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Thursday
May092019

COMMUNITY AND INDIVIDUAL

COMMUNITY AND INDIVIDUAL

Most community oriented and most individual oriented.

While the Rebbe was very much into promoting healthy communal life and was the equivalent of a “CEO” of hundreds of organizations, dealt with world leaders, yet had a personal and intimate relationship with thousands of individuals.

The Rebbe took a personal interest in individuals who could think that they are the only people whom the Rebbe dealt with.

I am aware of several people who have a collection of letters from the Rebbe, enough to fill an entire book.

I knew a Jew from Holland, a simple Jew who was inspired by the Rebbe to become an observant Jew, who received letters from the Rebbe on a regular basis. These letters uplifted him and made his day.

A Jew had a private audience with the Rebbe after Simchas Torah. The Rebbe asked him how his 10 year old son’s eyes were? The father was puzzled at this question because he wasn’t aware that his son had any medical problem.

The Rebbe then clarified. “On Rosh Hashanah when I turn around after the sounding of the Shofar (in accordance to the custom that Ba’al Tokei’ah views the entire congregation), I noticed that your son was not wearing glasses. However three weeks later on Simchas Torah, when I was turning around during the dancing at Hakafos, I noticed that your son was wearing glasses…”

On these two occasions, thousands of Jews were huddled together to form one mass of humanity. Yet, the Rebbe’s laser beam vision noticed and was concerned for a little child.

There are thousands of stories like these of the Rebbe’s total dedication to the needs of individuals.

In an article penned by Dr. Hillel Zeidman he makes a remarkable observation. When he would have a private audience with the Rebbe, the Rebbe would always find a way to steer the discussion towards a communal need.

Conversely, when he would come to a Farbrengen, when the Rebbe would be addressing the most urgent communal needs to thousands of people who were present, the Rebbe would turn around between talks and ask him about his family and other personal matters.

He realized that the Rebbe viewed the individual through the prism of the group and the group through the prism of the individual.

Some people cannot see the trees because of the forest and others who cannot see the forest because of the trees. The Rebbe challenged that premise and demonstrated that we must do both.

PUBLIC VERSUS PRIVATE

There is probably no leader in the Jewish world that is more known, has as much written about him, and has as many loyal followers as the Rebbe.

Yet the Rebbe remains a nistar, an enigma, a mystery. Much more of the Rebbe is concealed than revealed. Indeed, it is reported that R. Yosef Dov Soloveitchik’s remarked that the Rebbe is a Nistar – a hidden tzaddik.

A biographer tried to write biography based on the Rebbe’s voluminous writings, but couldn’t put together more than a few pages, if even that. The Rebbe revealed very little of himself.

The Rebbe is simultaneously the easiest and most difficult person to talk about:

He is the easiest to describe because of the incredible volume of teachings (around 300 volumes of discourses and letters!) and the incredible amount of achievements such as the thousands of Shluchim in thousands of locations. Nevertheless, the Rebbe is still an enigma.

Lived a most insulated life yet was cosmopolitan and knew everything current.

The Rebbe hardly left his place of residence and office for all the years of his Nesius-leadership. Besides going to the Ohel, the gravesite of his father-in-law, the Previous Rebbe, twice a week, standing there for hours, the Rebbe hardly went to any other place in the world or even in the city of New York. The Rebbe never took off even a day for a vacation. Anyone else in this position would be considered a hermit and would be oblivious to what was going on in the world.

Yet the Rebbe was aware of all the most recent trends, political, scientific, medical breakthroughs, military and even the negative social trends. He was certainly aware and intimately involved in all of matters concerning the Jewish community.

The Rebbe was even intimately aware of the inside intrigues of the Israeli Cabinet, for example, notwithstanding the fact that the Rebbe had never even visited Israel. ■ 

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