G‑d? Are You there?”

G‑d?! What do you mean, “G‑d”? You haven’t thought about G‑d since you were a kid!


“I have no idea what You are or if You even exist.”

Who are you talking to?!

“But I don’t think that I can live without You anymore.”

And, very unexpectedly, with those few simple words, something in me cracked open.

In a good way.

The abysmal existential darkness I had been living in was suddenly illuminated with the most brilliant light. My being was overwhelmed, crippled, by a sense of peace and certainty that there was an order to the universe, a Divine Orchestrator, and that It was involved, loving and infinitely good. It was exactly like the Torah teaches us: G‑d promises His creations, “Make Me an opening the size of a pinprick, and I will make you an opening like a grand chamber.”

And that pinprick had just become a cosmic chamber.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe is someone to whom I owe a lot, for many different reasons. His philosophy and movement, his soul energy and life’s work, the leaders he shaped and empowered and sent to literally every corner of the world have benefited me in ways that even I cannot fully grasp. The scope of the Rebbe’s accomplishments and influence, his very existence—even and especially in these last 25 years—is beyond the ability of words to qualify, let alone quantify.

So, obviously, it’s really, really overwhelming to try and write about him. Instead, I’m going to write about me.

And by “me,” I mean the unbelievable journey that I’ve been on for the past 14 years.

The Rebbe served as the bridge between my former self (a free-spirited, totally ungrounded, New Age pseudo hippie roaming the woods of Ithaca, N.Y.) and my current self (a free-spirited, much-more-grounded, redemption-focused chassid roaming the woods of Pomona, N.Y). And I feel like the best way to even begin paying tribute to the Rebbe is to give you a firsthand account of the truly miraculous transformations that took place in my life as a result of the Rebbe.

It all started at the end of my freshman year of college, when I entered into a massive existential crisis. All of the very heavy emotional baggage I had been lugging around with me for my entire adolescence finally wore me down. Family issues, self-image issues and relationship issues all swirled into a perfect storm of existential anxiety and despair. Is there any meaning or purpose in life? Is there a point to all the things I’ve been through? Is everything in the world just random chaos? Knowing what I know now about the workings of the soul, the root and foundation of this anxiety and despair was the fact that I was a Divine soul stuffed into a body and mind that had no conscious awareness of, or connection to, its Source: G‑d.

All the darkness and confusion followed me home from school, occupying every molecule of available space in my mind and heart with its unbearable weight. Until one day in June, when a tiny, singing pinprick of light inside me managed to get my attention.For a few precious milliseconds at a time, it was able to silence the roar of panic in my head. And for whatever reason, it made me decide that I needed to know once and for all if there was a point and purpose to anything.

It led me to lay down on the floor of my bedroom. And it opened my mouth. And words started flowing out.

“I have no idea what You are, or if You even exist. But I don’t think that I can live without You anymore.”

And it was through those words that G‑d found His opening, and entered into my life. It was through that opening that my own soul emerged.

For the next two years, I existed in what felt like an alternate reality. I needed significant time and space from other people in order to process and to truly become healed by this radical knowledge I had gained access to. Because it wasn’t like BOOM—a burst of shiny white light, and then I was magically transformed and no longer in pain. It was a legitimate living energy—a truly transformative Being and Reality I had come in contact with, and because It and Its effects were real, it took a lot of time and inner work to integrate with reality as I had known it.

By the end of those two years, I had achieved a beautiful degree of emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual health, and at the same time, I was starting to feel very antsy and ungrounded. I was spending all my time meditating and praying and reading spiritual books and seeing the Godliness in every person and thing and circumstance. Not only was I light years and lifetimes away from the bad place that I had inhabited before my soul remembered itself and its Source, I was also in a near-constant state of peace and bliss.

But I still felt a certain nagging emptiness. I felt like there was something more my soul needed. It was so pleasurable flying around in the clouds all the time, but an even deeper part of my soul was crying out for solid ground. So I began to ask G‑d to send me my anchor.

Enter the Rebbe.

Through a series of fortuitous encounters, I ended up in a chassidus class with a Chabad rabbi. And you know what his class was about? One of the Rebbe’s teachings on the statement, “One hour of good deeds and growth in this world is more valuable than all the spiritual pleasures of the World to Come”: that the soul comes into this world to be in this world, not to escape it. That being anchored in this world in order to refine it is far more precious to the soul and G‑d than all the unbelievable spiritual bliss available up there in the clouds.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

And by “history,” I mean “another two years of more grueling work and refinement, integrating this whole new set of teachings and energy into my life, striving towards actualizing a life of Torah and Chabad chassidus before I completed my conversion to Judaism and proclaimed myself an official Chabadnik.”

But this time, the work was in the context of this world, of being solid, healthy and productive, of building meaningful relationships instead of isolating myself from people. The Rebbe’s teachings, blessings and light are what paved my way and continue to do so, to the balanced, mature relationship I have with G‑d.

The Rebbe and his teachings are my bridge between the shimmering airiness of the spiritual worlds I was lost in and the often dark, often heavy realities of this world. The Rebbe shows us that in truth, the two worlds are one, and it is our mission to reveal that Unity here below. We do this by learning the inner dimension of Torah, especially the Rebbe’s teachings on the Final Redemption—the threshold of which we are upon. When we internalize the Rebbe’s message that this world is not a jungle, but the Divine Garden of the Infinite, and we strive to live our lives from that perspective, then we will transform reality and find ourselves in a redemptive world of peace, joy and tranquility, where each one of us will see and experience our complete unity with our Creator at every moment.

This is the Rebbe’s vision and his marching orders to us. It is, in fact, the ultimate vision and desire of each of our own souls. May we realize this vision immediately.