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The Cantonists

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The Cantonists

During the time of the Tzemach Tzedek, Kronstadt was a fortified city near S. Petersburg. Among the soldiers stationed there were a number of “Cantonists” – young Jewish men kidnapped from their parents by the Czarist regime and conscripted for 25 years or more in the Russian army.
Lubavitcher Rebbe, R. Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch
The Cantonists
Disc 73, Program 290

Event Date: 13 Nissan 5745 - April 04, 1985

During the time of the Tzemach Tzedek, Kronstadt was a fortified city near S. Petersburg. Among the soldiers stationed there were a number of “Cantonists” – young Jewish men kidnapped from their parents by the Czarist regime and conscripted for 25 years or more in the Russian army.

One day, they learned that the Tzemach Tzedek was visiting S. Petersburg. They demanded of their superiors to allow the Tzemach Tzedek to visit them. Not only did Tzemach Tzedek meet with them, but he delivered a Chassidic discourse especially for them.

Unfortunately, “cantonists” exist even today – many Jews are ignorant about their Jewish heritage. But even as a cantonist, every Jew is a “Believer, child of a believer.” Deep within their souls they are begging for you to come and speak to them, to share with them Torah’s unadulterated teachings and the teachings of Chassidism. You might think they should first be taught Alef-Beis. But not at all! – They are begging and yearning to specifically be taught Torah’s innermost soul. So did the Tzemach Tzedek do in his time, and the story was passed on for us to follow his example.

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