"Moshiach is ready to come now-our part is to increase in acts of goodness and kindness" -The Rebbe

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The impact of Mitzvos on the world


There are four possible states of holiness in an object with which a Mitzvah is performed. In order of least to greatest:
  1. the raw components of the object before it has been prepared or designated for a Mitzvah, at which point there is no holiness—such as the paper that one may use for a Torah book;

  2. once the object has been fully prepared or designated for Mitzvah use it has become sanctified to a certain degree—such as a Torah book that has been printed, but has not yet been studied;

  3. an object that has been used for a Mitzvah, which is fit to be used again, is all the more holy—such as a Torah book that has been studied;

  4. the most intense state of holiness in the object is present during Mitzvah performance—such as a Torah book while it is being studied.
Being aware of these states of holiness in the objects around us enables us to be sensitive to this holiness in our day-to-day life.


Adapted from the Previous Rebbe’s Reshimas Chag HaShavuos 5675,
with references and explanatory notes from the Rebbe.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Do the Hard Work Yourself!

Do the Hard Work Yourself!

Rabbi Y. Oliver

By delivering his first ma’amar [Chassidic discourse], the Rebbe became a Rebbe. Then he declared the importance of the Chabad approach that every chossid should strive constantly for inner change, and not rely on the Rebbe:
Now, listen up, Jews! In general, the Chabad movement demanded that every individual must invest his own effort, and not rely upon the Rebbeim. This is the difference between the philosophy of the Polish school of Chassidus, and that of Chabad. The latter teaches that the verse, “The Tzaddik will live by his faith” [Chavakuk 2:4] should be rendered, “The Tzaddik will give life [i.e., inspire one to serve Hashem] by his faith.” However, we, who belong to the group of Chabad, need to work together on our own, with the 248 limbs and 365 sinews of our body and of our soul.

The Talmud states that “Everything is in the hands of Heaven but the fear of Heaven” [Berachos 33b]. I am not, G–d forbid, refusing to help, and to help according to my ability. However, since everything is in the hands of Heaven but the fear of Heaven, if you will not exert effort on your own, it will not help that we release manuscripts of Chassidus, sing songs, and toast L’Chaim.

The [Previous] Rebbe would sometimes say, “Don’t fool yourselves.” 
Your task is to take the “foolishness of the other side” and the boiling intensity of the Bestial Soul, and transform it to holiness—and this you must do yourself.

Toras Menachem, Vol. 3, p. 212-213.
How significant that this was the very first public statement that the Rebbe chose to make after he assumed the role of successor of the Previous Rebbe!

To sum up in my own words: In Chabad, the Rebbe’s role is to assist, guide, and inspire the chossid to reach a true understanding of Hashem’s greatness and unity, and a true love and fear of Him—but not to do the work himself. Rather, a Chabad chossid is a Jew deeply committed to engaging in the tough, rigorous effort required to attain this self-transformation: in-depth study of Chassidus, hisbonenus on the Chassidus that one has learned, inspired Tefillah, personal application of the lofty concepts of Chassidus in order to correct his flaws and maximize his good qualities, and good deeds.

This is indeed the work of a lifetime. Without this, all the Rebbe’s teachings, blessings, and advice are pointless, for the person is not acting on them.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Levels of the Neshamah

Every morning, Hashem wants us to remind ourselves about the special Neshamah that we have—about its origin, composite levels, and current state.

In the beginning of the Morning Liturgy we recite: “My G–d, the soul that You implanted within me—it is pure. You created it, You formed it, You blew it into me.” Chassidus explains that this prayer alludes to the various levels of the Neshamah.



The Neshamah may be divided into two general parts (for a somewhat more detailed explanation of these levels of the soul, see here).


The lower part of the soul descends into the body and becomes vested in it; this comprises the levels of Nefesh, Ruach, and Neshamah (referred to henceforth by the acronym naran). This level is alluded to in the above phrase, “You created it”—referring to Neshamah; “You formed it”—referring to Ruach; “You blew it into me”—referring to Nefesh.


