It all started with a dream that a child had. We are all indebted to such dreamers, because we enjoy the fruits of their dreams, often without even knowing it. “Even when I was a child going to the cheder, a vision of the coming deliverance arose in my mind - the salvation of the people of Israel from the last exile. A deliverance that will explain all the suffering, persecution and murder experienced by our people, ”the Lubavitcher Rebbe wrote in 1956 in a letter to the second President of Israel, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi.

In all conversations and letters of the Rebbe - sometimes implicitly, but more often openly - we meet with a reference to the dream that filled his heart: the desire to see how our imperfect world enters a new era, devoid of wars and suffering, filled with goodness and striving for Divine knowledge. This dream was not just an abstract hope for the best. The Rebbe invested his entire life in the realization of his childhood vision.

In 1961, while talking to a group of Israeli students, the Rebbe shared his thoughts with them: “It is often asked how we can hope to create a kingdom of the Creator in this world if there are so few Jews who keep the commandments. Indeed, among the peoples of the world, Jews are a clear minority, and observant Jews are a minority within a minority. It is impossible to believe that the majority will accept the worldview and lifestyle of the minority. Indeed, if we turn to history, we will see that in the wars of the past, the largest army almost always won. Today, the situation has changed radically - one person who has taken possession of a super-powerful atomic bomb can control the whole world. Similarly, a person engaged in spiritual cultivation has a positive impact on the whole world.” Throughout his life, the Rebbe was invariably busy with exactly what he told the students about - he embodied a plan for the spiritual improvement of the world, hoping that it would entail his social improvement.

secret movement

Perfectly illustrating the Rebbe's plans in the early stages of his ministry are the memories of Nechama Cohen, which she shared with Simon Yakobson, the author of books on the philosophy of the Chabad movement. As a child, Nechama, who grew up next door to the Rebbe's residence in New York's Crown Heights, occasionally met him on the street. “Mr. Menachem, as I then called him, was always asking me what books I was reading,” Nechama wrote. - When I was seven years old, I took several science fiction books from the library - Robert Heinlein and Aizik Asimov, which I really liked. I confusedly shared my impressions with Mr. Menachem and advised him to get to know the works of these authors more closely, but he replied that he reads only Jewish books. One day I told him about Asimov's new book Foundation. Her hero is a great scientist named Gary Seldon, who created a science called “psychohistory”. The purpose of this science is to make the universe perfect. All this I retold to Mr. Menachem.

Some time later he told me that he had read a book that had so struck me. Then he said that he had written a letter to Asimov and received a reply. I was amazed that Asimov saw fit to answer (I was still a child and did not realize the magnitude of Mr. Menachem's personality). Then he asked what I think about the prospects for improving the world. I replied that it was a great idea, and then he said that he was creating such a movement right now and invited me to join it. These words shook me to the core. And so it happened in reality: the Rebbe created his own movement, and I became a member of it.”

A significant step in the realization of the Rebbe's dream was his speech in 1972, during which he called on the audience to open 70 new Chabad synagogues in the United States. On that day, the Rebbe received the symbolic keys to the new Lubavitcher Center on the grounds of the University of California, Los Angeles. “Having received the keys, I become the owner of this house. And if this is my house, then I want it to be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and that anyone who needs help can come there at any time. The center in California will serve as an example. Soon such Chabad houses will appear throughout the country,” the Rebbe said. Now 3,300 Chabad centers operate in 1,000 cities in 70 countries. On average, every 10 days a new center opens somewhere in the world. As Jewish tourists and businessmen traveling all over the world joke, in every corner of the earth you can find two things: Coca-Cola and Chabad.

Creating time

It is today that the concept of the Rebbe is recognized by all, successful and spread to a huge number of Jewish communities around the world, but in the past his Dream did not always meet with support. Even some members of his community—the Lubavitcher Hasidim—were initially skeptical. Evidence of how the consciousness of the Hasidim and their attitude towards the ideas of the Rebbe changed can be found in the diary of Zvi Fogelman. “During special meetings with the Hasidim, the Rebbe instills in the community the idea that Chabad must evolve from a small group into an international movement that will eventually change the world,” Fogelman wrote. At that time, all the activities of Chabad were limited to a few programs: on Saturdays they gathered children and told them stories from the Torah, arranged festive meals, and sang Jewish songs. In addition, there was one small yeshiva. Some well-intentioned rabbi even suggested that the Chabad court move to some quiet town in New Jersey: “A community like yours is more suited to rural silence than the huge metropolis of New York.”

Sometime back in the 1940s, having just arrived in the United States, the Rebbe said that "someday the New York Times will be devoted to the activities of the Hasidim." At that time, this statement seemed ridiculous and naive - after all, American newspapers even placed reports of the death of millions of Jews in Nazi death camps on the last pages. At that time, it seemed to almost everyone that even moderate Judaism, not to mention orthodox Hasidism, had no future in America.

70 years later, no one is surprised that the leading American media publishes reviews of books about Hasidism, and the New York Times, in a special issue dedicated to the bicentennial of the publication, prints a fictitious front page of the newspaper dated January 1, 2100, which contains information about the time of lighting Shabbat candles. . When a New York Times employee, an Irish Catholic, was asked if he really believed such news could be published in the year 2100, he replied: “I am not a fortune-teller and I do not predict the future. We do not know what the life of mankind will be like in 2100. But of one thing you can be sure: in the year 2100, Jewish women will still light Shabbat candles.”

Therefore, when another Chabad center opens today, a new Jewish family comes to it and is greeted with a warm welcome, when a Jewish student living far from his home realizes that he has another home where he is always welcome, and a Jewish girl from If an ordinary secular school knows what time to light Shabbat candles, then this happens because a little Jewish boy once dared to dream.

Mendl Kalmenson