“One of the greatest religious biographies ever written.” – Dennis Prager
In this enlightening biography, Joseph Telushkin offers a captivating portrait of the late Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, a towering figure who saw beyond conventional boundaries to turn his movement, Chabad-Lubavitch, into one of the most dynamic and widespread organizations ever seen in the Jewish world. At once an incisive work of history and a compendium of Rabbi Schneerson's teachings, Rebbe is the definitive guide to understanding one of the most vital, intriguing figures of the last centuries.
From his modest headquarters in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, the Rebbe advised some of the world's greatest leaders and shaped matters of state and society. Statesmen and artists as diverse as Ronald Reagan, Robert F. Kennedy, Yitzchak Rabin, Menachem Begin, Elie Wiesel, and Bob Dylan span the spectrum of those who sought his counsel. Rebbe explores Schneerson's overarching philosophies against the backdrop of treacherous history, revealing his clandestine operations to rescue and sustain Jews in the Soviet Union, and his critical role in the expansion of the food stamp program throughout the United States. More broadly, it examines how he became in effect an ambassador for Jews globally, and how he came to be viewed by many as not only a spiritual archetype but a savior. Telushkin also delves deep into the more controversial aspects of the Rebbe's leadership, analyzing his views on modern science and territorial compromise in Israel, and how in the last years of his life, many of his followers believed that he would soon be revealed as the Messiah, a source of contention until this day.
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About the Author
Joseph Telushkin is a rabbi, scholar, and bestselling author of eighteen books, among them A Code of Jewish Ethics and Words That Hurt, Words That Heal. His book Jewish Literacy is the widest-selling work on the topic of Judaism. He lives with his wife, Dvorah, in New York City, and lectures regularly throughout the United States.
Table of Contents
Author's Note xxi
Part 1 Leadership of the Rebbe
Chapter 1 A Rebbe for the New World 3
Chapter 2 1950-1951: Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson Becomes Rebbe 16
Part 2 On Being a Rebbe
Chapter 3 Connecting to Individuals: The Experience of Yechidus (One-on-One Meetings) 43
Chapter 4 The Ten Campaigns: Taking Judaism into the World 74
Part 3 Seven Virtues
Chapter 5 Love Your Neighbor: The Focus on the Individual 91
Chapter 6 Creating Fearlessness, Creating Leaders 100
Chapter 7 Optimism and the Careful Choosing of Words 109
Chapter 8 "I'm Also Tired. So What?": The Rebbe's Work Ethic 118
Chapter 9 Expressing Disagreement without Being Disagreeable 131
Chapter 10 Anything Worth Doing Is Worth Doing Now 145
Chapter 11 Judaism's Mission to the World 156
Part 4 Life Lessons according to the Rebbe
Chapter 12 "It Is a Commandment to Tell the Story": The Rebbe and Journalism 165
Chapter 13 Chess, Thieves, Astronauts, and Atoms 178
Chapter 14 Going to the Poolroom with the Rebbe's Blessings, and Gratitude without End 189
Part 5 Uniting the Jews: The Rebbe's Approach to a Fractured People
Chapter 15 "There Also Needs to Be a Girl": Women, Judaism, and the Twentieth Century 215
Chapter 16 Reform Jews, Conservative Jews, and the Rebbe's Open Door 223
Chapter 17 No One Is beyond the Possibility of Repentance 230
Chapter 18 Differences That Don't Affect a Friendship: The Rebbe and the Rav 236
Part 6 Judaism Confronts Modernity: Controversial Views of the Rebbe
Chapter 19 United States: Prayers in the Schools, Menorahs in the Streets 257
Chapter 20 Israel: Territorial Compromises Won't Bring Peace 273
Chapter 21 Soviet Jewry: Public Demonstrations Will Hurt Russian Jews 293
Chapter 22 When It Is Wrong to Make Aliyah 307
Chapter 23 The Revolving Sun, Evolution, and the Age of the World: A Dissenting View 318
Chapter 24 Why People Shouldn't Go to College, and Why Those Who Do Shouldn't Drop Out 329
Part 7 The Rebbe and His Family
Chapter 25 Mrs. Schneerson from President Street 363
Chapter 26 Devotion beyond Measure 378
Part 8 "It Is the Books That Were Victorious"
Chapter 27 The Courtroom Battle That Tore Apart a Family 387
Part 9 The World of Messianism
Chapter 28 The Rebbe and the Messiah 415
Part 10 Leadership after Life
Chapter 29 Leadership after Life: The Rebbe's Priorities as a Blueprint for Shaping the World 441
Part 11 The Life of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson
Chapter 30 Major Events in the Life of the Rebbe: A Timeline Designed to Be Read 457
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
You can learn a lot about fulfillment in life, living, and true happiness, even if you are not a jew. The writtings are very easy to follow and appealing to anybody with any level of education. I love it and recommend it to all.