Then there is the higher part of the soul that does not enter the body, but remains in the sublime spiritual realms. This comprises the levels of Chayah and Yechidah (referred to henceforth by the acronym chai). This level is alluded to in the phrase, “My G–d, the soul that You implanted within me—it is pure.”


This is related the distinction between the spiritual world of Atzilus and the three spiritual worlds below it—Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah (referred to henceforth as B’ya).


Atzilus is a world of pure and untainted G–dliness, of which it is written, “Evil does not reside with You” (Tehillim 5:5). This is a world that submits totally to Hashem’s infinite light. This complete nullification of self is referred to as bittul bimetzius, “[total] nullification of selfhood.”


In contrast, the worlds of B’ya contain a spiritual energy that is fundamentally different from that found in the world of Atzilus, for these worlds have an independent sense of self, called yesh. Although they submit to Hashem, their submission is partial. Even as they submit, they maintain their sense of selfhood. This type of self-nullification is referred to as bittul ha’yesh, “nullification of ego [that maintains its ego nonetheless].”


As mentioned, “It is pure” refers to the level of chai. The reason for this is that the levels of chai remain in the world of Atzilus, and, as mentioned, Atzilus is a world of pure G–dliness.


Naran, however, descends into the lower worlds of B’ya, and ultimately into the physical world and the body, and thereby undergoes a tremendous spiritual descent. Thus, Chassidus explains that “You created it” refers to the soul’s descent into the world of Beriah; “You formed it” refers to the soul’s descent into the world of Yetzirah; and “You blew it into me” refers to the soul’s descent into the world of Asiyah.


There are two stages to this descent.


1. Naran’s very descent into the body changes its perspective radically.


When naran resided in Heaven, it basked in an intense divine light, and thus sensed G–dliness as an immediate, tangible reality, while it regarded the physical world as an abstract, novel concept.


However, once naran descended and became vested in a physical body, its attitude was reversed: Once in a body, naran naturally regards the world around it as the obvious and undeniable reality, and G–dliness as a distant, abstract concept. This also means that there is a certain sensitivity to and awareness of G–dliness that no matter how hard one tries, as long as naran remains in a body, it can never attain.


2. Then naran undergoes an even further descent through becoming vested in the Bestial Soul, which creates obstacles to the expression of naran, seeking to prevent it from grasping even the limited level of G–dliness that it can grasp in a physical world.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cultivating a Tefillah state of mind

It happens regularly that we walk into Shul, begin reciting the words of Tefillah, and suddenly find our minds bombarded with all kinds of extraneous thoughts, from the mundane, to the banal, to the unworthy, to the outright forbidden. Even when we genuinely try to focus our attention, much of the time our thoughts still wander, and for most of us, we succeed at best partially.


Indeed, the struggle to remove extraneous thoughts from one’s mind and focus on the words of the prayers is immense.


And this stems from the fact that the goal is uncompromising: all thoughts other than meditating on Hashem’s greatness and the meaning of the words one is reading must be rejected. This even means that one should not read the words of Tefillah with one’s lips while reflecting in the back of one’s mind on topics in Torah. This is the reason that before Tefillah one should not study pilpul, intensive Talmudic analysis, but only practical halachic rulings. After studying pilpul, the mind is still excitedly grappling with complex ideas, and so even without consciously intent, one’s thoughts are prone to drift off from Tefillah to one’s studies. In contrast, practical halachic rulings do not engross the person, and so we are not concerned that such study will bring on stray thoughts during Tefillah.


If even thoughts of Torah should be rejected during Tefillah, one should surely reject thoughts of the mundane. This includes dispelling otherwise permitted and constructive thoughts, such as thoughts of one’s livelihood. It is especially difficult to clear one’s mind if one is emotionally distraught from hardship in some area of one’s personal life (may Hashem spare us).


