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What is Chabad?

by Rabbi Mendy Hecht

A. Chabad is a movement founded by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (a city in Belarus) about 200 years ago. He was a student of the successor of the Baal Shem Tov, founder of the Chassidic movement. It is founded on a philosophy that ascribes great importance to understanding the mystical; understanding the nature of G-d, His relationship with Creation, the Torah, the Mitzvahs, and last but not least -- the Jewish soul. Rigorous study and intense meditation is required in order to attain this knowledge and internalize these concepts. Hence the name Chabad:

B. The word Chabad is a Hebrew acronym for Chachmah, Binah and Da’at, which means wisdom, understanding and knowledge, respectively. In plain English, these words translate to three core mental functions in the process of what is commonly known as thought: that first flash of insight (Chachmah), the cogitation and rumination that follows (Binah), and thirdly, the ability to internalize and unite with an idea; thus emotionally processing it so that it is not just an abstract theory but something that becomes part of your heart and soul (Da’at). 

Every new Lubavitch branch opening anywhere has called itself Chabad of... the first Lubavitch presence on the Red Planet will be called Chabad of Mars
C. The movement is also (and until recently, better) known as Lubavitch, the name of the Belarus city that housed the movement until the early 1900's. The name Chabad became popular thanks to the movement's international network of outreach centers, the world’s largest Jewish outreach and social-services organization. The 200 year old Lubavitch movement innovated Jewish outreach at the beginning of its American saga in 1940. In 1971, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneersohn, instructed that all existing and future Lubavitch synagogues and Jewish community centers be entitled Chabad Houses. Since then, every new Lubavitch branch opening anywhere has called itself Chabad of Name-of-City-or-Area-Here: the first Lubavitch presence on the Red Planet will be called Chabad of Mars.

What does Chabad want from me?

Chabad is a movement of Chassidic Jews, adherents of the Chabad philosophy, who just want to share Judaism with its rightful owners: their fellow Jews. That’s why they’ve got this website--and more than 4000 full-time rabbis reaching out to people just like you in more than 3000 locations worldwide, from America and Africa to Asia and Australia. And more added, almost daily. No other grassroots organization has successfully reached and inspired as many Jews as has Chabad. Stop by your nearest Chabad center, and you’ll likely find a fellow Jew who looks just like you.

Related Categories

Jewish Identity » Jewish "Labels" » Chabad
Chassidism » Chabad

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