When Rabbi DovBer of Lubavitch was but a young man of sixteen, his father entrusted him with the task of serving as a mashpia (spiritual guide and mentor) to the young men in the Chabad community.

Rabbi DovBer strongly encouraged his disciples to gather together in informal farbrengens to inspire, rebuke, and consult with one another in matters concerning the refinement of their character and their service of G‑d. “Look at it this way,” said Rabbi DovBer. “When two Jews get together and one tells the other what ails his heart, the result is two G‑dly souls taking on a single animal soul.”

(As Rabbi DovBer’s father elaborates in the chassidic classic, Tanya, there are two distinct souls animating the body: an “animal soul” and a “G‑dly soul.” The animal soul is driven by the self-centered aspirations of physical life; the G‑dly soul, by the selfless quest to serve the Almighty. But the animal soul, which is utterly self-oriented, has no interest in the triumph of her fellow animal soul. Not so the G‑dly soul, whose only desire is that the will of her Creator be fulfilled. When a person grapples alone with his spiritual ills, what we have is a one-on-one struggle of his two selves. But when two people get together, the animal soul of each is overwhelmed by a double onslaught of the divine essence of man.)

Told by the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn; translation/adaptation from
Once Upon a Chassid by Yanki Tauber.