The Rebbe expressed an opinion on various current issues, as well as in every matter relating to the Jews of our times. While his opinions are his own, they are firmly rooted within the Torah and Jewish law.
The Rebbe never hesitated to express his opinions, even if they differed from the norm, if he felt that it was necessary to state the true perspective of that particular issue.
The Rebbe dealt with many questions that related to the Jewish nation. He strongly opposed making territorial concessions to the Arabs and warned that such a policy would only weaken our position. The only way to peace is to insist on our security needs, restrain the enemy, and compel them to accept our existence.
Below is a selection of the Rebbe’s views on various subjects:
In favor of scientific research
The Rebbe never saw any contradiction, either ideological or practical, between faith and scientific research. From one point of view, the Rebbe would even say that objective research reveals our unity with the Creation and brings us closer to our faith in the Creator of the world. The Rebbe once told journalist Shlomo Nakdimon, “Every new revelation in the realm of science undermines its predecessor and shows the temporary nature of scientific theories, as compared with the permanence of Toras Moshe.”
The Rebbe was strongly opposed to the practice of compelling people to retire at a certain age. This practice makes elderly people feel that they are no longer needed and can wear them down emotionally and physically. The Rebbe encouraged seniors to continue working and contribute to society. He made it a practice in his institutions not to fire any employees on grounds of age alone.
Promoting the status of women
The Rebbe greatly encouraged women to be involved in public activity. He allowed women to attend meetings with him, addressed them at conferences, and established the Nshei Chabad women’s organization. At the same time, the Rebbe was not in favor of the feminist movement, stating that this movement actually harmed women because it dismissed the woman’s vital functions of being the educator of the next generation and the mainstay of her family. The Rebbe added that making the man into the only role model belittled the woman’s sense of self-worth and appreciation of her unique purpose.
Wigs for married women
The Rebbe’s views were not influenced by psychology or his own interests. He formulated them from his correct and clear vision of the issue at hand. One example of this is the Rebbe’s attitude to the obligation for married Jewish women to cover their hair. While certain other groups of Torah-observant Jews felt that it was wrong for a woman to wear a wig as it looks too “natural,” the Rebbe encouraged women to wear wigs specifically because they are more attractive. For this reason, it is easier to encourage younger women to wear them. The Rebbe was against wearing other types of head-covering because “a woman who wears a headscarf can end up removing it in certain circumstances because she feels uncomfortable. A woman who wears a wig, on the other hand, would not remove it, even if President Eisenhower himself were to walk in.”
Technology for Torah
The Rebbe did not only see no reason not to use modern technology, but actually saw it as an ideal in itself. From the Rebbe’s point of view, anything that exists in this world is for the purpose of serving the ideals of truth, goodness, and holiness, and for spreading faith in the divine. Chabad Chassidus was therefore very pioneering in its use of videos, the computer, satellite broadcasts, and advanced methods for communication for the sake of spreading Jewish values.
The Jews as a light to the non-Jews
The Rebbe explained that the time has come to spread the universal messages of Judaism also among the non-Jews. These messages, which the Jewish nation was commanded to inculcate within all of humanity, had been limited in the past due to persecution by the non-Jews. Now the world is ready to accept such ideals, without any opposition. The Rebbe introduced various activities, mostly in the United States, that would generate an awareness of the Seven Noachide Laws. The presidents of the United States responded to this initiative and issued a call to their citizens to observe and fulfill these commandments, which are the cornerstone for humanity.
How to persuade young people to put on tefillin
A young man from a non-observant background once had a private audience with the Rebbe. The Rebbe asked him if he had ever put on tefillin, and the young man replied that it was psychologically difficult for him to accept a decision obligating him to do something on a continued daily basis.
“On a continued daily basis?” replied the Rebbe. “But once a week, on Shabbos, you don’t have to put on tefillin!” This answer broke through the young man’s psychological barrier, and he immediately resolved to put on tefillin.