Chasidim of Lubawicze
The Chasidim of Lubawicze [Yiddish, Lubavitcher
Chasidim - also known as ChaBaD, from the Hebrew, Chokhma, Bina, Dea =
Wisdom, Understanding, Cognition - the three sephiroth comprising the
first phase of the emanation of God, the beginning of the creation of
the world; they are also three virtues particularly valued by this
Chasidic community] - A Lithuanian branch of Chasidism founded by Shnuer
Zalman (1747-1813) of Lyady (Ladow) [currently in Belarus - Ed.].
His son and successor, Dov Ber Shnirson
(Schneersohn, 1773-1827), brought his seat from Ladow to Lubawicze
[Lubavichi, in present-day Belarus - Ed.]. ChaBaD's teachings were more
systematic than those of other branches of Chasidism. It emphasized
studying the Torah, and had strong pantheistic themes. The teachings
were also marked by a conviction that the material world does not have a
real existence, and that everything is God: "From the perspective of
divine substance, which supports us, we do not exist, just as no rays of
sunshine exist within the sun itself." These principles were presented
in the writings of Shneur Zalman Tanj (1796), which continue to be
studied by the followers of ChaBaD even today. The work's title is an
Aramaic phrase used in the Talmud to indicate that teachings of the
tannaim not included in the Mishnah were being cited.
In 1940, the tzaddik Josef Yitzhak Schneersohn
(Sznejersohn, 1902-48) made it to the Soviet Union and then to the
United States, where ChaBaD's main center continues to be located to
this day. There is also a large group of followers in Israel. ChaBaD is
the largest branch of Chasidim, and the only one that conducts
missionary work, especially among assimilated Jews, but also in the
former Soviet Union.
The last Chasidic tzaddik of Lubawicze was the nephew of Josef
Yitzhak, Menachem Mendel Schneersohn (1902-94), a graduate of the
Sorbonne, whom his followers proclaimed to be the Messiah.