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Didan Notzach

The court case revealed, even to the nations of the world, that the seforim belong to the Rebbe and Chassidim.

The Story of Hey Teves - Didan Notzach!

During Pesach time 5745 (1985) seforim were disappearing from the Lubavitch Library. This was discovered through a Lubavitcher rare book dealer who suddenly noticed seforim of the Agudas Chassidei Chabad Library for sale. He immediately informed the Rebbe's secretariat, and immediate plans were devised to catch those who secretly entered the library and stole the seforim. At the end of Sivan it was already known who was stealing the seforim. Then the Rebbe became actively involved in the matter. [ The Rebbe's relationship to the issue, the trial & appeals, the victory, & lessons to be learned - is discussed in the general overview presented below, compiled from several sources. ] The article helps answer the question, "What is the Yom Tov of "Hey Teves"?"

The Lubavitch Library - From Europe to America

For several generations, the Lubavitch movement had possessed an immense library of Judaica, including the most extensive and valuable collection of Chassidic works in existence. Especially after the Holocaust, when so much of the literature of Eastern European Jewry vanished in the flames, the Lubavitchers cherished their library as a vital part of their contemporary mission in the world. Jews have always been known as the People of the Book. They were among the first to take advantage of the new technology of the printing press in the late fifteenth century, and some of the earliest books printed were Hebraica. Throughout their wandering and persecution, Jews have always managed to make books available for study.

The Lubavitch Library itself has a fascinating history. During the Russian Revolution, the Bolsheviks confiscated the fifth Rebbe's sizable book collection and to this day, it is still in the hands of the Russian government, housed in the main library in Moscow. Several years later the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe began to rebuild the library, making purchases throughout Europe and appealing to his Chassidim for book donations and financial support. When the Soviet government in 1927 commuted his death sentence to permanent exile he refused to leave without taking his library, but later, when he moved in 1933 from Latvia to Poland, some of his books were lost en route. Then when he fled Nazi-occupied Warsaw in 1939 for the United States, the library was confiscated again. After the end of the war, the Rebbe managed to secure some of his books from Poland with the help of the United States government and the Joint Distribution Committee in New York City. He continued to augment the library until his last days.

Some twenty years later, Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky - board member of Agudas Chassidei Chabad (one of Lubavitch's chief administrative organizations) learned that some of the Previous Rebbe's book collection seemed to have survived the war. Through European intermediaries, Rabbi Krinsky was sent microfilm copies of Chassidic manuscripts and asked whether he could identify them. He immediately realized that these were copies of Lubavitch manuscripts long thought to be lost. The agents refused to reveal where the copy manuscripts were, but Rabbi Krinsky believed that if he could discover their whereabouts, the manuscript themselves might be found in their original form. Investigation subsequently revealed that the microfilms had been processed in Warsaw, where there was a Jewish institute with thousands of rare Judaica books and manuscripts, including many from the Previous Rebbe's library. The microfilms had been processed on behalf of a foreign national library.

Rabbi Krinsky sent an emissary to the Jewish institute who confirmed the presence of many Lubavitch-owned manuscripts. The emissary also learned that about fifty books and manuscripts had already been given away as souvenirs to American tourists. The bulk of the collection, though, was still intact.

Through the help of the U.S. State Department, Rabbi Krinsky and Rabbi Avraham Shemtov (member, Agudas Chassidei Chabad) spent three years in negotiation with the Polish government. Finally, the Polish government was ready to release the books to Lubavitch, provided they published a thank-you notice in four major American newspapers. This seemed a reasonable request and the following notice appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune:

We thank the Polish authorities and our friends in Poland, for their efforts in preserving the invaluable and irreplaceable collection of Lubavitcher books and manuscripts. We also profoundly thank our Polish-American friends, whose contacts in Poland made this gift possible. These religious books and manuscripts will now become a valuable addition to the Lubavitch movement's library in the United States.

When the Rebbe recovered from his heart attack in 1977, his first visit out of his home was to the Lubavitch Library nearby. There he spent many hours perusing the newly returned books and manuscripts. As Rabbi Krinsky recalls, "It must have been very pleasing and invigorating for him." Soon after, Agudas Chassidei Chabad began extensive renovations and hired new staff to maintain the library and catalogue the books.

