Imagine if we could carry out the following experiment.
We take a soul, put it under a microscope and separate her elements. We divide all the positive elements from all the negative elements.
We separate out the baseless fear. We exclude unfounded hatred. We exclude wild anger. We exclude jealousy, resentment, and intolerance. We exclude senseless impulses and the appetite for mundane pleasure. We set aside laziness and complacency. Cynicism, arrogance, and selfishness - out.
Next, we extract a small measure of every positive element. We take a bit of courage, a bit of love and respect. We take some patience, dignity, and tolerance. We extract a little bit of forgiveness, self-control, and a pleasure in helping others. We take some industriousness, a lot of energy, and heaping measures of aspiration and will-power. Then we take some faith in G-d, some humility, and some selflessness, and we're done.
Then, we proceed to do the same procedure with the souls of everyone we know.
Now, using all these positive elements, we assemble a soul. This would not be an individual soul, but a composite soul, comprised of all the good from the souls of all the people we know.
It would result in four main results.
1. Since the composite soul is made of all good elements and no negative ones, and those good elements are G-dly, the person with this composite soul would feel a natural attachment to G-d, and he would be wonderfully, impossibly, unimaginably good.
2. Since this person's soul has an element from everyone else's soul, he would feel strongly connected to everyone he met, and everyone would feel a strong connection to him.
3. Since this person has an element of everyone's soul in his, he would not only make people feel a connection to him, but also to one another.
4. Since all the good elements in the soul are G-dly, this person, sensing such a palpable attachment to G-d, would make everyone else feel that attachment too.
We need not wonder what this would be like, because we already know. G-d did create a composite soul, and we know him as the Rebbe. It wasn't just that the Rebbe believed in G-d and served Him faithfully and tirelessly; the Rebbe's only reality was G-d and anything connected to G-d. It wasn't just that the Rebbe worked his whole life, every day, all the time, without a break, on behalf of the Jewish People; the Rebbe was the Jewish People.
No wonder, then, how the Rebbe's influence grows with every passing year and how his presence becomes increasingly impactful with every passing Yartzeit.
The Rebbe triggered - and continues to trigger - something in people that is nothing other than the core-essence of their own soul. And that isn't something that wears off - it's a part of you, it's who you are.
The original Hebrew word "Rebbe" - pronounced "Rebbi" - literally means "my teacher." And the Rebbe certainly was the most wonderful teacher.
But the Yiddish word "Rebbe" - pronounced "Rebbeh" - carries infinitely more weight. Because the Rebbe was much more than just a wonderful teacher. He didn't just share wisdom with us. He shared himself with us. He didn't just offer us insights. He offered us himself. And since his soul was made up of all of ours, is that surprising?
The Rebbe didn't care for people's problems like a kind bystander or a caring outsider. The Rebbe saw people's problems as his problems. And people felt that and appreciated that.
In the Parshah next week, the week of the Rebbe's Yartzeit, we read the story of how Moshe chose to remain with his people in the barren desert, abandoning his cherished dream of seeing the Promised Land, so that his people would not remain alone. Almost as if he saw no alternative; what option is there other than to be of service to others?
The Rebbe, too, displayed a kind of devotion to public service that made you wonder if he even considered anything else a viable option. It was the kind of devotion
people usually reserve for themselves, which made one wonder if the Rebbe didn't have a spark of each of us in his soul. What else would compel a person to work for others like the Rebbe did, without a letup, without a day's vacation, without a sick day, without a Sabbatical, without a moment of "me time"?
The Rebbe didn't look at people with sympathy. Sympathy is like emotional tourism; it's nice, but it's from a distance. The Rebbe looked at people as a person would look at a part of himself. When a person's back hurts, he doesn't sympathize with his back. He doesn't even "go the extra mile" and empathize with his back. He just simply suffers. It's his back, his pain, his problem.
The way normal people feel about their back, their hand, their eyes - that's how the Rebbe seemed to feel about others. Naturally, it didn't take long before others felt the same way about him.
Judaism, too, was to the Rebbe never something "very important" or "something to be valued." It was who he was. Inseparable. A person with a G-dly soul cannot separate from G-d, or from Torah, or from the Mitzvot, plain and simple.
It didn't take long before others began to feel the same way about Judaism. As people got to know the Rebbe, to love and respect him, their acquired defensiveness when it came to Judaism melted away, and the Mitzvot came to feel so normal, so natural.
What the Rebbe had that made him the Rebbe, we all have to a humbler degree, in quality, if not in quantity or intensity. But a spark of it is there.
In other communities, Rebbes allowed their followers the luxury of just being followers. The Chabad Rebbes tolerated no such luxury. They wanted partners in their work, not just followers of their faith.
Now, as the Rebbe's 29th Yartzeit arrives we owe it to him and to each other to intensify that partnership. By adding intensity to our attachment to G-d and our loving observance of His Torah and Mitzvot, and by upgrading the quality of our love and respect for one another, we'll be doing our part to perfect this imperfect world, to warm and illuminate a cold and confused society, to bring Moshiach to a world that is ready, and to give Nachas to the lofty, loving soul of the Jewish People's dearest friend and greatest defender, the Rebbe.