Not 'Handicapped' But 'Exceptional'

The Rebbe addresses disabled Israeli soldiers and athletes - Part 1 (August 19, 1976 · 23 Av, 5736)

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Not 'Handicapped' But 'Exceptional': The Rebbe addresses disabled Israeli soldiers and athletes - Part 1 (August 19, 1976 · 23 Av, 5736)

When someone has a physical weakness or lack, it is a sign that the Creator has endowed that person with special powers which enable him or her to overcome and succeed where the ordinary person cannot.
Disability, Lubavitcher Rebbe
Not 'Handicapped' But 'Exceptional'
The Rebbe addresses disabled Israeli soldiers and athletes - Part 1 (August 19, 1976 · 23 Av, 5736)
Disc 70, Program 278

Event Date: 23 Av 5736 - August 19, 1976

The Rebbe addresses a group of Paralympic athletes:

When someone has a physical weakness or lacking, it is no reason to be dejected; rather it is proof positive that the Creator has endowed him or her with special spiritual powers which enable him to overcome and succeed where the ordinary person cannot.

The term “handicapped” should not be used for anyone. To the contrary, he is someone special and exceptional by the Creator, with special powers above and beyond the capacity of an ordinary individual. They should therefore be called what they truly are: “exceptional.” This highlights the real and outstanding qualities which give them the ability to be a living example of joy and self-confidence. They express how every Jewish man and woman – regardless of their physical or bodily state – possesses a soul which is “an actual part of G-d above,” which overcomes any and every limitation.

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Anonymous Minnesota February 11, 2016

I am disabled, as are every one of my family members. Frankly, the "special" nomenclature leaves me cold. We are no more "special" than anyone is, and to claim that we somehow are more special, is insulting. It also tends to lead to the relegation of my kid to being someone's Mitzvah project - they will do something with him for brownie points but other than that do not give him the time of day. This happens both in the religious and the secular community and is one reason why I have given Chabad's "Friendship Circle" a wide berth - I have in fact built a fence around it, and if it sponsors an event, we do not attend. Reply

Nechemiah May 9, 2019
in response to Anonymous:

I understand. Reply

Mark NY June 8, 2022
in response to Anonymous:

Hi there, in alignment with the Rebbe Z”l - I detest the words “disabled” and “handicapped” - as both my parents
- Polio victims - were as such - but achieved plenty - they were “DIFFERENTLY ABLED”! Reply

Esther Mae Gorton Milwaukee, Wisconsin U.S.A. January 11, 2010

Rebekah's comment Thank you Rebekah for the kind way you responded to my somewhat angry comment. Here's a list of SOME of my probs.1)Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia 2) Autonomic Nervous System Disfunction 3)Fibromyalgia 4) migraines+tension & hormonal headaches 5)SEVERE Short Term Memory Loss 6)Long Term Also 7) Hashimoto's thyroiditis 8) SEVERE Asthma+C.O.P.D. 9) Generalized Arthritis & exactly in: both knees & ankles, C2-C7 10)Scoliosis 11)sciatica 12) speach imparement 13) SEVERE Spasticity in limbs,hands...14) allergies 15) take pills to stay awake 16) also have insomnia 17)Hyperacusis+Processing Disorder ,some hearing loss in R. ear. It causes me MAJOR probs.18) chronic+acute pain=Extended relief morphine a.m.,p.m. & P.R.N. up to 4x a day for "break through pain" 19) G.I. Surgery-I must take care of area daily+wkly 20) neurogenic bladder+occasional incontinence 21)Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 22) Swallowing probs. 23) use electric w/c ~ 90 % of x 24)Acid Reflux+Hyatal Hernia+Gastritis 25)osteopenia & mor Reply

rebekah near Chicago January 11, 2010

Esther I have a condition that greatly limits me physically. If you'd give a definition of "VERY disabled", I'm sure something rediculous like a comparison could be made.

I think, however, that what I hear you saying is that you don't want to be defined by one of your differences, which is a respectible idea.

I however, like the idea of spiritually being considered 'exceptional', simply because it is true. There is a greater effort required to go against the grain of society, and people with disabilities are required to do this on a daily basis if they will survive.

