Watch: One Shabbos during his imprisonment, a group of Soviet officials entered the Previous Rebbe’s cell to take the official prisoner photo. How did the Rebbe respond and what does this reveal about the challenges we face daily?
Doing what’s right is like swimming against the current. Making the proper choices feels like climbing a smooth wall with bare hands. Our forefather Avraham’s ultimate faith in G-d was tested ten times over, and we, his descendants, inherited the entity of challenges that face us.
Nothing in this world is void of Divinity. Can it be that the same Divine spirit that directs us towards good is the very same one that fuels and animates the tests and challenges we face?
In Sivan 1927 the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Shneersohn, was arrested and imprisoned by the Soviet government. Miraculously, over the 12th and 13th of Tammuz, less than a month after his arrest, the Rebbe was granted freedom.
One Shabbos during his imprisonment, a group of officials entered the Rebbe’s cell to take the official prisoner photo. The Previous Rebbe ignored the incoming visitors. He was fully immersed in prayer, his face wrapped in a talis. When the officers observed this scene, they simply left.
A while later, the officials returned. The Rebbe was still praying. This time, his face was uncovered. The Rebbe saw the officers enter with their photography equipment. He dismissed them with his hand, indicating that he should not be disturbed.
The powerful Communist officials, who typically spared no mercy, turned around and exited the room. Later that day, they returned a third time. The Previous Rebbe was no longer praying. Yet, the Rebbe explained, it is Shabbos, and it is forbidden for him to be photographed. Surprisingly, the officers left for the third time, without forcing their mission.
The Previous Rebbe was not intimidated by the formidable Soviet government. He dismissed powerful officers for the sake of his religious beliefs. The Frierdiker Rebbe’s total subservience to G-d’s will eliminated the darkness of the challenge. It was clear to the officials that they were powerless to threaten his faith.
When we tether ourselves to higher values, we are unbreakable. Our challenges are an opportunity to prove that our beliefs will win every time.
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