Biography of Menachem Schneerson
Rebbe is a Yiddish expression referring
to Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902-1994). Menachem Schneerson was indeed a
Rabbi, as are a good number of
others. Therefore it would appear that merely using the phrase the Rebbe could
refer to hundreds if not thousands of Jewish clergy. However. Menachem
Schneerson was so extraordinary a human being that the title Rebbe at once
identified him and no one else.
essay is gleaned from “The Rebbe: A Brief Biography,” which it appears on a
Chabad web site.
to that biography, Schneerson was the seventh leader of the Lubavitch-Chabad
dynasty, and has been designated as the most phenomenal Jewish personality of
is a town in White Russia. The name means city of brotherly love, like
Philadelphia, which means the same thing in Greek. Chabad is an acronym
consisting of three Hebrew words, Chochmah, or wisdom; Bimah, or understanding;
and Dakat, or knowledge.
are a few human beings whose intellectual capacity is so much greater than those
of us who are merely ordinary women and men that we must concede that once in a
while Shem Yisborach instills an intellect in a human being which seems beyond
comprehension to us. Such was the capacity of Menachem Mendel Schneerson. When
only 13 years old, having reached his bar mitzvah, the Rebbe was considered a
was married to the same woman for 60 years but had no children.
Schneerson studied at the University of Berlin as well as at the University of
Paris, known by the name of its founder, Sorbonne. In these universities, he
studied mathematics, majoring later in engineering. Rescued miraculously from
the Nazi Holocaust, the Rebbe and his wife arrived in the United States on June
23, 1941, in the middle of the Second World War.
in the United States, the Rebbe disseminated Torah and Judaism, and founded
three central organizations. These are: “Central Organization for Jewish
Education”; a publication society, and a social service agency. Over the
years, the Rebbe published a number of treaties, responsa on Torah subjects, and
other publications which gave him immense recognition as a genius scholar.
satisfied with scholarship alone, he became the leader of the
Lubavitch movement after the death of his father.
taught that every good deed brings humanity closer to the ultimate goal, that
is, universal understanding of God and the role of cosmic perfection as Jews in
the time of the Moshiach (The Rebbe never claimed to be the Moshiach. The word
Moshiach means “smeared”).
of the Rebbe’s teaching and personality, the Chabad movement has become
worldwide. The movement is a reflection of the Rebbe’s ability to know what
tomorrow will bring and how to deal with the future. It is said of him, “he
charted the course of Jewish history.” A man of encyclopedic knowledge, he
spoke numerous languages and was proficient in science and mathematics as well.
Most important was his teaching that no human being should be excluded from
participating, in his outreach to every woman or man, adult or child, and even
is no exaggeration to say that this short essay cannot possibly do justice to
the life of the man, who was far more than what can be displayed here. The Rebbe
gave the world a new sense of purpose and gave our Jewish community the
confidence needed to overcome the endless difficulties which we American Jews
have caused ourselves.
urge all of you who read this brief summary to read is much as you can about
this exceptional leader of the Jewish people. His life was a blessing and his
memory a gift from Shem Yisborach.