The Exhibition Hall of the Agudas Chassidei Chabad-Lubavitch Library opened Elul 18, 5754. Four exhibitions have been displayed since:
1. Elul 18, 5754: Manuscripts and artifacts of the Lubavitch Rebbes throughout the generations and Mitzvah Campaign memorabilia.
2. Lag B'omer, 5755: Manuscripts and artifacts of the Lubavitch Rebbes and other Torah giants and memorabilia charting the early years of the Lubavitch movement's worldwide growth.
3. Rosh Chodesh Nisan, 5756: The Haggadah Collection.
4. Elul 18, 5756: Original manuscripts and first printed editions of the Lubavitch Rebbes' scholarly works and their paintings and photographs.
On Lag B'omer, 5757, the Library is opening its fifth Exhibition:
Chabad-Lubavitch Activism: "Shlichus" and the Mitzvah Campaigns.
This display features the variegated activities of Chabad-Lubavitch, through the "Shlichus" and Mitzvah Campaigns that the Rebbe initiated, developed and expanded over a fifty year period.
To date there are more than 2,000 Chabad-Lubavitch institutions headed by the Rebbe's emissaries around the world. This exhibit attempts to depict some of their activities.
The Lubavitch endeavors were divided by the library staff into thirteen subjects and displayed in thirteen display tables and showcases. Old and rare items from the Library's archives relating to the individual themes are interspersed throughout the exhibit.
A brief explanation of each section, corresponding to the titles of each display follows:
Lag B'omer Parades
"Mivtzoim" (Mitzvah Campaigns)
Moshiach and Redemption
Immediately upon assuming leadership of the movement, the Rebbe began sending "Shluchim" (emissaries) -- typically young couples who completed their studies -- around the world to open Chabad-Lubavitch centers.
Most of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement's activities are spearheaded and conducted by the thousands of emissaries that the Rebbe sent to all corners of the world, wherever there are Jews.
But yeshiva students still occupied with their studies are also an integral part of this work. In addition to their communal activities on Friday afternoons, lunch breaks, etc., they dedicate their summer vacation to travel to far-away cities and countries to bring some Yiddishkeit. This program is directed by the Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch, the educational arm of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement and has become known (internally) as "Merkos Shlichus."
In addition to the emissaries sent around the globe, the Rebbe established the "Lubavitch Youth Organization" in Israel in the summer of 5711 (1951) and, in the year 5715 (1955), the "Lubavitch Youth Organization" in the United States. In a letter outlining their mandate, the Rebbe wrote a detailed "work-plan" to spread the wellsprings of Judaism and Chassidus to the widest circles of Jewish youth.
Also in 5711 (1951), the Rebbe established the Lubavitch Women's Organization to strengthen Judaism in general, and family-purity, Kashrus and proper Jewish education in particular.
In the year 5741 (1981), the Rebbe established "Tzivos Haashem," under whose banner young boys and girls were encouraged to influence their friends and strengthen their observance of Torah and Chassidus.
Through this devoted "army," the Rebbe "captured" the hearts of Jews throughout the globe, encouraging them to become closer to G-d and His Torah.
A turning point in this outreach activity came in the summer of 5718 (1958), when the Rebbe announced during his talk on the 12th of Tammuz that the "spreading of the Wellsprings" should be conducted in a manner of "Uforatzta" (You shall spread forth...) -- transcending all barriers and boundaries - which quickly became the movement's motto.
Another important stage in the expansion of the outreach activity took place in the year 5732 (1972), when during the Farbrengen held on his 70th birthday, the Rebbe announced that instead of slowing down at this milestone - as some were urging him -- one has to strengthen and expand one's activities. The Rebbe asked his chassidim that, as a "birthday present," they establish during that year 71 new institutions to spread Judaism.
An additional "explosion" in the outreach activity can be traced to Shabbos Bereishis, 5755 (1984), when the Rebbe announced that each of the emissaries should appoint an additional emissary to spread Judaism in their cities. The Rebbe also said that he would sponsor two-thirds of the expenses of the first year for these new emissaries.
