What is Chabad?
Chabad-Lubavitch is a philosophy, a movement, and an organization. It is considered to be the most dynamic force in Jewish life today.
The word “Chabad” is a Hebrew acronym for the three intellectual faculties of chochmah—wisdom, binah—comprehension and da’at—knowledge. The movement’s system of Jewish religious philosophy, the deepest dimension of G‑d’s Torah, teaches understanding and recognition of the Creator, the role and purpose of creation, and the importance and unique mission of each creature. This philosophy guides a person to refine and govern his or her every act and feeling through wisdom, comprehension, and knowledge.
The word “Lubavitch” is the name of the town in White Russia where the movement was based for more than a century. Appropriately, the word Lubavitch in Russian means the “city of brotherly love.” The name Lubavitch conveys the essence of the responsibility and love engendered by the Chabad philosophy toward every single Jew.
Following its inception 250 years ago, the Chabad-Lubavitch movement—a branch of Hasidism— swept through Russia and spread in surrounding countries as well. It provided scholars with answers that eluded them, and simple farmers with a love that had been denied them. Eventually, the philosophy of Chabad-Lubavitch and its adherents reached almost every corner of the world and affected almost every facet of Jewish life.
The movement is guided by the teachings of its seven leaders (“Rebbes”), beginning with Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi of righteous memory (1745–1812). These leaders expounded upon the most refined and delicate aspects of Jewish mysticism, creating a corpus of study thousands of books strong. They personified the age-old Biblical qualities of piety and leadership. And they concerned themselves not solely with Chabad-Lubavitch but with the totality of Jewish life, spiritual and physical. No person or detail was too small or insignificant for their love and dedication.
In our generation, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson of righteous memory (1902–1994), known simply as “the Rebbe,” guided post-holocaust Jewry to safety from the ravages of that devastation.
The origins of today’s Chabad-Lubavitch organization can be traced to the early 1940s, when the Rebbe arrived on the shores of the United States and took the lead of the newly-founded educational and social service arms of the movement.
Motivated by his profound love for every Jew and spurred by his boundless optimism and self-sacrifice, the Rebbe set into motion a dazzling array of programs, services, and institutions to serve every Jew.
Today, over 4,500 full-time emissary families apply 250-year-old principles and philosophy to direct more than 3,500 institutions in all 50 states and in over 100 countries dedicated to the welfare of the Jewish people worldwide.
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