Rebbe Crosses Boarder Illegally

After escaping Nazi-occupied Paris, the Lubavitcher Rebbe Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson spent many perilous months in Vichy, France.

The holiday of Sukos was approaching, and the next worry was how to obtain the items necessary for the holiday mitzvos (precepts). The Chabad custom dating back to the first Rebbe is to specifically use an Esrog from the region of Calabria in Italy. Rabbi Shmuel Yaakov Rubenstein, a prominent Rabbi from Paris was also in Nice at that time.

“Rabbi Rubinstein told me, that the [Lubavitcher] Rebbe wanted to cross the border from France to Italy. In general, every Jew had to be ‘invisible.’ but to cross the border was an unthinkable danger. So the Rebbe asked Rabbi Rubinstein, if from the standpoint of Jewish law it was permissible to risk his life by crossing the border illegally, to acquire an Esrog from Calabira, Italy.

“Rabbi Rubinstein answered, of course, that it was out of the question; he would have to suffice with a regular Esrog... Not long after, the Rebbe disappeared for a few days. It came to light that he had indeed made his way across the border. When the Rebbe returned, his face was beaming, as he arrived with Esrog in hand. The Rebbe was very happy to enable the Jews in Vichy to fulfill the Mitzvah at its best, according to this exeptional custom.”

During world war II the Chabad, Lubavitcher Rebbe makes a dangerous, move to illegally cross boarder from Vichy, France to Italy to get an Esrog from Calabira, Mesiras Nefesh for a custom, Minhag, mesirat nefesh