Living Legacy: Rebbe Dov Ber, the Mitteler Rebbe of Lubavitch
By: Yehuda Alter
The founder of the Chassidus of Chabad-Lubavitch was Rebbe Shneur Zalman Shneersohn, known and the Ba’al Hatanya, and his son and successor was Rebbe Dov Ber, born to him on the 9th day of Kislev of the year 1777. He would be niftar on the same day as well, in the year 1827, exactly one hundred and ninety-five years ago.
In Lubavitch, which places a major emphasis on the deep and mystical Torah, the Torah of the Mitteler Rebbe is considered especially deep, and he authored an incredible amount of chassidus. Much of it expounds on the Torah of his holy father and his philosophy in chassidus.
His entire development was in the glow of his holy father, the Ba’al haTanya. At the young age of fifteen, he was appointed by his father to be guiding the yungeleit who would frequent the court on their derech in avodas Hashem.
When his father left this world, it was only natural that Rebbe Dov Ber would assume his place. At the time the Russian government sent a condolence letter to the Rebbe, and pledged to assist the Rebbe with whatever he needed. He asked for one thing; that the plight of his brethren be eased.
He also devoted himself to advocating that Yidden expand their horizons and find employment in many sectors, including agriculture, which would better their financial lot. “Didn’t our ancestors work the land for thousands of years,” he wrote.
He established a colony in Chevron in the year 1823, and generally possessed a tremendous love for Eretz Yisroel.
Like his father, who suffered greatly for his dissemination of Torah and chassidus, Rebbe Dov Ber likewise was incarcerated by the Russian government in the city of Vitebsk, and stood to suffer a terrible fate. The miracle of his release on the tenth of Kislev is celebrated to this day by chassidim.
He journeyed to the resort town of Carlsbad to recuperate from the ordeal, and on the way, he stopped at the home of Rav Akiva Eiger in Posen, who displayed him great honor. But the suffering proved too much for him, and he soon fell ill in the Russian town of Niezhyn, leaving the world only one year later, on 9 Kislev 1827.
The Ohel in Niezhyn continues to attract the masses, and has recently undergone a renovation, a fitting honor to the Mitteler Rebbe who has lain there for 195 years.