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Shneur Zalman

Shneur Zalman of Liadi, was the founder and first Rebbe of Chabad Lubavitch . He was a prominent student of Dovber of Mezeritch, the Great Maggid. After the death of their teacher, the various students dispersed. Rabbi Shneur Zalman became the leader of Hasidism in Lithuania, and is accepted as one of the great Hasidic leaders. He involved himself in opposing Napoleon's advance on Russia and supporting the Jewish settlements in Israel. He was imprisoned by the Czar on charges of supporting the Ottoman Empire, since he advocated sending charity to the Ottoman territory of Palestine. The day of his acquittal and release, the 19th of Kislev, is celebrated as the "Hasidic New Year" by having a festive meal and communal pledges to learn the whole of the Talmud known as "Chalukat Ha'Shas."

He was also known by the names of two works that he authored. One was a classic of kabala and mysticism called the Tanya. Thus he was called the ''Baal HaTanya'\' .

The other work is on Jewish Law , halakha , known as the Shulchan Aruch HaRav , the "Code of Law of the Rav" . His work is the halkhic foundation of all Hasidism, and is used as referenced by scholars and laymen. Citations are routinely found in such varied sources as the Mishnah Berurah and Ben Ish Chai.

Descendents of Rabbi Zalman adopted the names Schneersohn or Schneerson to accommodate Napoleonic edicts that required all subjects to take permanent surnames. (Prior to Napoleon's conquests and the winds of Enlightenment he brought in his wake, Jews only had their traditional names such as Shneur ben (son of) Boruch.) The last two Rebbes of Chabad Lubavitch, Rabbi Joseph Isaac Schneersohn (1880-1950) and Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902-1994), living in modern times, adhered strictly to their family surnames.

Preceded by:
Dovber of Mezeritch
Chabad Lubavitch Succeeded by: