Seeing the light within you when all that others see is darkness
How would you treat your nemesis when they were sentenced to death?
Moses’ reaction is nothing short of stunning. And it inspires us to rethink all of our relationships!
In the Torah portion Korach, we’re introduced to a horrific rebellion against Moses, led by the fabulously wealthy Korach and 250 men who joined him. When it becomes clear that they are unwilling to step down from full-blown mutiny, G-d announces that a calamity is about to take place. Indeed, the earth was soon to open up like a sinkhole and swallow only the members of the rebellion, as well as their families and their possessions.
Instead of gloating in an “I told you so” moment, Moses pleads with G-d to save them: “Oh G-d, knower of the hearts of all flesh; will the sin of just one man bring wrath upon the entire congregation?”
Though we have seen Abraham stand up for the residents of Sodom and Gemorah before their destruction in the book of Genesis, this stand of Moses is different. Abraham pleaded with G-d to save the righteous; in our portion, Moses is pleading with G-d to spare the wicked!
Moses’ point was that not every accomplice in the crime has the same malicious intent. Some participate merely due to peer pressure or to join the gang. His plea was for G-d to punish only the rabble-rouser himself, Korach, and to spare everyone else who just tagged along for the ride.
What’s most incredible about this story is that amongst those Moses was fighting for were two characters by the names of Dasan and Aviram. These two were responsible for unspeakable grief in Moses’ life: When he was a young man in his teens, he once killed an Egyptian who was attacking a Jew. These two witnessed the event and proceeded to inform Pharoah about it, forcing Moses to flee from Egypt and his people for 60 years! Up until he turned 80, when he was appointed to his mission at the Burning Bush, Moses was a wanted fugitive who was never able to see his family again!
Yet despite it all, Moses courageously stands up for these evil men, challenging G-d to spare them from death.
How could Moses have done this? Is it even possible for us to do the same?
This is the mark of a true leader—the mark of a Rebbe:
Moses truly loved the Jews. And not only the good ones, but the wicked ones too. With all his heart, he believed that they were pure inside—not as rotten inside as they seemed to be on the outside. Goethe said that “Every person sees in the world and in other people that which he carries in his own heart.” A Rebbe of Israel is himself so pure, that he sees in others nothing but purity. While everyone else sees a body, a Rebbe sees a shining soul. While everyone else might see an evil inclination or negative tendencies, a Rebbe sees the holiness within. As a true lover of his people, a Rebbe intuitively knows that any sin is nothing more than a perversion of the true essence of the Jew!
Days after the 6 Day War, Chabadniks opened the famous Tefillin stand at the recently liberated Western Wall in Jerusalem. Still in operation to this very day, thousands of Jews connect to G-d each week through the vital mitzvah of Tefillin. When the famous Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach saw the phenomenon of non-observant Jews laying Tefillin en masse at the Kotel, he famously remarked: “Many Jews believe in G-d; but it takes a Rebbe to believe in the Jews!”
Indeed, the Rebbe never was fond of the term “secular Jew,” which he believed to be a contradiction in terms because “Every Jew is inherently holy; nothing we can do can change that reality.”
A Chassid once met a non-observant Jew who complained that he was too far gone and was lost to his people. The Chassid reassured him by telling him that each Jew is like a letter in the Torah scroll. If it gets erased, it can and must be fixed. When the Rebbe heard this he modified the metaphor by saying that the holiness of a Jew can never be erased like a Torah letter written with ink on parchment. It would be more accurate to define each Jew as an engraved letter, like on the Ten Commandments. Whilst the letters might be filled with shmutz and become hard to read, they are always there. Once cleaned up, they are as good as new!
Last month we commemorated the twenty-seventh anniversary of the passing of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Schneerson OBM. The Rebbe’s life mission of leaving no Jew behind still reverberates the world over, nearly three decades after his passing. No Jew was too lowly nor too far for the Rebbe to reach. The Rebbe saw the soul of every human being and taught us to do the same. He trained us to see beyond what the eye could see and recognize the perfect piece of G-d within every single person. That it is not what we do that defines us, rather, it is who we are that characterizes us as G-dly, spiritual beings.
How often do we cast others off because of what they’ve said or done? How many friends or family members have we cut ties with because of differences of beliefs or opinions? It is incumbent upon us too to see each other for who we are — pristine, G-dly souls worthy of love and acceptance.
The Rebbe made it his duty to leave no stone unturned and no corner of the world untouched in his quest to reach every single Jew matter how uninspired or uninitiated they may be.
It is our dream and prayer that you too will be able to join us as Shluchim of the Rebbe, to see in your friends, family and neighbors, that same G-dly spark that we see: To love them for who they are and not for what they could or should be.
The Rebbe’s Yahrtzeit is an auspicious day to turn to him for any and all blessings that you need. As the true lover of Israel that he is, the Rebbe believes in you always and will always advocate for you on High, if you just ask for it. No Jew is too far gone; no Jew escapes the unconditional love of a Rebbe—not even the sinners of Israel, as we read in the Torah this week.
We encourage you to send a letter to the Rebbe’s Ohel (holy resting place) with all your prayer requests. Write whatever is on your heart; ask the Rebbe to pull strings for you from the Master of the Universe. We constantly hear of the ongoing miracles that happen on a regular basis to this very day, after people visit the Rebbe’s Ohel or send a letter there.
You can send a letter to the Ohel at JewishGardens.com/36248