The Rebbe’s Vision of Crown Heights
By Rabbi Yosef Reizes
Translated By Michoel Leib Dobry
Every year, thousands of guests crowd their way into the court of the Rebbe MH"M who lives in Lubavitch – Crown Heights. * They have several opportunities to experience the neighborhood of the king – family hospitality, shopping, visits at the various Chabad institutions. * Thousands more of our fellow Jews come from far and wide at simchas beis HaShoeiva at the corner of Montgomery and Kingston. * it is appropriate in connection with the upcoming community elections to stop and take a look at the special quality of this community as brought in the Rebbe’s teachings. * Excerpts from a soon-to-be published book on Crown Heights by Rabbi Yosef Reizes


Before getting into detail, we must point out that the main attribute of the Crown Heights neighborhood is clear and obvious even to a child of five first learning Chumash. Crown Heights is the neighborhood of the king! The place where the Rebbe lives! For a chassid, this fact says it all. What type of a community is it that would be fitting for the Rebbe himself to reside in all his glory?

A perusal into statements made by the Rebbe on the subject reveals that it goes much further and deeper than one might imagine.

Over the years, the Rebbe was engaged with great fervor in matters pertaining to Crown Heights. This was primarily so after 5729, when the Rebbe instilled a tremendous community reawakening, which was increased in the years that followed. This was demonstrated mainly in 5746 and after, due to the Rebbe’s direct involvement concerning the election of the Rabbinical Court and the Jewish Community Council.

To illustrate the aforementioned, let’s remind you briefly what happened:

The Rebbe spoke for a number of years about the need to bolster the neighborhood: not to leave the community, to buy homes in the community, to make simchos in the community, to build and improve its institutions, etc. When the crisis over the s’farim began in 5745 (as is known, this affected the Rebbe in an indescribable manner), there was a very special farbrengen on the matter.

The Rebbe opened the farbrengen with an example from a wedding – that despite all its joy, there is the breaking of the glass, etc. After this introduction, the Rebbe spoke about two pressing concerns – the battle over the s’farim and as a preface to everything else, the situation in the community. The Rebbe demanded that there should be new beautiful homes in the neighborhood at low prices, etc., and he connected everything to Kiddush Shem Lubavitch.

The Rebbe’s great love for the neighborhood expressed itself at every step. For example, when thousands of Tanyas were printed all over the world at the Rebbe’s clear instructions, he expressly dedicated an entire sicha, delivered on Yud Shvat 5744, to one of them – the one printed in Crown Heights. It is interesting to note that in this sicha the Rebbe explained at length the significance of the name Crown Heights. One example of many.


Here our five-year old might ask: What did the Rebbe shlita see that caused him to dedicate so many hours and such immense strength to the Crown Heights neighborhood?

It is true that this neighborhood is unlike all others, as it is the "neighborhood of the king." Nevertheless, it still remains puzzling why all the minute details of what is happening specifically in this community are so relevant? In other words, the Rebbe is the leader of the entire Jewish people. This demands investing great effort in many concerns, some of which are of paramount world importance. What difference does it make to the Rebbe who heads the community council?

Furthermore, faithful as we are to the statement and manner of service of the Baal Shem Tov – "when your wellsprings spread outwards," we understand that every subject in Chabad chassidus and the holy service of the Rebbeim is a preparation and training of the world for the true and complete Redemption. This means that every Rebbe in his generation added another level in this service, all for one solitary purpose – to bring the days of Moshiach.

If so, the question must be asked: What is the connection between matters of the community and the great and lofty advance towards the outspread of chassidus for the sake of bringing Moshiach? What does a particular community with all its internal problems have to do with the revelation of Melech HaMoshiach in the true and complete Redemption?

* * *

There are those who will claim: Who says that there is a connection between these matters and the Redemption or that there has to be one? Yes, the Rebbe dealt with this, mainly in the last few years at the same time he was speaking with great intensity about Moshiach, but who says this is connected to the Redemption? This appears to be merely a side issue.

However, the question is really not a question to begin with. Straight common sense leads us to understand that the words of the Rebbe are Divinely inspired, not simply a response to one problem or another. Therefore, it is with absolute certainty that if the Rebbe’s whole purpose is to bring Moshiach in actual deed, then there must be a relationship between all his holy words and instructions on the Redemption and the Crown Heights community.

