The Rebbe of Chabad passed away 26 years ago today-Third of Tammuz
The Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—passed away on the third day of the Jewish month of Tammuz in the year 5754 from creation (June 12, 1994).
Traditionally, this is a day, like Yahrzeits for all great Torah figures, for reflection, learning, prayer, re-commitment and, above all, positive action.
While I am not a Chabadnick, The Rebbe has had a great influence on Modern Orthodox Jews, of which I am one. His teaching and his followers are a big part of Judaism in today’s world.
The impact of the novel coronavirus, if anything, only serves to further expand the reach of this meaningful day, say organizers of events around the world. But it also means reimagining how one goes about marking the day in non-conventional ways, like Zoom classes and conferences taking place around the world.
Among the many innovative ways that people around the world will be commemorating the 26th anniversary of the passing of the Rebbe thousands of people around the world will be congregating on Zoom this Wednesday, June 24, at 2:30 p.m. EDT, for a global program focusing on the Rebbe’s teachings and ongoing influence. I have attached the flyer.
“This will be the world’s largest interactive Zoom event,” said producer Ronen Peled, explaining that each community joining from North America, South America, Europe, Israel, and South Africa will be hosting a Zoom room. Thousands of participants will be joining each room, and then that room will be connected to the broadcast.
The event, which will feature speakers from around the world, is not without logistical difficulties—notably, that Zoom meetings are generally restricted to 500 participants per meeting, and organizers are expecting to welcome dozens of groups of 500 onto their online presence.
Peled is no stranger to the challenges of crafting simultaneous experiences for many thousands. He serves as the creative director of the annual International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries (Kinus Hashluchim), where more than 5,000 celebrants enjoy a sit-down gala dinner together, replete with state-of-the-art audio-visual presentations, multiple courses and the joy that comes from enjoying a meal with friends and colleagues.
“The staff at Zoom told us that they’ve never had a single event with so many virtual rooms connected with the same broadcast,” he said. “Until now, their platform had a cap of 1,000 people in a single room, or a webinar with 300 cameras, but the rest are passive viewers and are not seen.”
The program is expected to include Torah teachings and inspirational thoughts from around the world, including a musical presentation from Cantor Berel Zucker, whose 39-year-old wife, Raizel, recently passed away, leaving him to raise their eight children, the oldest of whom is still a teen.
Here are ways to remember his Yahrzeit, similar to many other great Torah figures.
1. Light a Candle
Late Wednesday afternoon, light a 24-hour candle. If it is not difficult, this should be of beeswax. (The Hebrew word for beeswax—שעוה—is an acronym for the verse הקיצו ורננו שוכני עפר, “Those who dwell in the dust shall rise and sing,” a reference to the resurrection of the dead.)
2. Study the Rebbe’s Teachings
After each of the three daily prayers, Maariv, Shacharit and Minchah, study a portion of VeAtah Tetzaveh, the last Chassidic discourse the Rebbe personally distributed, and which is seen as a sort of final will and testament.
3. Study Tanya
Study a chapter of Tanya before you start your prayers in the morning, and then study another chapter after the afternoon prayers.
4. Give Charity
Donate (online or by placing money into a charity box) to institutions and causes related to the Rebbe. The Rebbe emphasized that you should do this on behalf of yourself and every member of your household.
5. Study Mishnah
Mishnah is spelled with the same Hebrew letters as neshamah, the Divine soul within each of us. Thus, over the 24-hour period, study chapters of Mishnah related to the Rebbe’s name. This means that each chapter begins with a letter of the Rebbe’s name.
6. Make a Plan
Introspection is nice, but action is vital. Now is the time to make concrete decisions regarding things you can improve, in terms of both your Divine service and how you interact with those around you.
But don’t limit yourself to yourself.
The Rebbe taught us to take Judaism to the streets and share it with others. In these challenging times, it may not be possible to physically approach people and offer them Shabbat candles to light or tefillin to put on, nor may people be comfortable inviting you into their home to affix a mezuzah. But through the gift of digital communication, with some perseverance and creativity, we can surely share one or more of the Rebbe’s 10 mitzvah campaigns with others. Now is the time to make this a reality!
The Light Bulb Moment
Chaim Yankel got his first job in the City and was trying his best to blend in with some of his eccentric colleagues. He came into work early one morning to find Jim hanging upside down from the ceiling.
“What are you doing?” Chaim Yankel asked.
“Shh,” Jim said, “I’m a light bulb — I’m acting crazy to get a few days off, as there is an out of town wedding I need to go to until Tuesday.”
A minute later the boss walked by and asked Jim what he was doing.
“I’m a light bulb!” Jim exclaimed.
“You’re going crazy,” he said. “Take a few days off, and come back when you are less stressed.”
With that, Jim jumped down and started walking out. Chaim Yankel started following him whereupon the boss asked where he was going.
Chaim Yankel replied, “I can’t work in the dark.”