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Soul Lights

Man's soul is G-d’s lamp…

Man’s soul is G-d’s lamp… 

(Proverbs 20:27)


Sitting with the Rebbe’s shluchim at the closing session of the Annual International Conference of Chabad Lubavitch Emissaries near the end of November, I felt the enormous spiritual power concentrated in the cavernous hall. Scanning  the room, I saw the faces of three generations of shluchim stationed on six continents, in cities and communities, some of which you may have never heard of and in places that you didn’t think you’d find a Jewish soul.

There were 5,800 shluchim and lay leaders in the hall that night, each one a man on a mission to help illuminate their corners of the world with the love and light of Torah and mitzvahs, with all of the amenities of a meaningful Jewish life. The energy was exhilarating. Think of the individual effect of each of these shluchim and their collective impact on our Jewish world today.

It reminded me of a narrative told by the sage, Rabbi Yosei, and recorded in the Talmud (Megillah 24:2):

All of my life I was troubled by the verse, “And you shall grope at noontime as the blind man gropes in the darkness of night,” (Deuteronomy 28:29). What difference does it make to a blind man whether it is noon or night? The blind man cannot see in any event! 

Until the following incident:

I was walking in the absolute darkness of a very foggy night, and I saw a man coming toward me carrying a lantern. He was blind. So I asked him, “My son, what is the purpose of this lantern that you are carrying? It doesn’t help you see!” 

And he answered me: “This lantern is not for me. It is for you. Because with this lantern, people like you will see me. And if they see me, they will guide and protect me from falling into a hole or walking into a thicket.”

How perfect a metaphor for the program initiated by the Rebbe seventy years ago! 

The Rebbe, who perceived the inherent G-dliness of the soul within each of us, saw the sparks of light that others missed. He discerned the moribund embers of the Jews in Kenya and in Kazakhstan, in Algeria and Albania. And he dispatched an incredibly dedicated cadre of spiritual guides to every one of those places to seek out the neshamah-lantern of Jews who may have lost their way in a dark, material world, and guide them back to safety.

The road is often hard to traverse, an obstacle course strewn with thorns and thistle. But the Rebbe’s shluchim and their lay partners in his plan, rise to the occasion time and time again, always staying true to the course he charted for us.  

The Conference of Emissaries happens only once a year (the women’s conference takes place in February), but when it does, one gets a bird’s-eye view of a magnificent whole. And for the joy of being a part of this phenomenon, 5,800 men break out in euphoric song and dance before they say their farewells and head back to their posts where they continue their lifelong search for souls groping in the darkness of night.  

It is a sight to behold. G-d bless them all and their wonderful families with all that they need.

 

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