Furthermore, it is known that these matters were of great relevance to the Rebbe, particularly those that pertained to the elections of the Rabbinical Court and the Community Council, to the point that he said, "I have freed myself from all my concerns to deal with this!" (Farbrengen Shabbos Mattos-Massei 5746). It was understood that the Redemption was among the Rebbe’s main concerns. Therefore, when the Rebbe put aside all else, it was obvious that it was in order to be involved in something even more relevant to the Redemption. This matter was, therefore, most relevant to the point that all other concerns could be laid aside for its sake.

As is explained in the kuntres "Inyana Shel Toras HaChassidus," the Rebbe represents the general level of Yechida, i.e., the level of the soul which becomes revealed at a moment of self-sacrifice. With regard to the Rebbe, self-sacrifice is constantly active as the level of Yechida shines in a revealed state. Everything he does is done with his entire essence, not just with a particular ko’ach. As such, when the Rebbe says he is turning away from all his pursuits, this certainly does not mean that he is descending from the level of Yechida (to deal with other matters), as his entire being is the revelation of Yechida. Rather, he is then dealing with something much higher. As expressed by the Rebbe in the well-known sicha from 9 Adar Rishon 5752 on Kiddush Hashem in the community, this represents self-sacrifice that is higher than self-sacrifice itself, as it were.

You can see for yourself: the Rebbe said about himself (Igros Kodesh, Vol. 12, pg. 414 – 11 Nissan 5716) that "from the first day I went to cheider and even before then," his thoughts were about the Redemption. From then on, he rose higher in his service until he reached the level where he received the leadership and began to lead the entire Jewish people.

The Rebbe’s service is essentially higher than what can be grasped by the human intellect. Yet, the Rebbe declares that he is turning away from all other pursuits, all of which pertain to the Redemption (as mentioned in the citation from Igros), and he goes to deal with a particular matter. Without question, this matter has an even greater connection to the Redemption. As written in Tanya, Ch. 41, G-d "leaves both the higher and lower [worlds] and uniquely bestows His Kingdom upon His people Israel."

* * *

As all of this is in addition to the fact that we are standing at the threshold of the Redemption, we must examine and see how these matters, specifically those pertaining to the Crown Heights neighborhood, are connected to the Redemption itself. As the Rebbe shlita elucidated in a sicha on Shabbos Mikeitz 5751, when we are deeply involved in the Redemption, then everything is connected to it.

Thus, we require an answer to the aforementioned question: What is the connection of the activities to bring the Redemption and bringing the Sh’china down to this world to the internal matters of Crown Heights? (See Likkutei Sichos, Vol. 28, p. 258)

The answer to all these questions are brought at length in the new book and here is not the place for elaboration. However, to the discussion at hand, this matter is most relevant to the Redemption to the point that it is appropriate to set aside all other concerns to deal with it!


In addition to all that has been explained until now, we must add that there is a sicha that the Rebbe said shortly after the election of the Rabbinical Court, where he says that everything that happens in the community affects the entire world! In a footnote to this sicha, the Rebbe adds, "Not only the entire world of this generation, but since this is the generation of the Redemption and we are about to go out of Exile – this has an effect upon all previous generations." In the famous sicha of "Beis Rabbeinu Sh’B’Bavel," the Rebbe says and emphasizes that the Redemption will begin in the neighborhood: the Third Temple will be revealed in this neighborhood, and afterwards it will move to Eretz Yisroel and take 770 with it.

As a result, since the Redemption will begin in this neighborhood, a taste of the Redemption will also have to start here in the neighborhood. Simply put, the purpose of the Redemption is freedom – the idea of a Jew’s concern for everything, rather than just one individual.

This explains why all the excitement starts specifically in Crown Heights, because as noted, in the general community all matters pertaining to the Redemption begin. In light of this and all the aforementioned, we answer the general question with which we opened this discussion:

Specifically because the Rebbe is the leader of the entire Jewish people and is involved in matters of paramount world importance, it is most relevant to him what is happening in this community in every detail, including the community council elections. The Redemption in general is connected to the community in general – the community of the king, a community that affects the whole world.


In addition to everything we have discussed until now, it is appropriate to explain an additional quality found specifically in this community – the major part it takes in the work of shlichus of our generation.

The work of shlichus in our generation is to bring our fellow Jews close to their Father in Heaven, to teach them the path and customs of chassidus, to bring the entire generation close to the leader of the generation, to publicize the announcement of the Redemption, etc.

