By Arik Levin
As a Yungerman currently looking for Shlichus, I found both opinion pieces by Rabbi Gershon Avtzon (Is It Time to Change How We Talk of Shlichus?) and Rabbi Shimon Posner (“No More Shlichus Opportunities Left”) respectively, very interesting.
While they raise some very good points, I would like to suggest three points from a different perspective.
Shlichus is the new age Mesiras Nefesh. Our Generation replaced the Mesiras Nefesh necessary in Russia with an (often) equally challenging Avodah. The Avodah of leaving our comfort zones and familiar surroundings to venture out into a different landscape, a different world with challenges that aren’t the same as the (often equally as difficult) challenges of living within the community.
Lubavitch is not the easy chill version of Yiddishkeit, we are not a Neo-Chassidic modern community looking solely to “make the world a better place” while remaining relaxed, easy, and comfortable. We aren’t armchair ideologues, we are ideologues.
Looking back at the Rebbe’s early Shluchim, setting out alone to spiritually barren lands to pioneer this novel mission, they were far from their families, far from the Rebbe, and often with minimal to no Jewish infrastructure, some having to put up with a cold or even hostile local Jewish leadership.
Shlichus has progressed since then. The Jewish community’s climate has warmed significantly to the work of Chabad, and the infrastructure of the beautiful Lubavitch communities around the world have made many aspects of shlichus a lot easier, but in truth, there are still many Shluchim and many instances where the Mesirus Nefesh of these families are tested.
So back to the matter at hand, we young couples looking for shlichus or moving out now must remember that this dream that we have might need to come with a sprinkle of Mesiras Nefesh as well.
While It may not be as celebrated or gratifying when a couple moves on shlichus to work for another shliach or in an existing Lubavitcher community, and while it may garner less praises and compliments, and worse, it may make the young new Shluchim themselves feel “less-than,” comparing themselves to friends with more “glorified” Shlichus or to those who have done well for themselves in a Lubavitch community, but in reality, this is real shlichus – a taste of Mesiras Nefesh. This takes true dedication, commitment, and the willingness to put the Rebbe’s plan before their own.
This may also serve as a reminder to Shluchim that are reluctant to ring down new Shluchim because of the difficulties involved. Maybe it’s time to go the extra mile and take things to the next level.
Similar to Nachshon and the splitting of the sea, when we jump in, the Aibershter splits the sea. The brachos and unimaginable success that Lubavitvch sees in our work it exceptional, but it may take some Nachshonesque commitment to allow us to walk through the sea with ease.
We must recall that shlichus is about the mission a lot more than it is about the people fulfilling the mission. The Rebbe set out a goal to reach out to our fellow Jews and bring Moshiach and that’s what it’s all about.
While it is definitely a zechus to be a shliach of the Rebbe, this is secondary to the fact that this person is on shlichus. When we put the mission before ourselves, we can realize what’s really important and act accordingly.
When a king leads his country to war, the emphasis isn’t on the levels or classes of his subject, everybody gets busy with the war effort, there may be different positions in the king’s effort, the warriors, the commanders, the trainers, the medical staff, and the basic civilians, but each has their part in this mission that the king has planned. They are meant to be busy with their responsibilities, each on their level, doing what they can to help the war effort. It’s not about how special you feel, it’s about what you are doing for the cause.
In the world of shlichus, it may be sensible for a young couple looking to set out on shlichus to consider where they are most helpful to the Rebbe’s mission rather than where they will feel best as Shluchim. In truth, the consideration of where they would be needed takes preference even in respect of where they would be more “Ibergegeben.” If you’re most helpful to the cause in chinuch or working for someone else, there is nothing wrong with that, fill the position where you can be most beneficial to the mission.
The same would go when the deliberation before hiring new Shluchim is between what’s good for my moisad versus what the Jewish people in the community needs, then the question must be asked: Will the Rebbe’s mission benefit from bringing new Shluchim? And if the answer is yes, then maybe it’s time to bring new Shluchim.
Returning back to address the points mentioned by the esteemed Rabbis in their Op-eds.
Let’s not pour the baby out with the bathwater. While it is important to emphasize that the Rebbe’s shlichus is something that every Lubavitcher can and should take part in and that the shlichus mindset is a defining factor in real shlichus, we must underscore that there is still plenty of room for every young couple that is looking to move out on the Rebbe’s shlichus in whatever area. It may take longer, it may be harder than we’d like it to be, and it may require some improvisations to our fantasies about shlichus, but if we are willing to go for it, there are shlichus opportunities available to be found.
Now, no matter if we are on shlichus or not, for whatever reason, this does not take away from the indisputable truth that we are all Lubavitcher Chassidim, the Rebbe’s “chevre” on the ground tasked with his mission of bringing Moshiach. Real loyalists serve their country from whichever position they are in, using their particular capabilities to achieve the goal. Chassidim are loyalists.
Young couples want to go on shlichus, veteran Shluchim want to bring down new Shluchim. A bit more hard work, a drop more altruism, and the Rebbe’s clear path to revolution can take us a long way.