Dear Readers,

I like to use the term “intrinsic love” for the love that the Rebbe showed to all people.

The Rebbe’s love for every Jew—no matter where he or she was at—was real and palpable. It was not a means to a goal; it was unconditional.

Yet at the same time, almost paradoxically, the Rebbe pushed people to change themselves and reach higher—to strive to be more.

Here, I think, is the crux of this love. Because the love was so real, because he saw the infinite greatness of every individual, that’s why he wanted the person to be even more.

The message wasn’t “You aren’t good the way you are,” but rather “Because of your infinite value and capability, because of how great you are, you need to strive to be even more.”

The Rebbe often asked people to report to him on what they were doing; he wanted to hear about even the seemingly small efforts. Why? Because he considered it of infinite importance and value, as if the tiny good deed you just did or the program that you just organized was the most amazing thing in the world.

Because it was!

At the same time, he didn’t let us rest on our laurels, but demanded, “So, what’s next? What’s your next program? What’s the next good thing that you are working on? It should be even more than what you already did!”

Not because we aren’t good enough, but because if we have the power to do this infinitely amazing and important thing, then how can we not do more?

I believe this is the healthiest and most empowering approach that we can foster towards others, as well as towards ourselves.

Many of us have internalized voices that constantly criticize us with their messages about how we just don’t measure up. These critiquing voices can be self-defeating, almost convincing us that we aren’t really worthy of love, paralyzing us from even trying to reach higher.

On the other hand, if we don’t see our faults and cannot acknowledge the areas in which we really don’t measure up, how will we strive to become more?

This is where the Rebbe’s love is key.

Intrinsic love is not a blind love. We are all well-aware of how we can and should improve.

But it is also not a negative message of “you’re not good enough as you are.” It’s not even “be more” or “try harder.” It’s not a love for the improved version of ourselves.

“Intrinsic love” is an unconditional love for who we are. But precisely because each of us has this infinite, G‑d-given power and ability, we can demand of ourselves to be even better.

Not because we are lacking, but because of the infinite goodness we already are.

So when we wake up in the morning, we need to see a new view of ourselves. Yesterday was good—great even—but today can be better.

Precisely because of how good—and beloved—we are.

Chana Weisberg
Editor, TJW