Summary. It’s helpful to remember people and events in history that can help us better understand where we have been, where we are, and where we are going. The following article is from the 25 June 2010 newsletter of Rabbis Avremel and Chaya Blesofsky of Chabad Iowa City. The article is about the release of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn in 1927.
The 12th and 13th of Tamuz is a chassidic holiday, festively observed by Chabad chassidim worldwide. On the 12th of Tamuz 5687 (1927), the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn (1880-1950), was given permission to leave Kastroma, the distant city of exile where he was dispatched by the Soviets for the “crime” of creating an underground network of yeshivas, mikvahs, and other banned Jewish institutions.
Miraculously, the Rebbe survived his harrowing ordeal which also included a lengthy stay in a Leningrad prison, and a commuted death sentence.
But the battle was far from over. In the ensuing six decades, the Communist regime forcibly attempted to destroy all remnants of religious life. Shortly after his liberation the Rebbe was expelled from the USSR, but thousands of his followers continued his holy struggle, valiantly resisting the government’s efforts to destroy Soviet Judaism. The consequences were viciously cruel. Thousands of Chabad chassidim spent years in the Soviet gulags for their illegal activities. And they were the “lucky” ones. Countless others were tortured and condemned to death by KGB kangaroo courts and summarily executed in a prison courtyard or cellar. The poor widows and orphans were not notified about their loved one’s fate, leaving them to languish for years on the threshold between hope and despair.
The Previous Rebbe persevered; his sacred work continued despite the KGB’s designs. His cause, too, prevailed; Torah Judaism and Chabad are alive and well, while the Iron Curtain has crumbled and the all-mighty USSR is a relic of history.
We too will meet today’s challenge and prevail. On this Holiday of Redemption may we witness another redemption—the final one.