In Yeshivas Kol Torah in Yerushalayim, a young yeshiva student spent day and night learning and reviewing his shiurim. Few talmidim spent more time in the beis midrash and no one tried harder than he to master the material. But while the limud seemed to click for the other talmidim, this student continued to struggle, never fully understanding the topics at hand. He always felt like a slow learner, but now, in the “big leagues” of yeshivah, his seeming “learning disability” was debilitating. Sugya after sugya, he just couldn’t seem to get it.

One day, a guest speaker came to address the talmidim. A renowned rosh yeshivah delivered a fiery shmuess on the importance of learning, stressing the value of retaining one’s learning and striving to become a lamdan and a gadol in learning, a great Talmud scholar. While the Rosh Yeshiva’s words inspired and motivated the students who were already seeing success in their learning, the words stung in the heart of this talmid. The young man felt completely deflated. If the purpose of life was intellectual achievement in Torah, why would Hashem have created him with a low IQ? “How is it fair?” he pondered. “How am I to fulfill my purpose?”

Later, after suffering for hours with thoughts of inadequacy, the talmid finally unburdened himself before an older student at the yeshivah, who suggested he write a letter to the Lubavitcher Rebbe. The young man had never written to the Rebbe before, but he was so frustrated that he spontaneously opened his heart, penned a letter, and sent the Rebbe his question. A return letter from 770 Eastern Parkway soon arrived. The Rebbe’s response was direct and concise: “I do not understand your question. There is a Mishnah that clearly states, ‘I have been created for the purpose of serving my Creator’ (Kiddushin, 82b). Nowhere does the Torah nor our Sages indicate that our purpose in life is to be a lamdan; rather, they say simply ‘to serve our Creator.’”

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“Anyone who quotes someone and attributes the words to their source, brings redemption to the world.” (Avos, 6:6)

The Lubavitcher Rebbe said that to do or say something b’shem omro means to reveal the holy source in it: the One who originally said it, the b’shem omro. For the Ribbono shel Olam creates everything through amirah, speech: B’dvar Hashem shamayim na’asu, “With the word of Hashem, the heavens were made (Tehillim, 33.6)… Baruch she’amar v’hayah ha-olam, “Blessed is the one who has spoken and the world came into being….” As we recite these phrases in davening, we recognize and reveal that G-d is the “Source” of the world, and by giving this proper attribution, we are bringing redemption to the world by connecting the world to its Source.

And this, the Rebbe explained, is what it means that with asara ma’amaros nivra ha-olam, “With ten utterances the world was created” (Avos, 5:1). All of reality, all of the world, all of history, everything in Creation, every atom, every grain of sand, every movement, every principle and equation in mathematics, physics, biology, and astronomy—everything revealed and unrevealed—is found within these Ten Utterances. G-d’s Presence in the world is “iterated” through these ten creative statements. And therefore, in a sense, any time we recognize and declare that something in the world is created from Hashem’s words, we are, in a sense, redeeming the world.

When we can recognize G-d’s Presence in a place where there seems to be an absence, redemption is perpetuated and strengthened. In this sense, when we feel far from a personal or spiritual goal, when we are “underperforming” in our religious life or sense that we are not in the right place, we are invited to “bring redemption to the world” by proclaiming that here too, Hashem can be found, enlivening us.

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This Shabbos, we prepare to mark Gimmel Tamuz, thirty years since the histalkus of the leader of our generation, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zy’a. The Rebbe’s senior disciple and lead chozer, Reb Yoel Kahn, z’l, pointed out that even decades after the histalkus of the Rebbe, thousands continue to arrive at 770 to celebrate the moadim of Tishrei, and countless petitioners from across the globe stream to the Ohel 24 hours a day, all year long. Zei kumen da veil do iz der adres, “They come to the Rebbe; he is the address;” the Rebbe is their home for connectivity and inspiration. And more than a physical “address” or coordinate on a map, the Rebbe’s teachings, instructions, ever-relevant advice, and marching orders continue to direct us toward self-actualization, personally and nationally.

The chizuk the Rebbe shared with the young yeshivah student struggling to find his purpose and place remains a healing balm, a source of strength, and an ever-relevant reminder for all of us: “I have been created only to serve my Creator!” What’s more, we were created to serve the Ribbono Shel Olam with exactly the unique abilities and kochos that He has granted us.

May the Rebbe’s dedication to rectifying and uplifting everyone and everything in this world, and our sharing in his holy commitment, strengthen our confidence and joy in our Divine Service. And may we merit to usher in the Era of Mashiach now! n


Rav Judah Mischel is executive director of Camp HASC, the Hebrew Academy for Special Children. He is the mashpia of OU-NCSY, founder of Tzama Nafshi, and the author of “Baderech: Along the Path of Teshuva.” Rav Judah lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh with his wife, Ora, and their family.


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