Missing Seforim

In the winter of 1985 Lubavitch Library staff noticed valuable books were disappearing from the shelves. Before long, it became obvious that some of the rare Kabbalistic and biblical commentaries were missing.

All efforts to find out who had been taking the books were fruitless, until a hidden camera was installed. For several weeks, the camera's videotape was blank, then the image of the Rebbe's nephew Barry Gourary appeared, entering the library's basement late at night and leaving shortly afterward with a full shopping bag.

Rabbi Krinsky and his colleagues knew Barry Gourary as a grandson of the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe. His father, Rabbi Shmaryahu Gourary, was a leading Lubavitcher educational administrator. But as a New Jersey management consultant in his early sixties, Barry Gourary had long since parted ways with the Lubavitcher movement and with Jewish Orthodoxy as well. Apart from visits to his elderly parents who lived in an apartment at Lubavitcher headquarters, he had minimal contact with its leadership or rank-and-file members.

When Barry Gourary was asked to return the books he refused, arguing that his mother and aunt (the Rebbe's wife, Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka) had both granted him permission to take whatever he wished from the library. The books were his, he insisted, and he intended to sell them at a good price. When asked about any permission she might have given Barry Gourary to take the books, the Rebbetzin denied the account as totally false. Chabad's directors immediately had the library's locks changed and a substantial security system was installed.

Meanwhile, they learned that Barry Gourary had already begun selling some of the four hundred books he had taken from the library. Dealers in Europe, Israel, and the United States were very much interested in them. One illuminated Passover Haggadah dating back to 1757 was sold for $69,000 to a Swiss book dealer who soon found a private buyer to pay nearly $150,000 for it. Later, Lubavitchers learned that Barry Gourary had approached Christie's auction house in Manhattan, but staff became suspicious and turned him away.

When Barry Gourary repeatedly refused to return the books, despite his own father's urging, the Rebbe himself intervened and asked for the return of the books quickly and amicably. "They belong to the community and ultimately will certainly be restored to their rightful owner," he insisted.

On 3 July, the Rebbe again reminded his audience of the tremendous dangers to which his father-in-law had exposed himself in order to retrieve the library from Soviet and then Nazi hands. The sight of the books on the open market for private gain moved him to comment, "Because we are living in exile, terrible things indeed happen." He promised that any innocent buyer who had unwittingly purchased an item from the Lubavitch Library would be fully reimbursed.

Taking Action

At the same time, several wealthy supporters tried to negotiate a settlement with Barry Gourary. Their efforts failed. Gourary maintained that the books were his personal property. The Lubavitchers could not possibly agree. To them, his stance represented a brazen act to appropriate books belonging to the Jewish community. In an even larger sense, Barry Gourary's claim to own the library attacked the unique basis of the Rebbe-Chassid relationship and the very foundation of the Lubavitcher worldwide community.

What should Agudas Chassidei Chabad do? Yehuda Rabbi Krinsky sensed that the next step was up to them. Here was a man who had taken illegally hundreds of rare books, selling them like any ordinary merchandise. Some had already been sold and were in the hands of collectors here and in Europe. All the books could go at any time and would be irretrievable.

Barry Gourary was then asked to appear before a Jewish court, but refused. Rabbi Krinsky consulted rabbinic authorities on Jewish law who advised him that appeals can be made to a governmental court if justice cannot be effectuated in a Jewish court. On legal advice the Lubavitchers decided to obtain a temporary restraining order in the hope that this would resolve the matter.

By now, it was midsummer, and many federal judges for the Federal Court of the Eastern District at Brooklyn's Tillary Street were on vacation. Rabbi Krinsky decided to work with Nathan Lewin, a prominent attorney in Washington, D.C. On Monday, 29 July, they went to the Brooklyn courthouse. Before considering any legalities, the judge asked Barry Gourary to have the matter dealt with by the Jewish courts. Gourary refused, giving no alternative to Agudas Chassidei Chabad but to proceed with the restraining order.

