I'm looking for a chain of mesorah for the Lubavitcher Rebbe. That is, he learned from someone, who learned from someone, who learned from someone, etc. until Moshe who received the Torah at Har Sinai.

It's fairly easy to trace him back to the Baal Shem Tov, but he didn't have a real rebbe (that is, someone who taught him most of his Torah). Is there another way of tracing back Lubavitch the chain of mesorah?

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    Out of curiousity, why ask about Lubavitch? Your question is really about the Baal Shem Tov's mesorah, right?
    – HodofHod
    Jun 3, 2014 at 5:01
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    @HodofHod Maybe the Rebbe can be traced back to Har Sinai through a path other than the Baal Shem Tov.
    – Daniel
    Jun 3, 2014 at 11:21
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    Ah, that is true, thanks! Well, if the chain is made up of people who they just "learned from," that ought to be very easy, but if the chain is more of "rebbe to rebbe" (i.e., mentor to mentor) than we're back to the Baal Shem Tov, I think.
    – HodofHod
    Jun 3, 2014 at 17:30
  • Why would it not simply be from the rebbeim that came before him going back to the baal shem tov and then before that as well? What are you asking for specifically that would establish a mesora?
    – Dude
    Jun 10, 2018 at 3:40

4 Answers 4


The Baal Shem Tov's teacher was Rabbi Adam Baal Shem. For more details about the origins of the Baal Shem Tov's Mesorah, look at The Lubavitcher Rebbe's Memoirs (by the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe) which discusses this history, albeit in a manner which is somewhat hard to follow if your purpose is to construct a timeline.


Ahijah the Shilonite was the Baal Shem Tov's main teacher (according to his student Rabbi Jacob Joseph of Polonne in ספר תולדות יעקב יוסף Parshat Balak). He taught him for 10 years, from 5484-5494 (1723-1733) -from ספר השיחות תש"ה page 122. Ahijah received from Moses.

  • 1
    What evidence do we have that Achiyah ever met Moshe?
    – Double AA
    Jun 3, 2014 at 16:33
  • Whether he met him or not, he had a chain of mesorah from Moses, whether directly or not.
    – gaagu
    Jun 6, 2014 at 3:51
  • Did Achiya teach him from beyond the grave (nevua? dreams?), or was he still alive (and just hiding all this time)?
    – Double AA
    Jun 13, 2014 at 3:44
  • The Midrash says he was killed by King Abijam. It was possibly by dreams or visions. I seem to recall a recorded instance somewhere where it was by dream.
    – gaagu
    Jun 13, 2014 at 18:22
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    Mesorah only comes through the living, not the dead, as per the principle of "Lo b'shamayim hi".
    – LN6595
    Jun 7, 2015 at 20:38

Another possible angle to answer this question is that the Lubavitcher Rebbe learned from his father - Rabbi Steinsaltz in his biography of the Lubavitcher Rebbe says that his main teacher was his father. His father received Smicha from Rabbi Chaim Soleveitchik of Brisk.

This was the old fashioned Smicha, where the student sits with the Rov and paskens questions in front of him until the Rov is satisfied with his competence.

  • I don't think the Rebbe considered himself a Brisker. Maybe the style of Nigla, but not in Hashkafa or Halacha. Jun 25, 2015 at 20:19
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    @ShmuelBrin, His father was also a Kabbalist, which Briskers are not.
    – Yishai
    Jun 25, 2015 at 20:33

the rebbe received smicha from the rogarchover and yosef rosen



But the rebbe always called the frierdiker rebbe his rebbe (I assume for mesorah purposes as well).

The baal shem tov leaned from the tzadikim nistarim (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baal_Shem_Tov) who their founder reb Eliyahu baal Shem learned from the maharal of Prague (http://chabadpedia.co.il/index.php/%D7%90%D7%9C%D7%99%D7%94%D7%95_%D7%91%D7%A2%D7%9C_%D7%A9%D7%9D).

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    Isn’t Yosef Rosen t Rogechover?
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Sep 29, 2020 at 3:06
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    Receiving smicha isn't indicative of mesora. The one providing smicha was simply convinced the receiver knew their stuff
    – robev
    Sep 29, 2020 at 3:26
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    The Lubavitcher Rebbe received smicha from the Sridei Aish (R Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg) (see here) but that doesn't mean this is his mesorah
    – mbloch
    Sep 29, 2020 at 4:00
  • There is a sicha in תורת מנחם תש"נ חלק א page 177 that the Rebbe says that there is a difference between the way אהרן and יהושע learned from משה. Even though אהרן learnt directly from משה (and alone) 4 times still (אבות א א) says that יהושע passed the mesorah (because he learnt it בכללות).
    – user24005
    Oct 9, 2020 at 18:05

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