Baltimore, MD – Nov. 25, 2021 - The 19th of Kislev (Nov. 23) was the anniversary of the release of Rabbi Schneur Zalman, the first Chabad Rebbe (also known as the “Alter Rebbe” or the “Baal Hatanya”) who was released from prison in 1798. He was imprisoned due to libelous information supplied to the czarist government by opponents of the fledgling Chassidic movement. According to Chassidic tradition, the Rebbe’s imprisonment was the earthly reflection of a heavenly complaint that was lodged against him and the Chassidic cause which he was promoting, and his liberation symbolized a heavenly green light for the continued promulgation of Chassidus.
As customary, the Baltimore community held a public event allowing all to participate in the festivities. Rabbis, students, community members and guests flocked to “Kol Torah” hall Tuesday night for an evening of inspiration and a taste of a Chassidic “Farbrengen” with keynote guest Rabbi Shmuel Heber, a noted Rabbi, Rosh Kollel and lecturer from the Crown Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn.
A sumptuous dinner was served as all enjoyed the soulful Chassidic melodies. Notable addresses were given by local Rabbonim, Rabbi Shmuel Kaplan, Rabbi Elchonon Lisbon and Rosh Kolel of Khal Chasidim D’Baltimore, Rabbi Amrom Yosef Jungreis, on the current themes of the acquittal of the Alter Rebbe and the community’s collective completion of Shas. They delighted the crowd as they recounted stories, anecdotes and fond memories of the characteristic Chassidic warmth and enthusiasm that had an eternal influence on Jewish life, all as a direct result of the Alter Rebbe’s activities after being freed on the 19th of Kislev which was coincidentally on a Tuesday, the day of ‘double good’, just like this year, which further elevated this year’s celebration.
The excitement reached its crescendo as the hall burst into spontaneous dancing, reliving the energy of the original Yud Tes Kislev, swaying to the joyful tunes composed by the Alter Rebbe. After the formal ceremonies ended, many opted to stay and “Farbreng” with Rabbi Shmuel Heber in a close and intimate setting. The inspiration continued to the wee hours of the morning as Rabbi Heber related many stories and teachings of the Rebbe with lessons pertaining to this occasion.
Many of the inspired chose to commit themselves to this year’s communal undertaking of completing the Talmud twice, as per the directive of the Alter Rebbe that every community should divide yearly the study of the entire Shas. After all, when one completes his assigned tractate (either Gemora or Mishna for the Mesechtos that don’t have Gemora), it is considered as if he had personally studied the entire Talmud.
This year the community outdid itself, pledging to complete Shas twice.