A court messenger was immediately dispatched to Barry Gourary informing him of the restraining order and enjoining him from selling any more books. Those in his possession were then placed in an escrow account in a bonded warehouse under attorney supervision. Rabbi Krinsky waited eagerly for Gourary to return the books, but he did not.

The Court Case

Accordingly, on 5 August, Lewin filed a lawsuit on Chabad's behalf, asking for recovery of the books, and alleging "conversion and trespass." On 23 August, Barry Gourary counterclaimed for a judgment that all four hundred books, as well as everything else in the entire Lubavitcher library, belonged to him and his mother. His argument was simple: as the Previous Rebbe's grandson and natural heir, he was entitled to the library, which was his grandfather's private property. On 23 September, he filed an "answer and counterclaim" with his mother involving herself as an intervening party.

On 2 October, he filed for a jury trial, but the court denied this. On 23 October, his mother filed andd emanded a jury trial on all issues, but her motion was likewise denied. Agudas Chassidei Chabad retained two legal firms - Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewin of Washington, D.C., and Schnader, Harrison, Segal & Lewis of Philadelphia. The two chief attorneys were Nathan Lewin and Jerome Shestack respectively, and Seth Waxman, a law partner of Nathan Lewin; Shestack had assisted Agudas Chassidei Chabad several years before in its efforts to retrieve long-lost books from Poland. Joining these two law firms were members of a third: Schlam, Stone & Dolan of New York City. Meanwhile, the Lubavitchers unobtrusively continued to buy back the 120 books that Gourary had already sold.

The case was assigned to Judge Charles P. Sifton, who had once been married to the daughter of theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. He saw the case as important and far-reaching - more than an internal dispute between the followers of a prominent deceased Jewish leader and his heirs for possession of a priceless library. Sifton recognized that the disagreement not only directly involved the Lubavitchers but also touched on a far more fundamental question: Are Jewish leaders, particularly spiritual leaders of a generation, essentially private individuals, able to do as they wish with funds given to them, or are they, rather, figures entrusted with a sacred, enormously responsible task and therefore responsible to the community?

The Lubavitchers knew that the traditional Jewish answer was unequivocal. It was unthinkable that the Previous Rebbe, who had sought to live his entire life in accordance with Jewish precepts, had amassed a magnificent library of Judaica out of communal funds for his own personal gain and that of his immediate family.

Yet Chabad's board members and attorneys knew that it would not be easy to prove this in court. For one thing, more than thirty-five years had passed since the Previous Rebbe's histalkus, and it was doubtful whether the pertinent documents would be available. Furthermore, this kind of legal case had few precedents, and it was hard to tell how Judge Sifton, unfamiliar with Chassidism and Lubavitch's history, might interpret the facts. Finally, Agudas Chassidei Chabad had decisively rejected any notion of compromise with Barry Gourary on the issue of the library's ownership. It would be necessary to win a complete and unequivocal verdict in Lubavitch's favor.

The Strategy

That fall, Chabad's attorneys advised the library staff, under the direction of Rabbi Sholom Ber Levin, to find all pertinent documents to substantiate their claim to ownership of the library. It was a challenging and initially bewildering task, Levine remembers. "At first, I had little idea what we were even supposed to be looking for, but after we met the attorneys, I had at least some sense of what they considered to be important and what might be helpful. Then we began looking."

The Previous Rebbe had been an amazingly prolific correspondent, and had composed more than one hundred thousand letters over the last forty years of his life. Copies of about half of these were in the library's archives. Did any relate to the library, and if so, could they effectively back up the claim that the library was communal and not private property? That was Rabbi Levin's first focus. Recalling that the Previous Rebbe had been the subject of top-level American governmental intervention at the time of his rescue from Nazi-occupied Poland, attorney Lewin also initiated archival research at the Library of Congress.

