The 11th of Shvat is a special day for the whole Jewish people. On this day in 1951, the Lubavitcher Rebbe became the head of Chabad and of the world Jewry. Also, on this significant day in 2011, a new stage in the strategic transformation in the Middle East began when a wave of protests and uprisings shook the Arab world (the “Arab Spring”).
For many years, Israel was surrounded by a ring of steel consisting of many Arab armies which accumulated tremendous power in the 1980’s and 90’s. Just the number of tanks was staggering: Iraq — 6000, Syria — 4800, Egypt — 3500, Jordan — 1000, Lebanon — 300, Iran — 1000, Libya — 3000 as well Algeria and Sudan. Twenty thousand tanks in all. This was a huge force — twice the size that of the United States. By comparison, Israel at that time had only 4,000 tanks.
The fear in Israel was well justified as not only Syria and Egypt, but also Iraq and Jordan took part in the Yom Kippur War with the support of nine countries of the Arab coalition (Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Pakistan, Morocco, Libya, Tunisia, Sudan).
For many years this was a signifiant threat to Israel, but on 11 Shvat 5771 — exactly 60 years after the beginning of the leadership of the Rebbe — Tunisia was swept by a wave of unrestwith the President fleeing the country. This served as a catalyst for the beginning of similar unrest throughout the Arab world. In the end not only was the steel ring shattered but it literally broke into small pieces.
In the case of Libya, there was a secret nuclear weapons program underway. On October 4, 2003, a German-owned merchant ship came in for inspection in Taranto (Italy). On board were found and later confiscated five containers, en route to Libya. The cargo consisted of components bound for the Libyan uranium enrichment program. The secret was finally out. And on December 19, 2003, after ten months of secret negotiations with the US and Great Britain, Libya announced that it was giving up its desire to possess weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear ones.
Furthermore, revolutions have occurred in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen. Civil wars have shaken Libya (leading to a regime change), Syria (ongoing), a civil uprising in Bahrain, mass protests in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco and Oman. Smaller protests have occurred in Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti and Western Sahara. 18 countries in all! Moreover, Egypt and Jordan have already come to Israel for help. And even Sudan — a country that took part in all wars against Israel, sent Iranian missiles to Arab terrorists in Gaza, and developed chemical weapons — has undergone a deep crisis to such an extent that last week the President of Sudan met with the Israeli Prime Minister, starting the process of normalizing bilateral relations.
This is a transformation of darkness into light! It should be noted that many of these events took place on important dates for the Hasidic world. And when did it all start? On the eve of the 11th of Shvat, 2011, the 60th anniversary of the Rebbe’s leadership. Another amazing fact, the first Persian Gulf war that led to the collapse of the Iraqi army — began in the month of Shevat in 1991, the 40th anniversary of the Rebbe’s leadership. Now that we are entering the 70th year, we can expect a year of miracles and blessings. Additionally, In the 70th year, we accept the authority of the Rebbe of King Moshiach and proclaim: “Long live our Master, Mentor and Teacher, our King Moshiach forever and ever!”