Rabbi Pesach SchmerlingThe write ris head of Chabad of Far Rockaway, Queens.
This Shabbos, the 3rd of Tammuz, marks the 22nd yahrzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt’l, yet he continues to impact world Jewry and the world at large.
“The righteous are greater in death than during their lifetime,” say our Sages (Chulin 7b). Over the last 22 years, many volumes of Torah and correspondence of the Rebbe were published for the first time, and more manuscripts and letters continue to be discovered and are being prepared for publication. Hundreds of shluchim have moved to cities and countries all over the world. Hundreds of new institutions around the globe have been established.
This isn’t only an outgrowth of the Rebbe’s devotion and work in his lifetime on earth; rather, this reflects the teaching of the Talmud (Sotah 13b) that Moshe Rabbeinu continues to serve on high on behalf of his people as he did during his lifetime on earth. As this is true about Moshe himself, so it is in regard to the “offshoot of Moshe in every generation” (Tikkunei Zohar, tikkun 69; see also Bereishis Rabbah 56:9: “There is no generation that does not possess one who is like Moshe.” See also Tanya ch. 42).
While the above is certainly true, there is also a tangible explanation for this phenomenon, namely that thousands continue to be inspired daily by the Rebbe, by learning his Torah, reading his letters, watching videos, and listening to audio of his talks, as well as through his students, shluchim, and chassidim in general. The Rebbe’s example of unconditional love for every Jew, wherever he might be, physically or spiritually, is reflected in every Jew who has been touched by the Rebbe one way or another.
Our sages teach us (Taanis 5b) about Yaakov that “since his children are alive, he is alive.” Students are considered children (Sifri Devarim 34), and through the children the father, the Rebbe, is alive and continues to inspire thousands to ascend in the path towards Hashem, learning Torah and fulfilling mitzvos, making the world into a dwelling place for Hashem.
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks described the Rebbe as follows: “A good leader creates followers; a great leader creates leaders.”
One of the most amazing accomplishments of the Rebbe was to elevate the value of each unique individual. The Rebbe empowered each person who interacted with him to appreciate the potential that they have within themselves to impact the world. Regardless if it was a distinguished world leader or a simple young child who came to the Rebbe, the Rebbe ensured that their meeting should have a positive impact on another individual or group of people. The message the Rebbe gave each one was that they mattered in the greater cosmic scheme of the world. Every individual has the power and the ability to make an impact and change the world to become a better place.
We look around the world today and see much negativity and sorrow, yet we see young yeshiva boys and high-school girls born after the Rebbe’s passing still committed with an energy and passion to spreading the Rebbe’s message to the world with loving goodness and kindness. They get their energy and devotion from the Rebbe imbuing each person with the feeling of “my one act can change the world,” as the truth and power of this message resonates strongly with them. They are therefore also considered the Rebbe’s students, his children, through whom the Rebbe lives on.
The Rebbe’s lesson was given not only to Lubavitchers; it is applicable to anyone. We are encouraged to take this lesson to heart and realize that in this world a little light can dispel much darkness and bring the light of the geulah. We must realize that it doesn’t require a world leader or a big activist; rather, each of us possesses that spark and our actions matter. We must reach out to another and spread the Rebbe’s message of ahavas Yisrael and the importance of every single mitzvah performed. When we realize the unique potential that we have, of each of us being a leader in our own right, we will change the world to be a better place, uniting us all, hastening the ultimate unity in the coming of Mashiach, may it be speedily in our days! v