From Switch board to Ipod: Keeping It Fresh

Friday, 4 August, 2017 - 2:53 pm


On my recent trip to New York, I was fortunate to visit a small office in Chabad Headquarters known as WLCC (World Learning Communications Center).

The Rebbe’s primary platform for teaching and inspiring world Jewry was through the traditional “Farbrengen” - a Chassidic gathering. In the early 1970s, a few young, tech-savvy rabbinical students developed a telephone system enabling Chassidim from around the world to tune into the Rebbe’s weekday Farbrengens live. The pilot project of three phone lines blossomed into WLCC; an elaborate system connecting dozens of locations and thousands of individuals to the events transpiring at Chabad HQ.

In the famous passage of Shema Yisrael, recorded in this week’s parsha Va’etchanan and recited twice daily, Moses instructs the Israelites: “These words which I command you TODAY shall be upon your hearts.” Although we received the Torah at Sinai long ago and the mitzvoth have been in effect for over 3,000 years, we are to view them as brand new – received today.

This is one of the most powerful elements of the Rebbe’s teachings. Every message is permeated with the awareness that each passage in the Torah is timeless, the smallest details of Jewish law are consequential and even the simplest stories are profoundly relevant. The Rebbe transmitted this refreshing approach to Judaism at the Farbrengens, thus initiating a revolution in Jewish life, by invigorating a generation of survivors and educating future generations of Jewish leaders.

In addition to the content of the message providing such spiritual energy, the Rebbe’s unique style of delivery truly energized the listeners. The clarity, passion and urgency inspired thousands to action. This is why WLCC was so important. Reading a transcript cannot compare to hearing it directly from the source.

When my parents moved to El Paso to establish a Chabad presence, their first purchase was a phone line by WLCC. (In the bottom right corner of the attached photo, you will notice the switch marked E.PSO). This was their lifeline to the refreshing inspiration of the Rebbe’s teachings and instructions.

Today, I receive this very same inspiration from the recordings of those Farbrengens. In addition to learning Torah from printed books, the Rebbe’s voice and delivery brings it all together and keeps it fresh. The playlist of these Farbrengens on my Ipod is my spiritual lifeline today, as the WLCC line was for my parents, years ago.

Although the Rebbe’s public talks were in Yiddish, JEM is publishing many of the videos with subtitles in various languages. I invite you to partake in this valuable treasure. Join us at Chabad after Havdalah (half hour after Shabbat ends) for the weekly segment of the Living Torah series. View the videos online at, or

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