This is also the reason that during Tefillah one should keep looking inside the Siddur at all times, for allowing one’s gaze to wander around Shul can trigger distracting thoughts. Moreover, since “letters illuminate, gazing at the printed words helps focus ones concentration.


In the case of Shacharis, we know that various specific preparations are prescribed with the goal of fostering the appropriate mental state (see here). So instead let us discuss Minchah and Maariv, for it is not written (as far as I am aware) that one ought to make a point of preparing for these Tefillos through a session of Torah study and hisbonenus (contemplation of Hashems greatness). (The reason for this is that the preparations for Shacharis are said to extend throughout the day, to Minchah and Maariv.) Nevertheless, this does not mean that it is acceptable to rush in from one’s car such that one enters the Shul at the exact moment that the Minyan begins (and that’s in a good scenario).


This is reflected in the Talmudic ruling: “Rav Chisda said: [When entering Shul] one should always enter a measure of two doors-worth and then pray” (Berachos 8a). One explanation of this is that one should wait briefly before starting to read the words of Tefillah.


During this time one should make a conscious effort to mentally cast aside all the aspects of day-to-day life that were preoccupying one until then, in order to enter the calm, lucid state of mind conducive to proper concentration. In Yiddish this process of transition is known as “shtelen zich davvenen.”


So instead of arriving at the 2 pm Minyan for Minchah at 2:00:39 short of breath and zipping through Ashrei in order to make it in time to answer Kaddish, do yourself a favor and come just five minutes earlier. Relax a bit, say Korbanos slowly, glance in a sefer, put a coin in the pushkeh, and remind yourself simply about what you are about to dothe purpose of all the words you are about to read: You are about to be granted the opportunity to stand directly before Hashem and praise Him, plead that He grant your requests for sustenance, and then thank Him for His kindness.


It will make all the difference.


Adapted from Kuntres HaTefillah, p. 23.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The meaning of creation ex nihilo

The concept of creation ex nihilo, known in Chassidic parlance as “yesh mei’ayin,” “something from nothing,” means that Hashem created this world and the system of the higher spiritual worlds, known as seder hishtalshelus,” from absolute nothingness.

If at the point at which the worlds were created some sort of primordial matter had already existed, and Hashem merely altered its form such that the worlds had come to exist from that matter, then that change of state would have to be categorized as “yesh mi’yesh”—“something from something.” When we say that He created the world “something from nothing,” we mean that the world’s existence began at one point, and was preceded by total non-existence.

However, this requires explanation, for Hashem surely did not create the world by accident, G–d forbid. Thus, He must have created it with conscious intent. This intent is referred to as alos haratzon, “The emergence of Hashem’s will.”

Before a person can embark upon a certain course of action, he has to think about doing it. The thought thus precedes the action, contains the entire plan for it, and motivates him to do it physically. This concept is expressed succinctly in reference to Hashem in the liturgical phrase, “The final action was first in thought” (Lecha Dodi hymn).

If so, in that sense the worlds already existed to some significant extent, on some level, before they were actually created. So how can we speak of the creation as having resulted from absolute nothingness?

The answer is simple. Indeed, the spiritual worlds existed in Hashem’s will before they were created. However, on that level they existed in a state of total submission and selflessness. They were not a “something” at all. By definition, creation entails producing a realm that is a “yesh,” i.e., it is fundamentally self-aware and feels itself to be an independent entity from Hashem. This feeling of independence did not exist at all in the worlds as they exist on the level of Hashem’s will to create the worlds, for there everything is nullified to Hashem and feels no independent existence. Thus, the worlds can truly be said to have been created from absolute nothingness.

Sefer HaMa’amarim 5664, p. 4.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Chassidic customs: A hiddur in Hiskashrus

In Likkutei Sichos (Vol. 29, p. 211 ff.), the Rebbe explains that the reason that the Rebbeim of Chabad didn’t sleep in the Sukkah is that they felt the makifim deBina, the lofty divine light that shines in the Sukkah. Since it would have distressed them to sleep in such a holy environment, and “One who feels pain [by staying inside the Sukkah] is exempt from [the Mitzvah of] Sukkah” (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 640:5), they were exempt from the Mitzvah of sleeping in the Sukkah.


