Returning to our series on what we stand to learn from the practice of Chabad-Lubavitch, today let’s look at four more lessons for living, these taken from the third chapter of Sue Fishkoff’s fine book, The Rebbe’s Army: Inside the World of Chabad-Lubavitch. In the material that follows, the humbers following quotations are page numbers in this book.
So, what are some other things that Messianic Jews, and others, stand to learn from the practice of Chabad-Lubavitch?
(1) Messianic Jews stand to learn something about recruiting, training, and using the talents of young people.
- Chabad knows the value of mobilizing youth. They invest heavily in educating these youth so that they are very knowledgeable about Jewish life—they have depth on the bench for discussion with people they encounter. They study long hours, week in and week out, and they do it together.
- Young people tend to have three valuable capacities: energy, enthusiasm and the will and freedom to live sacrificial lives. This is why new movements routinely recruit them, train and/or educate them, and use their energies and capacities to the fullest extent possible.
- Chabad’s young people learn to speak to their target audience through extensive practical experience. While the young people are taught the data of Jewish life more formally, they develop what some would call “ministry skills” by extensive experience. On the job training for teen agers and for people in their twenties.
(2) Messianic Jews stand to learn something about intrinsic motivation
- Morale is generally high among Chabad workers because of a total devotion to the Rebbe and an impregnable conviction concerning the value of the work being done. They believe that if they can just get a Jew to perform just one mitzvah they would not otherwise have performed, their work has cosmic importance.
- The Rebbe taught the following:
Each mitzvah, in and of itself, is a deed of cosmic significance that activates a person’s preexisting connection to God. It is a holy act, worth doing for any reason. Not only that, bt one person performing one mitzvah could be the key event that tips the scales of universal goodness and ushers in te Messianic Age (49).
And we learn further,
Chabad philosophy teaches that a Jew naturally wants to do mitzvahs, even though he may object on the surface. If he continues to object, its because the Lubavitcher hasn’t made a true soul connection. ‘When not successful at first, one mst realize that the fault lies not with the other, but within yourself . . . The other is receptive, but because your own words do not come from the heart, that is why they do not enter the heart (50).
- What a motivational goldmine! What optimism about the imporance of the task and the likelihood of success! This is motivation. Of those who serve among us, young and old, how many have rock solid optimism and a conviction about the cosmic importance of their work? Or are we instead focused on how difficult the work is, and how, although many are called, few are chosen?
(3) Obviously, Chabad follows a philosophy of going out to meet people where they are. They do not wait for people to come to them.
- One central maxim: “Make it as easy as possible for a Jew to live more Jewishly.” They will bring you the candles, teach you the berakhot, sell you a sukkah, help you set it up. Bring a mobile sukkah past your house so you can fulfill the mitvot. They create beginner’s minyans, set up free or low cost schoos for your children to teach tem Jewish life. Help you in all ways.
- Here’s how they see themselves:
Lubavitchers see themselves as a bridge between the observant and non-observant worlds in American Jewry, estending a welcoming hand to Jews who want to ross over but don’t know how, or aren’t sure how far they want to go. There’s a fundamental lack of sensitivity within the Orthodox world as to how to deal with the non-Orthodox. Some denominations see themselves as God’s policeman. We see ourselves as God’s salesmen (55).
(4) Sh’lichim, Chabad’s emissaries, use all their entrepreneurial skill to make something happen that advances the cause to which they have committed their lives. The Rebbe was a complete genius at motivating his followers. I have been told that when one left a meeting with him one had the feeling that one could do anything. He would create an avalanche of motivation and focus and then just see how what these ardent followers would creatively do to address the situation. He left it up to their creative capacities. In this sense, Chabad, under his watch, was highly decentralized. And to this day, their representatives do not wait to be told what to do, for someone to hold their hand and watch them like a hawk. They are out there working harder than many of us have ever worked full of zeal, hope, and a deep sense of commitment and responsibility.
It’s time to learn something folks. And above all, it’s time to do something. In fact, it’s way past time.