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Here is a photo you should see

Friday, 26 June, 2020 - 3:27 pm

 Rebbe with Children.jpeg

Let me describe this photo captured in the summer of 1987 at a “Farbrengen” at Lubavitch World Headquarters. “Farbrengen” is the simple yiddish word for gathering, but in the 250 year old Chabad lexicon it represents the idea of Jews coming together and connecting on multiple levels through chassidic discussion, soulful tunes and brotherly toasts of L’chaim over glasses of wine or vodka.

When the Rebbe assumed the Chabad leadership after the passing of the Previous Rebbe, the Farbrengens he held frequently on Shabbat, Jewish and Chassidic holidays and at times randomly served as his platform to communicate with the world. He taught unique innovations in all levels of Torah scholarship, launched multiple campaigns aimed at transforming the Jewish landscape and shared his approach to critical issues facing the global Jewish community and humanity at large.

In attendance were thousands of people from across the social spectrum. World leaders, pulpit rabbis, businessmen, activists, rabbinical students and curious observers. But this photo reveals a demographic one would never expect to find at such a gathering; dozens of children - on the dais no less!

They were usually hidden from the crowd by the table, but in this photo taken from behind the dais as the Rebbe gestured a greeting to one of the guests sitting behind him, you can see how close these children were to the Rebbe as he communicated to the world. Rather than being a nuisance, they were encouraged to attend even though they were unable to follow the Rebbe’s talks at all.

Much has been written describing the Rebbe’s personal greatness, charisma, leadership, scholarship and impact on the world, but the core of the Rebbe’s mission can be summed up in the Zoharic description of Moshe who led the Israelites to freedom - a shepherd of faith.

As Moshe guided the Israelites through the desert, they experienced miracles on a daily basis. Surrounded by divine clouds and nourished by heavenly bread and water flowing from a rock, the Israelites lacked no proof of G-d. But their faith needed to be nurtured so that when they entered the Promised Land and the daily miracles ceased, their faith would permeate every fiber of their being and every aspect of their lives.

When the late Shimon Peres visited the Rebbe he later shared that on every subject the Rebbe displayed brilliant depth, but when speaking of faith he spoke like a five year old child.

Faith is the core of our identity and must be nurtured at every juncture of life. For the Rebbe, communicating the deepest Torah thoughts or addressing major world crises were all expressions of his role in making our inherent faith more relevant and applicable. In this capacity children are as important as venerable sages in their eighties.

Yesterday marked 26 years from the Rebbe’s passing, yet the Rebbe continues to nurture our faith through his teachings published in hundreds of books, preserved in thousands of hours of audio and video recordings now available in multiple languages, online as well. I encourage you to visit www.therebbe.org and avail yourself to this treasure which continues to transform and empower millions to make our world a better place, preparing it for the ultimate redemption through Moshiach.

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