"Moshiach is ready to come now-our part is to increase in acts of goodness and kindness" -The Rebbe

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Rebbe's role vis-à-vis his predecessors

A Rebbe's role vis-à-vis his predecessors

Rabbi Y. Oliver

On the one hand, the Rebbe is our Rebbe now, and the earlier Rebbeim are not; on the other, he is the continuation of his predecessors, who are all our Rebbeim now (see here). I would like to briefly explore the elements of this apparent contradiction (see here for an earlier post resolving this issue).

It would seem that a Rebbe (i.e., a Rebbe of Chabad, as this article is based on Chabad sources that discuss the role of Chabad Rebbeim) plays a number of interconnected roles vis-à-vis his predecessors:
  • a Rebbe teaches the chassidim in his generation the teachings of his predecessors, impresses upon them the relevance of the teachings of his predecessors, and encourages them to study his predecessors’ works (see Kuntres HaTefillah p. 11); this includes printing the works of his predecessors, as took place in earlier generations, and as we witness especially in our generation, in the Rebbe’s campaign to publish all the manuscripts of all his predecessors’ writings;
  • a Rebbe selects specific teachings from his predecessors upon which to lay extra emphasis over others, as per the needs of the time (ibid.);
  • a Rebbe takes the teachings of his predecessors and explains them further, so that the next generation, which is on a relatively lower spiritual level, can understand them (ibid.);
  • a Rebbe reveals profound teachings that were known but zealously hidden until his time, in order to bring Moshiach (see here);
  • a Rebbe doesn’t only teach and explain what was taught earlier, but he has the special ability to innovate new concepts in Chassidus that were perhaps not even consciously known to his predecessors (I was taught this, but I am still seeking a source for it);
  • a Rebbe reveals G–dliness in the world (especially through the Chassidus that he reveals), each Rebbe doing so progressively more than his predecessors and thereby drawing the Shechinah (Hashem’s Presence) ever closer to this world, until the seventh Rebbe, our Rebbe, reveals G–dliness fully in this world (see the Rebbe’s very first maamarToras Menachem 5711, Vol. 1, p. 195), with the coming of Moshiach.
I believe that especially in this dark time after Gimmel Tammuz, it is vital that we understand and internalize the above. This will imbue us with the motivation and passion to devote ourselves to studying and disseminating the teachings of all the previous Rebbeim, and especially those of the Rebbe, and implementing them in our daily lives, thereby bringing Moshiach now!

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