In this week's Torah portion we read the story of Pinchas, a grandson of Aharon the High Priest. We read how Pinchas, at great personal risk, stops a high ranking Jewish official from committing a serious sin in public.


On this theme, today commemorates a special event that took place some 87 years ago in St. Petersburg, Russia.


In 1927 on the 13th day of the hebrew month of Tammuz - today marking the 87th anniversary on the hebrew calendar - the Previous Rebbe of Chabad, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Shneerson was freed from Soviet captivity.


Just like Pinchas who risked his own personal safety for the benefit of the community 3000 years before him, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak, the father in law of the last Lubavitcher Rebbe Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, was one to assure that Judaism survived in the face of great personal risk.


Despite the brutal bolshevik crackdown on Jewish practice, religion, education and community life in the 1920s, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak wouldn't relent.


Against all odds he and his Chassidim risked their lives to assure that Judaism would survive to outlive the Stalinists of the day, as it has outlived so many others.


Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak was imprisoned and sentenced to death by the Soviets for the serious crime of spreading Judaism. It was only due to swift international pressure from the US and other countries that his sentence was commuted.


He was ultimately freed and made his way to the USA where he proceeded with renewed vigor to establish Jewish schools, Synagogues and Mikvahs across the country. His son in law, the Seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe took his place after his passing in 1950 and greatly expanded his father in law's work worldwide.


Today thank Gā€‘d there is no Stalin or Soviets to stop Jews from being Jewish. Yet we still face great challenges. Today's challenge is of a different nature, one of assimilation.


The Rebbe's goal was not to build a large Jewish organization, rather to ensure that every single individual Jew was reached and their needs cared for, both spiritualy and physically.


An elderly woman once asked the Rebbe, himself nearing ninety, how it was that he didn't tire after hours of standing and distrubuting dollars for charity to thousands of people.


The Rebbe answered 'every person is a diamond. One doesn't get tired of counting diamonds'.

Rabbi Avrohom