Everywhere we’ve ridden this week, we’ve been asked “Why are you still here? Didn’t you have a grand kickoff in Livingston, New Jersey?”

The answer is quite simple. We did indeed have a grand departure in Livingston, but we are not actually starting our cross-country trip until Wednesday, when we will leave from the corner of 75th and 5th Streets on Manhattan’s East Side at around 2:30p.m. (All who want to see us off are welcome). For the past week we have been cycling around the tri-state area, and the obvious question is, “Why?”

In order to answer that question, we must first answer another question that we have been asked recently. Who is our inspiration?

Whenever we need a role model, in any aspect of life, we look to Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of righteous memory.

We wonder, how should we treat a complete stranger? We remember that the Rebbe displayed a boundless love and acceptance toward everyone and we try to emulate that. We wonder, how can we overcome a particular challenge? We read books of the Rebbe’s teachings and find the advice he gave in counteless areas.

The Rebbe often emphasized the importance of a “chance” meeting. In fact, the Rebbe taught that there is no such thing as a “chance” meeting, for every time we meet someone there is a purpose and a reason for the encounter. At the same time, the Rebbe also stressed that we are all connected. We share in each other’s pain and joy. Therefore, the Rebbe taught us to reach out and help another, even if we are complete strangers.

This very idea is the focal point of our trip.

Today, Tuesday, is the anniversary of the Rebbe’s passing. The Rebbe taught that the day a person passes on is the day that he has completed his mission on this earth and should be commemorated as such.

Therefore we stayed. We chose not to leave New York until after the very day that represents the whole purpose of our trip. And today, when we prayed at the Ohel of the Rebbe, we asked for blessings to make this trip as successful as possible.

Visitors at the Rebbe’s resting place (Photo by: Baruch Ezagui)
Visitors at the Rebbe’s resting place (Photo by: Baruch Ezagui)