Wednesday, January 18, 2012

24 Teves - Yarzheit - The Alter Rebbe

The founder of Chabad Chassidism, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi - "the Alter Rebbe" [1745-1812], passed away on the eve of the 24th of Tevet, at approximately 10:30 pm, shortly after reciting the Havdalah prayer marking the end of the Shabbat. The Rebbe was in the village of Peyena, fleeing Napoleon's armies, which had swept through the Rebbe's hometown of Liadi three months earlier in their advance towards Moscow. He was in his 68th year at the time of his passing, and was succeeded by his son, Rabbi DovBer of Lubavitch.

The Alter Rebbe would often repeat in the name of the Baal Shem Tov that wealth can be Gan Eden (paradise) or it can be Gehenom (purgatory). The Alter Rebbe explained this saying as follows. If one uses his wealth for charitable purposes, then it is paradise. If one uses it for self-indulgence or holds it treasured away in order not to give charity, then it is purgatory.

The Mitteler Rebbe, when he was just 7 years old, asked his father "Why are wealthy people so haughty? Even those who are not born into wealth, yet when they become wealthy they change nature and become conceited."

The Alter Rebbe responded "God set up a system in which wealth inherently causes conceit. The chamber of wealth, in heaven, is found between Gan Eden and Gehenom. There are two doors to this chamber. One opens to Gan Eden and the other opens to Gehenom. Ze le'umas ze asa Elokim - God made one opposite the other.

Source: Chaim Dalfin: The Seven Chabad Lubavitch Rebbes

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