Now, this is all very well for the Rebbeim themselves. As great and holy Tzaddikim who perceived spiritual realities, their distress at sleeping in the Sukkah was surely a tangible pain that justified their exemption from this otherwise obligatory practice. However, on what basis do their followers, regular people who do not sense sublime spiritual realities, choose to refrain from sleeping in the Sukkah


The Rebbe explains:
Chassidim, since they are bound up with the Rebbeim of Chabad, study their teachings (with the goal of implementing them) and follow in their ways—the customs of their Rebbeim.


This is along the lines of what the Gemara relates concerning Rav Acha, who would “beautify [the Mitzvah] with ‘two and one’”—by taking a myrtle branch with only “two leaves on one point and one leaf below, which rose up and covered the other two” (Sukkah 32b). This was consistent with the opinion of Rav Kahane [who had declared that it is permitted to use such a myrtle branch], despite the fact that Rav Kahane himself had only said that “one may even use [a myrtle branch of] ‘two and one’”; however, “three on one stem is certainly acceptable [i.e., the best manner of performing the Mitzvah].” However, “Since it went forth from the mouth of Rav Kahane,” his student regarded it as a hiddur [beatification] of the Mitzvah to make a point of acting according to Rav Kahane’s opinion. [The Rebbe goes on to explain an additional reason for not sleeping in the Sukkah.]
Chassidim feel a very intense natural bond with their Rebbe, and this brings them to naturally strive to emulate their Rebbe’s conduct, even when that conduct may appear, or may even actually be, a lower standard in the strict sense. Emulating their Rebbe or otherwise declaring their adherence to their Rebbe is a hiddur in Hiskashrus, a beautification of the Mitzvah of connecting to ones Rebbe, that is so significant that it overrides other otherwise valid halachic considerations.


Elsewhere (Toras Menachem 5712, Vol. 5, p. 144 ff.), the Rebbe discusses this concept in connection with the Chabad custom on Pesach to avoid eating gebrochtz (Matzah mixed with water). On the first seven days of Pesach we are very particular not to let even the tiniest drop of water fall on Matzah in order to avoid even the smallest trace of gebrochtz. Yet on Acharon Shel Pesach (the last day of Pesach), not only did the Previous Rebbe not avoid gebrochtz, he would make a point of dipping the Matzah in every single dish.


“This conduct was surprising in my eyes,” the Rebbe says, until his attention was drawn to the above Talmudic statement concerning Rav Acha. Then, the Rebbe relates, he understood it: Since the Previous Rebbe had seen that his father, the Rebbe Rashab, would eat gebrochtz on Acharon Shel Pesach, he would make a point of eating gebrochtz on Acharon Shel Pesach as well—since it went forth from the mouth of his Rebbeim.


The Rebbe then stated that the above episode serves as a response to those who challenge various customs of chassidim, and cite various reasons for their arguments. Some examples are long farbrengens: Why waste so much time on a farbrengen? Why not toast L’Chaim, sing a niggun, finish the farbrengen in a half an hour, and sit down to learn Torah? Also, why do chassidim spend hours preparing for davvenen; why not prepare less, and davven at the proper time?


To this the Rebbe responded:
All the questions should be completely irrelevant, because we know that these are customs of chassidim [adopted because they were] either seen or heard from the Rebbeim.


It may appear to him that it will be better if he acts differently. For example, by davvenen in the proper time he will gain more time to learn Torah, and other such good things. Nevertheless, “Since it went forth from the mouth of Rav Kahane,” since he knows that this is the conduct of the Rebbeim, he should not seek [other] hiddurim. On the contrary, he should practice the hiddur of following their conduct—[as it says of Rav Acha, that] “He would beautify [the Mitzvah] with ‘two and one.’”


