Any long-lasting revolution has generally been spearheaded by the youth. Their energy, passion and idealism are essential for getting a movement off the ground and sustaining its growth over time. But how do we channel youthful exuberance into productive activities, rather than having it dissipate in foolishness?
In the late 19th century, the chassidic movement, and Judaism in general, faced an existential challenge. From within, the haskalah, or "enlightenment" movement, enticed many of the brightest youths away from traditional Judaism. From without, Judaism was threatened by Communism and other budding philosophies that sought to tear apart the connection of the Jewish people and their faith.
At this fateful point in history, the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Sholom Dovber Schneerson, founded the Tomchei Temimim Yeshivah on the 15th of Elul, 5657 (1897). His stated purpose was to produce students who would be "soldiers of the House of David," Jewish loyalists with the strength and fortitude to withstand the tribulations that lay ahead, with the leadership qualities necessary to combat the fearsome developments.
When founding the yeshivah, the Rebbe explained that we had reached the final stage in preparing the world for the Redemption. There was a need for a special cohort of "soldiers" who would carry out the last preparations and usher in the era of Moshiach.
The yeshivah was structured to provide a thorough education in both the revealed aspects of Torah (Talmud and Jewish law) as well as the mystical aspects, the teachings of Chassidut. The teachings of Chassidut, the Rebbe explained, elevate a person above the boundaries of egotism and materialism, and allow one to experience the most sublime degrees of spirituality and fear of Heaven.
The educational ideal that the Rebbe aspired to was that the students should live their lives dedicated not to their personal desires but to the will of G-d. The students were instilled with a clarity of purpose that naturally affected everyone around them. Through the darkest days of Communist oppression, the students of Tomchei Temimim remained loyal to their mission and are credited for keeping the flames of Judaism alive in the Soviet Union.
The unique spirit of Tomchei Temimim quickly spread far beyond the Russian boundaries. Today there are over a hundred branches of Yeshivas Tomchei Temimim on six continents. Each yeshivah has adapted to the unique challenges of its time and place -- but all have remained faithful to the principles with which the yeshivah was originally founded. The products of Yeshivas Tomchei Temimim serve as emissaries of the Lubavitcher Rebbe around the globe. They dedicate their lives to the Jewish people, to help them in any way possible, both spiritually and materially.
The Shluchim, emissaries, work day and night to “repair the world under the kingship of the L-rd,” as we say in our daily prayers. Their mission, which we all share, is to bring a recognition of G-d to the entire world, to the Jewish people through fulfillment of the 613 mitzvot, and to the non-Jews through fulfillment of the seven Noachide laws.
All of us, whether or not we have personally attended Yeshivas Tomchei Temimim, reap the benefits of the yeshivah and share in its mission. We, too, have the goal to prepare the world for Moshiach. In these final moments of exile, each additional mitzvah or act of kindness can be the step that will bring Redemption to the entire world.