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Selections: What's on the Rabbi's Mind

A Letter to St. Louis Jewry

Dear Friends:

Today, July 1, the third of Tammuz, marks the 20th yartzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory. Throughout the Jewish world and beyond much attention is being focused on the Rebbe’s transformative teachings and the enormous influence he had on Jewish life in the 20th century.

In recent weeks two significant biographical works about the Rebbe have been released. The first, Rebbe: The Life and Teachings of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Most Influential Rabbi of Modern Times, by Joseph Telushkin, made the New York Times’ bestseller list within days of its appearance. The second, My Rebbe, by the renowned scholar, Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz, is already in its second printing. Closer to home, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, proclaimed July 1, the anniversary of the Rebbe’s passing, as a “Day of Good Deeds” in the State of Missouri, and called on Missourians “to increase in their acts of goodness and kindness towards one another”.

It is noteworthy how some characteristics of the Rebbe’s leadership come to the fore again and again. The Rebbe saw every individual as being of paramount importance. Every single Jew, indeed every human being, whatever their worldview or their station in life, the Rebbe saw them as indispensable -- untapped reservoirs of goodness and holiness. Moreover, the same holds true of our every moment and our every act. Each of those is endowed with G-dly significance and each possesses transformative cosmic potential. Consequently, the Rebbe taught that every association between people, every moment in which we interact with G-d’s world, was deserving of our undivided attention and our wholehearted effort. Each was an opportunity for transformation and redemption, and each was to be approached positively and experienced joyfully. What a meaningful way to engage G-d’s world!

On this occasion I would like to encourage you to take time to learn more about the Rebbe and to reflect on his teachings. The Rebbe is every Jew’s treasure; one needn’t be a card-carrying Chabadnik to drink from the refreshing waters of his wellsprings. Whether it is through reading these new biographical works, or exploring the Rebbe’s teachings on Chabad.org, or attending more in-depth classes on the Rebbe’s enormous scholarly output, you are bound to find your Judaism enriched and enhanced.

Sincerely,

Rabbi Yosef Landa

P.S. We stand together with our brethren in Israel at this time of profound grief, and extend our prayerful wishes that henceforth only good and joyous tidings emanate from our Holy Land.

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