A Lesson by the Rebbe

I was last night in Central London attending the book launch ‘The Rebbe’ when I heard the terrible news of the 3 Israeli teenagers who were found dead near Hebron. It’s difficult to express in words the sorrow that I felt and surely each one of those who were with me at the event.

Today we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Rebbe’s yahrzeit as we do every year on 3rd of Tammuz. His life and his teachings are an inspiration to many, including me. One particular story of the Rebbe stucked with me and I found myself sharing it not for the first time.

It was in 1974 and soon after the Yom Kippur War that Rabbi Yisrael Lau (later to be Chief Rabbi of Israel) came to Brooklyn to visit the Rebbe. During their conversation the Rebbe asked him what the Jewish people in Israel were saying these days. Rabbi Lau replied that Jews were asking “what will be?” The Rebbe grabbed his arm and said: “Jews don’t ask what will be, they ask what they are going to do.”



While we mourn the death of the 3 boys, we have to remember that we control our destiny as Jews. We need to protect ourselves against our enemies and those seeking to destory us.

With rising of antisemitism in Europe, with BDS campaigns and anti-Israel demonstrations, we need to remember that each one of us is a small light in this world but together we are one giant light. It is time to see more of campaigning for Israel and Jewish interests whether on social media or by lobbying to local politicians and organisations.

The more people involved, the stronger the message will be. Everyone can contribute – you don’t need an official title or position in order to campaign, you just need the will. I think that the survival of the Jewish people is a very important cause to fight for and it something which must unite us, regardless of different political opinions.

The Rebbe used to say: ‘when you waste a moment, you have killed it in a sense, squandering an irreplacable opportunity. But when you use the moment properly, filling it with purpose and productivity, it lives on forever’.

About the Author
Tal Ofer is a former parliamentary researcher and now Deputy at the Board of Deputies of British Jews. He actively fights antisemitism and delegitimisation of Israel. In Summer 2014 he masterminded a campaign to target Tricycle Theater donors, which led to reverse of boycott of UK Jewish Film Festival.