Chassidus Chabad: Not Just for Intellectuals
Rabbi Y. OliverThere is a widespread belief that although the path of Chabad is very holy and sublime, not everyone is cut out for it. Since it focuses on in-depth study, the argument goes, it is suitable only for those of a more intellectual bent. The more unsophisticated, however, are incapable of finding the guidance and inspiration they need by following this path.
The Previous Rebbe clearly rejects this notion:
Chassidim never made a point of seeking gifted people. In other words, good talents and a good head were never a precondition. The main thing was that one engage in avodah [toiling at self-refinement], each one according to his ability. This was the [Alter] Rebbe’s approach—to make people receptive regardless whether the person’s talents were exceptional, average, or mediocre. ... [The Alter Rebbe] created a broad path for the entire Jewish people [“klal Yisroel”], a path that is paved [see here], equally effective for the greatest scholar and intellectual, and for the most simple Jew [“dem gor, gor posheten Yidn”].Elsewhere (Likkutei Dibburim, Vol. 2, p. 414), the Previous Rebbe explains further:
Sefer HaSichos 5691, pp. 172-173.
When the Alter Rebbe founded his well-known chadorim, and he hand-picked his students—great scholars, with true minds of genius, and wild talent—the regular and simple people who wanted to become chassidim became dejected, thinking that they were nothing. Yet soon they saw that they made a great mistake, and they were very happy that to see that the Alter Rebbe saw to it that they receive their spiritual sustenance just the same as the greatest of his students who were famous geniuses.In Likkutei Sichos (Vol. 4, p. 1137) the Rebbe goes further and declares that the path of Chabad can even elevate the avodah of a simple Jew to a level higher than that to which Chassidus Chagas can bring him:
The Alter Rebbe, being extremely orderly, and having the greatest talent in organization, and being born to be Hashem’s anointed guide and leader, immediately established a certain structure for the study of the teachings of Chassidus in a manner that every kind of person, even the most simple Jew [“dem gor, gor posheten Yidn”] would have a place of his own.
The Alter Rebbe, whom Hashem elected as the Shepherd of Israel, gave him the unlimited divine powers and talents to be able to create such a masterpiece as the teachings of Chassidus Chabad. It is a chamber with room for all kinds of people, from the greatest geniuses and intellectuals in the most profound concepts of Chassidus, to the most simple laborer...
... Chassidus Chabad accomplished that even simple Jews, who are apparently unable to reach thorough comprehension [of Hashem’s greatness as explained in the teachings of Chassidus Chabad], can be elevated by Chassidus Chabad, and to a level even higher than is possible through the general teachings of Chassidus [“toras haChassidus haklolis”—i.e., a branch of Chassidus that is not according to the teachings of Chabad].