In honor of 12-13 tammuz, family members reveal the identity that stood behind the hundreds of large and bold ads that appeared in newspapers for decades announcing the Rebbe’s weekday farbrengens.
He was way ahead of his time. He utilized the social media of the 1960’s, and spearheaded a marketing campaign directed at the entire Jewish world. His pseudonym was Meir Cohen (aka Yisroel Levinson) – but who was he really?
He was Rabbi Menachem Meir Blau, an unassuming Chossid with passion, scope, and a vision. For years, he constantly invested thousands of dollars at a time and countless hours to bring the Rebbe to the masses, and bring more Yidden to the Rebbe.
As early as 1960, Rabbi Blau recognized a gap between the Torah that the Rebbe taught and the Yidden that the Rebbe wanted to reach. His first project was to mail a hard copy summarizing the Rebbe’s talks to some 10,000 Jews weekly, including prominent leaders and Rabbonim.
But still he felt that it was not enough. When the Rebbe spoke to chassidim, the crowd was relatively small. The circle was expanded to various Chassidim and Shluchim who joined via hook-up to listen in to the Rebbe’s farbrengens. But how were the words of the Nosi HaDor going to reach other Jews, from the Binei Torah to the most unaffiliated? And furthermore, how would the Rebbe’s letters — addressed to all of K’lal Yisroel — actually reach them?
He devised an all-encompassing strategic plan to target as many Yidden as possible.
His first agenda was to bring Yidden from other communities to farbrengens. To that end, he placed full page ads – English and Yiddish – in all the papers reaching Jewish communities such as The Algemenier Journal, The Forward, Jewish Week, Jewish Press, Jewish Journal and more. The ads informed people of the time and place of the farbrengen, offering subsidized bus rides for Yungerleit and free buses for Bochurim.
The ads served a double purpose. For those who could not join Farbrengen in person, the ads informed them how to tune into the Rebbe’s talks being aired on the radio, (WEVD 3030 am, 97.9 fm wvos, 1240 am, and 95. Fm) and later on cable, with english translation delivered by Rabbi JJ Hecht OB”M. Using large, eye-catching advertisements, Rabbi Blau’s ads often appeared with titles like “Good News! The Lubavitcher Rebbe is Speaking”. In addition to the Jewish papers, he also advertised at times in the NY Times, NY Post, Daily News, and Newsday, giving hundreds of thousands the opportunity to tune into and be inspired by the Rebbe’s farbrengens.
Additionally, he received a permit to drive around Boro Park and Williamsburg with a pre-recorded message blaring through the speakers announcing all major Farbrengens. (6 Tishrei, 19 Kislev, 10 Shevat, Purim, 11 Nissan, 12-13 Tammuz & 20 Av) .
Another base that he covered was to publish the Rebbe’s sichos, and most importantly, the “Hora’ah Limaseh”, for those that did not attend farbrengens. For many years, He initiated and prepared the Rebbe’s sichos to be placed in teh Algemeiner Journal under the heading “Torah Gedanken from the Lubavitcher Rebbe”. and submitted it along with his own creative titles. With the Rebbe’s guidance, he covered the expenses at a special discounted rate per specifically in line with the Rebbe’s instruction. He received the Rebbe’s approval and appreciation when at a farbrengen of Parshas Bo 5736, the Rebbe publically referred to the Torah Gedanken and announced that “Ds Shaft an Emese Nachas Ruach” (this generates a true nachas ruach).
He also utilized the newspaper medium to spread awareness of the numerous issues that the Rebbe spoke about so passionately. Thousands of readers were exposed to the Mivtzoim the Rebbe initiated like Mivtzah Mezuza, or Shitas the Rebbe held such as Shleimus ha’aretz or his views regarding the famous Entebbe mission.
He was entirely a one man show. He was not the head of a Moisad, or even working in the capacity of any Moisad. He was simply a humble Chossid who constantly questioned himself, “What does the Rebbe want from me, Menachem Meir Blau? How can I help the Rebbe’s message have greater reach?”