By late autumn, hundreds of items and documents were found to buttress Chabad's argument, and the attorneys became more confident that they now had a solid case to present. They had amassed documents showing that the Previous Rebbe had publicly appealed for book donations to Chabad (rather than himself) in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, and that book purchases had been made out of several of Chabad's organizational accounts rather than personal funds. They also found evidence that books continued to be bought for the library in the name of Chabad even after the Previous Rebbe's histalkus in 1950. In particular, they found a Hebrew letter written by the Previous Rebbe on 25 February, 1946, to Alexander Marx, a prominent professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary, describing how the seforim were a treasure of the Jewish psople at large, not a private library.

After Lubavitch Library staff had sifted through hundreds of thousands of archival documents, attorneys Lewin and Shestack were given the opportunity to consult with the Rebbe. At the meeting the Rebbe described his father-in-law's letter to Dr. Marx as a crucial piece of evidence, constituting a clear and unequivocal statement as to the nature and ownership of the library. The rebbe recommended that it become a prominent part of their legal argument.


Lewin and his co-attorneys next began to plan for expert witnesses to testify on Lubavitch's behalf. They wished to establish irrefutably that among Chassidim in general and Chabad adherents in particular, it was unthinkable for Rebbes to spend communal funds on personal property; specifically, to collect a private library for personal gain. Their choice of witnesses included Nobel Laureate writer Elie Wiesel, and such renowned scholars of Jewish studies as Toronto's Immanuel Schochet and London's Dr. Louis Jacobs. Another key line of argument was to show that Agudas Chassidei Chabad had been an active organization since the mid-1920s, and that the books were its possession, not the Previous Rebbe's. On 22 November, Judge Sifton ruled that a trial should proceed without a jury and scheduled opening arguments to begin on 2 December. For the Lubavitcher, the date could not have been more auspicious. It marked the anniversary of the Alter Rebbe's release from czarist prison in 1798 and has been celebrated annually as the Yom Tov of Yud-Tes Kislev ever since. To those more mystically inclined, it seemed wholly impossible that with such an omen, they could lose the case. Barry Gourary tried to change the date, but failed.

The Trial

The trial lasted twenty-three court days and was a fascinating spectacle. Each morning, an old yellow school bus arrived at the federal courthouse in downtown Brooklyn and disgorged dozens of Chassidim. They lingered in the hallway, reading Tehillim, then filed into the courtroom. Throughout the trial proceedings, a tableau of striking images was presented. The Stars-and-Stripes at the rear of the courtroom contrasted dramatically with the black garb of the Lubavitcher, who had drawn lots to see who would be privileged to attend the trial. As in an Orthodox Jewish synagogue, men and women sat on opposite ends of the courtroom. Bearded old men shuffled through space-age metal detectors. The courtroom was jammed with Jews - litigants, spectators, and even the court reporter - all presided over by a non-Jew: Judge Charles P. Sifton.

Throughout the duration of the trial the Rebbe went every day to the Ohel, to daven at the gravesite of the Previous Rebbe, for success in retrieving the seforim. Chassidim across the world joined in prayer for the favorable outcome of the court case.

Much of the testimony, depositions, and archival material such as the Previous Rebbe's correspondence was in Hebrew or Yiddish. Translations into English were necessary, and had to be done precisely. Indeed, interpreting fine nuances of specific Hebrew or Yiddish words created a constant battleground between the opposing attorneys.

Most of the testimony involved each side's calling of witnesses to bolster its interpretation of the facts, which were themselves little disputed. Though the Lubavitchers felt that they had a strong case, they knew that little precedent existed with respect to its basic issues. Judge Sifton sat impassively throughout the voluminous testimony and gave neither side any clues as to his personal reaction.

The Rebbe-Chassid Relationship

Perhaps the most moving and poetic testimony came from Elie Wiesel, who was testifying for the first time in an American courtroom. Appearing at the end of the trial, he had agreed to speak on behalf of the Lubavitchers as an expert witness on Chassidic life, refusing any fee for his time. Wiesel had long been an admirer of the Rebbe and had met with him privately on many occasions. Wiesel commented during his testimony, "Although I am not a member of Chabad, still I felt that its place in history is incommensurate, and to this day I feel close to it."

