1902: Childhood
1915: Learning
1916: World War I
1923: Soviet Jewry
1928: Marriage
Torah & Science
Flight from Europe
1939-45: Holocaust & Rebuilding
Author & Teacher
1950: Leadership
Chassidic Feminism
1960: Technology
1963: Rebellion
1967: The Six Day War
1972: Retirement?
1974: Mitzvah Tanks
Illness & Challenge
1983: Mankind
"Sunday Dollars"
1988: Passing of Rebbetzin
1989: The End of the Cold War
Missiles & Miracles
3 Tammuz 1994: Transmission
1994: Discovery of the "Reshimot"
Today: The Goal
Library: History & Biography
The Man and the Century:
A Timeline Biography of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

1991: Missiles & Miracles

In August of 1990, Saddam Hussein, brandishing threats to “burn” the Holy Land with his chemical warheads, marched the armies of Iraq into Kuwait. As the world reacted in alarm and fear, the Rebbe spread a message of confidence and trust.

The Rebbe quoted a centuries-old Midrashic passage which foretold with uncanny precision unfolding events. “In the year in which the Moshiach will be revealed,” the Midrash reads, “all the kings of the nations of the world will provoke one another... The king of Persia will provoke the king of Arabia, and the king of Arabia will go to Aram in order to seek counsel from them... And all the nations will be thrown into turmoil and will be terrified. Also Israel, too, will be thrown into turmoil and terror, and will cry: `Where shall we go? What shall we do?' And G-d will say to them: `My children, do not fear! All that I have done, I have done only for your sake. Why are you afraid? Do not fear, for the time of your redemption has come...’”

In response to queries as to whether to leave Israel for safer havens, the Rebbe’s reply was clear and unequivocal: the Land of Israel is the safest place in the world. When asked about the gas-masks being distributed in Israel anticipation of chemical warfare, the Rebbe opined that they would prove totally unnecessary. He also stated that the war would be over by Purim.

The failed attempts of the SCUD missiles to destroy Jewish life was nothing less than miraculous. As the missiles—each loaded with 600 pounds of explosives—rained down upon Tel Aviv, the terrified citizens, huddled in shelters and sealed rooms, listened in disbelief to the newsflashes. Buildings crowded with people were hit, yet virtually not a soul was harmed. “G-d threw down mattresses to cushion our falls, pushed walls out of our way,” declared one survivor.

On the day of Purim, traditionally a day of merry-making for the Jewish people, the war was officially declared over.

“Adequate attention is not being paid to these miracles,” said the Rebbe in public addresses in the weeks to follow. “The popular media throughout the world took note of the miraculous occurrences, yet there is a tendency to offer rationales and explanations. We must publicize that these are miracles that were performed by G-d!”

The Rebbe also stated that the events of the Gulf War are part of the miraculous prelude to the messianic era, a time when the divine essence of creation will be manifest and miracles will be commonplace.

Traditionally, Chassidic masters were known to have worked miracles. The founder of Chassidism, Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, was renowned as a miracle worker. Within the Chabad stream of Chassidism, however, the greater emphasis was placed on the leader’s teachings; yet stories of miraculous deeds also abounded.

Many people came to the Rebbe for advice. Many sent him requests that he pray for them. And many reported miraculous results of his intercession on their behalf.

A group of high-school students once came to see the Rebbe. “I have heard it said,” one of them asked, “that the Rebbe has the power to work miracles. Is this true? Can you perform supernatural feats?"

The Rebbe replied: "The ability to work miracles is not confined to a select group of individuals, but is within reach of each and every one of us. We each possess a soul that is a spark of G-dliness. So we each have the power to transcend the limitations imposed upon us by our physical natures, no matter how formidable they may seem.”

"To demonstrate this to you," said the Rebbe, "I will now perform a miracle."

Smiling at the startled young faces around his desk, the Rebbe continued: "Each and every individual in this room should resolve to improve himself in one specific area. You will each choose an improvement that you recognize as necessary but until now have perceived as being beyond your power to achieve. Nevertheless, you will succeed, proving to yourselves that the soul indeed has the power to overcome the natural 'reality.'”