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Up to You

A group of hikers once set out on a particularly challenging course. They were led by an experienced guide, who directed them and helped them avoid obstacles and wrong turns. At a critical moment in the hike, the guide turned to the group and said, "Now it's your turn! I have led you until now. However, now I want you to find it within yourselves to complete the rest of this challenging trek."

The hikers were speechless. What happened all of a sudden? Here they were on a treacherous journey, and the slightest mistake could have fateful results. How could the guide do this to them? But the guide was firm: Now it's up to you. 

*

This story is one that is very familiar to Chassidim of Chabad, and in fact, all of world Jewry are participants in this tale, knowingly or unknowingly. 

The journey began sixty years ago, when the Lubavitcher Rebbe accepted the leadership of the Chabad movement. In his first public address after filling the post of his father-in-law, Rabbi Joseph I. Schneerson of righteous memory, the Rebbe laid out a vision for completing the mission that the Jewish people have been working towards for the past 2000 years --to bring about the final Redemption.  

From then on, for the next forty years, the Rebbe tirelessly led his Chassidim on the course he had envisioned. He turned repeatedly to "all Jewish men and women, wherever they can be found," to guide them with clear directives and instructions for making the world into a more G-dly place. He helped his Chassidim navigate around all obstacles; to break through the spiritual apathy that reigned in our generation, and to complete the mission of all time.

As part of this role, the Rebbe was often a pioneer who broke down barriers between Jews who observed the Torah and its mitzvot and those who did not as yet. Following the Rebbe's instructions, his Chassidim came into contact with Jews of all walks of life, including those who were resistant to any whiff of religion, and ignited in them the Jewish spark that had lain dormant for years, or even generations.

Over the years the Rebbe introduced numerous mitzvah campaigns: Tefillin, mezuzah, Shabbat candles and many others. Each of these mitzvot served as a gateway to a life of Torah and mitzvot, and generated excitement and interest in Judaism.

And suddenly, after forty years of devoted leadership, the Rebbe made a startling pronouncement. On the 28th of Nissan, 5751 (1991), the Rebbe said, "I have done all that I can [to bring the Redemption] and now I am giving it over to you. Do whatever you can to bring the Redemption." In other words, it is now your turn! The Rebbe wanted us to gather our strength and find it within ourselves to complete the mission. 

*  

At the time, the listeners were stunned. What had happened?

It is important to note that even after that address the Rebbe did not stop leading and guiding his Chassidim. He continued to speak at least 3-5 times weekly, teaching us insights into the Redemption, suggesting practical ideas for implementing his vision and inspiring the Jewish people with renewed fervor for Redemption. But the Rebbe also demanded some independent thought, some original ideas.

On the one hand, the Rebbe demonstrated that he had no intention to abandon us, G-d forbid, in these final most challenging moments. However, the Rebbe also made it clear that it is up to us to complete the job. We have the strength and the ability to carry through, and bring the dream of generations to fruition.

 

 


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