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Eigteen Years Later

Thursday, 21 June, 2012 - 12:00 am

June 12, 1994. On the fateful day of 3 Tammuz 5754, the world of Chabad-Lubavitch was suddenly thrust into a new reality. A reality in which most commentators doubted it could survive. In fact, numerous newspaper articles and media interviews predicted the demise of the movement within a few years.

How can a movement, especially one so devoted to its leader, survive without its head?

***

In this week’s parsha Korach we read of an unfortunate and unsuccessful rebellion against Moshe. Korach, a respected and wealthy Jew, demanded equality for all. Why should Moshe and Ahron serve as leaders when we all have an equally holy connection to Hashem?

The outcome of this mutiny was the tragic death of Korach and his comrades. In addition, a plague ensued that killed over 14,000 Jews. According to the Midrash, when Ahron attempted to stop the plague, he was challenged by the Angel of Death. As Rashi teaches:

The angel said to him, “Allow me to accomplish my mission.” Ahron said to him, “Moshe commanded me to stop you.” He said to him, “I am the messenger of the Omnipresent, and you are the messenger of Moshe.” He said to him, “Moshe does not say anything on his own volition, but only at the bidding of the Almighty.

The Angel of Death and Korach both had the same argument: We have a direct connection to G-d. Having a relationship with G-d is superior to having a relationship to a tzaddik, great as he or she may be.

Ultimately, Ahron persevered against the angel. But, what about the angel’s claim that he is a Divine messenger?

***

If Moshe were simply a messenger of Hashem we could debate the merits of his leadership. If he were merely an accomplished person we can argue the heights of his achievements.

But Moshe was united with both Hashem and the Jewish people. Moshe represents the collective soul of all Jews. A soul that stems from G-d’s essence. That’s why he is more concerned with their existence than his own. That’s why it simply isn’t possible for Moshe to act contrary to G-d’s will or against the best interest of the Jewish people.

This type of leader is does not lead based on charisma, intuition, or brilliance. A leader who is a true tzaddik leads out of self and selflessness.

That may seem like a contradiction, but here’s what I mean: A true tzaddik is connected with every Jew at a soul level. He feels their pain because it is his pain. He shares their triumphs because they are his own. And precisely because of that his only preoccupation is serving others. And selflessness lives beyond the body.

***

So here we are today, 18 years later, observing the yahrzeit of our dear Rebbe. Yes, it is painful to continue without seeing the Rebbe’s smile and hearing his voice. But, his mission continues – and we feel his presence and leadership more than ever.

Just look at the life (חי) that he has inspired in the last 18 years after his passing.

Let’s pay tribute to the Rebbe and his ever-growing legacy, by doing one more mitzvah to bring Moshiach NOW!

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