The head Shluchim from around the world immediately convened a special gathering to discuss how to execute this new campaign. The Rebbe instructed that the gathering should take place in or near the movement's center. Since then, every year the international gathering of the Chabad-Lubavitch Shluchim takes place in Crown Heights on or around Rosh Chodesh Kislev. The Rebbe would devote a special talk to and shower much attention on this yearly convention.
The first display table depicts books and pictures connected to the subject of "Shlichus"; the first emissaries that were sent to Eretz Yisroel, Europe, Africa and Australia; the summer Merkos Shlichus for the yeshiva students; and gatherings of the Shluchim in the United States and in Eretz Yisroel.
Also displayed are printed material related to the Lubavitch Youth Organization, Lubavitch Women's Organization and Tzivos Hashem.
A Shliach's first task is to determine the individual needs of the city, state or country to which he/she was sent. Usually, this will include the establishment of educational institutions dedicated to imparting the teachings and ideals of Judaism to the young, and motivating and organizing the already existent institutions to reach yet higher goals.
Sometimes the Shluchim begin directing their activities from their own home, but eventually a building is bought or built to serve as a center (tailored to the needs of each locale).
In the year 5718 (1958) such a building was built in London, England. The Rebbe directed that it be named "Lubavitch House." When it was finished, the directors of Lubavitch in London sent the Rebbe a key to the building. The Rebbe expressed his gratitude in a special letter of appreciation that he sent in honor of the event.
In the year 5729 (1979) the first "Chabad-House" was established in Los Angeles. To the delegation presenting the Rebbe with the golden key to the building, the Rebbe said that soon a chain of similar "Chabad-Houses" would be established across the country, and he wrote a special letter in honor of the event.
Soon it became "customary" that at the establishment of each new institution, the local community would send a key to the Rebbe.
The Rebbe vigorously encouraged the establishment of new Chabad Houses, and in a special address on the fifth night of Chanukah 5746 (1985) made this a special campaign and added that he would participate financially in establishing or expanding the Chabad-Houses.
In his talk on Shabbos Vayigash 5747 (1987) the Rebbe directed the children of Tzivos Hashem to dedicate their rooms, too, as a place of prayer, learning and acts of loving-kindness - a "Chabad House."
Pictures, models and keys of Chabad-Houses are exhibited at this display table.
The Chabad House is never adequate for the Shliach, whose goal is to spread Judaism and the wellsprings of Chassidus to the most forlorn corner. For this purpose many Shluchim have a multi-purpose vehicle that is utilized as a mobile library and synagogue, a Sukah-mobile and the like, bringing the message of Judaism to the furthest outposts.
In the year 5734 (1974) the Rebbe adopted the name "Mitzvah Tanks," ("Tanks Against Assimilation"), for these roving vehicles and called the young rabbis who staff them "tankists."
To express his fondness for those who dedicated himself to this sort of activity, the Rebbe would often call upon these "tankists" to be his emissaries to distribute coins or dollars to people for tzedakah.
This display table includes Mitzvah Tank pictures, keys and logos that were sent to the Rebbe.
The primary focus of the Shluchim is saving Jewish youth from assimilation by providing them with Jewish education. This is done partly through creating Yeshivas, elementary schools, kindergartens, Sunday schools, Release Time programs and the like.
All these are obviously institutions of formal learning that operate throughout the year. But often a much more profound influence on the child is that experienced during the vacation period, during which many children are exposed to the negative influences of the street.
For this reason, the Rebbe established a summer camp for girls in the summer of 5713 (1953) and for boys in the summer, 5716 (1956). Both sites were in upstate New York. The girls' camp was named by the Rebbe "Camp Emunah" and the boys' camp was named "Gan Yisroel".
In a special address on Shavuos of 5716, the Rebbe explained that one sees clearly that during vacation time, particularly in the camp setting, one can accomplish much more with the young than during formal learning time.
