Question of the Week:
Many thanks to you and your wife for Friday night dinner. We had a great time. I just had one question. I noticed you have a huge picture of your Rebbe, Rabbi Schneersohn, on the wall. I don't mean to be rude, but is this type of reverence appropriate? Isn't he just another human being?
Yes, the Rebbe was just a human being. That's exactly why I revere him.
Here was a man who was at the same time a world leader and a personal confidant. He received up to one thousand letters a day and opened each one himself, advised concerned parents of unwell children and singles searching for life-partners with the exact same love and attention as he advised presidents and prime-ministers on matters of state, had the vision to set up a global web of institutions to rebuild Jewish life after the Holocaust, promoted family values and moral living for the non-Jewish world, was as fluent in the sciences as he was in Torah wisdom and found G-d in both, healed the sick with his blessings, and answered people's questions before they even asked them, took the responsibility of the world on his shoulders, but had time to respond to the questions of a child.
These are just a sample of his qualities. And what makes the Rebbe so special was that he was human. For a superhuman to achieve all the above is no big deal. They don't have to work hard to become heroes. But for a human being of flesh and blood to reach such heights is nothing short of amazing.
That's why I have a picture of the Rebbe on my wall. It always reminds me of what a human can achieve. I will never be a Rebbe, but I can certainly strive to do more than I am presently doing to better myself and the world. The Rebbe inspires me to do this.
I only saw the Rebbe once. But it is due to his influence that I am today an active and proud Jew. His profound teachings and compelling vision inspired me to become a rabbi. Otherwise, who knows, I may have been a B-grade trapeze artist or struggling plumber's assistant. The very fact that I am writing these words and you are reading them is thanks to the Rebbe and his vision.
From the Rebbe's teachings I have learnt what G-d is. From his life I have learnt what humans can be.