Text Only

11 Nissan, 5759

"Happy Birthday, Rebbe"


The Table of Contents contains links to the text. Click on an entry in the Table of Contents and you will move to the information selected.



Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12


In honor of his 97th birthday,
11 Nissan, 5759

Click here, to see pictures of the Rebbe
The Daily Sicha (in Real Audio) - Listen to selected excerpts of the Rebbe's Sichos
[talks] which are relevant to the particular day.


We are pleased to present, to the visually impaired and the blind, our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach.


In this issue, we focus on the Rebbe's 97th birthday.


This Jewish year, is the year 5759 since Creation. The Hebrew letters are Hei-Tav-Shin-Nun-Tes. Over a decade ago, in the year 5742, the Rebbe stated that the Hebrew letters for that year were an acronym for "This should be the year of the coming of Moshiach."

Since that time, the Rebbe has publicized a phrase describing the year according to the acronym of its Hebrew letters. This year has been designated by the Rebbe's followers as "Hoyo T'hei Shnas Niflaos Tovoh" meaning "It surely will be a good year of wondrous miracles."


Our sincere appreciation to L'Chaim weekly publication, published by the Lubavitch Youth Organization, for allowing us to use their material.

Also, many thanks to our copy editor, Reb Mordechai Staiman, for his tireless efforts.


It is our fervent hope that our learning about Moshiach and the Redemption will hasten the coming of Moshiach, NOW!

Rabbi Yosef Y. Shagalov,
Committee for the Blind

2 Nissan, 5759
Brooklyn, New York


In the first few pages of the Haggadah we read: "This year we are here; next year, may we be in the Land of Israel. This year, we are slaves; next year, may we be free people."

On these words the Rebbe explains, "Mentioning the Land of Israel and our ultimate freedom at the beginning of the Haggadah suggests that the purpose of the seder is not only to relive the exodus from Egypt, but to prepare for the Redemption."


The Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson of Lubavitch, issued a call that "The time of our Redemption has arrived!" and "Moshiach is on his way!"

The Rebbe stressed that he is saying this as a prophecy, and asks us all to prepare ourselves for the Redemption, through increasing acts of goodness and kindness.

Let us all heed the Rebbe's call.


What marks the birth of a child? The moment the child is freed from the constraints and limitations of the womb. And what marks the birth of the Jewish people? When we were freed from the physical limitations of Egyptian slavery and the spiritual constraints of the idolatry and culture we had adopted during our exile in Egypt!

And so, because of the magnitude of the change from one status to another, we celebrate. We celebrate our birthdays on the anniversary of the day we were born and we celebrate the birth of the Jewish people on Passover.

The Talmud teaches that on your birthday good fortune is on your side. In addition, Jewish mysticism explains that on the anniversary of an event, the divine forces that were present on that day are present once more.

This means that on Passover, the divine forces that helped us lift ourselves out of slavery of mind, soul and body can be harnessed to help us lift ourselves out of these constraints and limitations once more.

A few days before Passover, the birthday of the Jewish people, we celebrate the 97th birthday of the Rebbe.

Celebrating a birthday in a traditional Jewish manner involves using the day for the greatest spiritual benefit. This is done through giving money to charity; sharing words of Jewish thought and content with friends and family; reflecting on the year gone by; making good resolutions for the future.

On his birthday, the Rebbe has regularly devoted his time to giving. He has given blessings, he has distributed holy books as gifts to thousands of followers and admirers, and he has shared his time and his vast knowledge of Torah concepts.

Nevertheless, many people will want to give gifts to the Rebbe on such a special occasion.

What gifts can we give the Rebbe? A single good deed. A few moments specially set aside for Torah study. A coin in a tzeddakah--charity--box each weekday. A determined effort to grow Jewishly. Any Torah study or mitzvot performed with the intent of preparing for and hastening the long-awaited Redemption for which the Rebbe has devoted his life.


On Sunday, 11 Nissan, (March 28), we celebrate the Rebbe's 97th birthday. It is customary to recite daily the chapter in Psalms corresponding to one's years. Chasidic tradition encourages that one recite daily the Psalm of the Rebbe, as well. Thus, Jews the world over will begin reciting Psalm 98 on Sunday, 11 Nissan, in the Rebbe's honor.


In general, Psalm 98 describes how the people of Israel in the Messianic Era will praise G-d for redeeming them.

The Psalm begins, "Sing to the L-rd a new song, for He has performed wonders..."

