Gut Yom Tov, Chassidim, Gut Yom Tov, world! The Rebbe was born on Friday, Yud Alef Nissan, 5662, in the Ukrainian-Russian town of Nikolaev. The Rebbe’s mother said that he was “kodosh mirechem”- holy from the womb.
On the day of his birth, the Rebbe Rashab sent six telegrams to the newborn’s father, with instructions on the care of the infant. Of these, Rebetzin Chanah revealed two horoas: she was to wash her hands and the baby’s hands negel vasser before each feeding.
At his bris, the Rebbe was named for the Rebbe Tzemach Tzedek, his paternal great grandfather.
His father, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, was a renowned Goan and Mekubal; his mother, Rebbetzin Chanah, an aristocratic woman from a prestigious Lubavitcher rabbinical family.
At age seven, the Rebbe moved with his parents to Yekatrinislav (today, Dnepropetrovsk), where Rabbi Levi Yitzchak was appointed Chief Rabbi of the city.
Those were turbulent years for the Jews of Czarist Russia, who were subject to pogroms and persecutions. Rebbetzin Chanah told of one occasion, in 5667, in which many Jewish families huddled in a hiding place while a pogrom raged outside. The babies and young children were wailing in fright. Their parents’ frantic efforts to silence them only increased their terror, and the danger of discovery was imminent. It was young Mendel, little more than a toddler himself, who saved the day by going from baby to baby and calming them with a softly laid hand or a soothing word.
The Rebbe prior to the age of three
Years later, the Rebbe would describe his early childhood as a time in which his worldview and life’s goals were already being formed. In a letter to Mr. Yitzchok ben Zvi, then President of Israel, the Rebbe writes about his childhood dreams, plans and aspirations. They were certainly not typical of a three year old. “From the day I went to cheder and even before, the picture of the final Redemption started forming in my mind – the Redemption of the Jews from their last exile, a Redemption in such a way that through it will be understood the sufferings of exile, the decrees and the destruction … And all will be in a way that with a complete heart and full understanding it will be said on that day, ‘Thank you G-d for chastising me.’”
It is no wonder then, that it was the Rebbe who catapulted the post- Holocaust generation of Jews into Yemos HaMoshiach.
On this day, and the days preceding Yud Alef Nissan, Anash, Tmimim and mekurovim around the world make good hachlotos, do mivtzoim, and of course, farbreng to the theme of:
L’Chaim, Chassidim! Ashreinu, ma tov chelkeinu, u’ma noim goroleinu, u’ma yofo yerushoseinu.