It is written, “According to the Torah that they will instruct you ... Do not stray from the thing that they tell you, to the right or to the left” (Devarim 17:11). This verse obligates us to follow the Beis Din of the generation (Mishneh Torah, beg. Laws of Mamrim) “even if they tells you about right that it is left, and about left that it is right” (Ibid. Sifri, Rashi). This applies to such an extent that even a student who has reached the point that he is worthy of ruling a matter of Jewish law, if he ruled that one should disregard the ruling of the Beis Din, he has the halachic status of a “rebellious elder” (Mishneh Torah, ibid. 3:4). 

A similar principle applies in this case. Following Chassidic customs as taught by the Rebbeim is in the category of the obligation to follow “According to the Torah that they will instruct you” and “Do not stray from the thing that they tell you.” Thus, one should not seek [other] ways of beautifying the Mitzvah. Rather, the beautification ought to be—following the instruction of the Rebbeim.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The real Iskafya

In an earlier post we discussed the idea of Iskafya (self-restraint) through actions that do not deprive the physical body. The Rebbe describes this same idea and develops it further in the following letter to one who sought to purify himself of sin through fasting:
As for what you write concerning your conduct to fast on Mondays and Thursdays until midday: This is utterly inappropriate in my eyes, for this is not the way of Chassidus. Instead of afflicting the body, you should afflict the bestial soul.


In other words, you should not diminish your bodily health, as you are doing by refraining from eating or drinking to the extent necessary for your health. Rather, you should substitute this with afflicting the bestial soul: Abstain from indulging your desires in eating and drinking [i.e., eating unnecessarily], from idle chatter, never mind from slight gossip or any other form of forbidden speech. [One can also afflict oneself through positive actions, such us] adhering to the Mitzvah of loving your fellow Jew as yourself even with regard to a person whom it appears to you has not treated you lovingly, or has even harmed you or insulted you, and so on and so forth.


Behaviors such as these are sometimes even more difficult to bring oneself to do than fasting from eating and drinking [and thus bring one to even greater self-purification]. Moreover, they do not weaken one’s health and thus they do not detract from one’s ability to engage in one’s required study portions in Torah and fulfill Mitzvos with extra care.


Igros Kodesh, Vol. 12, p. 379.
Note that here the Rebbe does mention Iskafya in eating in the sense of refraining from delicacies, and only negates Iskafya in eating that involves fasting.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tolerance is Contempt


The Rebbe teaches:
Although the flood was approaching, Noach prayed only for himself and his family, and ignored the entire generation. Only when approached and asked why he was constructing an ark would he tell them that G–d would imminently bring a flood upon the world, and he rebuked them. However, he waited until they approached him, and didn’t approach them, and of this the Zohar says harsh words. [Zohar 1:106a states that the flood was attributed to Noach, for had he prayed for the members of his generation, the flood could have been averted—see here. Cf. Likutei Sichos, Vol. 2, pp. 452-453.] ...

Abraham, in contrast, did not wait until he was approached. Rather, as it is written, “There he [Abraham] proclaimed the Name of G–d, L–rd of the world” [
Bereshis 21:33]—for Abraham approached everyone and publicized G–dliness in the world.


Likkutei Sichos, Vol. 2, p. 322.
One of the chiddushim (novelties) that the Rebbe introduced is the concept of mivtza’im, the Mitzvah campaigns. The core of this idea is that individual Jews, of their own initiative, should approach other Jews and encourage them to observe a Mitzvah.

At first glance, the idea of walking up to a total stranger (on the outside, at least) and after saying a brief hello, suggesting that he do a Mitzvah, violates western social norms. One who does this may even be accused of being disrespectful, rude (G–d forbid), and worst of all, “intolerant.” In contrast, the modern-day secularist society regards the person who is “tolerant” and blissfully ignores the sinful behavior of others despite his ability to influence them as praiseworthy and virtuous.

