years, excepts from these notebooks were prepared for publication by a team of scholars, providing tens of thousands of thirsting Chassidim with a weekly infusion of "new" teaching and insight from the Rebbe

Aside from the tremendous scholastic and historical value of these notes in their own right, they also provide a unique perspective on the entire body of the Rebbe's teachings. Here one can find the seeds of many a concept which the Rebbe subsequently developed in the decades to come and made available in the 300,000 pages of transcribed talks, essays and letters that issued from his lips and pen in the years 1950 to 1994.

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The Rebbeim on the Writings of a Tzaddik

"I am going to heaven. I leave you the manuscripts."

Last words of Rabbi Sholom DovBer of Lubavitch (1860-1920)

"Our sages have said that, "The righteous emulate their Creator." At Mount Sinai, G‑d revealed Himself to man; then He ascended back to "heaven", withdrawing His manifest presence from our physical world. But His word remained: by studying His Torah, we unite with the very essence of G‑d. In the same way—since the righteous emulate their Creator—a righteous person is present, in his entire essence, within his writings, also after his tangible presence has departed from earth."

From an address by the Rebbe, November 1985 (free translation)