I opened the invitation, and I had mixed reactions. My high school class was having a 10-year reunion. I was excited to see everyone and catch up. At the same time, I had a pit in my stomach as I remembered the struggle of so many to climb one rung higher on the social ladder, only to be excluded as others looked down at them from yet a higher step.

Would there still be snobs at this reunion? Would anyone feel like it was below them to spend time with anyone else? It takes maturity and greatness to transcend social barriers and see people for who they really are.

A chassid of the Alter Rebbe once poured his heart out to his teacher, saying that no one wanted to marry any of his five daughters because he was so poor. Knowing the good character of his student’s daughters, the Alter Rebbe replied: “I will marry my son to your oldest daughter, and you will see that other people will be willing to marry into your family.”

And that is how the second Chabad rebbe, Rabbi Dovber, married his wife Shaina. The Alter Rebbe chose piety over money and prestige, demonstrating to his Chassidim that socioeconomic status cannot be compared to the value of a kind heart, a moral compass and a compatible partner.

Thoughtstream: Today, I will defy external barriers and befriend people for who they really are.

(Adapted from Ateret Malchut, pg. 31.)