We see clearly that in the work of outreach, there are two parts. First, there is the work of the shliach in his city where he does everything to forge a connection with its residents and to tell them about Chabad and the Rebbe, etc., until he finally brings them to the king’s neighborhood. The second part is the reception that the visitor receives in the neighborhood. He comes here to get an impression and experience everything that he has been told about so far. Here is where the residents of the community get involved. Upon them depends whether the person gets a positive impression from his experience or, G-d forbid, the opposite.

This can be compared to the example of the mivtzaim tank:

In general, the tank operates with two crews. The first is responsible for stopping passers-by in the street. This marks the first contact with the outside. Afterwards, if the passer-by agrees to enter the tank, he then meets the second crew. The second crew receives him, shows him the available literature and brochures, etc. It is understood that the second crew bears a heavy responsibility, no less important than the first crew, and to a certain extent – even more. It must make certain that the tank is clean and orderly with all the necessary religious items, and primarily, to ensure a pleasant atmosphere for the person now entering the tank. In essence, the "finishing touch" of the outreach process depends upon those working in this crew.

In a similar vein, we can easily realize the type of impression the visitor will get upon arriving in our neighborhood, when he sees the best community in the world. It will definitely have long-range positive effects for the duration of the process bringing him back to Yiddishkeit. This, in essence, is the role of the residents of Crown Heights in shlichus.

From this, we can understand what the Rebbe said in the sicha of 15 Tammuz 5745 on the subject of apartments in the community. He demanded that they be large and beautiful. It brings honor to the Nasi, to the king, when his neighborhood is attractive.


In a larger sense, all this applies to S’firas HaMalchus.

Malchus has many explanations and interpretations. It represents power and strength – "the King spoke and the mountain was uprooted"; it is one of the Supernal attributes; it also represents majesty and glory, etc., etc. However, the primary and most basic aspect of Malchus is simply order and rule over the country.

To put in elementary terms, there is a king, and the king has a kingdom. By way of this kingdom, the king rules over every aspect of the country. It is understood also that in order for the country to be conducted properly, there is a fundamental need for order and obedience. The king appoints ministers and other officials, each one with a particular area of responsibility, e.g., the minister of health, the minister of defense, the minister of education, etc. Each minister and official must do his job faithfully. Each one must fulfill his duty to the king. Only this way can the country be led successfully in every detail.

The same concept applies in the kingdom of Melech HaMoshiach:

The kingship of Moshiach is not only an aspect of reign and government, majesty and glory, or the praise and honor that is given to the king. First and foremost, there is rule and order, as expressed in the language of the Tanya, "to rule its inhabitants according to his will in that they will defer in obedience to him in all that he will decree upon them." Therefore, Melech HaMoshiach appoints ministers and other officials through whom he will lead the country. These are the various official institutions of Lubavitch: Machne Israel; Merkaz L’Inyonei Chinuch; Agudas Chassidei Chabad; the Shluchim; Roshei Yeshivos; heads of the various institutions, etc., etc. All of them together form a whole structure of a kingdom. This is the kingdom of Melech HaMoshiach.

We can understand from this that the residents of Crown Heights have a very important part in this kingdom. They are those who welcome visitors to the King’s Court!

It is understood quite simply the magnitude of this merit for a variety of reasons:

1) They merit seeing the face of the king with the greatest regularity.

2) They are more updated than any others on everything that is happening in the House of the king, whether regarding material matters (how is he doing, how is his health?) or spiritual matters (what recent instructions have been issued from the "palace"?).

3) They hear his holy words at every farbrengen with the people, and thus, they are more familiar with what he is saying.

Regarding this point, it is appropriate to quote what was publicized in Beis Moshiach (Issue #299, p. 24 – Hebrew section) from the stories of R. A. Weingarten, a’h, which give testimony and a clearer understanding to the great importance of being by the Rebbe when he says divrei Torah:

R. Shmuel Levitin, a’h, told the following:

Once R. Leib Maneszon had a yechidus with the Rebbe Rashab and spoke about reviewing maamarim that the Rebbe said.

The Rebbe told him: "Review the maamer clearly according to the way you remember hearing it from me, and not the way you heard the maamer reviewed."

R. Leib asked: "Can we learn the maamer from inside the "writings" (the maamer as written in the Rebbe’s own handwriting)?"

The Rebbe responded: "The letters that a person hears himself are fixed more firmly – ‘mer ahpgeleigt.’ Such letters possess greater vitality for the person hearing them. In contrast, when a person learns in a seifer (from what is written), the light in the s’farim is concealed. Our Sages say that G-d hid the light that was created on the first day in the Torah (and therefore, when someone learns from a seifer, it is not as fixed in him nor is the vitality as great as when he hears the words himself).

