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Email CANDLE LIGHTING
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To Lift Up

On the upcoming Wednesday, the 10th of Shvat, Chabad Chassidim will mark the passing of the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Joseph I. Schneerson, and the ascension to leadership of his son-in-law, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, the seventh Rebbe.

The Rebbe faced a complex challenge. The Chabad movement, which had been founded in Russia, numbered then in the mere hundreds, survivors of Communist persecution. The Holocaust had also taken its toll on the Chabad community. The Rebbe had been extremely close to his father-in-law, the Previous Rebbe, who had served as a fearless leader during some of Jewry's darkest moments. Now the Rebbe was left to carry on alone.

In the wake of the passing of the Previous Rebbe, Chabad Chassidim were grief-stricken. The new Rebbe was somewhat of an enigma to them, as he had always lived a quiet, modest life. Few Chassidim were aware of his brilliance, of his vast knowledge in Torah and worldly matters.

However, it did not take long for the Rebbe's leadership to become firmly established. From his very first steps, it became clear that the Rebbe was poised for a renaissance not only in Chassidic life but in Jewish life in general.

 

 *

A Chassid once needed to ask the Rebbe an urgent question; however, the door to the Rebbe's office was closed. Therefore, he slipped the letter in the space between the door and the door handle. Later, he felt bad that he had caused the Rebbe to bend down and pick up the letter from the floor. Therefore, he sent the Rebbe another letter to apologize. The Rebbe answered him thus: "Don't worry about it. This, after all, is my role--to lift things up--particularly those things that have been overlooked by others."

This is the role of the Rebbe as he himself defined it: to uplift the Chassidim and breathe new life into them. To transform the Jewish world, which at the time was exceedingly downtrodden and depressed, through an infusion of joy and energy.

For this purpose, the Rebbe sent out his emissaries worldwide. At the time, the Chassidim were few in number, yet the Rebbe chose his closest students and sent them to cities around the world, to serve as a beacon of light to the surrounding community, to draw Jews back to their heritage. Over the years, the network of emissaries widened; today, there is hardly a spot on the globe that does not boast a Chabad House.

As the Rebbe said: My role is to lift up, to elevate. 

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Our sages have compared the Jewish people to a human body. The generation before Moshiach's coming is likened to a heel--the lowest part of the body. To this lowly generation, G-d sent the personage of the Rebbe, to uplift us and infuse us with the joy of holiness, of Yiddishkeit.

Just as with the body, the heel is responsible for getting it where it needs to go, the same is true of the Jewish people. Lifting up the heel results in an elevation of the Jewish people for all generations, and brings us to the peak that we have yearned for centuries--the ultimate Redemption, with Moshiach.
 

 


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