To commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the passing of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, I was asked to compose an open letter with some inspiration to disseminate to our beloved JGU sisters worldwide. It was originally sent out this past Sunday, Tammuz 4/July 7, but the message is no less timely. I invite you to open your heart and read on, for “the living shall take to heart.”
Dear JGU Sisters & Friends,
There was something extra special about this past Shabbat, April 6/Tammuz 3: We commemorated the twenty-fifth anniversary of the passing of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory. The Aramaic word for the anniversary of a passing is called a “hillula,” or celebration. Why is this, when a time reminding us of our loss seems like it should be sad or painful?
Kabbalah teaches us, that when a righteous person passes on from this world, the power of his Torah and good deeds is revealed in an elevated way. The truth he lived by, and the spiritual light he channeled into the world through his actions during his lifetime, can now reach and influence so much further, free from the earthly limitations of a physical body, time and space. Loss is transformed into legacy, which makes this day a meaningful and joyous one for all who strive to follow in the ways of the deceased, for they are still alive and making an impact. In a very great and tangible way, this happens through us, when we convert pain into purpose and commit to keep their light shining; they are passing on the torch to us!
From when he was a very young child, the Rebbe dreamed of a unified world of holiness and peace, goodness and kindness; a world in which G-d will feel “at home,” familiar in every corner, for “the Blessed Holy One desired a dwelling in the lower realms” (Midrash). The vision, and strategy to make it real, only expanded with time, then when he assumed leadership as Rebbe, a guide for all Jewry, and a shining example for all humankind, to fill the world with the light. He embraced the world and its mediums, materiality, progressions and challenges, elevating it as an essential vehicle to further spread the presence and knowledge of G-d, leaving no place untouched.
Quite notably, the Rebbe’s way of leadership was to build leaders, not followers: He firmly believed in every individual’s unlimited ability to draw from within and positively influence their environments, leaving even one more person illuminated and inspired to continue the cycle. Dedicating his entire life to realizing the Divine desire, the Rebbe handed us the precious responsibility – “Tut altz vos ir kent – Do all that you can!” – to take those final steps to bring Heaven down to earth.
Also as he taught us, even the loftiest thoughts or deepest inspiration must result in practical action, to change the world like we are on a mission to do. So how are we each going to do our part to make it happen?
This is the driving force behind all our efforts at Jewish Girls Unite. We recognize the unlimited potential of each girl to become a leader in her environment. We encourage her to “own” her precious heritage transmitted from our Matriarchs, her Torah and Mitzvot, and her soul-mission that makes her a Jewish daughter. And we nurture her unique abilities, to elevate her surroundings and imbue them with Divine light, a G-dly purpose for which we are each equipped with the necessary tools. Once lit up herself, she can proceed to illuminate others. And if an individual – one vital part of a greater whole – can make such a difference, then imagine how much further we can reach together, as Jewish Girls UNITE! Today, our task is not so much to fight the darkness of the world directly, as it is to transform it at its source with increasing light, holiness and acts of kindness, for even “a little light dispels much darkness.” Imagine, then, what a flood of light from our united efforts can accomplish forevermore!
If you have ever participated in any of our programs online or in-person, or benefitted from our resources or website, you’ve gained insight into the Rebbe’s world-vision, experiencing a living example of dedicating our talents, technology and all we possess to serve G-d and reveal His light here. You have observed how the Rebbe empowered Jewish women and girls in this mission which is their distinct strength, and the high esteem in which he held them. He recognized our key feminine powers as nurturers, mothers and leaders, to unlock the latent potential and goodness in the world and in others whom we influence, and direct it for a higher purpose. The future is in our hands, as we are responsible for the next generation and how they will continue the mission of sanctifying the world as a home for G-d. We are Lamplighters leading the way to a bright future!
One of the Rebbe’s most well-known projects, was sending out shluchim and shluchos (“emissaries”) around the globe, tasked with sharing the beauty and pride of our Judaism, and how we can use our gift to revolutionize the world to be the way G-d needs it to be. We, too, are each a shlucha in our own right, tasked with inspiring others towards greater heights in personal or spiritual growth, and filling everywhere we can reach with G-dly light, however we can. And the Rebbe taught us that no one is too small to light up the world. So let’s go out there, shine and inspire!
Our gift to the Rebbe, and most appropriate commemoration of his legacy on Tammuz 3 and after, is by continuing his mission to bring Heaven down to earth. Resolutions (“hachlotos,” in Hebrew) to increase Mitzvot and good deeds, prayers and charity, are most befitting on this day. Each act is precious, and each individual soul ignited – one more light – is of infinite value, and bringing the Rebbe’s vision, the Ultimate Light of Redemption when Hashem’s Oneness is revealed in this world, one step closer to fruition.
May the day be very soon, in the merit of our collective acts of goodness, we will great our righteous Moshiach (Messiah), at which time we will be reunited with our beloved Rebbe and all our loved ones.
The Team for Jewish Girls Unite