Friday, April 22, 2011

The Brothers of the Lubavitcher Rebbe


The seventh and last Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson had two brothers. One brother was mentally ill, hospitalized in an institution and later on killed by the Nazis. The second brother, Israel Aryeh Leib, died in England at the age of approx. 49, and was apparently buried in Zfat (Northern Israel). It is said that Israel Leib lived as a totally secular Jew and communist in England.

A haredi forum published the below photo of Israel Aryeh Leib but no one seems to know for sure whether the picture really shows the brother of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Maybe one of the readers can add clarification.

Was this the brother of Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson ?


  1. If it's Leible, for most Lubavitcher, it would be the first time ever they could see his face.

    There is only one thing that we can say for sure:

    The Rebbe and his brother were very competitive. They did almost everything together, although The Rebbe seemed the more studious and Leible the more outgoing and sociable.

    They both competed and studied hard. As well as being brothers they were, by all accounts, best friends. They spent many hours at home together, and they both liked to wrestle and fight. This friendly wrestling was reflected on many levels, including competitiveness in different areas of study: Torah, the Prophets, Midrash, Talmud, Halacha, commentaries, Kabbalah, Chasidus, the Classics, the philosophy of the Enlightenment, politics, mathematics, the sciences, geography, language, foreign languages and literature. The sense of friendly competition reportedly lasted into their late twenties and early thirties, and thus it seems that Leible was the Rebbe’s main friend and companion for a large part of his early life.

    Some say that due to the early influences of family friends and their secular tutoring (the neighbours of the Schneerson family were secular Jews), in their late teens both the Rebbe and Leible had developed their own particular leanings. Leible was fascinated by secular studies — science, philosophy and politics, the writings of Herzl and Marx — and found himself increasingly drawn first towards Zionism and then the Communist movement, and ultimately away from his religious background. The Rebbe, although able to sympathise, and perhaps having read many of the same books, chose to stay within traditional religious boundaries, adn he became the Torah giant we all know today.

    When Leible left his religious background, we never heard about him anymore.

  2. B"H

    What I don't understand is why parts of Chabad today have a problem to admit that the last Rebbe didn't have a university degree. Yes, he studied in Berlin and Paris but never finished his academic studies.

  3. he had a daughter in rehovot whom the rebbi gave his late wifes jelerery...

  4. In fact, it is not so sure that the Rebbe never graduated. We all know that he worked for the American Navy as an engineer. So, it's quite possible that he, indeed, graduated. On the other hand, it is quite possible that the Rebbe had no intention to study when he was at university, but it was only a disguise. There are all sorts of hints that something more subtle and complex was going on, namely that the Rebbe was playing out a role. He was going through a period of concealment in which his true destiny as a holy man was deliberately hidden. He erected a ‘façade’ behind which he hid. He was working out in a very elaborate and literal way the principle, ‘“Always (to the world) a man should have fear of Heaven in secret” — To the world you should appear as an ordinary man and your piety should be in secret’

    There were obvious models for such behaviour in Hasidic tradition. The Rebbe could have been following the example of the Baal Shem Tov, who is said to have had a period of ‘hiding and concealment’, as it were, when he appeared to be no more than an ignorant peasant.

    The Rebbe’s enrolment at university, his ‘disguise’ as a culturally enlightened individual, may have been intended to conceal his rabbinical and Hasidic genius, and allow him to develop relatively undisturbed. Moreover, if he was ultimately to fulfil his destiny of transforming the world, it was important that he should know it at first hand.

    It is known that when he was in Paris, he was often seen reading newspapers, but in fact, he was reading Talmudic texts he hid in the newspapers. There are some reports that show that the Rebbe was rarely seen during the lessons given at university, but he was able to pass an exam in a few minutes without attending the class. Moreover, The Rebbe spent approximately ten years in a university environment, far in excess of the time needed to complete a single degree. So we can assume that all that university period may have been a disguise from the Rebbe, and not something really serious. For instance, while living in Paris he was more actively involved in the local Jewish community than is commonly supposed (he taught Talmud in a local Jewish community centre), and was charged by his father-on-law to disseminate the chasidic teachings in Paris. So, you can see that the Rebbe's period ar university was for more subtile purposes than what is taught.

  5. B"H

    Whether degree or not, the Rebbe was quite knowledgable in science and I appreciate his writing about it !!!

  6. This is what was posted in response to the picture posted on that forum:

    יש בידי תמונה של ישראל אריה לייב שניאורסון ז"ל - אחיו של הרבי
    זה לא האיש בתמונה שהעלת
    התמונה נמצאת אצלי מזה שנים והגיעה אלי ממקור ראשון, וד"ל
    כל עוד המקור בין החיים לא אפרסם את התמונה