"Prophetic and Pragmatic"
March 27, 2019
Rabbi H. Greenberg in #1160, PARADOXES Of The Rebbe

Mystical & Practical

Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks referred to the Rebbe as “prophetic and pragmatic.” 

The Rebbe’s teachings focus on the transcendent aspect of the Divine, of the Jewish soul. The Rebbe sees everything through the prism of Torah. The Rebbe is credited with thousands of miracles. The Rebbe clearly is connected to a higher, mystical and supernatural world.

Yet, the Rebbe is so connected to the same world that most other people occupy. The Rebbe established institutions in such an organized and practical way.

It was said, that a Beinoni (the “intermediate spiritual level” discussed in Tanya) exists within this world (identifies with and has all the struggles that our world provides for); a Tzadik is above the world (he is detached, aloof and transcends the conflict and darkness of this material world), but a Rebbe is above the world and in the world simultaneously.

Most ascetic for himself but denounced it for others

The Rebbe led an extremely ascetic lifestyle. He hardly ate and slept. Everything the Rebbe owned or did was simple.

Yet, one of the foundations of the Ba’al Shem Tov’s teachings the Rebbe cited frequently was the importance of the body and that we should not break the body. 

In the Rebbe’s philosophy, based on earlier Chassidic teaching, the body has an even higher source than the soul and therefore in the Messianic Age the soul will be nurtured by the body. 

Yet, while the Rebbe personally lived ascetically he would denounce that approach for others.

On an occasion when he visited the women’s school, Machon Chana, he instructed the administration to make sure there are mirrors, art work etc., to make the place comfortable and beautiful.


Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (http://beismoshiachmagazine.org/).
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