Posting, concerning our articles series on the Messianic and spiritual movements in Judaism, which had to be published on March 29
The fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Sholom DovBer Schneersohn (“Rashab”), also known as “the Rebbe nishmosei eiden” (whose soul is in Eden), was born in the White Russian town of Lubavitch in 1860. After the passing of his father, Rabbi Shmuel (in 1882), he assumed the leadership of Chabad-Lubavitch.
Famed for his phenomenal mind and analytical treatment of Chabad Chassidism, Rabbi Sholom DovBer wrote and delivered some 2,000 maamarim (discourses of Chassidic teaching) over the 38 years of his leadership. In 1897, he established the Tomchei Temimim yeshivah, the first institution of Jewish learning to combine the study of the “body” of Torah (Talmudic and legal studies) with its mystical “soul” (the teachings of Chassidism); it was this unique yeshivah ( Jewish institution that focuses on the study of traditional religious texts) that produced the army of learned, inspired and devoted Chassidim who, in the decades to come, would literally give their lives to keep Judaism alive under Soviet rule.
In 1915, Rabbi Sholom DovBer was forced to flee Lubavitch from the advancing WWI front and relocated to the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don. In his final years, he began the heroic battle against the new Communist regime’s efforts to destroy the Jewish faith throughout the Soviet Union.
Rabbi Sholom DovBer passed away in Rostov on the 2nd of Nissan, 1920. His last words were: “I’m going to heaven; I leave you the writings.”
During the construction of the “Rostov Palace of Sport” on top of the Old Jewish Cemetery in 1940, his remains were secretly moved by a devout group of chassidim to a different burial site where they are located to this day in the “Rostov Jewish Cemetery.” While relocating his grave, the chassidim found his body full and not decomposed even though this was a full twenty years later. His grave is visited daily by followers of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement who come from all over the world.
Links: About Rabbi Sholom DovBer; works by Rabbi Sholom DovBer
Known informally as “Rambam (Maimonides) of Chabad Chassidus” (from his encyclopedic work on developing Chabad Chassidic philosophy into an organized system), Rebbe Rashab was a prolific writer on Chabad theology. Much of his work has been published in Hebrew, and some of it has been translated into English, and is available online.
- Sefer HaMa’amarim – a 29-volume set of Chasidic discourses, according to the years set. The most important of these include two three-year-long cycle of discourses beginning “Yom Tov Shel Rosh Hashanah 5666” (“Samech-Vov”) and “B’shaah Shehikdimu 5672 (Ayin-Beis)”. They serve today as major in-depth encyclopedic introductory works into “oral” Chabad Chassidism (as opposed to the “written” one, i.e., Tanya) studied in Chabad yeshivas.
- Igros Kodesh – five volume set of letters
- Toras Sholom – compilation of public addresses
- Kuntres Uma’ayan – basic Chasidic text on self-transformation (as opposed to self-nullification as taught in Musar philosophy) and battling evil desires in an intellectual, Kabbalah-based way
- Kuntres HaTefillah – explanation of Chabad Chasidic prayer
- Kuntres HoAvodah – even more in-depth analysis of Chabad Chasidic prayer
- Maamar Veyadaata – To know G-d, explanation of the unity of G-d with the created Universe and how to reach the understanding and appreciation of it
- Maamar Heichaltzu – On Ahavas Yisroel, mystical aspects, sources and reasons for a love to a fellow Jew (and explanation of how exactly the dictum of loving one’s fellow as oneself is the basis of all the Torah, including seemingly not related areas of it)
- Kuntres Eitz HaChayim – The Tree of Life—essay on the importance of learning (how learning of Judaism can transform a Jew’s life and personality and change his perception on his purpose in life), order of learning (for Chabad yeshivah students), and focus of Jewish learning.
- Chanoch Lana’ar – The Ethical Will
- Issa B’Midrash Tehillim – Bar Mitzvah Maamar—mystical aspects of the commandment of tefillin; a Chasidic discourse usually recited at by a Chabad boy at his bar mitzvah
- Some of his published works in Hebrew