G-d's Gift to the World

Friday, 11 April, 2014 - 5:27 pm

We often hear the phrase "G-d's gift to the world" bandied about. Aside from the essential value of every person as a gift from G-d, there are few people about whom it can be said that their life is so transformative that they are truly G-d's gift to the world.

On this day in 1902 no fewer than six telegrams arrived at a home in Nikolayev, Ukraine. The telegrams were sent by the fifth Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Sholom Dovber Schneerson to his distant relatives R' Levi Yitzchak and Chana Schneerson, upon the birth of their eldest son. Each telegram contained very specific instructions regarding the care and upbringing of this baby boy who they named Menachem Mendel. The fifth Rebbe was extremely involved in the development of this child. A few years later, he suggested to his wife, that they should seriously consider arranging a match between the young boy and their granddaughter, Chaya Mushka (a marriage that would eventually take place much later in 1928). Though they would never meet, Rabbi Sholom Dovber sensed special qualities in the soul of the boy and that he was destined for greatness. The young Menachem Mendel eventually ascended to the leadership of the movement that was led by his wife's father and grandfather. In 1950 he became the Lubavitcher Rebbe, whose birthday is today the 11th of Nissan.

Much as been written and said about the Rebbe's unique qualities. Two additional biographies are currently being published by Joseph Telushkin and Adin Steinsaltz respectively. There are many great people. People who have made major contributions to humanity in various fields of scholarship - Torah, science, medicine and many more. There are people who have inspired others with their teachings and example. There are those who posses a visionary quality which enables them to set the tone for the future. Often these leaders are so involved in the global scene that they have trouble relating to the concerns of individuals. The uniqueness of the Rebbe is that while he directed a worldwide movement, guided religious, political, educational, scientific, medical and civic leaders on issues of broad reach and spoke and wrote a wealth of Torah teachings, he was still able to relate to the individual. A person who was in an audience with the Rebbe or was standing before the Rebbe to receive a dollar to give to Tzedakah and a blessing felt as though they were the only concern. At that moment there was nothing more important to the Rebbe than they and their issues. This quality is one that the Torah uses to describe what a Rebbe is supposed to be. A shepherd concerned about each sheep. A leader who connects with the spirit of each person in their flock. The combination of a leader who is involved in every facet of life and a father who cares about every child is what makes one a Rebbe. 

Today is the Rebbe's birthday. To learn more about the Rebbe, his teachings and his influence on the lives of so many, please visit 

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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