Everything we do, however small,
Changes the World Forever
By Rabbi Shimon Raichik
This week is parshas Mishpatim, Shabbos Mevarchim Chodesh Adar and Shabbos Shekalim. With so much going on some feel challenged to keep up. Having learned the parshas of Yisro with Matan Torah and then parshas Mishpatim with all details we’ve been busy. Next week will be parshas Terumah with the Mishkon with all its parts and particulars. Add onto it that this week is also Shabbos Mevarchim Chodesh Adar and Shabbos Shekalim! When we feel overwhelmed we either go numb, get nervous, or fall into a depression. In today’s world when we feel depressed many go to a therapist to take care about how feel about ourselves.
The Alter Rebbe in the Tanya chapters 26-28 gives all the answers about how to keep moving forward when we are feeling down. Our job is to simply apply what is written. Many times we feel that we do not have what it takes to see our challenges through in a happy way. Especially at times when there’s so much going on we feel the pitch. One day we’re doing okay the next we fall through. Other times we try and we try but we never seem to arrive. The Alter Rebbe in these chapters sets down a fundamental focus and principle. Internally, within our daily experiences there are two simultaneous parts at work. The animal soul wants to do negative and selfish things while the G-dly soul is motivated to do only good. At any moment any time or any situation that we defer a pleasure, overcome an obstacle, learn a little extra, daven with a little more focus and intention or overcome our impatience and be nice to someone anyway, no matter how small the act we change the world. It may look like some small detail or insignificant act but every detail has infinite value on high.
The Rebbe wrote a letter to a bachur (14 Shevat 5715-1955) in response to his complaints about his spiritual standing and the fact that he does not follow through on his resolutions. The Rebbe told him that the best way to get out of his situation is to stop involving himself with thoughts about himself. Since our job is to be “day workers” people who bring light into the world, he should busy himself with others. When he will do this he will see how things will change for the better in his personal life as well.
The Rebbe took so much joy in every little detail that people did for others. Once there were two boys in a yeshiva in Israel that decided that the Rebbe wanted them to create a gemach. They found a few shekalim and bought some pencils. With this they opened “Keren David” (named after one of the two) an official and beneficial ‘pencil gemach’ providing benefit for their fellow students. When the new institution was up and running they wrote the Rebbe to inform him. They received an answer (Channukah 5742-1981) . The Rebbe acknowledged receipt of their letter and said that it was a good and timely idea. He also noted that it was the days of Chanukah and during Chanukah we add consistently in light. He encouraged the boys to continue this throughout the year and said that he would read their letter by the previous Rebbe’s resting place. He also sent money to be a partner in their operation!
We could be cynical. We could say what’s the big deal; a couple of kids were lending a few pencils to some of their fellow students. That was not the Rebbe’s approach. How valuable and how precious it is that two boys would do something good for others! The main thing is to start. If we will begin it will grow and grow if we remain focused on the positive. May everyone’s efforts, no matter how small combine with all the good deeds that everyone does and has done, and altogether merit the ultimate good of Moshiach now.
A Good Shabbos A Good Chodesh