Book Review: The Secret of the Rebbe

By | December 20, 2015

No, this blog did not become a religious blog but I highly enjoyed readings “The Secret of the Rebbe” and I think that anybody can take a few things from this excellent book that tells the story of the Lubavitcher Rebbe--Menachem Mendel Schneerson. While there are plenty of things to write about the Rebbe, I’d like to focus the discussion on two things: his achievements and his way of life that made these achievements possible. I will be very brief because I don’t want this to be too much of an off-topic, I rather prefer to focus on the amazing work ethic of the Rebbe that led to unbelievable results.

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To understand the scope and grandeur of his achievements one has to bear in mind the starting point of the Chabad movement when the Rebbe became in charge:

  • Post ww2
  • Few supports fled to the US, the rest stayed behind in Europe, many of them were murdered
  • Belief in g-d was weak
  • The world was in disorder
  • Nearly impossible to get people to go on missions in other countries, very low support base

From that start point, the Chabad movement now boasts an impressive position:

  • Presence in many counties around the world, even in remote places
  • Becoming a Chabad emissary is a highly desired job
  • Hundreds of emissaries around the world
  • Made Judaism accessible without compromising the core values
  • Billions of dollars in donations raised every year
  • Helps millions of jews every year

Way of life

Such achievements don’t come easy and certainly not without a fair amount of hard work.

  • Reading and studying: the Rebbe’s never wasted time and he used every available moment to read, study and write books on various topics in Judaism. He did that year in and year out even in the face of very difficult circumstances. I strongly believe that when one does something consistently and regularity on a daily basis–no matter what, no excuses–devotes time to it that person will become a master in his field.
  • Focus: having one mission and being fully devoted to that mission and that mission only has enabled the Rabbi to build a very strong base of support over the years. All he cared about was studying and spreading Judaism. A very simple mission statement, like Coke’s “Refresh the World.” He was faithful to that mission all the way until his death and that dedication paid off handsomely.
  • Dedicated: to maximize his efficiency, the Rebbe never traveled and spent almost all his adult life, after arriving the Brooklyn, in the same area of his home, his office and his father in law’s grave. He even rejected an invitation to come to the White House saying that he is too busy to travel so in the end, presidents, prime minister and CEOs all came to see him at his office. I read many books of people who seem efficient, but the Rebbe’s time management, focus and dedication are second to none. To all those who say that they are “too busy”, you should know that the Rebbe slept only a few hours (2-4) every night and worked throughout the day and the night, non-stop, all to fulfill his mission.
  • Engaging external stakeholders: while many Hasidic movements try to separate themselves from the outside world, the Rebbe took a different approach. He engaged the world around him and encouraged his emissaries to do the same. He met with people from all walks of life, even those who didn’t believe in what he does. That way, he managed to open doors and bring Chabad to more places and to more Jews than any other Hasidic movement did before. He was very practical in his thinking and while he never compromised his beliefs and the Jewish laws he managed to influence people in other circles and rally support among them, both ideological support but also financial support that is essential in building such an amazing non-profit enterprise.
  • Like every good CEO, the Rebbe set very high demands from himself and from his people. He always set the bar very high and pushed people to do more, achieve more and study more.

I highly enjoyed reading this book and I recommend it or any other Biography of the Rebbe because I believe that readers, Jews and non-Jews, will be inspired by his character, his selflessness and devotion to achieve the things he cared about and believed in. Having read so many biographies over the years I can attest that the Rebbe is, by far, the most hard-working and dedicated person that I have read about an as such, we can all learn something from him, and hopefully, implement those learnings in our lives as we pursue the things that are important to us.




6 thoughts on “Book Review: The Secret of the Rebbe

  1. valseek

    Great post Yaniv, thank you!

    My wife bought this book and even nagged me about it, now you gave me the required push to read it.
    It would be awesome if you posted the list of book you’ve read and liked, I’m always on the hunt for a good book 🙂

    1. Yaniv Uliel Post author

      Not sure if you read these two previous posts:

      I’m now reading “Work in Progress” of Eisner, it’s a fantastic book but it’s a slow read partially because I write the review as I progress with the book, that way I memorize the content of the book much better. Unfortunately, I’m not as talented as the Rebbe 🙂

  2. Cooper

    Thanks for the recommendation. I would like you opinion, would the book be suitable for a person that is totally HILONI?


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