Dear Readers,

Rabbi Dovid Edelman, ob’m, was a devoted emissary in Springfield, Mass., for many years. In the 1940s, he was a young man studying in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y. This was during the lifetime of the Frierdiker Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, well before the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem Schneerson, his son-in-law—assumed leadership over the Chabad-Lubavitch movement.

Once Dovid was standing with friends near the hallway of the “770” building when Rabbi Menachem Mendel emerged from the elevator, coming down from his father-in-law’s residence. Rabbi Menachem Mendel turned to the young men and asked them in Yiddish if they wanted to hear a frishe vort, a fresh insight that he had just heard from the Frierdiker Rebbe.

He explained that in his work for Chabad-Lubavitch, all kinds of people came to visit him in his office, some of them unobservant Jews, very alienated from Torah and mitzvot. Nevertheless, he greeted every person friendly, without reproaching them. Rabbi Menachem Mendel asked for guidance from the Frierdiker Rebbe if he was acting correctly.

The Frierdiker Rebbe told him that G‑d created the world in such a manner that parents love their children. Even a parent of a large family will have room in his heart to find love for each of his children. But if a parent has a child who has a physical handicap, the parent will extend themselves even more to actualize the child’s full potential. Though the parent’s essential love is the same for all his children, a unique, out-of-the-ordinary, intense (in Yiddish, he said umartike) love is revealed for this special child, and will be felt through his efforts.

Similarly, responded Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak to his son-in-law, if a Jew comes into your office who through no fault of his own is spiritually handicapped, you need to extend yourself even more. The more he is lacking, the more you must demonstrate even greater love.

Fast-forward almost a century later: At the call of the Rebbe, Chabad emissaries live in remote corners around the world, warming up the hearts of even the most far-flung Jews. In turn, we draw closer to G‑d, by extending ourselves to His beloved children.

But this teaching is illuminating as well for our attitudes to one another, even on an interpersonal level.

Every person is a child of G‑d. Some of us need greater attention, love or sensitivity. This can be due to a physical, emotional or spiritual struggle that we are battling. It can be due to a trauma or challenge that we have experienced in our lives, or an inborn character trait or condition. Rather than being turned off by the struggle, we can emulate G‑d in His attitude towards all His “special” children, by revealing within us a special, extraordinary love.

Because the more someone is lacking, the more they need our love.

Chana Weisberg
Editor, TJW