This book is fascinating from cover-to-cover. I was always a friend of Chabad, but now I truly understand their passion and drive (that they get from the Rebbe)... and it is contagious, as I think that I am catching the "bug" after reading this book.
The person we gifted this to has told me what a wonderful book it is and how much she is enjoying it.
Rabbi Telushkin omits much in his treatment of the issue of Moshiach. Namely, he ignored the remarkable positive responses from the Rebbe to activities identifying the Rebbe as Moshiach as proof of both: the Rebbe acknowledges his identity as Moshiach and approves of activities to make the public aware with an acceptable approach. There are edited talks of the Rebbe which are unequivocal. Yet, a few are offered for illustrative purposes and to counter the unsubstantiated claims of Rabbi Telushkin. In Kuntres Beis Rabbeinu Sh'B'Bavel, ch. 5, the Rebbe states 'The leader of the generation is also the Moshiach of the generation.' In Sefer Hasichos 5751, vol 2, p. 501, the Rebbe states 'One should especially learn these topics from the teachings of Chassidus, and especially in his Torah (the chassidic discourses and Likkutei Sichos) of the leader of the generation, as a foretaste, example and preparation for the learning of the Torah of Moshiach.' Here the Rebbe openly describes the Nasi Hador's Torah as Likkutei Sichos, which is his own, which when joined with the previous excerpt means he is the Moshiach of the generation. The Rebbe also said that 'the leader of our generation is our Righteous Moshiach' in Sefer HaSichos 5752, vol 2, p. 373. In Sichos Kodesh 5752 vol 2, p. 317-18, the Rebbe declares "The first redeemer is the last redeemer, the redeemer of our generation, my father in law, leader of our generation, additionally and mainly, since the aspect of 'he was victorious' has already transpired, there must already be the true and complete redemption through our righteous Moshiach, leader of our generation, the Previous Rebbe; the same applies to his successor." Here the Rebbe is referring to himself as Moshiach. In Parshas Mishpatim, 5752, footnote 148, the Rebbe inserts, "And more specifically pertaining to our generation, the acronym 'MiYaD' indicates the three eras of the Rebbe, my father in law, leader of our generation, from the most recent in order: Moshiach (whose name is Menachem), Yosef Yitzchak, Dovber (the second name of the Rebbe Rashab." Lastly, in Parshas Chayei Sarah 5751, ch. 12, and footnote 108, the Rebbe says "Melech HaMoshiach . . . stands on the rooftop of the Holy Temple and announces to Israel, 'Humble ones, the time of your redemption has arrived' as has been announced and is being announced lately . . This announcement is coming from the diaspora . . ." Here, the Rebbe is referencing the numerous times he has stated 'the time of your redemption has arrived' as a sign of his identity as Moshiach. On Parshas Tazria Metzora 5751 the Rebbe spoke in the sicha that the students in Gemara Sanhedrin p 98b all described their teacher as being Moshiach. Here the Rebbe writes 'anan naneh basrei', that Chassidim should follow their example .