“But it’s an RV, not a tank!”
We hear this almost every time a Jew experiences the Mitzvah Tank for the first time. And we’ve been hearing it for 30 years. It still makes us smile.
Yes, it’s not an armored mobile military weapon. But when it comes to the spiritual fight facing us as a people, the Mitzvah Tank is a force to be reckoned with.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneersohn, whose love for every single Jew is legendary, conceived the idea of converting recreational vehicles into mobile Judaism centers. Explaining that they were to lead the battle against Jewish assimilation, ignorance and apathy, carrying mitzvos as “ammunition,” the Rebbe coined the phrase “Mitzvah Tank.”
The first Mitzvah Tank debuted on a California college campus in 1971, attracting dozens of interested Jews as well as hundreds of curious onlookers and the Los Angeles Times. The idea caught on around the Chabad world. And the rest is history.
Today, a “squadron” of Mitzvah Tanks embarks on daily missions across Israel from its base in Nazareth. These 11 elite Tanks bear colorful, attractive slogans and images along both sides, inviting passersby to step up and take action by doing any of the 10 mitzvos of the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s famed Ten-Point Campaign:
2. Shabbos candles
3. Torah study
5. Family purity
7. Jewish education
9. Holy books
10. Love of fellow Jew
Needless to say, untold thousands of Jews the world over have found their way back to their spiritual home through encounters with the Mitzvah Tanks.
While the Mitzvah Tanks’ “war” may not be over, they have won every “battle.”