July 20, 2024
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A young yeshiva student studying at Yeshivas Kol Torah in Yerushalayim spent day and night learning and reviewing the shiurim. Few spent more time in the beis midrash, and no one tried harder. But while the limud seemed to “click” for the other talmidim, he continued to struggle, never fully understanding the topic at hand. He had always felt like a slow learner, but now, in the “big leagues” of yeshivah, his seeming “learning disability” was debilitating. Sugya after sugya—try as he might—he just couldn’t seem to “get it.”

One day, a guest speaker came to address the talmidim. A renowned rosh yeshiva delivered a fiery shmuess on the importance of learning, stressing the value of retaining one’s learning and striving to become a lamdan and a “gadol” in learning—a “great” Talmud scholar. While the rosh yeshiva’s words inspired and motivated those who were already seeing success in their learning, the words stung in the heart of this talmid. The young man felt completely deflated. If the purpose of life was intellectual achievement in learning Torah, why would Hashem have apparently created him with a low IQ? “How is it fair?” he pondered. “How am I to fulfill my purpose?”

Later—after suffering for hours with thoughts of inadequacy—the talmid finally unburdened himself before an older student at the yeshiva, who suggested he write a letter to the Lubavitcher Rebbe. The young man had never written to the rebbe before, but he was so frustrated that he spontaneously opened his heart, penned a letter, and sent the rebbe his question. A return letter from 770 Eastern Parkway soon arrived. The rebbe’s response was direct and concise: “I do not understand your question. There is an mishna that clearly states, ואני נבראתי לשמש את קוני—‘I have been created for the purpose of serving my Creator,’ (Kiddushin, 82b). Nowhere does the Torah, nor our Sages, indicate that our purpose in life is to be a lamdan, rather they say simply ‘to serve our Creator.’”

~

כל האומר דבר בשם אומרו מביא גאולה לעולם

“Anyone who quotes someone and attributes the words to their source, brings redemption to the world,” (Avos, 6:6).

The Lubavitcher Rebbe said that to say or do something בשם אומרו means to reveal the Godly source in it—the One who originally “said” it, the בשם אומרו. For the Ribbono shel Olam creates everything through amirah, speech: “Bedvar Hashem shamayim naasu—With the word of Hashem, the heavens were made,” (Tehillim, 33:6), “ … Baruch sheamar vehayah haolam—Blessed is the one who has spoken and the world came into being … ” As we recite these phrases in davening, we recognize and reveal that God is the “source” of the world, and by giving this proper attribution, we are מביא גאולה לעולם—“bringing redemption to the world” by connecting the world to its source.

And this—the rebbe explains—is what it means that with “Asara maamaros nivra haolam—With 10 utterances the world was created,” (Avos, 5:1).

All of reality, all of the world, all of history, everything in creation, every atom, every grain of sand, every movement, every principle and equation in mathematics, physics and biology and astronomy—everything revealed and unrevealed—is found within these 10 utterances. God’s presence in the world is “iterated” through these 10 creative statements. And therefore—in a sense—any time we recognize and declare that something in the world is created from Hashem’s words, we are מביא גאולה לעולם—“redeeming the world.”

When we can recognize God’s presence in a place where there seems to be an absence, redemption is perpetuated and strengthened. In this sense, when we feel far from a personal or spiritual goal, when we are “underperforming” in our religious life or sense that we are not in the right place, we are invited to “bring redemption to the world” by proclaiming that here too, Hashem can be found, enlivening us.

~

This Shabbos, we prepare to mark Gimmel Tammuz—30 years since the histalkus (departure) of the leader of our generation, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt”l. The rebbe’s senior disciple and lead chozer (returnee), Reb Yoel Kahn, zt”l, pointed out that even decades after the histalkus of the rebbe, crowds of thousands continue to arrive at 770 to celebrate the moadim of Tishrei, and countless petitioners from across the globe stream to the Ohel 24 hours a day, all year long. “Zei kumen da veil do iz der adres—They come to the rebbe; he is the address,” the rebbe is their home for connectivity and inspiration. And more than a physical “address” or coordinate on a map, the rebbe’s teachings, instructions, ever-relevant advice and marching orders, continue to direct us toward self-actualization, personally and nationally.

The chizuk the rebbe shared with the young yeshiva student struggling to find his purpose and place remains a healing balm, a source of strength and an ever-relevant reminder for all of us: ואני נבראתי לשמש את קוני—“I have been created only to serve my Creator!” What’s more, we were created to serve the Ribbono Shel Olam with exactly the unique abilities and kochos that He has granted us.

May the rebbe’s dedication to rectifying and uplifting everyone and everything in this world—and our sharing his holy encouragement and commitment בשם אמרו—strengthen our confidence and joy in our divine service. And may we merit to usher in the era of Mashiach now!


Rabbi Judah Mischel is executive director of Camp HASC, the Hebrew Academy for Special Children. He is the mashpiah of OU-NCSY, founder of Tzama Nafshi and the author of “Baderech: Along the Path of Teshuva.” Rav Judah lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh with his wife Ora and their family.

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