The 19th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev is celebrated as the “Rosh Hashanah of Chassidism.”
19 Kislev – The “New Year” of Chassidism
It was on this date, in the year 1798, that the founder of Chabad Chassidism, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (1745–1812), was freed from his imprisonment in czarist Russia. More than a personal liberation, this was a watershed event in the history of Chassidism, heralding a new era in the revelation of the “inner soul” of Torah.
In the fall of 1798, Rabbi Schneur Zalman was arrested on charges that his teachings and activities threatened the imperial authority of the czar, and was imprisoned in an island fortress in the Neva River in Petersburg. In his interrogations, he was compelled to present to the czar’s ministers the basic tenets of Judaism and explain various points of chassidic philosophy and practice. After 53 days, he was exonerated of all charges and released.
Rabbi Schneur Zalman saw these events as a reflection of what was transpiring Above. He regarded his arrest as but the earthly echo of a heavenly indictment against his revelation of the most intimate secrets of the Torah. And he saw his release as signifying his vindication in the heavenly court. Following his liberation on 19 Kislev, he redoubled his efforts, disseminating his teachings on a far broader scale, and with more detailed and “down-to-earth” explanations, than before.
The nineteenth of Kislev therefore marks the “birth” of Chassidism: the point at which it was allowed to emerge from the womb of “mysticism” into the light of day, to grow and develop as an integral part of Torah and Jewish life.
On this date, Rabbi Shneur Zalman, the first Chabad Lubavitch Rebbe, was released from prison in Czarist Russia in 1798. Subsequently, Chassidism took on a new vitality.
“Rosh Hashanah of Chassidism”; begin Tanya study cycle
Chassidim joyfully celebrate today and tomorrow as the Rosh Hashanah (“new year”) of Chassidism, with farbrengens and an increased commitment to the ways and teachings of Chassidism.
Take part in a Chasidishe Farbrengen:
Click here for a full list of Farbrengens taking place in Crown Heights and online.
Tachnun (supplication) and similar prayers are omitted.
We begin anew the yearly cycle of the daily study of the Tanya, Rabbi Schneur Zalman’s major Chassidic work (as part of the “Chitas” daily study program.)
JEM’s Entire 19 Kislev With the Rebbe Archive was recently published online.
Click here to view.
VIDEO: What does the yom tov of Yud Tes Kislev mean to us?
Video: Vintage footage of a 1960s Yud Tes Kislev farbrengen