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Beginning of Redemption

The Jewish people under Communist rule experienced severe hardship and relentless persecution. A favorite target of the Communists was the "Schneersonists," followers of Rabbi Joseph I. Schneerson, the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, who were known for their zeal in upholding Judaism. The previous Rebbe exhorted his followers not to be intimidated by Communist tactics and to continue their activities to teach and practice Judaism. They persisted despite persecution, imprisonment and even the death penalty.

The Rebbe himself was arrested by the Communists in 1927 and imprisoned in the infamous Spalerno prison in Leningrad. After three weeks of brutal interrogation, he was initially sentenced to death, but after an international outcry his sentence was commuted to 10 years imprisonment, then to three years of exile in Kostroma.

The Rebbe was taken to the train station on Leningrad to begin his journey to Kostroma, and hundreds of chassidim gathered at the station to bid him farewell and catch a parting glimpse. The mood in the station was somber, with quite a bit of mourning and weeping. At the train station, under heavy guard, the Rebbe delivered a famous and defiant address: “Only our bodies have been sent into exile and subjected to alien rule - not our souls! We must openly proclaim that in whatever concerns our religion, Torah, mitzvos and Jewish customs, we Jews can accept the dictates of no one and for this matter no coercion will succeed.”


On the 3rd of Tammuz, 1927, the Rebbe left for exile in Kostroma. Only nine days later, on the 12th of Tammuz, he received word that he was freed completely. It was only later that the chassidim were informed that the Rebbe had initially been sentenced to death, and then to 10 years in prison. The three years of exile in Kostroma were a salvation in comparison. The Rebbe's son-in-law and successor, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, explained that the sentence of exile to Kostroma was actually the beginning of the redemption.


Years passed, and once again a significant event occurred on the third of Tammuz. In 1994, the chassidim received the bitter news that the Rebbe's physical presence was no longer with us. We would no longer be able to see the Rebbe or hear his teachings, until the revelation of Moshiach.

Naturally the initial reaction of the chassidim was shock and grief. However, when reviewing the history of this date they realized that this was the date the Rebbe himself had referred to as the “beginning of the Redemption,” a  date on which the previous Rebbe's life had been saved and his redemption had begun. 

The fact that G-d chose to have these two events fall out on the same calendar date gives us strength and encouragement that the 3rd of Tammuz, 5754 (1994) will likewise turn out in retrospect to be a day of liberation and salvation. This week, on the 12th of Tammuz, we will celebrate the complete liberation of the previous Rebbe from Soviet imprisonment. We look forward to also celebrating the complete and final Redemption when we will be reunited with the Rebbe.



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