The Rebbe held that very dear. When the Rebbe gave out bottles of Mashke to heads of Moisdos, Rabbi Blau was called up. The Rebbe noticed his astonishment and told him “far di torah vos ir drukt (for the Torah you are printing). He continued to receive a bottle of Mashke on many occasions “Far Di Tzaitungin” (for the newspapers). In addition, the Rebbe cherished his pen name and called him up for a Hakafah as “Mem Cohen”.
Due to the revolutionary nature of his advertisements and articles, he consulted with the Mazkirus and Mashpiim. Some elder Chassidim felt that it was disrespectful to the Rebbe to have his Torah in secular newspapers. However, once the Rebbe gave his public approval, and additionally mentioned to a Chossid in Yechidus that printing the Sichos is of historic significance, some of the influential Chassidim helped cover the enormous costs of the project, most notably, Rabbi Zalman Gurary. When Rabbi Blau wrote into the Rebbe regarding his work in the newspapers, he received many encouraging answers, to the like of “Niskabel, t’shuas Chen, t’shuas Chen.” or “Veyehae hakol Behatzlacha Rabbah azkir al hatziyon.”
In later years, he recognized the need for Lubavitchers outside of Crown Heights to hear the Rebbe’s words from Shabbos farbrengen immediately after Shabbos. He lost no time in arranging and subsidizing expenses for chazara of Shabbos Farbrengen to be available to anash worldwide over hookup with WLCC. Rabbi Yossi Jacobson was the young chozer recruited to give over the Rebbe’s sichos every Motzei Shabbos following a farbrengen.
Where did people go to for news in 1988 before the advent of the worldwide web and news sites? How did those outside Crown Heights stay connected? Recognizing this as a unique opportunity and platform, Rabbi Blau, along with his brother Reuven Blau, started the Crown Heights Newsline with a clever plan. He wrote to the Rebbe that it had one intended purpose “to get people to call in and hear the Rebbe’s sichos.” The news was only included strategically to draw in a crowd that would otherwise not call in.
After Gimmel Tammuz, Menachem Blau focused on delivering the Rebbe’s words about the call of the hour: to learn Inyonei Geula UMoshiach. For thirteen years, following the Rebbe’s Minyan in 770, he gave over a vort in Inyonei Moshiach and Geulah, making it practical and relevant to all. He would speak for about 2 minutes but spent hours preparing, carefully selecting the call to action from the Rebbe’s sichos relevant to each particular day and giving it over in the Rebbe’s exact words.
Today, on this auspicious day of Yud-Gimmel tammuz, let’s take a lesson to heart. Rabbi Blau was never boastful or even satisfied with past accomplishments and constantly sought additional venues to help ever-increasing audiences internalize the Rebbe’s message. He was not on Shlichus in a specific city, but his hafatza reached an immeasurable amount of people. He exemplified that wherever we may be and whichever resources we may have, we can utilize it all to spread the Rebbe’s message to the world.
In his memory, the family started a daily Whatsapp Broadcast group focused on bringing Moshiach. The daily messages are the Rebbe’s exact words on bringing Moshiach as compiled by their father, relating to the specific time of year. Please subscribe by messaging 718-813-4850 and specify your language preference – English, Hebrew or both.
If you or someone you know has been touched and affected by the above-mentioned ads to go to farbrengens or via the newsline, radio messages or inyonei moshiach that Rabbi Blau shared, please share it with the family: [email protected]
Everyone has free will only to do good or evil. No mortal, has any free will to decide what effect, on the world, their actions will have. If G-d decides that only a certain number of people will be reached by a certain advertising campaign, then that is the number of people who will see it. A greater number of people may decide to have ‘a fire under their seats’ to accomplish more, but G-d is the only one who will decide how much will actually be accomplished. Kol HaCovod to all those who try, but is not for them… Read more »
why is that how the creator designed it? Everyone has free will and the ability to overcome lazy or complacent behaviours if they’re determined enough to do so – or if they learned and internatlized the rebbe’s sichos like he did. We shoudl all have a fire under our seats from the rebbe’s strong words commanding us to DO SOMETHING to end this golus!
For those of us who are not as creative as him
let us at least be smart enough to copy his good example!
There definitely aren’t many like him. Never were and probably never will be. That’s just the way the Creator designed it. But we have whom to look up to and emulate!