The Rebbe made three historic trips to visit the camps and address the children.
(The stories of the camps and the Rebbe's visits are related in great detail in the book "B'neos Deshe.")
Following the Rebbe's cue, it became the norm that Chabad-Lubavitch centers around the world organize summer camps, which are known to have a profound impact on the kids and whose results are recognized throughout the following school year.
This display includes early pictures of the first camps in the United States and Canada, Israel, Europe, South Africa and Australia.
Lag B'omer Parades
There are many more children who do not come to learn in the educational institutions established by the Shliach and do not attend the summer camps. The shliach is obviously responsible to help these children as well and enhance their Judaism.
One of the Rebbe's earliest undertakings, yet in the time of the Previous Rebbe, was a network of activities organized under the banner of "Mesibos Shabbos" (Shabbos Gathering) which was firstly a campaign to gather children on Shabbos and tell them stories from the Torah and from Gedolei Yisroel, and teach them about Jewish laws and customs.
From time to time activists would organize parades along a central street to publicize the importance of learning Torah and observing Mitzvos. The children would march in the street with signs proclaiming these themes, after which they would hear an inspirational address from the Rebbe.
The first such parade known to us occurred in 5703 (1943). A special booklet was published for the occasion with pictures and explanations.
This parade was normally held on Lag B'Omer. The Rebbe would go out to the street and address the children and from there they would march with their signs and floats, often in costume, to programs in the park.
Similar parades were held throughout the world.
Pictures of these parades in the U.S. and Canada, Eretz Yisroel and Europe, starting from the year 5703 onwards, as well as other items relating to the parade are displayed at this table.
At an historic address on 24 Elul 5734 (1974) the Rebbe initiated a new campaign by encouraging all Jewish women to light Shabbos and holiday candles, including girls from the age of three.
Displayed here are brochures in many languages and various `leichter` (candelabrum) and other paraphernalia that were produced by Chabad-Lubavitch centers the world over, promoting this Mitzvah.
The Rebbe began this campaign in the very first years of his leadership with an announcement at a Chassidic gathering on Shabbos Parshat Hachodesh, 5714 (1954).
The Rebbe asked that every communal leader or anyone else in a leadership position should see to it that each person upon whom he has influence have hand-baked Shmura Matzah to eat on Pesach.
Each year the Rebbe would vigorously encourage people to do this, and the campaign reached extraordinary numbers of people throughout the world.
The Rebbe himself would also distribute Matzah personally to long lines of people who would come to him on Erev Pesach and would send out packages of Shmura Matzah to Chabad-Lubavitch centers around the world for local distribution.
Items connected with this campaign are displayed in this section.
Also displayed is a small sample of the Library's Haggadah collection.
Each holiday has its unique campaign:
On Rosh HaShanah, the call is to bring the sound of the Shofar to each Jew, especially those unable to hear otherwise, like those in hospitals, old age homes and prisons.
On Sukkos the responsibility lies on each person to bring the Mitzvah of Lulav to the street, inviting passers-by to make a blessing on the Four Kinds. The Rebbe instituted this campaign in 5714 (1953).
For Shavuos the Rebbe would campaign that every Jewish child, even the very little children, should come to the synagogue to listen to the reading of the Ten Commandments. The Rebbe first announced this campaign in his address on the eve of Rosh Chodesh Sivan, 5740 (1980).
In a special address on the 15th of Shevat, 5731 (1971), the Rebbe requested that the world should be "conquered" through the learning of Torah. Thus began a never-ending campaign of teaching Torah to the masses.
At a Chassidic gathering on the 6th of Tishrei, 5733 (1973), the Rebbe directed his Chassidim to establish libraries for Jewish holy books throughout the world. Dozens of libraries were immediately opened throughout the world and, in New York, the Lubavitch Youth Organization opened the "Levi Yitzchok Library" named after the Rebbe's father.
In his talk on Shabbos Parshat Bamidbar, 5734 (1974), the Rebbe announced a new campaign (connected to the recent expansion of the "Torah Campaign") that everyone should fill their homes with holy books and increase their study of Torah.
