Check your privilege!

Friday, 13 November, 2015 - 1:58 pm

This past weekend I, along with thousands of colleagues, participated in the annual conference of Shluchim – emissaries of the Rebbe to Jewish communities the world over.

The Kinus, as it is called in Hebrew, is a chance for members of the legion to “report for duty” – to stand before the Rebbe as a group and feel his blessings and energy flow to us so that we can each return to our respective communities and continue the work for which we sent.

It is also an opportunity to recharge and be inspired through workshops and motivational talks as well as networking with friends and fellow Shluchim. As I traveled home from the Kinus on Monday, after spending the better part of Sunday night into Monday morning at a farbrengen (Chassidic gathering) with my friends, I began to reflect on what it means to be a Shliach. It comes down to two words – privilege and responsibility.

Firstly, there is the privilege of representing the Rebbe, a person whose entire life consists of holiness and dedication to G-d and His people, a leader whose teachings and example continue to touch and inspire millions, a teacher whose innovative approach to Torah study revolutionized the way Torah is learned, a man whose love for all people is reflected in the caring way that he dealt with anyone who came to his doorstep. At the same time this comes with the awesome responsibility of representing the Rebbe properly. A Shliach needs to ensure that his conduct reflects positively on the Rebbe and not, G-d forbid, the other way around. There is the responsibility of emulating the Rebbe’s approach to others while maintaining the lofty standards of holiness that one would associate with him.

Then there is the second element. A Shliach is a purveyor of Torah and Mitzvot. He has the privilege of sharing the infinite will and wisdom of Hashem especially as it is conveyed through the teachings of the Rebbe and Chasidism. Yet it is a monumental responsibility to transmit those teachings in a way that they remain faithful to their tradition while being made relevant and accessible to all. He must be innovative in his programming and teaching while retaining the purity of the Living Waters of Torah.

Finally, there are the people to whom a Shliach represents the Rebbe. This is the privilege of associating with the wonderful community to which a Shliach is assigned – in this case the amazing folks of the greater NOLA Jewish community. There is also the great responsibility to put the best foot forward and provide the optimum opportunity to each person as they grow and progress as Jews and as people.

I am grateful for the privilege and humbled by the responsibility. I hope that I and my fellow Shluchim of Chabad of Louisiana are doing our best representing the Rebbe, teaching Torah and Mitzvot, and serving our wonderful community. We treasure your partnership in this endeavor. We know that together we will finally bring the world to the goal that the Rebbe set from day one, the era of Redemption through Moshiach.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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