However, in fact the opposite is often the case. The “live and let die” attitude demonstrates the ultimate contempt and inhumanity. G–d gave this person the privilege to know that He exists, that He commanded us to abide by certain laws, and that this is the only way to fulfill the purpose of one’s creation, and thereby find true happiness and fulfillment in life (see here). This creates a moral obligation for him to share this knowledge with those less fortunate than he whom he has the opportunity to influence. Obviously, one should exert influence appropriately, in a way that will most likely be effective, through gentle persuasion, and so on. But one may not sit idly by when he is in a position to save others from spiritual death.

Because if you wait until they come to you, in the meantime they may well drown.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Being a chossid is about inner change


Being a chossid is about inner change

Rabbi Yehoishophot Oliver

The Previous Rebbe once spoke very harshly against a trend toward superficiality that he observed:
Nowadays so-called young chassidic men (“chassidishe yungerleit”) are supposedly becoming chassidim on their own. They are educating themselves and guiding themselves, so alas, we can understand what sort of education it is, and what sort of guidance it is.


The young chassidic men of today have made peace with the enemies of Chassidus of old, such as hypocrisy, falsehood, talebearing, gossip, arrogance, insolence, and bad-heartedness. It is only that they wrap it up in superficial, supposedly chassidic garb.


Do not be offended that I describe all these things with their true names. Sometimes one must articulate the truth, and plead for divine compassion that [Hashem should help us to] have compassion upon ourselves, and see what sort of spiritually chaotic situation we are in.


The young chassidic men of today, and even those who learned in the chassidic Yeshivos, are also becoming dragged along by the trend toward the alien attitude of superficiality [chitzoniyus].


This is the attitude that one becomes a chossid through superficial Chassidic practices such as attending a farbrengen, participating in a Chassidic celebration, marking a Hillula [passing of a Rebbe], wearing Chassidic garb, and singing a Chassidic melody. This approach has, may G–d save us, destroyed many, many souls of Chabad chassidim, and caused many young chassidic men to unfortunately—it is bitter for me to say the sad truth—drown in the depths of evil.


It is difficult to speak and utter the truth, but nothing else will help; no matter how difficult it may be, the situation must be described as it is.


There are certain chassidic married men who were raised in a chassidic environment, in frum, chassidic homes, and were taught by chassidic teachers. This has brought their trappings to be chassidic; however, their inner selves are empty.


These men are empty of Torah, fear of Heaven, and fine character traits.


The reason for all this is the lack of obedience. From a very young age he did not accept the yoke of an educator and a guide. He educated himself and guided himself, and this “education” produced a wild fruit such as this, with a pleasant, shiny exterior, and a rotten interior.


Sefer HaSichos 5697, p. 182.
In my own words, with explanation:


Being a Chabad chossid is about inner change.


This inner change consists of learning and understanding Hashem’s greatness as explained at great length in Chassidus Chabad, and bringing that awareness to permeate one’s emotions with love and fear of Hashem, love of one’s fellow Jew, fine character traits, and devotion to the observance of Mitzvos (on the last point, see here).


A part, and a necessary part, of effecting that inner change is engaging in “the ways of Chassidus,” such as singing a chassidishe niggun, attending a farbrengen, wearing the chassidishe garb, and so on. These are all surely vital practices for every chossid (see here). However, the reason that they are effective is that the makif (“encompassing light”) is a preparation for the pnimi (“inner light”) (for explanation of this concept, see here; for another explanation along similar lines, see here).


When one approaches these practices with full awareness that they are a means to an end—facilitating the inner change demanded of a Chabad chossid—then they are able to have their desired effect, and then they in fact enable one to reach heights of spiritual sensitivity and greatness otherwise unattainable.


However, even very holy ideas and practices can be abused and taken out of context, and this may lead to very unfortunate results, may Hashem save us.


For many it is “easier” to engage in these more external practices (although some have the opposite problem, but here is not the place to elaborate) that require relatively less effort.