Rashi explains that all "new songs" refer to the time of the Redemption. Midrash Tanchuma lists ten great songs of the Jewish people. This Psalm, according to the Midrash, will be the tenth and final song sung by the Jewish people in the time of the Redemption.

Chasidus explains that although a previous Psalm (96) also spoke of a "new song" the fact that the term is repeated teaches us that even in the Messianic Era, the era of ultimate spirituality, there will still be room for growth.

Verse three begins: "He has remembered His loving-kindness and faithfulness to the House of Israel..." The commentary known as Radak explains that because of G-d's commitment to us to act with Divine kindness and faith, G-d will deliver Israel from the present exile and announce the advent of Moshiach.

Verse four begins, "Raise your voices in jubilation to the L-rd, all [the inhabitants of] the earth..." According to Radak's commentary, even the non-Jews should rejoice in recognition of Israel's salvation. Why is this so? Because the redemption of the Jewish people signals the redemption of the entire world as well.

But not only will all the nations of the world rejoice! As we read in verse seven, "The sea and all of its creatures will roar in joy, the earth and its inhabitants." As Ibn Ezra explains, all will rejoice at the universal peace ushered in by Moshiach.

May it commence NOW!


by Rabbi Aaron and Rivkah Slonim*

This year marks the fiftieth year from when the Rebbe assumed leadership of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. In his inaugural address, the Rebbe outlined his mandate and vision in broad strokes. He spoke of the various stages in Jewish history and then asserted that the culmination was at hand; the Rebbe proclaimed that the task of this generation is to usher in the Messianic Era.

It was a bold statement followed by bold action. Propelled by his deep faith in the Jewish soul and his vision of Jewish destiny, he set into motion a plan to bring Yiddishkeit --unadulterated, deeply intellectual yet passionately vibrant Judaism--to Jews everywhere. From among his Chasidim, the Rebbe sent young couples to settle in cities around the world. He charged them with establishing Jewish educational and social agencies and providing their communities with programs and services that would enrich Jewish life.

With the passage of time, the growing international network of Chabad Lubavitch institutions dotted the landscape of Jewish life with greater density. Lubavitch Mitzvah Tanks, Mitzvah Campaigns, usage of the mass media to promote Jewish ideals, innovative study programs and social services, became ubiquitous.

In time, the initial skepticism, even criticism of the Rebbe's radical ideas, gave way to grudging admiration and most importantly, emulation in many forms. Today, outreach is arguably the most important term in Jewish life-across the board.

But, we must understand that for the Rebbe "outreach" is in reach; peeling away at the onion skins to reveal the essential core of each Jew and make manifest their inviolable connection to G-d. The Rebbe's premise: every Jew has a soul; every soul wants to be united with G-d and will respond to Torah, and that what stands between the soul and the response is not essential, but extraneous, to our true selves. His formula and mandate to us: get out there, and find a way to bypass the artificial barriers, the cosmetic differences, and unnecessary fears, so that every Jew has the opportunity to taste Torah!

In the context of Torah tradition, 50 years has special significance. The fiftieth year is termed the Yovel, the Jubilee. During that year slaves were emancipated, the earth lay fallow (as during the Sabbatical year) and properties that had been sold were restored to their original owners.

Spiritually, the Jubilee year represents a time of release from worldly constraints and concerns. It represents the abnegation of one's being to G-d; a place where there is no conflict, for the curtain of self-deception that separates man from G-d is no more.

The Rebbe told us that we are at the threshold of such a time and urged us to do everything we can to make it come about sooner. The Messianic Era is the Jubilee year that lasts for eternity. A time when the G-d-liness--which is at the core of everything--is revealed and manifest and we are freed of the earthy, material, and essentially superficial involvements that so consume us today.

We are in the Jubilee year since the Rebbe first outlined his vision. Forty-nine years of "work"--of seeking to uncover and bring about a time of ultimate unity with G-d--have already passed. May this year be the consummate Jubilee year and may we celebrate Passover in true freedom: This year in Jerusalem!


*. The Slonims direct the Chabad House-Jewish Student Center at Binghamton University.


by Rabbi Elchonon Lesches**

I remember the seventh day of Passover that year as a stormy day, an ideal day to stay indoors. But the seventh day of Passover is when Lubavitcher chasidim the world over walk to nearby synagogues to share words of Torah and the joy of the holiday. So, despite the weather, a friend and I set off to one of the synagogues in the [North American] city where our yeshivah was located.

