Lubavitch Hasidism, most commonly presented through its organizational arm, the Chabad international movement, is based out of Crown Heights, New York.
The Chabad-Lubavitch movement formed from the writings
of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, who published the Tanya, in 1796. The Tanya contains the key to Jewish mystical and spiritual awareness, according
to Chabadnicks. Following Shneur Zalman, there have been six other
Lubavitcher Rebbes, each designated by his predecessor.
Mendel Schneerson was chosen as the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe
in 1950. Schneerson, known as the Rebbe, served as the heart and soul
of Chabad for 44 years, he was the spiritual leader, as well as, intellectual
and organizational leader of the movement. In 1994, Schneerson, at the
age of 91, died childless and with no designated successor. Chabad leadership
decided that he would be the final rebbe, this decision sparked much
speculation and expectation that Schneerson was the Messiah. Many felt
that the Chabad movement would dwindle and collapse after his death,
but just the opposite occurred. The current headquarters of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement was originally purchased in 1940 to serve as Schneerson's residence after his rescue from Nazi occupied Warsaw. The movement blossomed during the ten years that Schneerson lived at the house until his death, and following his death in 1950 the building was converted into an office. Chabad-Lubavitch international still operates out of the same building to this day, although it has been expanded several times. The building is so closely associated with the movement and so iconic, that at least 15 replicas exist around the world (some more exact than others).
The Lubavitch movement's infrastructure has
expanded almost 30 percent since the Rebbe's death. It has become a
world-wide Jewish outreach movement. More than 3,700 emissary couples
work in more than 100 countries worldwide. Since 1995, more than 400 shlichim (emissaries) were assigned to new posts and more than 500 new Chabad
institution have been established, bringing the total to nearly 2,600
institutions (seminaries, day camps, schools, etc) worldwide.
According to headquarters, almost one million children participates
in Chabad activities worldwide in 1999.
The movement's major thrust focuses on observing
for one's self and transmitting to others the beauty, depth,
awareness and joy inherent in the Torahtrue way of life. By doing
so, it strives to revitalize Jewish life by intensifying the
individual's relationship to Gd, and deep sense of devotion and
love towards one's fellow man.
The name Chabad (Chochmah, Binah, Daat)
refers to the three intellectual sephiros (Divine Emanations).
The philosophy of the founder, the Alter Rebbe, stressed the use of
the intellect to guide the emotions. Thus, each individual hasid had
to work on himself/herself, rather than simply rely on the Rebbe/Tzaddik's
saintliness. Another name used in Lubavitch Hasidism is ChaGat (Chessed, Gevurah, Tiferes), which refers to the
first three of the seven emotional sephiros/character
attributes that derive from Chabad. The emphasis in Chagat
Chassidus is on emotional fervor and devotion. Consequently, a
hasid must attach himself/herself to the Rebbe and let his
righteousness carry the hasid along.
The Lubavitch Rebbe, as Nasi HaDor (leader
of the generation) has the responsibility of setting the direction of
Chabad-Lubavitch operates an extensive outreach
effort to encourage Jews to return to traditional practices. As part
of this effort, Chabad operates the Mitzvah Campaigns to encourage
Jews to perform 10 specific mitzvot, the intention being that
through their fulfillment, the individual and the family will come to
experience a deeper and more fulfilling relationship with their
Jewish heritage. These mitzvot are:
1. Ahavas Yisroel: The love of one's fellow
2. Chinuch: Torah Education.
3. Torah Study.
4. Tefillin: The donning of Tefillin, every
weekday, by men and boys over 13.
The Jewish sign on a doorpost.
Giving charity every weekday.
7. Possession of Jewish Holy Books.
8. Lighting Shabbat and Festival Candles.
The Jewish dietary laws.
10. Taharas Hamishpocho: The Torah
perspective on married life.
Chabad also urges that efforts be made
to inform the public at large about the nature and meaning
of the Seven
Laws of Noah.