Refreshing to read about a chossid.
I second that. Please publish.
I remember, that even in the last few days of his life, he had Mesiras Nefesh Mamosh, to come to 770, with his last Kochos Mamosh, to come say Inyoney Geula Umoshiach, in 770, after Shachris.
We all need to learn from him, how not to be ashamed to bring forth the Rebbe’s Message to the world, which is Rebbe’s prophesy, that Moshiach is coming imminenyly, now – הגיע זמן גאולתכם
Rabbi blau had multiple columns in various newspapers the most famous of them was the Yiddish “torah gedanken” in the “algemeiner” of which the sichos are all available in likutei sichos, however what made his delivery unique was his eye popping titles to the sichos
And the way he was from the first to break it up and put titles to each paragraph
Perhaps the family or algemeiner can just release a list of the titles with a reference where to look up the sichos
Perhaps the timeless message here is to publisize the Rebbes words on modern day media?
Can COL please post a weekly “Torah Gedanken” article?
#17 Mentioned this issue.
Can the Sichos and Letters of the Rebbe on this important topic be published here on COL?
Can Col publish one article a week of the weekly Torah Gedanken which Rabbi Blau had already prepared?
Thereby revisiting the Rebbes stance and share the Rebbes Torah and wisdom on many timeless issues in the modern day “newspapers”, online forums and social media.
As radio, and newspapers were the media used to spread the rebbes message by Rabbi Blau. Perhaps we can explore new ways to continue his innovative work?
After reading this article, I see clearly that more needs to be done to bring the rebbes horaos to light in modern day media.
I’m so grateful to have a Zaidy that showed us what a true Chossid, Yiras Shamayim, Lamden, and Ba’al Middos Tovos is.
I’ll miss my Zaidys warm greeting and smile!
I’ll try to do all that I can to bring Moshiach NOW!
Not mentioned in this article is that the Blau house on Eastern Parkway was always open to guest. Rabbi Blau genuinely cared and together with his wonderful wife, Tibadel Lchaim, regularly invited people that needed a warm home and a listening ear.
I know many non-Lubavitchers who became close to the Rebbe as a direct result of this outreach to bring non-Lubavitchers to listen to the Rebbe’s Farbrengen.
He really cared for what the Rebbe cared for.
There are many of us who care too, but as they say “He Put His Money Where his Mouth Is” 🙂
The ultimate test if you really care, is if you do as he did.
Wow Always grew up knowing that the world knew what was happening in 770, and it concerned everyone, even “non lubavitch, or secular”, but never knew or would believe it was a one man show putting the Rebbe out there for the masses! Getting everyone to realize that lubavitch had something big going! And exposing everyone to the Rebbe message. He must have been spending thousands a month in a time when rent cost $150 a month! Can’t imagine anyone else was ready to work so hard and live so simply, with such basics, all for the Rebbe to be… Read more »
Beautiful article !
Amazing chosid !! A true lesson of humility !!
Thanks for sharing
A true example of הצנע לכת- not stopping at anything to do what the Rebbe would have wanted, like an אמת’ן מהלך, with exemplary modesty. May we be reunited with Moshiach’s coming now!
The Rebbe often mentioned by Farbrengens that Shulchan Aruch begins with teaching us not to be ashamed and not be Nispael from those who mock us. The reason Shulchan Aruch begins with this, the Rebbe explained, is because without this attitude of strength of Character, not be ashamed, of those who make fun of us, without it, we cant even get to first base, of anything else, in Avodas Hashem, because it’s the hardest Nisayon to overcome. Indeed the reason most people don’t Koch enough in Moshiach as Rabbi Blau did, is because they don’t take the Rebbe as seriously… Read more »
Heard him in 770 but never knew all those activities he did to spread the Rebbe’s word to the masses.
