The czarist government was suspicious of many of
the chassidic Rebbeim and open to hear any charges leveled against
them. Thus when an accusation was leveled against R. Yisrael of
Ruzhin, they promptly imprisoned him, and planned to exile him to
Craft, boldness, and many thousands of rubles enabled
R. Yisrael’s chassidim to kidnap their Rebbe from his captors
and have him transferred over the border to Hungary where he settled
in the town of Sadiger.
His chassidim in the Ukraine were of course happy,
for their Rebbe was now able to live freely, but also sad, for there
were strict restrictions against crossing the border, and the chances
of their ever seeing him again were few.
One chassid thought of an idea. He was a wholesale
textile merchant and had business connections with dealers in many
He came to the Russian government with a proposal.
There was a fair in Vienna where fine fabrics that were not usually
available in Russia would be sold. He would go to Vienna, purchase
a large quantity of these fabrics, import them to Russia, pay full
customs duty on them, and sell them to the dress-conscious Russian
“Everyone will profit,” he explained.
“The nobles will have fine clothes; you will profit from the
customs duty; and there will still be enough left for me to make
it worth my while.”
The Russians were eager to make the money, but
reluctant to relax their travel restrictions. “What is the
minimum time you need for this enterprise?” they asked.
“A week,” the chassid answered.
“We will grant you an exit visa for a week,
but no longer,” the Russians said.
Beyond the profit he could make, the chassid of
course had another motive for his trip. From Vienna, he could travel
to Sadiger for Shabbos.
After completing his purchases in Vienna and dispatching
them to Russia, he headed to Sadiger, arriving mid-Friday afternoon.
He was an experienced chassid, and knew how to appreciate a Shabbos
with his Rebbe. He gratefully soaked in the davenning,
Yid.: “prayers”. 1Yid.: “table”; i.e., the
ceremonial Sabbath meal which a chassidic Rebbe conducts in the
company of his chassidim.
“I don’t know when, if ever, I will
have the opportunity of spending another Shabbos with the Rebbe,”
he said. “Could the Rebbe perhaps give me something, a coin
or a sacred article, share with me a teaching, or advise me to keep
a practice, which will enable me to keep alive the connection between
Reb Yisrael surprised the chassid with the immediacy
of his response. “I have a message for you, for all my chassidim
in the Ukraine, and in a larger sense, for all Jews.
“Despite the difficulties confronting the
Jews at present, we have the solace that the overwhelming majority
of our people hold true to our Torah heritage. This will not always
be the case. An age is coming when those who observe the Torah will
be in the minority, and most of our people will be unaware of their
“And there will be heavenly signs which will
appear to lead people away from the Torah. If the prophet Elijah
would conduct his confrontation with the idolatrous prophets of
I Kings 18:17-40.
In one of his letters
Igros Kodesh (Letters) of the Rebbe Shlita, Vol. 12, p. 414.
Basi LeGani 5711 (English translation; Kehot, N.Y., 1990), sec.
In the talks he delivered on the same occasion,
Likkutei Sichos, Vol. II, p. 501.
Sound the Great Shofar (Kehot, N.Y., 1992), pp. 35-36.
In Lubavitch, every chassidic story has always
been considered a teaching, and chassidim have always tried to pinpoint
the lessons that could be derived from it. Beyond all the particular
lessons that can be derived from this collection of stories of the
Rebbe Shlita, it is our hope that it will motivate our readers to
join in shouldering the task that the Rebbe Shlita has identified
as of utmost immediate relevance making the world conscious of Mashiach
and creating an environment in which his mission can be fulfilled.
1. the tish,
2. and the teachings of the Rebbe, making sure that they remained
boldly imprinted within his memory. All to soon, the Shabbos was
over.On Saturday night, before he departed, he took leave of Reb
Yisrael at a private meeting. After telling the Rebbe about the
chassidim in the Ukraine and asking for blessings for his own personal
affairs, he made a special request.
3. in that future era, the fire would descend, not on the altar
built for G-d, but on the altar of the Baal.“What will give
our people the strength to endure the challenges of that era? Coming
together and exchanging stories of tzaddikim, enlightening stories
of righteous men. Joining together in their families, with their
friends, and in their communities and relating stories of tzaddikim
will inspire our people and empower them to bring about the coming
4. the Lubavitcher Rebbe Shlita writes, “From the days when
I first began attending cheder, and even before then, I began to
picture the Future Redemption in my mind.”In the first chassidic
discourse the Rebbe delivered after assuming the leadership of the
5. he outlined his goals for our generation:We are in the midst
of the period called (ikvesa diMeshicha (the time when the approaching
footsteps of Mashiach can be heard). Indeed, we are at the conclusion
of this period. Our task is to complete the process of drawing down
the Divine Presence… so that it should abide within our world.
6. the Rebbe explained that though Moshe could have constructed
the entire Sanctuary himself, he refrained from doing so, in order
to enable the entire Jewish people to participate in this endeavor.
Similarly, the Rebbe continued, the Rebbeim of past generations
did not want the campaign to bring Mashiach to be their private
undertaking, but rather an effort shared by the Jewish people as
a whole, and by every individual Jew.This has been the center of
Lubavitch attention throughout the four decades of the Rebbe’s
leadership to date, and especially so, since the eve of the 28th
of Nissan, 5751. On that evening, the Rebbe turned to his followers
with a cry from the heart:
7. What more can I do to motivate the entire Jewish people to clamor
and cry out, and thus actually bring about the coming of Mashiach?…
All that I can possibly do is give the matter over to you. Now,
do everything you can do to bring Mashiach, here and now, immediately….
I have done whatever I can; from now on you must do whatever you