By Boruch Merkur
The Rebbe told a group of people: "...you shall see that I am an old
friend... When it comes to accepting new ideas, however, I am a youthful friend
– I’m not even as old as it is recorded in my passport."
On the 11th of Nissan we celebrate the birthday of the Rebbe;
100 years ago (in the year 1902), the Rebbe was born.
The Rebbe’s date of birth, however, does not go completely
undisputed – the Rebbe’s Russian citizenship papers report that he was born in
1895, seven years prior to his actual birthday. (Note: document forgery was
commonly done in Russia to avoid conscription by the Russian army.)
On at least one occasion the Rebbe referred to this
discrepancy, saying to a group of people: "...you shall see that I am an old
friend... When it comes to accepting new ideas, however, I am a youthful
friend – I’m not even as old as it is recorded in my passport" [The Rebbe: a
Besides being prodigious in learning as a child, one story
tells of the Rebbe’s athletic ability. (But it is clear from the story that to
the Rebbe, even the mundane is a pathway to the sublime.) When the Rebbe was
about five or six years old, he far surpassed his friends in the youthful sport
of tree-climbing. Some of his friends could make it about halfway up the tree,
but the Rebbe would climb straight to the top. When his mother inquired about
this, the future Rebbe replied: "When the others climb up halfway, they look
down to see how far they have come, and they become afraid, so they either fall
or find their way down. I don’t get scared and fall, because I always look
The Rebbe’s "youthful" vision and fearless determination
catapulted the Rebbe up into the forefront of Jewish leadership before he turned
fifty. But even from his early years, the Rebbe had a profound vision of the
future direction of world Jewry. Namely, "upwards," towards the Redemption, as
the Rebbe writes: "From the day that I went to cheider, and even prior to
that, the vision of the future Redemption began to take form in my imagination –
the Redemption of the Jewish people from their final Exile, a Redemption of such
magnitude and grandeur through which the purpose of the suffering, the harsh
decrees, and annihilations of Exile will be understood."
May we immediately see the Rebbe’s dream become a reality.