Four days before Passover each year, another important day arrives on the Chabad Lubavitch calendar. On his 11th day of the month of Nissan, Lubabitcher is his Rebe’s birthday. This year, Nissan’s 11th takes on special significance as it marks the 120th anniversary of his birth in the seaside town of Nikolaev, then the Russian Empire and today in war-torn Ukraine.
In fact, it was from Lebbe himself that he learned the special religious significance of birthdays beyond cakes and candles. , has always been commemorated on the anniversary of his passing. Dates of birth were usually marked without fuss or fanfare (unless it was a bar mitzvah). for example, jaatzeit The name of the famous Mezrich Magid is well known, but his date of birth is unknown.
But the Rebbe believed that birthdays deserve serious attention too. Citing sources and customs, the Rebbe spoke of birthdays as a time of tremendous spiritual power for everyone, not just sages and saints. In 2014, he encouraged people to use birthdays as a time for personal reflection, celebration, and new resolutions for the coming year.
Of course, Chasidim didn’t have to be told that the Rebbe’s own birthday was a day worth celebrating. Each year, as his 11th day at Nissan approached, Chassidim, friends and Lubavich supporters took the opportunity to mark Lebe’s birthday the old-fashioned way. Perhaps a recently published Torah content book, or a newly discovered rare manuscript. At some point in the ’70s, Rebe was given so many gifts in public Far Brengens We at the Rebbe office were overwhelmed. Since then, we have insisted on sending all presents directly to our headquarters office. The Rebbe graciously accepted these gifts and the spirit in which they were given, and always expressed their gratitude either publicly or in writing.
There were a few times when the Rebbe actually suggested the kind of gift he wanted. On the occasion of his 70th birthday, he proposed that he establish 71 new institutions over his 71 years.
In that same spirit, Chasidim around the world has shown commendable initiative to achieve a similar goal in his 121st year, but orders of magnitude greater. At the recent International Shulhim Congress, plans for 120 new preschools, day schools and Hebrew schools were announced, and 120 new couples were set to depart. Shricos, 120 new mikvah, etc. Another impressive initiative aims to supply 120,000 Jews with his Shmurah Matzah for the Seders.
These remarkable commitments perfectly capture the spirit of Rebe’s birthday, with so many taking the lead in bold and creative ways to add, grow and grow his own life’s work. In honor of Rebbe’s birthday, if you have a dream, project, or program that you think would make a difference in your community, please contact Chabad. This year is the perfect time to start.
But don’t be put off by these numbers and scale. Gifts for the Rebbe don’t necessarily have to be made out of bricks. Also, you don’t have to break the bank. Sometimes the most profound and graceful gifts are invisible.
At another gathering just weeks before his 70th birthday, the Rebbe said the gifts he was most interested in were those related to the theme of this magnificent magazine. Lubavich International What you are reading: Torah Studies! Donate to the institutions of the Torah, but study the Torah a little more than you would otherwise. The point, he stressed, was to study the Torah himself, not simply to become a supporter of Torah education. Indeed, it is a gift we can all give.
May God end suffering and bring peace to all peoples by virtue of our study of the Torah.
thank you Chag HaPesach Kasher v’Someeach.
This article appeared in the Spring 2022 issue of Lubavitch International magazine. Click here to download the full magazine and access previous issues.