Parshot Festivals

Be present for every Jew, everywhere

  • ParshaRabbiPink
I recently returned from the annual Chabad-Lubavitch Shluchim Conference (aka the Kinus) in New York, where the culminating banquet expressed the idea of being present for every Jew, everywhere.
by Rabbi Pini Pink, Chabad Greenstone | Dec 05, 2019

Shortly afterwards, the chairman of the evening made the legendary roll-call, in which rabbis from around the world rise as their country is called – from 62 Chabad-Lubavitch shluchim (emissary) families in South Africa, to the new emissaries to Myanmar. Two months ago, a Chabad opened in Rwanda, and another just opened in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Each country got a round of applause, and the entire room erupted into dancing.

As we danced around the massive convention hall in Edison, New Jersey – no place closer to New York had room for 5 820 men – I thought back to an explanation on this week’s parsha that I had heard earlier in the day.

In the parsha, Jacob is travelling to his uncle Laban to escape the wrath of his brother Esau. On the way, he tires and lies down for a rest, but not before arranging some stones around his head for protection. As he sleeps the stones “argue”. Each one wants the righteous Jacob to put his head on it. The Talmud tells us that G-d resolved the problem by merging all of the stones into one. Is this really a solution, however? If I take five blocks of my children’s Lego and make them into one piece, there will still be a top and a bottom. Jacob would be resting his head on only one of the stones.

The answer, it was explained, is that when we are truly unified we don’t mind if someone else gets a bit more honour than us. Once Jacob’s stones were all one and acting for the same purpose, they didn’t mind which particular stone had the honour of having Jacob’s head resting on it.

As we danced around, bumping into rabbis and lay leaders from across the globe, I realised that this is the strength of Lubavitch. This week we marked the yahrzeit of Rabbi Gabi and Rivki Holtzberg, the Chabad-Lubavitch shluchim who were brutally murdered in the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. They were in Mumbai because like all their colleagues who were dancing around that room, they were willing to put aside their personal comforts and needs to care for others. They walked, ate, and slept ahavat Yisroel (love for their fellow Jew). Like Jacob’s stones, once we realise that all Jews are truly alike, our own needs become secondary, and we can put the concerns of others first.

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