Dependent & Independent
August 29, 2019
Rabbi H. Greenberg in #1180, PARADOXES Of The Rebbe

Most innovative and “independent” of predecessors, yet visibly attached to them, particularly to the Previous Rebbe, more than any of his predecessors were to the generation before them. 

If we survey the Rebbe’s approach to leadership, we will see how the Rebbe appears to be totally independent and not in the mold of his predecessors.

The Rebbe took Judaism which was insular in previous generations and took it into the streets, figuratively and literally. The Rebbe’s style of talks and letters too were different from his predecessors, including that of his father-in-law, the Rebbe Rayatz.

Yet, in all the annals of Chassidus and perhaps in all of Jewish history there has never been a leader who was so connected to his predecessors and particularly to his father-in-law, whose gravesite he would visit twice a week in recent years.

Moreover, the Rebbe actually commented to someone about his connection to the Previous Rebbe: “It is two bodies but one soul.” The Rebbe’s soul was inextricably bound with that of his father-in-law.

The Rebbe commented and expounded on all of the teachings of all the Chabad Rebbes and demonstrated their relevance to our lives today. To the Rebbe all of his innovations were extensions of the teachings of his predecessors, particularly the Previous Rebbe, who, by the way, the Rebbe never referred to as the “previous Rebbe” but simply as “the Rebbe my father-in-law, the leader of our generation.”


Commands the greatest respect and devotion, yet calls for greatest independence. Cultivated leaders not followers. 

The Rebbe is arguably the most respected Jewish leader, whose word would be a command to any of his followers. The devotion to him would have one think that his devotees could not think for themselves.

Yet, the Rebbe emphasized individual initiative and independence. The Rebbe wants people to think and act using their own brain. 

The Rebbe took thousands of both talented and not so talented young men and women and turned them into leaders who would forever change the landscape of world Jewry, with their Chabad Houses and other innovative organs of outreach (or, more accurately: in-reach), all the while remaining faithful to the Rebbe’s direction.

The example for this undoubtedly comes from the Rebbe himself, as can be seen in the previous paradox.

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