The 20th of Av (corresponding this year to August 12) marks 73 years since the passing of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson (1878-1944), father of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
Rabbi Levi Yitzchak was a renowned scholar who served as the chief rabbi of Yekaterinoslav (now Dneproprotrovsk, Ukraine) for thirty-two years, until he was arrested by Soviet authorities and interrogated for his activism on behalf of the Jewish community. He was sentenced to five years of exile and sent to Chi’ili, Kazakhstan, in the remote Aqtobe region in Central Asia. His wife, Rebbetzin Chana, followed him there soon after, and even here, the couple found ways to help, sustain and inspire Jews in distress and need.
After serving his term, now physically weakened by the hardship of his exile, the Rabbi Levi Yitzchak and his wife moved to Almaty, Kazhakstan, where his health continued to deteriorate. He passed away shortly thereafter.
While in exile, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak wrote voluminous notes of his own commentary on themes in Torah, most of them esoteric, kabbalistic. With little provision of paper and no ink, he wrote most of his notes in the margins of books, using ink that his wife made from locally grown berries. His legacy lives on in his surviving works, which were eventually published into a five-volume set entitled Likkutei Levi Yitzchak.
In honor of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak’s yahrtzeit, Kehot Publication Society has released an English translation of some of his work, which can be found here.