web analytics
May 30, 2015 / 12 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Inside The Lubavitcher Rebbe

book-Outward

Here was a man with a grand, universal vision. Unlike most leaders he had no interest in personal gain or aggrandizement. Neither was he interested in travel. He lived within his brownstone Brooklyn world and his father-in-law’s mausoleum in Queens. He soon established himself as a powerful, humane, and brilliant leader. People began to flock to him for his sensitive and perceptive advice and guidance. His soft but piercing eyes engaged everyone he met, and his ability to focus on whomever he was speaking to was overwhelming.

The zeitgeist of the U.S. had a profound impact on him. He adopted American methods of publicity and public relations to achieve his mission and combined this with the discipline and devotion that came from the Russian campaigns. He did not hold back from public displays of overt Orthodox Judaism even in a society that separated State from Religion. And he was able to instill a universal character of openness, bonhomie, and altruism amongst his followers.

There were three broad goals. To build up the movement organizationally through divisions that involved youth, women, and emissaries, using publications and every means available to spread his ideology; to reach out to Jews anywhere and everywhere and offer them a path into intense Jewish life regardless of background or affiliation; and to extend his influence into the wheels of power wherever there were Jewish communities – even to the point of having a lobby in Washington.

It was inevitable in such a broad and dramatic campaign that there would be setbacks. Some of those he encouraged in outreach, like Shlomo Carlebach, went beyond his comfort zone. Some of his followers who had to go out and create their own little empires used financial methods that bordered on the illegal. As in any large movement there were crooks and manipulators.

His “Army of God” succeeded because of the authority of the Commander in Chief and because everyone had to adhere to the rules of uniform, style, and content he laid down. His writings became the new Oral Law for his movement and this was what enabled his representatives to keep the faith no matter where.

Perhaps his most controversial influence was felt in Israel where he encouraged his followers to integrate into Israeli society. But he was profoundly opposed to making any territorial concessions and campaigned strongly against any modifications of the traditional definition of Jewish identity.

It is a matter of debate as to whether his refusal to name a successor was intentional or not. His catchy campaign “We Want Messiah Now” led some to think he would be the Messiah himself. When he died some thought he would return for a “Second Coming.” But the organizational framework he established held firm and has expanded as perhaps the only example of a successful religious franchise. Certainly the influence of Chabad continues to grow and that is his legacy.

It has now been 20 years since his death and a range of new biographies has hit the bookshelves. Those by Adin Steinsaltz and Joseph Telushkin have been widely reviewed. There have been more critical and less adulatory works such as The Rebbe: The Life and Afterlife of Menachem Mendel Schneerson by Samuel Heilman and Menachem Friedman. None of them actually gets into the mind of the man. But for a well-researched inside picture that gives one a deeper insight into the ideology, background, and achievements of the Rebbe (despite minor quibbles over errors and inaccuracies of dates), I heartily recommend Chaim Miller’s to you as the most worthwhile.

This review was originally printed in the Algemeiner Journal.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Inside The Lubavitcher Rebbe”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
What's happened to NYC's Celebrate Israel Parade?
Israel Rejects as ‘False’ UJA Federation’s Claims about Israel Parade ‘Inclusion’
Latest Sections Stories
Respler-logo-NEW

When I complain, she tells me it is retail therapy.

West-Coast-logo

Tal Dimenstein has been selected to present her ELI Talk about Appreciation during this year’s conference in Chicago.

How is it possible that some of our people cannot see what I see, the miracle of the existence of the state of Israel?

Birobidzhan railway station sign is the world’s only one spelling the town’s name in Yiddish letters

She’s seen as a poster child for The Jewish Home’s efforts to reach beyond its Orthodox base.

Girls don’t usually learn Gemara. Everyone knows that.

Mordechai and his men shared a strong mutual loyalty.

“Can I wear tefillin in the bathroom?” That was the question US Private Nuchim Lebensohn wrote to Mike Tress, president of the Agudath Israel Youth Council, in a letter dated November 18, 1942. Lebensohn was not your typical young American GI. Polish by birth, he was forty-three years old and married when he was drafted […]

To what extent is your child displaying defiance?

This therapist kept focusing on how “I could do better,” never on how we could make the marriage work.

Mistrust that has lingered after the fiasco in Ferguson, Missouri, has edged the issue forward.

“The observance of a kosher diet is a key tenet of Judaism, and one which no state has the right to deny,” said Nathan Diament, executive director for public policy of the Orthodox Union.

More Articles from Jeremy Rosen
book-Outward

He combined intellectual achievement with deep spirituality and religious devotion.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/books/book-reviews/inside-the-lubavitcher-rebbe/2014/07/14/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: