February 22, 2006
collapse of the former USSR Communist regime was soon followed
by a Jewish re-identification and a sweeping resurgence
of open religious observance. These striking changes followed
70 years of Soviet suppression of religion.
Religious feeling and observance had been driven underground
for decades, but was kept alive by a strong "Jewish underground." At
the center of the struggle for Jewish survival was the
giant persona of the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef
Yitzhak Schneersohn (1880-1950), of blessed memory.
It was the Previous Rebbe who led the harbozat hayahadut,
the spread of Yiddishkeit, in those dark years right under
the nose of the cruel, dictatorial Soviet regime. But he
paid a heavy price for his activism, and that’s what this
book is about. He was arrested, imprisoned and tortured
several times because of his leadership and resistance
to the NKVD, the Soviet secret police, and the Yevsektzia,
the Communist Party’s Jewish Affairs office.
But he stood
firm in his religious conviction and opposed the tyranny
of the Soviet authorities. The Rebbe’s resistance to the
Communist gangsters was capped in 1927 when he was arrested
for "counter-revolutionary activity" and jailed.
However, international pressure resulted in his release
and later his banishment from Russia.
In remembrance of the Rebbe’s heroic acts, the Chassidic
community marks the 12th and 13th of Tammuz as the days
commemorating his ordeal, and celebrating his release.
Even after he left Russia he continued to lead the Jewish
resistance from abroad. Ultimately his activities laid
the foundation for the current Jewish revival, which took
place under the leadership of his son-in-law and successor,
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson.
The previous Rebbe recorded the events of his arrest and
the days that followed and put together a compendium of
events, but years later in Poland during his flight from
the Nazis, the booklet was lost. Rabbi Menachem Mendel,
however, was able to retrieve the story by painstakingly
copying his father-in-law’s notes.
The Heroic Struggle is based on Rabbi Menachem Mendel’s
copied narrative. After Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak arrived in
the U.S. he thanked his son-in-law for saving the historic
notes. They are a rich source, providing insight into the
many facets of a deeply spiritual personality.
The book describes in remarkable detail the process of
terror and the courage that the Rebbe mustered up in the
face of his captors. Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak often said that
he took notes to share them with his followers to show
how chassidus offers courage and spiritual support to those
who are subjected to physical and mental tortures.
The current Russian-language book, The Heroic Struggle,
is a revision of the original book and includes in it Rabbi
Dr. Alter B. Metzger’s appendices, which provide samples
of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak’s writings and discourses and those
of his successor on the spiritual significance of imprisonment.
It could be a life-enhancing gift for readers of Russian
in the Jewish community.
The main section of this book was originally published
by FREE in 1980 under the title "Notations of the Arrest" (Reshimat
Hama’aser). In the English original several appendices
were added. They were written by Rabbi Dr. Alter B. Metzger.
The book was published by Kehot in 1999.
here to view a PDF of The Heroic Struggle
Book is available online at FREE
Publishing House Bookstore.
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