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America, sighs, and a call to action

הרב יוסף יצחק שניאורסון (הריי"צ)

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Today marks 73 years since the passing of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson, known as the Rayatz or the Previous Rebbe. His son-in-law, the Lubavitcher Rebbe with whom everyone is familiar, took his place at the helm of the Chabad Chasidic movement. The Rayatz had been a leader of the previous generation and was one of those who laid the foundation for the revival of the Jewish nation after the Shoah. Here are three important expressions associated with his leadership:

"America is not different." He came from Soviet Russia after a courageous struggle to maintain and even expand Jewish practices under a communist regime. He was imprisoned there seven times for spreading Judaism. Yet suddenly, in America, he discovered challenges of a different kind: If the challenge in Soviet Russia had been poverty, here it was prosperity; if the danger over there was persecution, here it was unlimited freedom. "America is not different," he proclaimed, as he influenced those who had left their identity behind in the shtetl to remember their values and revitalize their commitment as Jews.

"Sighs alone will not save us." We are experts at complaining and articulating precisely what is not okay. But to sigh over the situation won't fix anything; criticism does not solve problems. To put up a post or an angry tweet on the Internet is not enough.

"And therefore." This expression appears hundreds of times in his Chasidic writings and letters. Sighing is not the direction to take since it leads nowhere, but "and therefore" is a call to action. What's our purpose and how can it be achieved? How do we change ourselves and the world? How do we incorporate our beautiful ideas into our lives?"

Everyone is invited to think about these three expressions and how to integrate them into everyday life, here and now.

In his memory.

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