Today, Wednesday, the 20th day of the Jewish month of Menachem Av (August 21), marks 75 years since the untimely passing of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, of righteous memory, father of the Rebbe, of righteous memory.
Rabbi , was respected as one of the greatest Talmudic and Kabbalistic scholars of his generation. He served as chief rabbi of the city of Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, during the bloody Bolshevik revolution and the subsequent Communist oppression. Despite terrible persecution directed at religious leaders in those days, he remained fearlessly defiant in strengthening Jewish learning and practice in his city and throughout the Soviet Union. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak was eventually arrested, tortured, and banished to near-solitude in a primitive, disease-infested village in Kazakhstan, where his body finally succumbed to life-threatening illness that resulted in his untimely passing. His faith and spirit, however, were never extinguished.
His selfless efforts for Jews and Judaism even in the face of a sadistic superpower regime determined to leave no trace of them were later tenderly nurtured by his son and disciple, the Rebbe. The Rebbe conducted Soviet Jewry’s affairs clandestinely from afar, and eventually saw the decades of his father’s effort blossom into full bloom upon the fall of the Iron Curtain and the public resurgence of Jewish life there.
Soviet Jewry, however, is not alone in the debt of gratitude it owes to Rabbi Levi Yitzchak. His heroic example of steadfast and proud adherence to Judaism’s ideals, demonstrating how Judaism will always survive even against the greatest of odds, serves as a shining beacon of inspiration for all of us today, and for all generations to come.
We are likewise collectively indebted to Rabbi Levi Yitzchak and his life’s partner, Rebbetzin Chana, of righteous memory, for giving us the Rebbe, whose application of their teachings and way of life to our generation forever changed the very course of world Jewry.
On this 75th yahrtzeit (anniversary of passing), it would surely be appropriate for each of us to set aside time to study his innovative teachings, give additional charity, and commit to increase in our Torah and mitzvahs in his honor. It is also certainly an auspicious time to send prayer petitions for one’s loved ones to be brought to the Rebbe’s resting place.
May Rabbi Levi Yitzchak’s great merit bring renewed blessing to each and every one of us and to the entire world.