I didn’t need to go to Crown Heights with the men in my family to the Kinus haShluchim (Chabad’s convention for male emissaries), but why not? These conventions are a huge nachas for me; I still get so excited over the whole idea of shlichus, official ambassadorship of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. And this year was no different. Even before I saw the first emissary with a convention badge swinging from around his neck, I was thrilled to be there. And that feeling–I get it from both the men’s and the women’s gatherings–gets better every year.
Because nothing has to happen at these conventions for me to enjoy them. Just by showing up, I say, I’m still here for the Rebbe.
And I leave feeling closer than ever, reinvigorated by the Rebbe’s example. I assume this is what happens for the shluchim when they show up, too. For one glorious weekend a year, they just get to be present with their Rebbe.
Being a shaliach is hard work on many levels, but the number of shluchim swells every year. The 4,000 rabbis who attended Sunday’s Grand Banquet testify that there’s nothing else these men would rather be.
Some in the Jewish world are still perplexed by the Chabad phenomenon, with its Rebbe and his devoted followers, but the perplexed numbers are declining, just as the shluchim numbers are growing.
I certainly don’t understand the Rebbe, but I do appreciate that his teachings and example are intended to help me maximize my time in this world. Being that the men I accompanied were busy doing what men do at these gatherings, I even had extra time to learn one of the Rebbe’s teachings: how a mitzvah reveals G-d’s infinite light, the light that existed before the tzimtzum, G-d’s contraction that allowed creation to come into existence.
I’m not sure how much I really understood, but I know that the Rebbe understands, and that’s enough for me. The Rebbe, who perceives G-dliness as the true nature of all existence. The Rebbe, who assures us that the light that shined before the tzimtzum will ultimately be revealed within this contracted world. The Rebbe, who arouses my yearning for the Messianic era, the time when G-dliness will be understood with the eye of the mind, as well as with the eyes of flesh.
What else do I need to understand?
You can be sure that I used to be disheartened by all the Chasidus I didn’t understand, just as I wasn’t always so thrilled to come to these conventions, men’s or women’s. I heard countless stories of self-sacrifice, usually about people who moved to the other side of the planet with little more than the desire to teach Jewish children aleph-beis. For years, I looked at these shluchim and thought to myself, I have more in common with the children than the teachers.
But I don’t think like that anymore. Because the Rebbe has taught me to appreciate that everything in my life was G-d’s will, and that every experience can be utilized for a G-dly purpose.
But it’s more than that. It’s that now, when I look at the shluchim, especially the ones in my family, I can only think how grateful I am that they’re here for the Rebbe, too.