With gratitude for the roles that Rebbe and our chabura—immediate and extended—play each of our lives, some thoughts based on Lag B’Omer, Torat HaNefesh, and other assorted learnings…
Rebbe taught one approach to our mourning and the 24,000 talmidim of Rabbi Akiva. How could these talmidim display anything but honor for each other, especially given that their rebbe was Rabbi Akiva, famous for וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹךָ, to love (or treat) another as you love yourself (or would want to be treated). It was their lack of understanding or appreciation of the importance and significance all of them and how what each person has to contribute—together—is essential to the world.
Rav Binyamin Efrati, in Torat HaNefesh, discussing the idea that there are 600,000 letters corresponding to 600,000 souls, cites the Ramchal’s Adir B’Marom, where the Ramchal stresses the uniqueness and significance of every human. Every human has a unique comprehension or insight into the world (p. 279), and everyone has a portion in Torah (p. 71). Because of this, Sinai cannot be complete until every neshama has come into the world and has מְגַלֶה אֶת חֵלְקוֹ, discovered and revealed their portion, or role . (And as Rebbe said, “We all desperately need each other.”) Each soul thus has her own tikkun to perfect.
This idea is so beautifully expressed in the opening Avot 4:1, of one of my favorite mishnayot:
Ben Zoma said, who is wise? He who learns from all people, as it is said: ‘From all my teachers I gained understanding’ (Psalms 119:99).
The Mishnah opens up with this understanding so that the idea of being wise, is not merely the gaining of this attribute of חָכְמַה, wisdom, but something far beyond, as each individual has the potential to connect to everyone that they encounter in life. It enables a person to give honor to what others have to offer, and empowers and supports everyone in their efforts to fulfill their individual roles in the world.
This seems to parallel the “life advice” selection that I read in the Slonimer Siddur today, which cited Rav Noach Lechovich’s Toras Avos, and this is paraphrasing it:
The descent of a person to this world is on the condition that he fix all the midot. Even though each person has one midah for which he descended. Which is it? The one that is most difficult… A person who struggles with one special, positive midah to do the will of Hashem, is assisted from שָׁמַיִם, Heaven, by virtue of this, to be able to accomplish and reach all the positive midot.
One of the approaches that we learned from Rebbe to address all of this—the lack of honor accorded to the collective importance of each person—is for us to draw out and reveal the יָקָר (yakar), that which is precious and dear, from within each person.
As a member of a special chaburah, I have observed so much that is precious within each person that it does not seem to be עָמָל, exertion or struggle, but each member’s beauty shines out in their words and sensitivities and honor of every individual and of the collective chabura itself. What a wonderful message for Lag B’Omer, for the convergence of Hod She’b’Hod, when we can reach this high level of the Glory within Glory!
May we all be able see, with our efforts and the help of Hashem, that which is special and unique in every person, and may our ability to do bring us to the ultimate big reveal.