Almost one hundred of his original manuscript volumes have survived the fires that broke out in the village of Lubavitch, revolutions and wars. These volumes are now part of the Chabad Library’s collection in New York.
The third Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn of Lubavitch, led the Chabad movement for 38 years. He is known as the “Tzemach Tzedek” (“a sprouting of righteousness”) after the Halachic book by that name. Throughout his life, he was an activist for his people, taking care of spiritual, economical and political matters on behalf of his brethren.
He established and funded Jewish farming colonies which provided a livelihood for thousands of families. The policy of the Russian government at that time made it difficult for Jews to settle in the villages, so Rabbi Menachem Mendel bought large areas of land on which to settle Jewish families.
He saved children from the infamous “Cantonist” edict, which introduced the conscription of children for military training and service. He also stood at the forefront of the battle against the “Enlightenment Movement” which, with the support of the Czarist regime, sought to destroy traditional Jewish life.
In 5603 (1843), a conference was convened in Petersburg under the patronage of the Russian government to address important religious issues. The intention was to use the conference as a means of introducing a school system reform which would interfere with the Jewish education and Torah study.
Rebbe Tsemach Tzedek joined the Rabbinical Commission of the conference and opposed the changes. During the four-month period of the conference, he was repeatedly threatened by the chairman of the conference and placed under house arrest for 22 times (!) on charges of opposing the authorities.
As a result of his firm position and selflessness, none of the planned changes were adopted.