However, being a chossid is a “package deal.” So when one deliberately ignores some of the demands of Chassidus and dwells upon others that one finds personally more exciting, one is left with nothing. Perhaps this is along the lines of the rabbinic statement: “What does it mean, ‘He who keeps company with harlots forfeits his wealth’? Whoever says, this topic is pleasing and this one isn't pleasing, loses the wealth of Torah.” (Eruvin 64a)


If one would regularly seek chassidishe guidance and direction from a mashpia and an asei lecha rav, this phenomenon would not occur, for they would point out this neglect and demand that it be corrected.


It is my belief that the vast majority of problems in today’s generation of chassidim stem from a lack of awareness of this point.


(For other posts of mine along these lines, see here and here.)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Loving rebuke


The Rebbe teaches:
The Zohar explains the difference between Noach and his righteous successors: Noach “did not pray for the world,” for the members of his generation, and therefore the waters of the flood are called “the waters of Noach,”[1] i.e., the flood is attributed to him.[2]

In contrast, Moses displayed self-sacrifice by demanding that G–d forgive the Jewish people for the sin of worshipping the Golden Calf.[3]

However, the Midrash tells us that Noach
rebuked the people and encouraged them to repent, implying that he did care about the state of his generation. If so, why didn’t he pray for them and plead to G–d to have mercy upon them?

The explanation: Noach
’s rebuke did not stem from an altruistic desire to help the people, but solely from the desire to relieve himself of G–d’s command.

As
Chassidus says, “Noach did not devote himself in his rebuke and warnings to inspire them to repent,”[4] because the main purpose of his rebuke was to fulfill the command that he had been commanded. This explains why he didn’t act with Moses’ self-sacrifice by going to the trouble to pray for them.


Likutei Sichos, Vol. 15, pp. 40-41.

[1] Yeshaya 54:9.
[2] Zohar 1:106a.
[3]
Shemos 32:32.
[4]
Sefer HaMa’amarim 5705, p. 29.
In my own words, with some explanation:

It is written, “You shall surely rebuke your fellow Jew” (
Vayikra 19:17). We are obligated to rebuke our fellow Jews (see Erchin 16b for a discussion of just how far this obligation extends) and encourage them to do the right thing. And yet this means far more than simply speaking words of rebuke to them. The main thing is that the rebuke stem from a genuine concern for their welfare.

When Hashem told Noach to rebuke the people, He meant to do so with true concern and persistence. But Noach only followed “the letter of the law.” He rebuked, but his rebuke stemmed only from a desire to obey Hashem, and not from a true concern for the people, and so it fell on deaf ears. The consequences of this lack of proper concern for his fellow humans were so far-reaching that Noach is considered partly responsible for the tragedy of the flood, and this is why its waters are called “the waters of Noach.”

The same is true concerning the task of spreading
Yiddishkeit and Chassidus to our fellow Jews. Although activities to disseminate these teachings are obligatory (and especially for Chabad chassidim, who have been charged to do so countless times by the Rebbe), they will only bear fruit when they stem from a true love and concern for our fellow Jew and a desire to help him—and not merely the wish to “do our duty.” If we neglect to refine ourselves and develop our love for our fellow Jew (see further explanation of this here), and the result is that our efforts to teach others meet with failure, then we are partly responsible for the ongoing non-observance of those whom we were in a position to inspire.


Noach’s lack of true concern for others was demonstrated in his neglect to davven (pray) for them. Thus, perhaps one way of discerning whether our efforts to teach others stem from true love is whether we feel moved to take some time to davven for them, seeing that they are not yet privileged to know about the vast, rich treasures of Yiddishkeit and Chassidus that are the heritage of every single Jew.

Moreover, it is explained in the
HaYom Yom of 3 Adar 1 that one should love every Jew, even one whom one has never met, and all the more so a member of one’s own community, i.e., those whom one knows well. Based on this principle, it would seem that we should davven in particular for those whom we know personally.