5758 • 1997
Since the appearance of Volume III of Likkutei Dibburim in 5750 (1990), our readers have lived through seven of the most momentous years in the crowded history of Lubavitch.
On the eve of 28 Nissan, 5751 (1991), the Rebbe appealed to his chassidim everywhere: "What more can I do [...]? All that I can possibly do is to give the matter over to you. Now, do everything you can to bring Mashiach, here and now, immediately!"• This appeal ignited eleven months of urgent educational and outreach activity around the world. From 27 Adar I, 5752 (1992), and then again from 27 Adar I, 5754 (1994), this activity was accelerated by anxious concern for the Rebbe's health. And since the events of Gimmel Tammuz 5754 (1994), every faithful chassid has been mustering the resilience to do his part in translating the Rebbe's assurance -- that Mashiach is just around the corner -- into a tangible reality.
After the corresponding date one generation earlier, Yud Shvat, 5710 (1950), how did the Rebbe react? Significantly, the first thing the Rebbe did on the very day after the seven-day shivah period of mourning was -- to reprint Likkutei Dibburim.•• In plain words: A time like this demands that one go back to first principles and recharge one's batteries.
And indeed, like its predecessors, the present volume pulsates with energizing current. Its dozens of themes include: the interface between old and young chassidim; the avodah of prayer; the inner life of a pnimi, a chassid of uncompromising integrity whose intellectual and spiritual labors are utterly internalized; youthful descriptions by elder chassidim of Lag BaOmer celebrations in the days of the Tzemach Tzedek; pungent observations on assimilation in America in the '40s; illuminating stories of the Baal Shem Tov and Reb Zusya and other tzaddikim; oral history of the first three generations of Chabad-Lubavitch; painful and whimsical childhood memories; scores of innovative Torah interpretations; and the author's memorable description of his own arrest and imprisonment under capital sentence in Leningrad in 1927. (As he later wrote: "Even now, some seven years after the event, I occasionally set aside time to spend alone -- to picture in my mind's eye the sounds and words, the sights and the dreams, that I heard, saw and dreamed in those days.")
Another unique component of this volume is a diary entry which the Rebbe Rayatz wrote in Lubavitch in a six-hour stretch one Sunday afternoon in 1896, when he was fifteen years old. The day before, sitting quietly at his grandmother's Shabbos table with his parents and a select circle of elder chassidim, he had quietly soaked up priceless quantities of chassidic history and oral traditions. All this he preserved, in this diary entry, for a thirsting posterity. The fact that that farbrengen had taken place at a time when no notes could be taken did not disturb him in the least: the many scores of personal names, place names, dates and incidents all appear below as if recorded on the spot.
This volume, too, was translated and annotated by Uri Kaploun; its layout and typography were in the hands of Yosef Yitzchok Turner; and it was critically read and prepared for publication by Rabbi Yonah Avtzon.
Its publication date is Yud-Beis Tammuz, 5757 (1997), the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the author in Stalinist Russia on Yud-Beis Tammuz, 5687 (1927). As we celebrate, we do not need much imagination to guess that the Rebbe would like each of us to perpetuate our celebration of this date in tangible and meaningful and farreaching ways.
Yud-Beis Tammuz, 5757 (1997)
• See Sound the Great Shofar
(Sichos In English
, N.Y., 1992), p. 7.
•• The Publisher's Foreword which the Rebbe wrote for that edition appears in the present volume as an introduction to Chapter 31.
The asterisked notes (*) were written by the Rebbe.