A note from the author: Today, on the 27th of Adar I, 5752 (Monday, March 2, 1992), the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabb Menachem M. Schneerson, suffered a crippling stroke (may G-d protect us) as he prayed at the resting place of his father-in-law. On this same date two years after, the Rebbe again experienced a stroke, losing consciousness; three months later, on the 3rd of Tammuz 5754 (June 12, 1994), the Rebbe’s soul returned to its Source. Seeing the agony the he underwent, and now not being able to hear or see him at all, is acutely painful. In some ways, we feel orphaned of a father and leader, personally and universally; but the Rebbe wouldn’t have wanted us to just sit and grieve. He would want us to take action to perpetuate the valiant mission he lived for: To turn a chaotic world upside down with goodness and holiness. To transform darkness into light. To unearth the G-dliness hidden within the unexpected places of existence, tilling and tending with passionate commitment until we revive G-d’s beautiful garden, where He feels welcome to dwell and be expressed in this world. To ask, “What am I needed here for, to do?”
I am a student at Jewish Girls Unite, the global online community using innovative education and technology to empower girls to embrace their rich Jewish heritage and create positive change in the world through their talents and strengths; a warm and secure forum which is more like a family, where we interactively discuss, study and get creative, inspiring girls to shine their inner light and express their unique voice of leadership. I have been learning Sichos in Yiddish online every Tuesday with several girls through JGU. The talks have deeply impacted my life with their authenticity and enthusiasm, clear focus and unwavering direction, poignant insight into the purpose of everything and applicable call to action to make the world a better place – often in small ways, but ones which effectuate big impact. I asked my teacher, Mrs. Nechama Laber, “Is there anything we do to commemorate today, the anniversary of the Rebbe’s tragedy?” She mentioned, in light of how the Rebbe’s stroke inhibited his ability to speak, the esteemed Rabbi Simon Jacobson prompted in a recent video: What is the call of the hour? We must “become the Rebbe’s mouthpiece,” to continue spreading his timeless teachings, however we can!
You can speak and lecture, write and publish, discuss, debate and Farbreng – even share on social media! It’s not a joke – all it takes is the click of a button with today’s technology; what a wonder. A good place to start might be with the following summary below (and there are plenty of others available on this site), which I invite you to share to your contacts. Also, encourage women and girls to join Jewish Girls Unite! I want to do my part and fulfill my obligation to the Rebbe, so I present summaries of what I have learned from his teachings. NOTHING – nobody, not a stroke, not even physical life – can take the Rebbe’s words away from us; his mission-statement is his legacy, just as pertinent and alive today; and within each of us resides a spark of his soul, the Moses of our generation, that guides us in which direction we must go. EVERYONE needs to get involved in their own way, in their corner Divinely-intended for them to elevate. “Tut altz vos ir kent – Do all you can!” are our marching orders for today. What are YOU going to do?
Our future depends upon you, to be a Lamplighter kindling the souls of others and illuminating the world with Torah and Mitzvos. One step at a time, you pave the way for Redemption. May it be now, when G-dliness is revealed in the world, and the Rebbe and all our luminaries are restored to our People, leading us along the way.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe was the biggest feminist: He recognized the core-strength of women and their sterling inner qualities, taking great consideration in empowering ladies to celebrate these gifts and positively influence others with them. Gently yet firmly, he reminded them it was unnecessary to conduct themselves like a man in order to make a genuine positive difference in the world. The Rebbe was one of few great leaders who made addresses tailored just to women for their learning and inspiration. He believed in the impact we have the ability to make, but from where do we draw that capacity? Read on, dear friend, to taste true wisdom; allow the sicha-summary below to open your eyes and empower you, for whom these words are meant.
When the decree arrived that all Jewish baby boys must be drowned in the Nile, Amram, contemporary leader and judge of the Jews, rationally decided to divorce his wife in order to curb the family unit and spare new arrivals from such a cruel fate; the nation’s husbands followed suit. Amram was challenged by his daughter Miriam, with his wife in agreement, that this was not a sustainable solution, and certainly not the key to salvation. She persuaded her father to remarry Yocheved in a widely celebrated event, and Moshe Rabbeinu, the Jewish savior, was born from their union. When myriad couples emulated, this mother and daughter became the dynamic duo of Hebrew midwives facilitating the baby boom of the generation of Redemption that followed. Thus, “Bizchus nashim tzidkaniyos shebe’oso hador niga’alu avoseinu miMitzrayim – In the merit of the righteous women that were in that generation, our ancestors were redeemed from Egypt.” Imagine the lost potential, had they not taken a stand!
