On Tuesday, I watched a video clip of the Rebbe that was recorded over 30 years ago.
On Wednesday, this video made a real difference in someone’s life.
In the video (link in the comments), the Rebbe was asked a rather startling question. “When does one finally have enough?”
It was a visiting Physician from Montreal who came to seek the Rebbe’s advice.
The Rebbe seemingly didn’t understand the question.
“Enough of what?” he asked.
“We sold our business,” the visitor explained. “We have an offer now to buy it back. I am trying to understand: when should one feel that he has enough for himself and his family?”
“If you have an experience in business, you must use it” replied the Rebbe. How should one decide on the business direction, the Rebbe continued, “depends on the character of the person”: whatever makes a person happier.
The visitor was still unsure.
“And [what are you supposed to do] when you have enough, and you feel that there’s enough for you, and you have reached your goal?” He asked again.
“That is not possible for a Jew!” Exclaimed the Rebbe without hesitation. “Because he [the Jew] has an endless message and mission from G-d A-lmighty!”
Less than 24 hours after watching this video, a good friend of mine asked for my advice. He is a successful businessman, nearing retirement age and he is starting to think about retirement. His biggest worry is that he will not feel needed anymore.
Still under the influence of the Rebbe’s video, I asked him if his health allows him to continue his business. Yes, it did. Was he enjoying what he was doing? Absolutely.
I shared with him the Rebbe’s words, and suggested he should not worry about retirement. “Keep on doing what you are doing. You can help more people while enjoying what you are doing, you are enjoying it, do it as long as you can”.
I watched this video clip a few more times because it’s so powerful.
It dawned on me that the initial exchange was much deeper than I realized.
The visitor asked “when does one know that he has enough”. And the Rebbe’s immediate reaction was “enough of what?”
It was not merely a clarifying question.
The Rebbe was questioning the entire notion that one can ever have enough. “Enough of what?” he asked. How can one ever say that he has enough?
Obviously, the Rebbe was not referring to material wealth. For the Rebbe, who lived the most modest life and cared very little for the luxuries of the world, amassing wealth was never a goal by itself.
But the Rebbe viewed everything in the world as a vessel, as a conduit, a way to achieve G-d’s mission to make the world a better and holier place.
So the Rebbe asked: enough of what? Is there any point in life when we can say “I had enough” and “I have done enough?” Is there a moment when we can simply decide to stop having an impact on the world and become passive bystander?
Essentially, the Rebbe told the visitor:
If you have an opportunity and skills in business, you can influence the world by helping people, employing others, and giving part of the revenue for charity. This is exactly what G-d wants of you.
For the businessman, it was about continuing on his business journey. For others, it might be through other avenues of influence. The point is to never have an attitude of “mission accomplished”, because as long as we live, we have that G-dly mission.
We find a similar story in the Torah.
When G-d spoke to Avraham and asked him to “Go forth from your land and from your birthplace and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you”, Avraham was already 75 years old! He could have said to G-d that he wants to take a backseat and simply enjoy the remainder of his life. Of course, he chose the right approach and changed history forever.
So regardless if we are 15 years old, 35, 55 or 105: let’s take the words of the Rebbe to heart. We can, and should, always strive to influence the world around us. With our unique skills, talents, abilities and circle of influence, may we always carry G-d’s mission and make the world around us better and G-dlier.