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When in doubt, opt for love

Wednesday, 16 January, 2019 - 8:23 am

In honour of Yud Shvat, 68th anniversary of the Rebbe's public acceptance of the leadership of Chabad. 

 Yale Butler caused a storm in Pittsburgh’s Jewish community. It was the early 60’s and Yale was just twelve at the time.

A creative youngster, Yale wrote a fictional column for his school’s newspaper. The article that caused a stir fantasized about Fidel Castro calling on his brothers (people with untrimmed beards) from 770 Eastern Parkway (Lubavitch World Headquarters) to help fight off an invasion of Cuba.

Pittsburgh Jews were not impressed and Yale was sharply taken to task. But, a local Chabadnik figured that instead of berating the budding writer, he’d take him to meet the Rebbe in New York. An encounter with the Rebbe, he figured, would do far more to educate Yale than lectures or reprimands.

The Rebbe greeted Yale warmly and specifically complimented his writing talent. On the Rebbe’s desk sat a copy of the offensive article. The Rebbe did not mention it.

In time, Yale became an editor for a major Jewish newspaper, eventually using the Rebbe’s talks as the basis for his weekly Parsha column. The Rebbe became one of his subscribers, and once mentioned how he had known Yale “since he was a child”.

On Wednesday, we commemorated the 58th anniversary of the Rebbe’s leadership. His opening statement as the new Rebbe was: “Three loves are intertwined- love of G-d, love of Torah, love of the Jewish people.”

As the man who would lead a revolution of Jewish revival, love- not judgement- would be the guiding theme of his Jewish outreach campaign.

You may, at times, feel tempted to react harshly to a friend or family member, especially if they’ve stepped out of line. They might accept your criticism. They might not.

Show them love- even when you criticize- and you are guaranteed success.

That’s how the Rebbe responded to Yale Butler and tens of thousands like him. That’s how the Torah wants us to respond to those around us.

When in doubt- show love.

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