The international Chabad-Lubavitch movement opposed the issue of an Israeli postage stamp to memorialize the last Lubavitcher rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, out of concern that licking the back of it would be “disrespectful.”
Instead, in 2004, the movement approved the issue of a stamp depicting his red-brick Brooklyn house. (Facsimiles of the building that Schneerson, who died in 1994, made his headquarters were constructed at Kfar Chabad and in Jerusalem’s Ramat Shlomo quarter.) While the Lubavitcher hassidim opposed the issue of a stamp showing the face of the first in the line of Chabad rebbes – Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi – for the same reason, his visage now appears on a new first-day cover (official envelope). But the stamp, released recently by the Philatelic Service, depicts an open copy of the Tanya, Zalman’s main work that was published in 1797.
A few weeks after the stamp issue, the philatelic material has aroused a great deal of interest in the Jewish world, and millions of the stamps are expected to be purchased by hassidim for personal use in Israel and for educational efforts at Chabad centers around the world.
The drawing of the Admon Hazaken is presented on the envelope as an out-offocus portrait. Thus, there is no “danger” that it could be licked, as there is no glue on the opposite side, but only on the back of the perforated stamp showing the book.
The 2004 first-day cover and stamp issue was sold in the millions of copies, many of them to Israeli Chabad hassidim for saving and sending mail and for educational use by Chabad Houses around the world. The same is likely to occur to the new philatelic issue.
Also known as Admor HaZaken, Zalman was author of many important Jewish works including the Shulchan Aruch HaRav Code of Jewish Law. The Tanya presents his approach to hassidic mysticism and is widely read by members of the movement today. Chabad hassidim say the book, which constitutes a collection of practical tools, solutions and instructions, is designed to help the reader attain mental balance while coping with life’s difficulties and internal crises.
The government approved the issue of the stamp to mark 200 years since the death of the found of Lubavitch hassidism.
Shneur Zalman of Liadi, a town then near Poland that is now in Belarus, is often described as the spiritual grandson of Rabbi Yisrael ben Eliezer, the Baal Shem Tov.