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Home » Chabad, The Rebbe

The Rebbe and World Leaders

Submitted by on July 6, 2008 – 11:15 pmNo Comment | 4,928 views

A Wedding

It was 1929 in Warsaw Poland. Thousands of Jewish dignitaries from both Western and Eastern European countries gathered for a special occasion; the Lubavitcher Rebbe would marry off his daughter to a young, unassuming, previously unknown scholar.

There was no way for them to know that this young man, Menachem Mendel, would one day become a vibrant and dynamic Rebbe. There was no way for them to know that this Rebbe would one day transform the Chabad movement from a fledgling Chassidic group into an internationally recognized network of vibrant religious influence.
There was no way for them to know that this young man would one day reshape the image of an entire generation, re-charter the very course of Jewish history. There was no way for them to know that this young man would leave such a lasting impression, have such a deep impact that world leaders would turn to him for advice, encouragement and inspiration. Indeed, there was no way for them to know that this young man would one day become the only Rabbi ever to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor, America’s highest civil award.
To these invited guests this was to be a remarkable and memorable occasion, but by no means an historic one…just one more Rebbe to marry off one more daughter to one more scholar.
How did such a simple and unpretentious personality take on a worldwide stature of recognition? How did a hitherto undiscovered scholar become the world’s leading Torah authority? How did this man come to be regarded as a holy and pious individual with more then a million followers worldwide?

The Rebbe

Here is the remarkable story of a man who did not seek greatness but was inherently a great man. This is the story of an individual who did not seek recognition but became the world’s most recognized Jewish leader. This is the story of a person who had but a single pervasive desire; to be of help to every (Jewish and non-Jewish) person in whatever way possible, both material and spiritual.

In his strong
desire to see higher moral standards for society, the Rebbe embarked on a comprehensive educational crusade geared toward developing cognitive awareness of G-d, morality, and the Torah way of life. Sending his emissaries to many cities and countries around the world, the Rebbe was able to spread the message of Torah and good will to Jewish children and adults worldwide. His efforts on behalf of world Jewry and humanity were met with admiration and applause by statesmen, presidents and prime ministers worldwide.

In 1972, President Richard Nixon wrote to the Rebbe, “Your dedication to the teaching of your faith has made the Lubavitcher movement an asset not only to the Jewish religion but to all citizens”.

Similarly, in 1975, President Gerald R. Ford wrote the Rebbe, “Your efforts on behalf of education…have perpetuated a legacy that is a source of comfort and courage to many of our citizens.”

World Wide

The small seedlings planted by the Rebbe’s emissaries began to grow and take hold and the ripple effects were clearly felt throughout the world. As Rabbi Schneerson’s reputation grew many leaders and entrepreneurs of international stature began to confide, consult and even visit with the Rebbe on a regular basis.

“It is due to his influence that Jewish awareness has reached unprecedented heights on almost every continent…”, (Eli Weisel, Nobel Prize Winner)

“The Rebbe stood for a set of ideals that brought people together. He did not just stand for these ideals he lived them…“, (Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.)

“I still remember the Rebbe’s blue penetrating eyes that expressed wisdom and awareness…”, (Yitzchak Rabin, Prime Minister of the State of Israel.)

Prime Ministers, politicians and policymakers from the state of Israel routinely deliberated with the Rebbe concerning the forming of political, economic and military policies. General Ariel Sharon once proclaimed following an audience with the Rebbe that “this man sitting in Brooklyn, New York, is intimately familiar with the geographic, demographic and political forces that shape the character of the State of Israel”.

Among the famous personalities that visited with the Rebbe to seek his advice and blessing were Prime Ministers Yitzchak Rabin, Menachem Begin, Yitzchak Shamir, Shimon Peres and Benjamin Netenyahu. Members of Knesset, ministers and  generals including General Chaim Bar Lev, President Zalman Shazar and Foreign Minister Abba Eban, consulted or visited with the Rebbe. They did not always agree with his outlook, but  they always respected his ideas and invariably came back for more. They knew the Rebbe’s opinion was motivated by adesire to assure the safety and well being of mankind. They knew the Rebbe’s convictions were based on values enunciated in the Torah. They knew the Rebbe’s beliefs were driven by his love of Jews worldwide.


In the course of his efforts to revitalize the education of our youth, the Rebbe declared the year 5738 (1977 – 1978) the year of education. The United States House of Representatives responded to the Rebbe’s call and declared 1977 a National Year of Education.The Rebbe then called upon the Congress to designate an “Education Day” on the American calendar. The Rebbe felt this would lend new meaning to long honored American traditions such as “Mother’s Day” and “Father’s Day”.In April of the following year, Congress recognized the Rebbe’s efforts and passed a joint resolution proclaiming the Rebbe’s seventy-sixth birthday, “Education Day, USA.” President Jimmy Carter signed the proclamation into law and Education Day USA has since become an annual tradition, signed by every successive President.

