I am sitting on the plane on the way to New York, surrounded by fellow Shluchim [Chabad emissaries] traveling to the Kinus Hashluchim [the global annual gathering of Chabad emissaries].
While sitting on the plane, I am reflecting on my Shlichus; what it means to me, the highs and the lows, the success and the failures. I emphatically believe in my Shlichus, yet many times I find myself struggling with elements of it. Today I choose to be honest about it, so that together we can continue building.
The other night, a wise friend of mine asked me what I’m trying to achieve with DaMinyan. A Shul [synagogue] or a community?
To me, that question represents the antithesis of what a Shul should be.
You see a Shul is a community, they are one and the same. You cannot hope to build a Shul without building a community. The word community is made up of two words - common and unity. Common refers to a common goal, an aspiration that we all feel. Unity is when groups of diverse people albeit different, unite as one, becoming a unit, not negating the individual. In short, everyone deserves to be treated equally, everyone deserves to feel comfortable, and everyone deserves to be respected.
This past week DaMinyan hosted an informal breakfast. Many of you did not even know about it, as it was intended to be small and informal, with the intent of repeating it a few times so everyone can be involved in a meaningful and intimate environment. The breakfast was held with three victims of child sex abuse to afford them the opportunity to express how they feel, to afford them the dignity they deserve, to afford them the respect they deserve, and to give them the love they deserve. But above all to give them a voice in our community, to let them know that they are not alone, to let them know how sorry we are for what they have gone through, to let them know that we hear them and to let them know that we proudly stand by them.
These people are brave. Although choice was stripped away from them, they chose to continue. Although their dignity was taken away from them, they live dignified lives. Although no respect was afforded to them, they continue to give respect to others.
We should never know the pain nor can we know the pain. But I call out to each of us to try to understand what we do or don't do, what we say or don't say can and does have such a major impact. The Rebbe blessed me to be a Shaliach with a mandate to spread goodness and kindness around the world through the medium or Torah and Mitzvot. The Rebbe was the greatest lover of humanity, teaching us all the value of another human being, teaching us never to judge, and teaching us that the way to move forward is with love.
Please please please wake up! When we sneer, when we joke, when we comment, when we shrug our shoulders, when we choose to ignore, know what we are saying. As a community it pains me that some still don't get it. On a most basic level, treat others the way you would want to be treated. We as a community always pride ourselves on being leading edge in confronting and tackling issues of today. Today is such a day, and I call on each of us. You and I need to stand up and lead the way.
Some more reflections to come
Shabbat Shalom to all,
Rabbi Moshe Kahn