R. Yisroel Jacobson, a’h, adds:

This is also the reason why the Rebbe Rashab wanted so much for the T’mimim to record their own hanachos from the maamarim he said. Even though he wrote down the maamer himself, he still wanted them to write their own impressions from the maamer and only afterwards would he issue the maamer in his handwriting."

To note here also from the Alter Rebbe’s Foreword to the Tanya: "Listening to words of moral advice is not the same as seeing and reading them in books, for the reader reads according to his own manner…he finds difficulty in seeing the beneficial light that is concealed in books."

4) They are the ones who receive people from all the countries of the world, providing hospitality all year round, and giving guidance for those whom this is the beginning of their trek towards a path of Torah and mitzvos, etc.

(To be continued.)

The Community Takes Precedence

R. Yosef Reizes relates: It is known that the Rebbe shlita invested much effort in the redevelopment of the neighborhood, as discussed briefly in this article. In this regard, it is appropriate to acquaint the readers with an interesting story that occurred with my grandfather, R. Shmuel Yitzchak Reizes, of blessed memory.

My grandfather traveled to England for his grandson’s wedding. When he returned, he entered 770 and was met by the Rebbe, who asked him, "How are things in England?" My grandfather answered that Lubavitch there was undergoing great development. They have tremendous institutions and magnificent buildings there, etc.

To his utter amazement, the Rebbe suddenly asked him, "And why shouldn’t it be that way here in this community?"

My grandfather was completely surprised and didn’t understand why the Rebbe was suddenly asking him (of all people) about building up the community so that it will be beautiful and orderly, such as what he saw in England. However, he immediately asked the Rebbe, "Vahs darf men tahn?" (What needs to be done?)

The Rebbe said to him, "Vahs darf men tahn? M’darf m’akev zein di kriya!" (What needs to be done? One needs to delay the Torah reading!)

Everyone can see from this story to what extent the building up of the community meant something to the Rebbe – to the point that one should even delay the Torah reading on Shabbos!


In the Kuntres "Beis Rabbeinu Sh’B’Bavel," which deals with the expansion and enlarging of the Central Lubavitch Synagogue in Lubavitch – "770," the Rebbe shlita MH"M notes (note #74) under "in the place of the Mikdash in Yerushalayim": "See HaTamim, Vol. 12, p. 126: From the day that the Beis HaMikdash and the Kodesh HaKadoshim were destroyed until G-d Alm-ghty will have mercy upon us and send us the Righteous Redeemer…and he will build for us Yerushalayim and the Beis HaMikdash with the Kodesh HaKadoshim, Lubavitch is our Yerushalayim and the synagogue where the Rebbe davened is our Beis HaMikdash, etc."

In the sicha from Shabbos Parshas Noach 5750, the Rebbe shlita MH"M notes (note #24) on the words of the Alter Rebbe on Orach Chaim 290:3, "Even after the destruction [of the Beis HaMikdash], people would gather from all over the Yerushalayim region to celebrate as they do even today": "See at length Likkutei Sichos, Vol. 25, p. 299, that this matter has additional emphasis when many Jews from all over the world come to stay in the shul and beis midrash in the four cubits of my father-in-law, the Rebbe, leader of our generation."

In Seifer HaSichos 5687, p. 166 (also in his Igros Kodesh, Vol. 1, p. 632), the Rebbe Rayatz writes: "At that time, it was an amazing sight, in remembrance of days long ago, when we were in the Yerushalayim of chassidus – Lubavitch. The Mikdash M’at standing with the Kohen Gadol and the kodesh HaKadoshim serving in all their splendor." The narrative continues: "It can be said that hundreds of people were gathered from those who twelve years earlier were in the Yerushalayim of chassidus – Lubavitch."

In the book ‘Nisuei HaNesiim’, p. 71, note 15: "It is known that the Rebbe Maharash especially wanted that the wedding [of the Rebbe Rashab] should be in Lubavitch. He noted that in the t’naim, it was stipulated that the place was to be Yerushalayim, and if not Yerushalayim, then in Lubavitch."

All the aforementioned demonstrates in a most clear and explicit fashion that the Rebbeim equated Lubavitch to Yerushalayim!

(To be continued.)


Since we are standing at the threshold of the Redemption, we must examine and see how these matters, specifically those pertaining to the Crown Heights neighborhood, are connected to the Redemption itself.






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