Wiesel emphasized that Chassidic life decisively rejects the notion that Rebbes may acquire personal wealth as a sign of their unique status. Rather, "the attitude of the Rebbe toward personal wealth was one of disdain," he commented. "First, because he didn't have it. And even if he had it, he never kept it. Numerous stories existed of Rebbes who whenever they received a ruble from a Chassid, would give it away. Most Chassidic masters claimed that money never stayed in the house overnight. From the time they received it and the time they went to bed, they had already found the opportunity to give the money away to the poor. And there were poor people enough in Eastern Europe."

Commenting on the subtleties of the Chassid-Rebbe relationship, Wiesel continued, "Strangely enough, the choice [of involvement] is made by the Chassid and not the Rebbe. It is not the Rebbe who chooses the Chassid. It is the Chassid who chooses the Rebbe. But once that choice is made, it is boundless. It is total, total loyalty. But, therefore, the Rebbe owes the Chassid total loyalty. So, the Rebbe must have for the community [not only] total loyalty, but total generosity [and] compassion. Even more, total responsibility. That's why he is a Rebbe." Wiesel concluded, "I have seen followers of Chabad do for others with self-sacrifice things that I cannot even repeat because they were too dangerous."

In March 1986, the two sides completed their post-trial submissions, and awaited a decision. Judge Sifton was by reputation methodical and careful. He promised a judgment within three to four months. This seemed like a long time to wait. Then, almost immediately, Sifton presided over a Mafioso criminal trial, and months began to drag by without a verdict.

"Didan Notzach!"

On 6 January, 1987, the forty-one-page decision was issued. It was a most unusual document, offering a capsule history of Chassidism and Chabad, and peppered with Hebrew and Yiddish phrases. In first describing the collection of books and manuscripts at issue, Judge Sifton gave his opinion that "both . . . were undoubtedly, in their origins, personal property of the Rebbe, albeit property used to serve the purposes of Chabad Chassidism."

Sifton dismissed Barry Gourary's position that no trust relationship existed between the Previous Rebbe and Chabad. In Sifton's view, a legally enforceable relationship had indeed been created, "not because of the demands of his followers, but . . . as a result of the Rebbe's need to avail himself of the assistance of the United States government in getting the books out of Poland." In other words, the Previous Rebbe decisively established the communal rather than private nature of the library once he involved the American government in retrieval efforts.

In ruling that the library was not the Previous Rebbe's personal property at the time of his demise in 1950, Sifton observed that a fundamental change in the Chabad movement had taken place: it had adapted to the modern industrial-legal world through historical exigency. In his view, the library became "a community asset . . . delivered [by the Previous Rebbe] into the custody of Agudas Chassidei Chabad with an express declaration that it was to be held . . . in trust for the benefit of the Chabad Chassidic community. . . . The fact of the matter is that the library was never held by the Rebbe as personal property for his personal benefit and his private, as opposed to religious, purposes.

"The Rebbe did not. . . hesitate to convey his valuable library to be held in trust for the community when the events of World War II and its aftermath made that step advisable for the community's welfare. . . . What the record makes poignantly clear is the drastic change in the Rebbe's affairs brought about by World War II and his rigorously honest acceptance of the realities which those events forced him to recognize."

As one piece of evidence for this view, Sifton noted that by 1938, when Agudas Chassidei Chabad sought to acquire in its name a prospective Brooklyn home for the Previous Rebbe, "the increasing sophisticated regularization of Chabad Chassidism's legal status" had already started to occur. Sifton further found it legally significant that in the same period of time, from 1940-46, when the Previous Rebbe was articulating the movement's relation to the library, he was also "regularizing his position with the State of New York by seeing to the acquisition of his residence at 770 Eastern Parkway in the name of Agudas Chassidei Chabad."

In short, the Previous Rebbe had entered into a legally enforceable relationship with his Chassidim not due to their demands, but "by the events of the mid twentieth century As the present Rebbe had recognized in the legal-strategy meeting, his father-in-law's letter to Dr. Marx at the Jewish Theological Seminary proved to be the decisive evidence. Sifton described it as "an extraordinary letter which sets forth clearly and unambiguously the relationship between the books, their owners, and the community."

