The end of 1812 found Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, also known as the Alter Rebbe, journeying through small towns and villages, distancing himself and his family from the Napoleonic invasion of Russia. After five months of travel, his convoy arrived in P’yene in the dead of winter. The townspeople provided food and accommodations for the refugees, but the journey had been rough and on the 24th of Tevet, 5573 (1812), at the close of Shabbat, the Alter Rebbe’s soul returned to its maker.
The Alter Rebbe is the founder of the Chabad movement, his magnum opus being the Tanya, a work of Chassidic wisdom. He is also the ancestor of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. His legacy is today’s Chabad movement which is active all over the world.
The Hebrew inscription on his tomb reads as follows:
Here is concealed the Holy Ark
The great and Divine Rav, pious and humble
Holy and pure, diadem of Ariel
Crown of the Torah, wellspring of wisdom
He practiced the righteousness of G‑d and his judgements with Israel
And many did he turn away from sin
Our master and teacher Schneur Zalman, son of Baruch, may his soul rest in Eden
Longing for holiness, his soul returned to G‑d
On the first day of the week, 24th of Tevet
In the year 5573 from Creation