The sixth Lubavitcher rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Y. Schneerson, recounted the following story some 64 years ago:

Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, the first Chabad rebbe, had a disciple who was also a great philanthropist. Two causes that were particularly dear to him were supporting the Jewish community in the Land of Israel and ransoming captives.

This wealthy chassid had already married off his children and begun pledging dowries for his less-affluent relatives, when the wheel of fortune turned, and his finances suffered.

He was forced to borrow money, and at the end he was left penniless. Overwhelmed and pursued by creditors, he did what any chassid would do: he traveled to his rebbe and unburdened his heavy heart.

After listening intently to his complaints, Rabbi Schneur Zalman addressed him: “You speak about what you need, but say nothing of what you are needed for!”


In this week’s Torah portion, the first one of the book of Exodus, we read about the beginning of the harsh Egyptian exile. But with the disease comes the cure: in the same portion we read about the birth of Moses, the man who was to lead the Jewish people out of their bondage.

One of the first things we hear about Moses is that how he helps another person. Emerging from a sheltered existence as a member of Pharaoh’s household, he sees an Israelite slave being cruelly beaten by an Egyptian, and rescues him.

There are times in our lives when it may be challenging to think about anyone other than ourselves, but the message of Rabbi Schneur Zalman to the anonymous chassid rings true: You speak about what you need, but say nothing of what you are needed for!

Often, the best response to adversity is to break out of our comfort zones and extend a helping hand to another person with love and gratitude for all the good that we have.