It convinced Sifton that the Previous Rebbe had realized that Chabad had to adapt from its preindustrial, Old World ways to survive and grow in the complex legal-administrative nexus of America. Sifton rejected Barry Gourary's view that the letter was duplicitous and intended to mislead Marx in a self-serving way. Rather, Sifton commented, "Not only does the letter, even in translation, ring with sincerity. It does not make much sense that a man of the character of the Sixth Rebbe would, in the circumstances, mean something different than what he says, that the library was to be delivered to Agudas Chassidei Chabad] for the benefit of the community."

In short, the landmark decision not only upheld Lubavitch's full ownership of the library but affirmed it in a manner its adherents found gratifying: the mutual and reciprocal relationship of Rebbe and Chassid as partners in a sacred community.

Celebrating The Good News

It was late morning when the exciting news reached Crown Heights. Within a few hours, Lubavitch's global network had spread the word far and wide, by fax transmission, telephone, and word of mouth from Australia to Rio, from Jerusalem to Detroit.

The Rebbe himself did not seem interested in encouraging the exuberant celebration. Instead, after davening mincha, he emphasized the trial's moral implications. "To spur us to reach inner heights, there had to be an opposition created in the form of an attack. What was it? The charge that Agudas Chassidei Chabad is inactive, that we are not studying the manuscripts and books, and that we are not strengthening Yiddishkeit. These arguments were presented in an American courtroom to provide a basis for answering the legal question 'To whom do these things belong?'

"The broader implication of the court's decision is not only that such charges are wholly false, but that we must do more! We must now expand the library and make maximum use of its books. We must be filled with great joy which bursts all limitations and nullifies all restrictions on our spiritual life! This joy must infuse our action and influence all that we do to become messengers of G-d and transform every Jew to be an emissary of righteousness!

"Start by making your own home a place where Torah study is increased. So, too, increase prayer and all mitzvahs, beginning with charity and good deeds. All of you will accomplish great things for the sake of heaven!"

The Second Court Victory

Since they had won the case, the Lubavitchers requested that Sifton allow the books to be released, but he refused: an appeals process had first to be completed.

The appeals presentation took place on 25 June, several weeks later than anticipated, and was very brief. Each side had only twenty minutes to present its arguments. To the Lubavitchers, the three highly experienced judges all seemed very perceptive. For example, one sharply remarked to Gourary's attorney, "Do you know what surreptitious means? Do you know that your client was removing the books at night? "

Nevertheless, summer turned to fall, fall to winter, and still no decision was issued. The long wait brought considerable tension to the Lubavitcher community. Had its case presentation somehow been faulty? Was it possible that the appellate court was considering a reversal of Sifton's favorable ruling? On 19 November, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued its unanimous decision. The three judges fully upheld Justice Sifton's verdict.

"The precise question before us is whether the evidence before the district court was sufficient to demonstrate a settlor's [the Previous Rebbe's] unequivocal intent to convey the library in question to appellee [Agudas Chassidei Chabad] as trustee for charitable purposes. We acknowledge that some of the evidence is, standing alone, equivocal. But, as is often the case, a person's actions sometimes speak even more plainly than his words. Such is the case here. When the settlor's actions and words are viewed as a whole, the district court's findings of an unequivocal intent to create a charitabletrust-far from being erroneous-is in our view rightly decided."

In Crown Heights yeshivas, students placed their hands upon each other's shoulders and circled in dance, joined by hundreds of others as they rushed, still dancing, to Lubavitcher headquarters on Eastern Parkway. Soon, Yiddish bands were playing and loudspeakers blaring as the celebratory dancing intensified. Hundreds of Lubavitcher emissaries and supporters throughout the world flocked aboard flights, on their way to Crown Heights to participate in the rejoicing and express their solidarity.

Citing Elie Wiesel's testimony, the appellate court ruled even more strongly than had Sifton that the Previous Rebbe had collected a communal, not a personal, library. They vigorously rejected the argument that his letter to Marx had been a deception. "It simply defies reason and common sense to believe that a religious leader of the [previous] Rebbe's stature, whose life was dedicated to expounding the spiritual values of truth and morality, would deliberately write letters of misrepresentation regarding the ownership of a valued and to him sacred national treasure in order to feather his own nest."