After a half-hour walk we reached the shul. We received a gracious welcome from the rabbi, who greeted us with a warm smile. "The Lubavitchers!" he said. "You came, just like every Yom Tov."

We sat down and as we waited for the rest of the minyan to arrive, the rabbi began to reminisce. "I knew the Rebbe even before he became Rebbe. I worked near 770 Eastern Parkway, and sometimes I would see him on his way to the Merkos office. I noticed that the Rebbe respected everyone.

"Even after I moved here, I maintained contact with the Rebbe through letters. It was clear that he always understood the situation.

"In one particular instance, I was privileged to be part of an incredible series of events where the Rebbe brought back a soul to its heritage, almost against its very own will.

"When I first moved here, I was the rabbi in the main shul downtown. My position brought me in contact with various dignitaries and city officials.

"One day, a woman arrived on urgent business, 'something to do with the Grand Rabbi of Lubavitch,' the secretary told me. The woman sat quietly in my office for a while. Then finally she said, 'The Lubavitcher Rebbe sent me to you.'

" 'Why don't you tell me what this is all about?' I encouraged her.

"She recounted the story with obvious pain and guilt. Her teenage daughter had gotten involved with a bad crowd. She and her husband had not realized the extent until she found a note from her daughter saying that she was running way from home, escaping with her 'friend,' a man who was obviously up to no good. In desperation, the parents had turned to the Rebbe, who had told them to contact me. She had boarded the first flight to my city and was now waiting for me to help her reclaim her daughter.

"I sat there stunned, wondering what the Rebbe wanted from me. True, I had connections with many powerful people, but no one who would likely have information relevant to this case. Nonetheless, I knew I must be able to help her in some way. 'Madam,' I said, 'if the Rebbe sent you to me then everything will work out well.' She gave me the name of the man who her daughter had mentioned in the note. We arranged to meet again in a couple of days.

"As soon as she left my office, I called the Chief of Police. When I mentioned the name she had given me, he recognized it instantly. 'We know him,' he said. 'He's the new mobster in town. He's definitely been involved in many recent crimes, but we have nothing concrete on him.'

"My next call was to another contact, someone who worked at a city investigative organization. He said they were watching him closely and knew he was a seasoned criminal, but there was no hard evidence to convict him. A few more calls followed and soon I was out of leads. I was getting nowhere.

"It was around this time that something else occurred to me. I am not a Lubavitcher but there are plenty of Lubavitchers in our city. Some of them even have better contacts than I do. Why had this woman been sent to me? What was it that the Rebbe had perceived with his G-dly vision, something I had that the others had no access to?

"Then it dawned on me. I was the only Jewish prison chaplain in the city. Two weeks earlier, one of the guards had taken me to a high-security zone that I had never visited. 'We got a big one,' the guard had revealed to me. 'Controls a major organized crime ring around here. Jewish too.'

"He led me to a prisoner in solitary confinement, and we spent some time talking about G-d and Judaism. This criminal must be my contact, I thought, the link that the Rebbe had known about.

"On my next visit to the jail a few days later, I met with the Jewish prisoner and brought up the name of the man I was investigating. The prisoner made a face. 'What business do you have with him?' he asked. 'And who does he think he is anyway, stepping all over our territory! We should have finished him off a while ago!' Seeing that the prisoner might be willing to help me, I explained that the man in question had abducted a Jewish girl and that I was trying to find her whereabouts. No doubt due to the Rebbe's blessing, he promised to help me. 'Don't worry, Rabbi,' he assured me, 'I'll take care of it.' I knew better than to ask how this was feasible from behind prison bars.

"A day later the police received a call that a man was being beaten on the street. They rushed to the scene to find the very same man who had run away with the girl lying unconscious on the pavement, with a bag of drugs by his side.

"The man was arrested. As he was not a U.S. citizen, he was scheduled for deportation. The girl's mother wanted me to ensure that her daughter would not follow this man out of the country. Here again the Rebbe's blessing assisted us. The judge overseeing the case was another of my 'contacts!' We spoke about what arrangements we could provide for the girl, who would be asked to testify later and might therefore be in danger. He issued an order placing the girl under the supervision of a local Orthodox family. With time, her outlook changed completely and today she is a fine woman with nice Jewish children.

"The Rebbe was concerned even about those who were not concerned about themselves!" the rabbi summed up.


**. Rabbi Elchonon Lesches is the author of "Chassidic Portraits" (1998: Otsar Sifrei Lubavitch, Inc.,).

Back to "Living With Moshiach" Home Page