With a superficial glance, the women’s actions may have seemed unwise: Who would sanely bring children into the world that they might not be able to sufficiently accommodate or protect from harm? If they survived physically, then perhaps their spiritual welfare would suffer in degenerate Egyptian society and be snuffed out. It was a controversial and unpopular choice – especially to the males – however, the women didn’t bow to social pressures. “Aizehu isha k’sheira?” ask our Sages: “Ha’osah ratzon ba’alah.” A proper woman is one who fulfills (“osah”) her husband’s will; but an alternative rendering is ‘the maker (“osah,” i.e. influencer) of her husband’s will.’ Miriam and Yocheved opposed their patriarch’s ruling, but that hardly blemished their femininity; rather, the women in Egypt influenced their husband’s opinion to align with theirs, through gentle firmness and nurturing ways. But how were they so confident in their choice to continue propagation, or how did they know that they were justified? To heed, or not to heed; that is the question.
The answer is another critical feminine tool, the “bina yeseirah – additional intuition” woven into our soul’s composition since Creation, Divinely aroused when we need its direction to stand up for what’s right – the right choices being what the Creator wills of us. If this narrative was irrelevant, it wouldn’t be recorded in the Torah, which isn’t merely a historical index but a guide for life. In this episode of our saga in Egypt, as well as modern-day for which it is the precedent, the woman’s deeper understanding penetrates through darkness and confusion to the truth within: The truth is our soul’s mission to serve G-d with undivided commitment and no personal calculations even when difficult; the conviction of self-abnegation to carry out His will is the exclusive key to universal Redemption. We must continue to grow our Jewish families and raise them to selfless Torah values. Even when society screams, “You can’t afford it, stop being impractical, it’s radical, etc.!” we will perpetuate the first Mitzvah to humankind to which our mothers in Egypt held fast: “P’ru ur’vu – Be fruitful and multiply!”
When we raise children in a spiritually adverse environment, we must exhaust all possible human methods to inculcate them with our own Jewish ethical standards, and shield them from harmful alien influences, since our blessings – including success – must be channeled b’derech hateva, through natural means. After this, we hand the outcome of our efforts over to G-d, placing the child under His guidance, just like baby Moshe’s sister Miriam who flanked the Nile (“v’seisatzeiv achoso”) to see how he fared. The Gemara explains “Achoso” as referring to G-d Who rested His Presence along the Nile to protect Moshe from misfortune. Since we made sacrifices to bring G-d into the picture, mortal Miriam’s stance by the river echoed the Jewess’ surrender to the Divine, and testified to His hand Whose involvement was already so transparent.
When we remain loyal to G-d and demonstrate our devotion to His mission for us, transcending our egos, personal worries or agendas and sometimes even mortal comprehension, we can rightfully demand He reveal the trial’s hidden goodness; He will also provide all the blessings and strengths we require to accomplish the feat. We earn the respect and inspire the alliance of others, and through our efforts will fortify a generation of proud Jewish children who carry on our Divine heritage, starting with the influence in our homes and their education. When people lament how in Exile we’re compelled to educate our children according to local practice and might come to submerge them in the metaphorical Nile of non-Jewish elements, we are encouragingly reminded that the (G-dly) soul can never be exiled, only the body, but the essential you is forever unbounded. Arrange your life and ingrain your children in such a fashion that the unlimited soul precedes the limited body to be in control of it, and influence all your earthly components for the sake of the spiritual, so the worldliness become G-dly and fulfills the mission of the soul, synonymous with the Creator’s will. Then, you will always operate from a place of freedom, and rather than becoming bogged down by the body and ‘drive to survive,’ your soul will fulfill its capacity to elevate it! You will direct your children to recognize and honor Hashem in their daily lives, just like the youth who left Egypt and exclaimed, “Zeh Keili v’Anveihu – This is My G-d and I will glorify Him!”
We have the power to raise strong Jewish families with strong Jewish values, despite the odds. We’ll do anything to fufill this command from G-d, and consistent connection it achieves with Him. We put in our effort and do all that we can to ensure a bright Jewish future; what a merit! The outcome in in His hands, and we are confident it is the Ultimate Redemption, very soon.