Wow I never knew
The Rebbe instructed us that the easiest, quickest, surest, smoothest way to bring Moshiach is by learning Inyoney Geula Umoshiach. The Rebbe also said that it was preferable that this Shiur be with at least a Minyan of 10 people. How many Shiurim are there currently in the world, which qualify to be: # 1- A Shiur in Inyoney Geula Umoshiach # 2 – A Daily Shiur (never miss a day) # 3 – Such a Shiur in Inyoney Geula Umoshiach, Daily but with at least 10 People (or more) Daily, without fail? To my knowledge, Rabbi Blau’s 1 minute… Read more »
He was indeed one of the 10 Akshanim! Definitely! No Doubt About It! But where are the other 9 ?!?!?!? If anyone can find the other 9 please let us know. There is currently a world wide search for the other 9 but so far they have not been found yet. When you heard him speak in 770 Dvarim Hayotzim Min Halev about Moshiach, you knew that he really meant it. Devarim hayotzim Min Halev Nichnasim El Halev. When I heard him speak I was deeply touched and he often got my blood boiling and I took Inyoney Geulah Umoshiach… Read more »
I’m from Boro Park and he had many of us listening eagerly to his newsline every day. We were all wondering what happened when it suddenly stopped. His unique style and his enthusiasm for the Rebbe’s message made him an inspiration!
Great idea! Great way to learn Inyonai Moshiach and Geulah painlessly! So beautiful to see his family bringing all is ideal to a practical Peulah that can reach thousands. Are there printed handouts of the number to sign up that can be given out at Chabad events, gatherings?
There does not exist anyone who knew Rabbi Blau, who didn’t admire and appreciate what he was doing. But if we admire him, appreciate him, look up to him and respect him, how about us actually doing the one and only request which he repeatedly pleaded with all of Anash to actually do? During the past few decades but even more so during the past few years, to his very last days there was ONLY ONE PASSION of Rabbi Blau and for this one passion, Rabbi Blau had Mesiras Nefesh Bepoal and asked us a begged each an every one… Read more »
I absolutely agree with and love your comment. If everyone could only digest it, and those who need to, apply it, Moshiach would be here!!
We have all heard the famous rhetorical question of: “Who is a Jew”? or “Who is Chossid”? But how about: “Who is a Shliach”? There is a common misconception about :”Who Is A Shliach?” Some people mistakenly think that “A Shliach” is someone who is registered in “someones book”, in some official “registry” or someone who has some kind of magical “stamp of approval” from another so called “Head Shliach” or someone who receives an “official approval” from another Basar Vadam who will in his sole judgement decide if he is or is not a Shliach. Wrong! NOT SO, says… Read more »
As a neighbor of Menachem Blau I had the Zchus of speaking to him from time to time. His Mesiras Nefesh for spreading the message of Moshiach knew no bounds!! Even with his weakened health he pushed himself to go to 770 to inspire people about Moshiach! Anyone listening to him had no doubt that it was, “Dvarim Hayotzim Min HaLaiv”
For anyone who knew Rabbi Blau, his yearning for Moshiach was unreal! When we think of the famous Sicha of the Rebbe about not just saying AD MOSAI ’cause you were told to, I think of Menachem Blau who really MEANT IT!! Although he was extremely modest, he considered himself one of the ten AKSHANIM to demand the Geulah. Let’s learn from him to ask for Moshiach and really mean it!
What a beautiful tribute to your dear father A”H.
We would love to see more articles about his Peulos.
Rabbi Blau was one of the unsung heroes of our generation! Everything he did was L’Shaim Shamayim, not looking for recognition and praise. His goal was to publicizethe Rebbe’s Harayos and he did whatever it took to accomplish it.
He yearned for Moshiach with every fiber of his being. He couldn’t understand how people can go about their daily business, even holy work, without a burning desire for Moshiach. I got to speak to him a few times and have NEVER met a person who yearned for Moshiach like him!
We need more of such kind of articles – of chassidim who exemplify Hamaaseh Hu HaIkar!
It is completely mind boggling how an ordinary crown heights resident, not an official shliach or head of a moised felt driven to carry out the rebbes message to thousands!
One of the best kept secrets of Lubavitch! What a rare human being! What a true Chossid!
I remember how Rabbi Blau lived and breathed the Rebbes inyanim.
This was often the discussion which he led at his shabbos table. However I don’t recall him ever mentioning his work that I see here. I’m amazed as I get a glimpse here.