At a gathering on the 20th of Menachem Av, 5736 (1976), the Rebbe announced the establishment of an institute for gathering and publishing the scholarly Talmudic and Halachic works of the previous Rebbes, with branches in New York and Jerusalem. Later he named the publication "Yagdil Torah".
On Motzoei Shavuos, 5738 (1978), the Rebbe established an institute for the preparation of the previous Rebbes' Chassidic discourses for print. This institute has since edited the series of the Alter Rebbe's discourses, the Miteler Rebbe's discourses, the "Or Ha'Torah" of the Tzemach Tzedek, "Toras Shmuel" from the Rebbe MaHaRaSh, and the books of discourses from the Rebbe RaShaB and the Previous Rebbe, a total of about 200 new volumes that were prepared and printed from original manuscripts.
In his talks during the month of Nissan, 5741 (1981), the Rebbe instructed that a new Sefer Torah be written in Jerusalem, in which Jewish children under the ages of Bar and Bas Mitzvah will participate and unite through buying one letter each. During Tishrei, 5742 (1982), the Rebbe initiated a campaign for each and every Jew to buy a letter in the Sefer Torah, thus demonstrating the highest level of Jewish unity, and directed the central men's and women's yeshivas to write the first Sefer Torahs.
In an historic address on Acharon Shel Pesach, 5744 (1984), the Rebbe launched his campaign requesting that every Jew learn Rambam daily in one of three cycles: Three chapters of Mishneh Torah daily, one chapter a day, or the corresponding Mitzvos from Rambam's Sefer HaMitzvos each day.
Displayed in this section are items connected to each of these campaigns, including also a page of a very old Sefer Torah written on leather, a silver shield and pointer for a Sefer Torah, Shofars and more.
On Chanukah Lubavitch chassidim go out and encourage all Jews to perform the Mitzvah of lighting the Menora, and also publicize the miracle of Chanukah through lighting the Menorahs in central locations throughout the city, state, etc.
On Shabbos Parshas Vayeshev, 5734 (1973), the Rebbe advised that these activities should be stepped up to ensure that every Jewish home should light Chanukah candles, and anyone who is lacks the ability otherwise, should be given Menorahs and candles for free. The Rebbe also reminded his Chassidim to make sure to give the opportunity to the soldiers in the Israeli army to light their own Menorah.
Each year the Rebbe would stress the importance of this campaign in the days preceding and during Chanukah.
In recent years special emphasis was placed on "To See and Be Seen", uniting Jews from all parts of the world through satellite hookups with the candle lighting in the Rebbe's presence in 770, during which the Rebbe would deliver a special address to the worldwide audience.
Items connected to the Campaign, are displayed in this Showcase.
The Purim campaign is one of the best-known campaigns, particularly in Israel where Lubavitch visits army bases, hospitals, old-age homes, prisons, war-orphans and widows, to read the Megillah and distribute Mishloach Monos, bringing the joy of the holiday to countless Jews.
In the beginning of Adar, 5721 (1961), the Rebbe sent a letter to all institutions, rabbis, Rosh Yeshivahs, educators, teachers and parents, to organize a special campaign to ensure that every Jewish child observes the Mitzvahs of Purim.
Items connected to this Campaign, are displayed in this showcase.
Also displayed in this showcase, are old Megillahs from the Library collection, written or printed hundreds of years ago, including some acquired by the Previous Rebbe in Russia and described by him on small stickers on top of the Megillah.
The Previous Rebbe started this campaign in 5690 (1920), during his first visit to the United States, when he became aware of the ignorance of this subject in many Jewish circles. (For a detailed description of the women's committees that he established that year in many cities, see History of Chabad in the U.S.A., chapter 11).
In our generation, the Rebbe established Family Purity as one of the public campaigns in his address on the 15th of Tamuz, 5735 (1975). The Rebbe instructed that a massive campaign be launched to strengthen Family Purity.
