In 2011 we reported the revelation from the Wikileaks files, that the American Embassy has discovered that manuscripts from the Rebbe Rayatz’s collection in Russia are being sold in Israel (emphasis added):
“1. SUMMARY: In a February 2 visit to the Russian State Library to view the Schneersohn Collection of sacred religious texts of the Chabad Lubavitch branch of Judaism, Director of the Library’s Oriental Center Sergey Kukushkin told us that Moscow Chabad leaders had not visited the Collection in many years. Kukushkin claimed to know nothing about recent legal developments in the U.S. District Court in Washington surrounding the documents, and seemed surprised to hear that some documents from the Collection allegedly were found in Israel. Estimating that only 150-250 guests make appointments to see the texts each year, Kukushkin considered the rarely-handled documents to be in good condition, yet characterized the storage facility as only adequate. END SUMMARY.
… “4. Kukushkin seemed surprise to hear our account of press reports about Schneersohn Collection documents allegedly turning up in Israel, and assessed the condition of the Collection to be “the same as it was ten years ago,” underlining that the books are old but in good shape. He claimed to be unaware of the recent news piece in the Associated Press about the alleged attempt to sell illegally Collection excerpts in Israel, professing that only he and his deputy hold the keys to the storage room and that there have been no break-ins or planned shipments…”
Next week, on Wednesday September 3rd, the Kedem Auction House in Jerusalem will be holding its 40th auction, which is dedicated to “Books, manuscripts and Rabbinical letters,” with a special section dedicated to Chabad Manuscripts, Letters and Books.
Among the items for sale one finds the three items which seem to be part of the Frierdiker Rebbe’s collection of manuscripts which is in captivity in Russia.
The following is a summary of the Rebbe’s views on such items going on sale and ending up in private hands (emphasis added):
At the Farbrengen on Yud Beis Tammuz, and days following, the Rebbe reminded his audience of the tremendous dangers to which his father-in-law had exposed himself in order to retrieve the library from
the Soviet Union, and then Nazi hands.
The sight of the books on the open market for private gain gave the Rebbe much pain. He said that the library was not for private use, but was established for the use of the public…
Therefore, the Rebbe said, even though it is not place to discuss it, for “I am not a judge, lawyer, policeman or ‘strap-holder'”, I must speak about this publicly, for we are dealing with the honor of the leader of the generation, and this causes great, pain and affects the health. I will therefore not be at ease until this case is settled! The Rebbe also expressed himself saying, that anyone with a Sefer in his possession, was like carrying a “live bomb” which can explode at any moment.
With great emphasis the Rebbe stated that nobody should try to buy back the books. Nonetheless the Rebbe made it clear that any innocent buyer who had unwittingly purchased an item from the Lubavitch Library would be fully reimbursed by Aguch.
THE RELEVANT ARTICLES FOR SALE:
Number 190: Large collection of handwritten pamphlets of Chassidic articles by Chabad Rebbes: The Tzemach Tzedek, his son Rebbe Shmuel (Moharash) and his grandson Rebbe Shalom Dov Ber (Rashab). 1850’s -1910’s.
Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson, author of Tzemach Tzedek (1789-1866), the third Chabad Rebbe was a leading scholar and Chassid. A close disciple of his grandfather, author of the Tanya, he led the Chassidism after the death of his father-in-law and uncle “The Middle Rebbe” Dov Ber in 1828.
The youngest of five sons of the author of Tzemach Tzedek – the Maharash of Lubavitch – Rabbi Shmuel Schneerson (1834-1882) was appointed Lubavitch Rebbe in 1866. He died at a young age and served as Rebbe for less than 20 years. His son the Rashab (1861-1920) was the fifth Rebbe of the Lubavitch dynasty and founder of the Tomchei Temimim Yeshivot.
More than 20 handwritten pamphlets of compositions, varying size and condition, by various writers, some booklets are incomplete. Some of the writers have a similar handwriting to that of the Tzemach Tzedek.
Our initial examination of the manuscript in comparison with the Chabad books which appear in the Otzar Chochma, reveal that most articles are taken from the teachings of the Rebbe, the Moharash from 1873-1880, and some differ from the printed versions.
Number 191: Manuscript containing articles of Chabad Chassidism. Majority of articles by Rebbe Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn author of the Tzemach Tzedek. [Russia, c. 1830s]. Fine writing with graphic ornamentation at beginning and end of articles. Manuscript written during early period of service of Rebbe author of the Tzemach Tzedek. Leaf 31/A: “pure articles by Rebbe Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn in community of Dobrovna” [this article was printed in Or HaTorah on Bamidbar]. Leaf 146/A: “This Torah was presented by the Rebbe in Barki on Shabbat Mevarchim Rosh Chodesh Nisan 1829”]. On last page, colophon with riddle by author of manuscript.
Leaves 114-124 and leaves 133-135 in different writing [c. 1860’s], and contain various Likutim: copy of “holy handwriting of the Rebbe”, by “Vilna Ga’on” [some unknown], commentaries and various comments on the “Torah” which appears in this volume, copy of commentary on the Zohar, story of “the righteous deceased rabbi, Rabbi Levi Berdichever” as well as other Kabbalistic and Chassidic collections.
Number 192: Manuscript containing Chassidic articles by the Rebbe of Lubavitch – Chabad. [Russia, early 20th century].
Majority of articles pertain to the Torah of Rabbi Shalom Ber delivered between 1899-1905. Including: Etz Chaim pamphlet by Rebbe Rabbi Shalom Dover of Lubavitch, by several writers, majority in legible handwriting with comments on margins. Some leaves are stencil copies of a manuscript. Ownership signatures “Alter Simchowitz”.