Love your fellow as yourself (19:18)

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok of Lubavitch wrote:

In the winter of 1913 I went to visit my father, who was staying in Menton, France. Every day we would walk for hours along the sea shore and I was privileged to hear of things which had never been told to anyone: practices, stories, visions and ideas of my holy ancestors, transmitted through the generations from rebbe to rebbe.

Father spoke much about "thinking chassidus"--meditating upon concepts of chassidic teaching—before prayer while wrapped in tallit and tefillin. He discussed the topic over the walks of several days and enumerated its many virtues. Thinking chassidus refines the body, making the mind and heart receptive to G‑dliness; it repels the 'animal soul,' cleanses the 'natural soul', subdues the 'intellectual soul', illuminates the world (to quote: "When a Jew thinks chassidus in tallit and tefillin before prayer, the world becomes brighter"); it draws down a revelation of light in all worlds, from the highest to the lowest of levels, transforms the essence of one's natural character, and illuminates the five levels of one's G‑dly soul: nefesh, ruach, neshamah, chayah, yechidah.

All this applies to any individual who is involved in "the service of the heart" (i.e. prayer) and prepares properly for prayer; but how much more so to the perfectly righteous tzaddik. My father continued to describe at great length the heights attained by a tzaddik's attainments, concluding, "one attains an appreciation of G‑dly delight, ah G-tleche ziskeit, 'a G‑dly sweetness'."

With G‑d's help, I shall never forget that glorious moment, the sight of his holy face flaring in ecstasy as he emphasized the words "a G‑dly sweetness." At that moment I truly perceived Rabbi Schneur Zalman's definition of a merkava ("chariot") to the Almighty: those who "all their days... do not cease for a single moment to bind their minds and souls to the Master of the Universe."1

To stroll amidst the splendorous natural surroundings of the Menton shore, and to be so immersed in "G‑dly delight," to so relish "G‑dly sweetness"--this can only an atzmi,2 a rebbe the son of a rebbe, a Jew of self-sacrifice, one for whom G‑d is forever standing over him and the light of his soul is openly manifest within his being.

For a long time we walked along the shore without a word. All who met or passed us noticed the look of his holy face, shinning with a G‑dly light. Suddenly, as one who awakes from sleep, he turned to me and said:

"Yosef Yitzchok! Listen! All the advantages of thinking chassidus in tallit and tefillin prior to prayer, both for the ordinary chassid and for the tzaddik, are utterly insignificant compared to a single tremendous privilege: if the Almighty grants a person an aptitude for and a delight in doing a Jew a favor. If the Almighty grants a person that his fellow man will be more dear to him than himself.

"It is worth one's while to toil five hours a day for five days, toil of the body and toil of the soul, to comprehend the Divine—if result is that one truly desire to do a Jew a favor."