The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson of righteous memory, fervently encouraged all Jewish children to study and commit to memory twelve verses culled from every area of Torah wisdom and literature. Each passage – Infinite wisdom condensed – was thoughtfully selected with children in mind, and presents a fundamental lesson for a Jew’s daily service of G-d in a clear and concise way, that can be contemplated and discussed anywhere. The Lubavitcher Rebbe was one Jewish leader who had full confidence in the power of youth to make incredible positive impact, and to inspire and teach their friends, too! Hashem believes in YOU to be an ambassador of light, and invites you to become a soldier in His army, with a mission to increase goodness and holiness wherever you go… and reciting the Twelve Torah Pessukim is a fantastic place to start! Come on a journey with me, as I too learn these timeless citations alongside their inner meaning, then how we can apply and take them to heart!
Note from the author: When it comes to making a general statement about people, although I often tend to make pronoun-references in the masculine form (e.g. him, his, he, etc.), please bear in mind the concepts discussed are equally relevant to girls and women.
“KOL YISROEL YESH LAHEM CHEILEK L’OLAM HABA SHENE’EMAR ‘V’AMECH KULAM TZADIKIM LE’OLAM YIRSHU ARETZ NETZER MATAI MA’ASEH YADAI LEHISPO’ER’ – ALL ISRAEL HAS A SHARE IN THE WORLD TO COME, AS IT IS STATED, ‘AND YOUR PEOPLE ARE ALL RIGHTEOUS. THEY SHALL INHERIT THE LAND FOREVER. THEY ARE THE BRANCH OR MY PLANTING, THE WORK OF MY HANDS, IN WHICH I TAKE PRIDE.’” (Talmud, Sanhedrin 90A)
The Rambam states, “Even if they sin, every Jew has a portion in Olam Habo” – a right to eternal life and close proximity to G-d. We may tell a child (since notion of reward is his impetus until maturity, when he bonds with the G-d altrusitically and for its own sake), that if he serves G-d fittingly, he will be worthy of this and to dwell with Gedolei Yisroel. Knowing the holy place he’s capable of achieving instills self-worth in a child, motivating him in decorous dedication to fulfilling Hashem’s will. In Shir Hashirim (the “Song of Songs”) we recite, “Kapelach harimon rakateich”; the Gemara expounds “rakateich” is like “reikanim – empty,” for even those Jews who seem sinful and ’empty’ are essentially replete with Mitzvos and merits as a pomegranate’s seeds (“kapelach harimon”). Hashem tenderly cares for and takes pride in all His children; and like him, Rebbeim can perceive beyond the superficial layers or unrefined external conduct, to the pure and righteous core -a Divinely-planted seed, a portion of G-d above – within every Jew: “All of Your people are tzaddikim!” If we observe another’s shortcomings, we should strive to judge them favorably and recognize the good within – for every Jew is a diamond – contemplating how greatly Hashem cherishes them, and for this reason the greatness of which they’re deserving. Each individual is so beloved and holy to Hashem, regardless of their previous knowledge-base or background; there is a merit present rooted in a loftier level. This is evidenced by multiple events in our history, when it was in fact an unlearned individual or group whose sincere prayers and efforts brought salvation, or effectuated the most powerful, positive change in the Divine plan; so don’t underestimate one in whom Hashem takes pride! The essence of a person, their soul, must be cultivated and brought into manifestation just as a seedling or shoot; we must protect it from weeds and harm (e.g. toxic peers, negative influences), and suffice it with the vivifying water of Torah and the Mitzvos imparting life, until it matures to bear praiseworthy fruits. Those fruits will be the Kiddush Hashem that is every Jew, especially us children; we each can be a Lamplighter, an honor, pride and joy to our people and Hashem!