The Rebbe encouraged educational systems that pay special attention to the building of personal character with emphasis on positive values. To this end, the Rebbe initiated his famous “Moment of Silence” campaign, calling upon private and public schools to institute a moment of silence at the beginning of each day. This would facilitate free expression of personal religious belief and would provide a necessary framework for inculcating faith in the Creator of the world.

The Rebbe called upon the United States government to exert its influence in this area with newly developing countries. He would point out that the founding fathers saw fit to publish the words “In G-d We Trust” on the dollar bill, demonstrating their confidence in this nation’s moral and spiritual strength. Therefore, this nation must be at the forefront of the effort to raise educational, moral and ethical standards worldwide.

In this vein, the Rebbe wrote to President Ronald Reagan and encouraged him to keep up his “continuous and often courageous leadership in areas of traditional and American values.” The Rebbe assured the President that his efforts were “receiving an increasingly receptive response”. In recognition of the Rebbe’s efforts and accomplishments, the president  declared the Rebbe’s eightieth birthday, “National Day of Reflection”.

President Reagan also orchestrated a historic National Scroll of Honor to be presented to the Rebbe on this day. The scroll of honor was co-signed by President Ronald Reagan, Vice President George H Bush and every Senator and member of the House of Representatives.

Global Morality

In his quest for worldwide acceptance of higher moral and ethical standards, the Rebbe did not limit himself to the Jewish population. He encouraged his followers to promote the Noahide code across the globe. According to Jewish tradition, God dictated the Noahide laws to Noah immediately following the flood. These are the original laws that outlaw murder, theft and adultery. They call upon humanity to establish a judicial system that conducts the affairs of society in a fair judicious manner. They call upon humanity to recognize the presence of a Divine authority and to be grateful for our blessings in life. The Rebbe saw the the spreading of this code as a method to facilitate peace, harmony and morality across the globe. He especially called upon newly developing countries to establish a code of law in the spirit of this code.

In response to the Rebbe’s campaign, President George H Bush wrote to the Rebbe to thank him for his efforts in this regard. The President quoted the book of Psalms… “Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path”. He went on to praise the Rebbe’s work and quoted the legendary words of Daniel Webster, “If we work upon immortal minds and imbue them with principles, fear of G-d and love of fellow men, we engrave on those tablets something that will brighten to all eternity”.

The Rebbe was a true believer in the innate goodness of man and in the positive potential of every human being. In a  lecture at Georgetown University, Professor Adin Steinzalts described the Rebbe’s philosophy in the following manner. “The Rebbe would often say: ‘Look within yourself and you will find that you are far better then you have ever imagined’”.

“Whenever I would see him he would touch the depth in me. When I would leave, I felt that for a moment I had lived a little deeper, a little higher”. (Eli Weisel, Nobel Prize Winner)

In his forty-four years of leadership the Rebbe never allowed himself the luxury of vacation or a day off. When Rabbi Avrohom Shayevitz, Chief Rabbi of Moscow, thanked the Rebbe for all the emissaries he had dispatched to the former Soviet Union, the Rebbe replied “We did very little for the Soviet Jews… we owe them much much more”.

“The Rebbe was the most inspirational and perhaps irreplaceable leader of so many communities well beyond his own”. (John Major, Prime Minister of Great Britain)

“He was a ph
ilosopher, physicist, chemist, Talmudist and Chassidic master. Without doubt, the most interesting, charming, fascinating, and comprehensive person that I have ever met.” (Mr. Avner Shaki, Member of Knesset)


On the third of Tamuz,5754, June 12, 1994, a star was eclipsed with the passing of the Rebbe. A generation was orphaned that day; they lost a leader of towering stature, one who carried us all on his broad, dependable and capable shoulders.

“Even though the Rebbe did not have any children, he left thousands of orphans world wide…” (Rabbi Yisrael M. Lau, Chief Rabbi, of the State of Israel.)

Today, the Rebbe is no longer with us physically, but his spirit, vibrancy and enthusiasm, his wisdom, instruction and guidance, his leadership, vision and direction, his dedication, motivation and integrity, his passion, love and concern ,his bright gaze, warm smile and mystical persona, continue to inspire and propel us toward the future.
For the Rebbe had a vision that saw this generation lead directly into the Messianic era. The Rebbe harbored a deep longing for and abiding faith in the imminent arrival of the redemption. He showed us the way when he taught us that every act of goodness and kindness hastens the footsteps of the redeemer.
Indeed, the Rebbe’s vision, leadership and life’s work comprise the driving force behind the work of Chabad world wide. His teachings, his legacy and his memory are the source of Chabad’s dedication and the secret of its success.
“Let us therefore rededicate ourselves to the love of learning, the love of caring and the love of sharing that was championed by Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe”. (President William Jefferson Clinton)

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