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Sunday, June 24, 2018 11 Tamuz 5778




12 Tammuz - Day of Liberation

The life of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, Sixth Rebbe and father-in-law of the present Rebbe, spanned a period of unprecedented upheaval and transition for the Jewish people. Born in the summer of 1880, he grew up in the small village of Lubavitch, the historic center of Chabad, 300 miles west of Moscow. Under the patronage of his father, it was there that he established the Tomchei Temimim Yeshiva, equipping a new cadre of students with the knowledge, vision and conviction to perpetuate traditional Jewish life irrespective of the political and social unrest that would soon sweep across Russia and the world.
He assumed the leadership of Chabad in the chaotic aftermath of Russia's revolution and civil war, rallying and reorganizing his scattered and disorientated chassidim in the face of famine, disease and heightening religious persecution at the hands of the communist regime.
On the third of Tammuz, 5687 – 1927, having just been released from incarceration [and capital sentence], but sentenced to exile at a city called Kastroma in the interior of Russia, the Previous Rebbe stood on the step of the train that was to take him to Kostroma, and spoke to the many chassidim who accompanied him to the station, and said: "We ask G‑d, blessed be He: “May the L‑rd our G‑d be with us” — and He will indeed be with us — “as He was with our fathers; may He not forsake us, nor abandon us.”  We cannot be compared to our fathers, for they were characterized by mesirus nefesh — literal self-sacrifice — for the Torah and its mitzvos. This is reflected in the well-known statement of one of our holy forebears when the former regime tried to force the rabbis to institute reforms in Jewish education and in the status of rabbis and the rabbinate.  Nevertheless, all the nations on the face of the earth must know: Our bodies alone were banished into exile to be ruled by the nations of the world. Our souls were never exiled, nor were they subjected to the rule of the nations.
We must openly declare for all to hear, that with regard to everything involving our religion — the Torah of the people of Israel, with its commandments and customs — no one is going to impose his views on us, and no force has the right to subjugate us.
With all the power of Jewish stubbornness and with our thousand-year heritage of mesirus nefesh, we must say, “Do not touch My anointed ones, and do not harm My prophets.”
This is the way the Previous Rebbe, permeated by mesirus nefesh spoke to the world. The Rebbe added that everyone knows that the laws [of the Russian government] permit us to study the Torah and observe its mitzvos (albeit with certain limitations). It is betrayal and libel [on the part of some Jewish youth youth] that is leading us to prisons and hard-labor camps.
This is our request to G‑d: “May He not forsake us, nor abandon us.” May G‑d give us the necessary fortitude not to be affected by physical suffering and, on the contrary, to accept it with joy. The punishment which we must suffer (G‑d forbid) for maintaining a cheder, for studying the Torah, or for observing its mitzvos, should reinforce us in the sacred task of strengthening Jewish life.
We must always bear in mind that prisons and hard-labor camps are transient, whereas the Torah, its mitzvos, and the Jewish people, are eternal.
May you all be strong and healthy, both materially and spiritually. I hope to G‑d that the punishment which I must temporarily suffer will, with G‑d’s help, inject fresh vigor in [our] eternal [mission of] strengthening Jewish life, and that we will merit the fulfillment [of the promise] that “the L‑rd our G‑d [will] be with us as He was with our fathers,” and that all of the Children of Israel will have light in their dwellings,8 in both a spiritual and material sense.
Twenty-seven days after the Rebbe was first arrested, on Tammuz 12-13, which was also the Previous Rebbe’s birthday, he was released imprisonment and exile in Soviet Russia (1927). Tammuz 12-13 is celebrated as a "festival of liberation" by the Chabad-Lubavitch community and for all Jews who have been touched by the work of Chabad/Lubavitch.
In 1940 the Previous Rebbe settled in the US and established 770 Eastern Parkway as the headquarters for the worldwide Chabad/Lubavitch activities.  

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