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Happy moments, memories with the Lubavitcher Rebbe

Happy moments, memories with the Lubavitcher Rebbe

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Happy moments, memories with the Lubavitcher Rebbe  
By Rabbi Zushe Greenberg

As the days of the eighth yahrtzeit (memorial) of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, draw closer, I often find myself reflecting on special and inspiring experiences that occurred during the six years that I spent studying "by the rebbe."

To hear the rebbe lecture on numerous topics was intellectually stimulating; to pray in the presence of the rebbe was awe-inspiring. The High Holidays evoked a marathon of emotions, soul-stirring prayers, and inspirational moments culminating with such joy at Simchat Torah that, for a while, we forgot the world existed. 

But what was so moving about the rebbe is that he saw only goodness in other people. Never speaking harshly or offering a critical word about anyone, the rebbe made us realize that human beings have an extraordinary capacity for inner goodness. 

The rebbe reminded us that we can and must aspire to a greater goodness; that there is nobility in the life of a Jew. He embodies the lessons that are the essence of Hasidic philosophy. 

The rebbe used to often quote a famous saying of Rabbi Yisroel Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the Hasidic Movement. The Baal Shem Tov used to teach that if a person sees something wrong with someone else, this is a sign that he himself has a similar fault. He sees himself, as it were, in a mirror - if the face he sees is not clean, it is his own which is dirty. 

This is not to say that one must be oblivious to the world; it's not as much what you see, as how you see it! The real question is, when we see misconduct, do we condemn and blame the perpetrator or do we acknowledge a reality and try to help improve it? 

When people came to the rebbe with complaints about others, they were usually struck speechless in his presence. How can one speak bad about another Jew to the rebbe who looked only for the good in each and every person? 

There's a famous story of one of the Chabad rebbes who was once talking with his 4-year-old son. The young boy turned to his father, and asked, " Why is it that G‑d created us with only one nose, and one mouth, yet we have two eyes? Wouldn't one eye be enough?" Smiling, the rebbe replied, "With the left eye, you should look at yourself, to see how you can improve yourself. The right eye is there for you to look at others lovingly, always seeking out their best qualities." 

Why, I sometimes wonder, did the rebbe touch our hearts so deeply? Perhaps, in part, it is because when he looked at us, we realized that he saw an elevated version of who we might become. He reminds us without saying a word, that we have the potential to become holy. He made us realize that it is possible for us to become what we are supposed to be - images of G‑d. 

The rebbe's life can serve us as a reminder of these values, which we hold in high esteem and strive to emulate in our own lives. 

 

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