On Sabbos Parshat Nasso 5740 (1980), the Rebbe began speaking out publicly about the tremendous blessing of large families, and strongly urged and explained the reasons against family planning.
In this showcase are displayed items connected to family purity, Mikvah, birth and marriage. Old and new "Shir Ha'Ma'alot" pamphlets, keys that were sent to the Rebbe from Mikvahs that were built through the Shluchim, and other things connected to Family Purity.
Also displayed in this showcase are original invitations to the Rebbe's wedding; a letter of the Rebbe RaShaB blessing the birth of his granddaughter, the Rebetzin, in the year 5661 (1901); an invitation that the Rebbe RaShaB wrote to the wedding of his son, the Previous Rebbe; and a picture of the Rebbe officiating at a wedding.
"Mivtzoim" (Mitzvah Campaigns)
In addition to the holiday campaigns and the general educating and urging of jews to perform all mitzvos, the Rebbe emphasized and campaigned for the fulfillment of specific Mitzvos.
The first major campaign of this type that the Rebbe launched was the Tefillin campaign, which he announced 30 years ago in the summer of 5727 (1967), during the period of the Six-Day War. At the time the Rebbe quoted from the Torah the verses which describe the fear instilled in Israel's enemies through the placing of the Tefillin on the head.
The rest of the campaigns were established during 5734-5736 (1974-76):
During the year 5734 (1974), the Rebbe announced the Torah, Mezuzah, Tzedakah, and Shabbos Candle-lighting campaigns. In 5735 (1975), he announced the Kashrus and Family Purity campaigns. In the year 5736 (1976) the Rebbe launched special campaigns for increased Jewish education and Ahavas Yisroel.
In 5736 not only did the Rebbe initiate a campaign for the furtherance of Jewish education, but he also dedicated the year 5736 as the "Year of Education," and urged children to study by heart a particular set of 12 verses and sayings of the Sages.
From time to time, special rallies were arranged for the children, during which the Rebbe would listen to the children reciting these twelve passages and then speak to the children at some length.
Items connected to all these campaigns are displayed in this showcase.
Moshiach and Redemption
The Rebbe would stress the importance of yearning for Moshiach in almost every talk throughout his leadership. Hastening the coming of Moshiach through acts of goodness and kindness was an underlying factor and a common thread woven throughout all the Rebbe's activities.
The increased emphasis on this actually began in the year 5701 (1941), when the Previous Rebbe launched a campaign announcing that "Immediate Return (to Hashem) Brings Immediate Redemption."
The following year the Previous Rebbe began writing a special Sefer Torah to greet Moshiach, but the Torah was not completed. During the winter of 5730 (1970), the Rebbe instructed that the torah should be completed, which it was on the 10th of Shevat.
Flyers were created and distributed to publicize the writing of this Torah and encouraging everyone to buy a letter for themselves and their families in the Torah.
In this showcase some of the flyers that were printed in Israel and the U.S.A., as well as some of the original lists of those who acquired the letters, are displayed.
In a special address on the Thursday night preceding Shabbos Mevorchim Menachem Av, 5736 (1976), the Rebbe asked that everybody should learn about the Beis HaMikdash during the Jewish mourning period known as the "Three Weeks".
In order to help these learning efforts, a few models of the Beis HaMikdash were built. One such model was given to the Rebbe in the winter of 5752, and is displayed in a corner of this exhibition.
In his address on the 7th of Cheshvan 5746 (1986), the Rebbe asked to publicize the words of Torah luminaries that yearning for redemption hastens the redemption.
In the last few years the Rebbe often stated that Moshiach is ready to come - and is coming - now, and in his talk on the 27th of Nisan, 5751 (1991), the Rebbe explained that it is incumbent upon every single Jew to do all within his/her ability to bring about the coming of Moshiach.
This showcase includes signs announcing "Prepare for the coming of Moshiach" that were distributed during this period, books that were compiled and printed on the topic of redemption and Moshiach, and also items pertaining to the yearning for redemption and the coming of Moshiach.