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The lesson of the three loves

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On Shabbat morning, 10th Shevat 5710, 28 January 1950, the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, left this world.

One year later, the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe formally accepted the leadership of Chabad-Lubavitch (this Shabbat marks 71 years).

From the very start, it was clear that he meant to carry on his father-in-law’s work to reach out and embrace every Jew, no matter how geographically or spiritually distant from their people.

No matter where you go in the world, there is a very high chance you will find Chabad. One of the first things the Rebbe instituted after his father-in-law’s passing was the concept of sending emissaries to all corners of the world.

The concept is deep and simple. The Rebbe wished to reach every Jew on the face of the earth and to inspire them to connect to their heritage. But to reach every Jew is a task impossible for a single human being. So he raised an army of young men and women and said to them, “I empower you to act in my stead. When you go out – to Alaska or to Johannesburg – it will be as if I myself am going there, as if I myself am giving that class, koshering that kitchen, or visiting the sick in hospital.”

At a gathering marking the first anniversary of his father-in-law’s passing, the Rebbe delivered a Chassidic teaching, maamar. The impact lives on today. Here’s a free translation of a small part (courtesy of

“Here in America, people like to hear things expressed in the form of a statement, preferably a provocative and shocking statement. I don’t know if this is the best approach, but as our Sages have said, ‘When you come to a city, do as its custom.’

The three loves – love of G-d, love of Torah, and love of one’s fellow – are one. One cannot differentiate between them, for they are of a single essence. And since they are of a single essence, each one embodies all three.

This is our statement, if you see a person who has a love of G-d but lacks a love of Torah and a love of his fellow, you must tell him that his love of G-d is incomplete. And if you see a person who has only a love for his fellow, you must strive to bring him to a love of Torah and a love of G-d, that his love toward his fellows should not only be expressed in providing bread for the hungry and water for the thirsty, but also to bring them close to Torah and to G-d.

When we have the three loves together, we will achieve redemption. For just as this last exile was caused by a lack of brotherly love, so shall the final and immediate redemption be achieved by love for one’s fellow.”

The lesson to us is clear – even more so in the times we find ourselves with all the negativity in the world – we have to make sure to counter it with love.

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