Concurring with Sifton, the appellate court also concluded that "the cataclysmic events of World War II irretrievably altered the prior, informal relationship that had existed between the [previous] Rebbe and the community he served." Finally, the three dismissed on technical grounds the Gourary contention that a jury trial had been legally required for the case. Once more, there was jubilation in Crown Heights and throughout Lubavitch's worldwide community. The exciting international convention of Chabad emissaries was under way in Crown Heights, and the following evening many participants analyzed the wider implications of the decisive ruling.

The Seforim Returned - A Lesson to Learn

As before, the Rebbe again stressed the moral implications of the victory. At last, the books could be returned home. On 2 Kislev Chabad sent an armored van to bring them back.

Among the seforim was a rare fifteenth-century Kabbalistic work entitled Derech Emunah (The Way of Truth) by Rabbi Meir ibn Gabbai. The Rebbe immediately urged that the book be republished and completely reset with a biographical sketch of Rabbi Meir ibn Gabbai and detailed references to other Kabbalistic, Hadisic, and Jewish philosophical works. Two days later the staff of the Chabad Research Center and Lubavitch's publishing house had produced the work ready for sale in bookstores.

In his monthly address the following Sabbath, the Rebbe explained certain passages from the newly reissued work, and showed how its discourses shed much light on key issues in Jewish philosophy.

On the first anniversary of Judge Sifton's verdict on the library 5 Teves 5748 (1987), the Rebbe put the trial into perspective. Today our theme is, "our cause has prevailed." Last year on this day, we were blessed with the favorable judicial decision and saw the benevolent Divine Providence of G-d that brought the books back. The books, of course, are part of the library of Agudas Chassidei Chabad, which was founded and expanded by the Previous Rebbe while he was still in the Soviet Union. After his liberation from Soviet prison, this spiritually priceless collection left the country with him, eventually to reach these shores. Here the library of Agudas Chassidei Chabad was reestablished by the Previous Rebbe. It has grown and continues to grow.

Since we speak of a library of international importance which represents an invaluable treasure for all of Torah Yiddishkeit, it is clear that the liberation of these books represents a victory and a salvation for Torah Yiddishkeit. This includes the activities of spreading Torah, Yiddishkeit, and the wellsprings of Chassidism, including the teaching of the Previous Rebbe. In a peaceful way, we must overcome all obstacles and win over even those currently opposed to the just path of Torah.

The Book of Esther [9:29] tells us, 'These days are remembered and come into being in every generation.' This means that every year on the anniversary of that day, one must remember and do those actions that occurred the first time. So we must establish this as an auspicious day and a time of goodwill in all aspects connected to the teachings contained in the books.

How do we celebrate the victory of the books? It is the books that were victorious. So let us ask the books. Their clear answer is: to study them and live by their teachings.

"In Those Days - In Our Times"

Throughout the years, "Hey Teves - Didan Notzach" has become a celebrated Yom Tov, as the Rebbe has stressed its significance.

Quoting the posuk in Mishlei, "The superiority of the light (which comes out) from the darkness," we can appreciate the victory of the seforim. This is not only a library being restored to its proper owner, but also an outstanding revelation that was never before. The court case revealed, even to the nations of the world, that the seforim belong to the Rebbe and Chassidim. It expressed the true infinite bond between a Rebbe and a Chassid.

"Didan Notzach", reinforces the seforim as property of the Rebbe. Like a contract that has been confirmed in court after arguments of authenticy, the entire world now realizes that this concept of a Rebbe and Chassid can never change.

Specifically now in the last moments of golus, we must remember the message of "Didan Notzach". The bond that exists between a Chassid and a Rebbe, especially through studying the seforim of the Rebbe, will never be diminished. Even in these bitter days, the world will realize this, "just as his children are alive, so is he alive."

In this spirit we will merit the ultimate "Didan Notzach", and once again we will be united with the Rebbe, through the Geulah, now mamosh!


5 Tevet 5766