How to view a fellow Jew

Friday, 18 January, 2013 - 11:53 am

This past week the Jewish Federation launched their year-long centennial celebration with a wonderful event. The event had a few nice touches – including the second line with Panorama Jazz Band and Bill Hess’s great impersonation of his great-grandfather Julius Rosenwald. I thoroughly enjoyed the dialogue between Richard Stone and Josef Telushkin. Congratulations to the Federation for 100 of years of important work in our community. Best wishes for another 100 years of success in supporting the vital institutions of our New Orleans Jewish community.

After the event we stood around chatting with Richard Stone and Rabbi Telushkin, who shared some of the book that he was writing about the Rebbe. Richard Stone is also a personal friend of our family spanning three generations. He and I were reminiscing about his late brother David, whom I admired greatly. We marveled at the fact that though David Stone appeared to be a completely secular Jew, there were some very deeply religious and spiritual elements about him. Richard commented to me that in the course of Chabad’s work we surely have the opportunity to witness many similar phenomena of a Jewish Neshamah bursting through at unexpected times in unexpected people.

As I thought about Richard’s words it dawned on me that this is one of the unique ideas that the Rebbe taught us. Most people assume that there are two ways of looking at another person. The first, a superficial perspective, is seeing the other as they appear in the present, with all of their failings. The second, a deeper perspective, is seeing the other for what they could become in the future. The risk of the second view is that the potential may never be realized. The Rebbe taught that there is a third way. Seeing the person in the present – but as they truly are in their essence. The true core of a Jew is the essential bond with Hashem. This transcends time and circumstances. We must gaze deeply into the soul to recognize it – but once we do we are witness to an infinite reservoir of holiness, spirituality and goodness.

This Monday is the 10th of Shevat – the day the Rebbe assumed the leadership of Chabad upon the passing of his father-in-law in 1950. As we mark 63 years of the Rebbe’s inspiration, guidance and direction – teaching us to look beneath the surface as we perceive people, history, current events and the Torah, it is a proper time to reflect on how we are implementing the Rebbe’s vision of a good and G-dly world, which will be realized during the era of the final Redemption.

On Sunday night at Chabad of Metairie a dinner and farbrengen is being held at 6:30 PM to mark this important day. A guest lecturer, Rabbi Mendel Samuels of CT, will be speaking on the topic: Can Morality Be Man-made? Please join us for the celebration.

 Our condolences to Toni Weiss upon the passing of her mother Lynn Strauss. May Hashem comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin


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