Dear Reader,

There’s the water that I drink in my wake-me-up, heavily caffeinated morning mug of hot coffee. There’s the water that creates my banish-all-sickness, nourishing chicken soup. There’s the water in the refreshing store-bought sorbet in my freezer. And there’s the water in my washing machine cleaning my soiled laundry.

So many different shapes, forms, flavors, and usages, but at the core is the same essential property—droplets of water.

People, too, can appear radically different in diverse situations. But, sometimes, if you look closely at the core, you may discover the droplet, their unifying character or quality. For example, the way a person reacts under duress or tension, just as how he chooses to respond in a relaxed mode, can reveal something deep about his approach to life.

Korach incited a mutiny against Moses. Joining Korach were 250 distinguished members of the community who offered the sacrosanct ketoret(incense) to prove their worthiness for the priesthood, claiming that “the entire nation (and not just Aaron or the priests) is holy!”

The earth swallowed the mutineers, and a fire consumed the ketoret-offerers. In the aftermath, G‑d commanded that the offering pans be “beaten into sheets used to plate the altar; for they have been offered to G‑d, and have become sanctified.” (Numbers 17:2–3)

The Lubavitcher Rebbe learns an incredible lesson from these copper pans being transformed into the altar on which sacrifices were offered in the Tabernacle, G‑d’s home.

The very metal of these pans was hallowed by an act which was motivated by a holy desire. Though these mutineers acted sinfully and, as a result, were severely punished, beneath their complaint was a desire—however misguided—to come close to G‑d.

From this the Rebbe extrapolates: “If such is G‑d’s regard for a piece of inanimate metal, certainly no human being is irredeemable. For no matter how deleterious his deeds, they hide a desire and striving, intrinsic to every creature of G‑d, for the goodness and perfection of the divine.” (Likkutei Sichot)

One short teaching, on one verse, on one episode of the Torah. One droplet of wisdom, mind blowing in its scope.

Rather than castigating a sinful group of rebellious, jealous individuals to eternal admonishment, the Rebbe concentrates on their underlying positive motive. Moreover, through this unfortunate episode, he teaches G‑d’s infinite love for all of us—even when we sin or are misguided.

And this all-embracing way of thinking: digging and mining the positive core value, because our world is created by G‑d to serve Him and everything must therefore have some redeeming value—especially G‑d’s chosen people—is intrinsic to how the Rebbe teaches us to view our world.

One small droplet.

And one profound, life-altering gestalt—that utterly alters how we approach ourselves, each other, and our very world.