Mrs Blau and her husband have done so much for the community. They welcomed many newcomers to their shabbos table.
It was clear that encouraged and supported each other in their individual activities.
Thank you for sharing this information.
On behalf of His Children
we would love to hear more from you (if you havent shared already) please email us: [email protected] or call me (Yosef): 647-719-5770
Reb Blau and Mishpocha
The COL article is mind blowing.
It was one of the most touching and fitting eulogies I have ever heard and it paints a vivid portrait of the man who was relatively “unknown”.
I totally never knew this …what a great man!
A true Chossid and a Tomim B’imasav
It makes the loss even more keen.
So sorry for the loss the entire Anash has lost.
Yehi Zichro Boruch
Rabbi Yisroel Hecht and Family
but I never knew about all his previous peuolos!!! thanks for educating the younger generation
he physically stood head and shoulders above, now i see internally he did to! may he be a Gute Better for Kelal Yisorel !
I’m sure Rabbi Blau would agree all the credit for his noble work goes to his wife, Esther Blau, who undoubtedly supported his efforts.
How many wives today would allow their husbands to spend hard-earned money and live with simplicity instead, just do hafatza? If you try to calculate the amoutn of money he invested in these ads, he could have had a multi-million dollar company by now thanks to his clever PR tactics. But they went on mesiras nefesh to devote their lives entirely to the Rebbe’s work. Mind-blowing.
I had the merit of knowing Rabbi Blau over the years he never looked for recognition he only wished that people would recognize and connect with his motive:
To do all that you can to make the Rebbe happy, whatever means it may call for.
Does anyone remember the time he fought for the rebbes kavod like a lion against those that challenged the rebbe publicly?
ביסוס השכונה ואיסור מכירת בתים לנכרים
it would be interesting to go back to the papers of then, but b”h those days for the most part are well behind us ….
you can probably fill a book if all “reb meir cohen’s” clippings can be retrieved
i was from the few that knew him and his projects
חבל על דאבדין דלא משתכחין
M Cohen as he was a Kohen.
Levinson as he was a Kohen- (Ben- Levi)
12 pages of archives as displayed in article
What a beautiful article! What an unbelievable peulah! Such an inspiration on this auspicious day. May he be a “Gutte Better” for his family and all of klal Yisroel.
totatly selfless to the cause
he was in our midst, how many of us truly appreciated his selfless dedication (despite adversity!) just to share the rebbe’s “koch” with everyone. It wasn’t his own agenda at all, it’s clear from the above he was entirely the mouthpiece of the rebbe’s words.
Not only did he not take a penny, he invested every penny he had – not for thanks, not for any credit, just because he was so mekushar and cared about what the rebbe cared about.
deeply regret not appreciating him in his lifetime or even “getting” him.
That was so amazing to do all that. What an inspiration to each of us to spread the Rebbes teachings
I Remember when on Simcha Torah they called out that the Rebbe is honoring “Meir Coen” with a Posuk noone had any clue who this is…. one person shouted “Meir Blau” and everyone said “No! The Rebbe said Meir Hakohein”….
A Chossid who was kind and caring too!
Most people think that once one has passed on, we need to learn from their life and take their message to heart… What it really means is that we have to pay attention to the CHAI – to the living person…. Recognize each person while thy’re still alive. Help them and encourage them if you can. If not with money, then with acknowledgement and a good word Rather, find the CHAI and take him/her to heart Look at a giant of a man, so unassuming and never taking credit for himself. So totally different than all those who are just… Read more »
Incredibly dedicated and so unassuming.
Vhachai Yiten El Libo..
he physically stood head and shoulders above, now i see internally he did to! may he be a Gute Better for Kelal Yisorel !
look what work was involved to get the word out about the rebbes 12 tammuz farbrengen!!!
it makes us appreciate the power of social media how it will be used when the rebbe returns speedily with moshiach !
Incredibly dedicated and so unassuming.
Vhachai Yiten El Libo..
we will never know the 100’s and 1000’s of people that were touched by these farbrengens in his merit יהא זכרו ברוך
you write on your third picture to see the continuation of his pan… but i did not see the continuation printed.
can you please post?
Not to believe ממש א נסתר