One cannot deny that there are many who constantly decide that they would prefer to die than to live with a disabling condition. If we believe that G-d is all knowing and entirely envolved in what is allowed to happen here, then we must assume He considers us capable of living without certain physical powers (or even cognitive abilities) and having still the ability to live well. Reply

Esther Mae Gorton Milwaukee, Wisconsin January 9, 2010

Why so many with the name "Anonymous"? What's every1 afraid of?! I'm VERY disabled. My name isn't anonymous. It's Esther Mae Gorton. Trust me. There's nothing "special" about being disabled. I have A LOT to cope with everyday. What makes me "special" is that G-d created me to be HIS daughter & HE gave me some gifts & abilities that other people don't have such as being bilingual (Espanol), singing, etc. What makes me special is the same thing that makes everyone on the planet "special." Reply

Anonymous Danbury, CT January 8, 2010

People When you refer to people with easily recognized handicaps as special, you cheapen the word "special", rather than helping the people. Only when people realize that some are better in that and others in this -- and that includes them! -- will we make headway. Truly, doesn't a person try to elevate himself and put-down others, so that others will think well of him or hire him or whatever? I don't see a cure, except for Moshiach. Reply

Ora January 7, 2010

Moving beyond words.......How the Rebbe raised these precious souls up to the highest place, where they so deserve to be, out of his immense love every Jew. Reply

Anonymous Seattle January 6, 2010

Any term will be twisted around. . . Retarded used to be a term that was polite explaining that a person was slow (retarded) in thier growth. Families kept their members out of sight because it made it look like the family had a bad thing going that could perhaps get passed on so it affected marriage prospects. Someone injured later didn't have the services or inventions that are had nowadays to keep them mobile.

Any term that is used will get twisted around by junior high kids eventually, and our society, shifting to a lower standard, seems headed towards abusing whatever lable is there. I have a son with special needs and he and his friends are the worst over this!

I believe that lables will have to be done away with and public buildings will just have be accessible, period. I have called my son exceptional for years-- while not of a high IQ, he is smart. The Rebbe gave a great ra-ra speech for his audience, and I think this is how it was intended. Reply

Anonymous Livingston, NJ via fcnj.com January 6, 2010

Taking the "dis" out of disability It is very hard to find words to say to someone who is facing an extraordinary personal challenge, but this story that took place at this actual talk of the Rebbe might help.
www.fcnj.com/588294 Reply

Aaron Katz NJ, USA January 6, 2010

wonderful Jewish recognition It was 1975 when the terms were changed in the general public. So this takes away from some of the intro in the magazine, it is still wonderful to know that the Jewish world was taking part in this movement of proper language.

I also think it was clever the way still pictures were panned to make it look like a video. Reply

Anonymous Kanata, ON January 6, 2010

Mysterious ways So, our souls explore- up, down, where will we land?
I've had disabilities all my life, and I don't like the smarming term "special". I actually don't beleive in forming a "term" defining all disabled citizens as "exceptional", either.
I will confirm, though, that the Great One gives through the humbled. I took transcendental meditation when I was young and started to see the aura by choice, and not through the epileptic seizures I had as a child.
A neurologist had clipped the brain in such a way that I was not blinded, and I still could see the aura in stages. People without permission interferd with this, and so I don't seek seeing the aura and see all the types of aura anymore. It is ablated from my own body, but when I left United church to follow my heart in Judaism, I could hear people complaining that they "all " could no longer see the aura together.
They do say "G-d moves in mysterious ways, Her wonders to perform"!! Reply

Esther Milwaukee, WE, U.S.A. January 6, 2010

The Disabled considered "Extraordinary" I'm VERY disabled. I don't have any special "abilities/powers" because of it. I dislike the term handicap alsoo but please don't call me "extraordinary. The word/label disabled is fine with me. The only extraordinary thing about me is that I'm still alive today & can do as much for myself as I do.. Reply

Barbara Rose Escobar puyallup, wa January 6, 2010

disabled Israeli soldiers The Rebbe's message was so beautiful and inspiring, My daughter has mental disabilities with ADHD, and she is only 6 yrs old. Though i find it very hard trying to live and struggle day by day wondering what words do people like to call her instead of mental retarded? The Rebbe has changed my thinking and so from now on i will go by Exceptional. Reply

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