To love a fellow Jew is an adaptation of Kuntres Ahavas Yisrael, a booklet originally published by Kehot Publications in 1977 in response to the Rebbe's request for a book on this topic, which he referred to in a talk delivered in the week of Parshas HaChodesh 5737. The following is an excerpt of that talk:
We have reinstituted the old custom, dating back to the times of the Alter Rebbe, of having a "mashpia" (a spiritual mentor; literally, one who influences) in each place: a man for the men and a woman for the women.
Since we have been speaking recently about alacrity in avodah - in connection with mivtza Pesach and the other mivtzoyim - now is the time to initiate action in this area as well.
Those places that have hitherto not appointed mashpi'im should do so, and in those places that have already appointed mashpiim, the mashpiim should fulfill their role properly and promptly.
In those places where the mashpiim are doing their work properly, great is their merit - as the merit of one who services a community is well known - and a big thank you goes to them.
Giving thanks publicly also serves to provide them with further strength to do their avodah even better - "mehadrin min hamehadrin," which includes infusing so much into the mashpiim that anyone who comes into contact with them will also be affected.
Since the basis of the entire Torah is "Love your fellow as yourself" as the Alter Rebbe explains in chapter 32 of Tanya, and particularly as it is important for the increased success and strength of all those involved in mivtzoyim that their work be permeated with a spirit of ahavas Yisrael, then it is vital for the mashpiim to be well versed in the concept of ahavas Yisrael.
For this purpose we will print a special edition of Kuntres Ahavas Yisrael for the mashpiim, so that each one will be able to learn the issues in the kuntres. This will definitely enhance the ability of the mashpiim to have more of an effect on the men and boys, and the mashpiyos on the women and girls.
The merit of the congregation will also stand in their stead and they should be granted great success.
Those who have already been appointed and fulfill their duties as mashpiim will each receive a signed kuntres. Since it is necessary to do everything in an orderly fashion, anyone who has been appointed (by at least three people) to be a mashpia should send his or her name and address into the secretariat, indicating the place and the people who have appointed them as a mashpia, and each will receive a kuntres in the mail.
It should be G-d's will that learning the kuntres will increase - both for the mashpiim and those under their influence - the spirit of achdus which brings with it the blessing of our Father - as the Alter Rebbe explains in chapter 32 of Tanya that unity is the vessel for blessing - until the fulfillment of the greatest blessing, that the A-lmighty will take each Jew by the hand, one nation united through one Torah, and bring them all to the Holy Land with joy and goodness of heart.
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On Shabbos Parshas Vayakhel-Pikudei Parshas HaChodesh 5737 the Rebbe elaborated further:
To continue that which was spoken about mashpiim:
On the verse "And Moshe gathered," the Midrash says: "...Why in this section is the expression Vayakhel ('and he gathered') used - an expression not ordinarily used in other areas of the Torah? G-d said to Moshe, "Go down and gather large congregations on Shabbos in order that future generations should learn to gather large congregations on Shabbos to teach Torah publicly."
From this it is understood that when a Jew gathers other Jews together on Shabbos to learn Torah with them - both matters of halachah, "to teach them the statutes of G-d," or "words of Aggadah which will instill the fear of Heaven into their hearts," - this is done with the shlichus and power of Moshe, so much so that it is as if Moshe himself gathered them.
Since Shabbos is the day that blesses the other days of the week, it is understood that a gathering on Shabbos blesses the gatherings of Torah learning and yiras Shomayim (fear of Heaven) during the week. Particularly if they are a continuation or result of the gathering on Shabbos, it follows that they are also done with the shlichus and power of Moshe.
This is why the mashpiim who gather Jews, teach them Torah, and instill in them yiras Shomayim should not be put off by any difficulties - because their work is done as a shlichus from Moshe and a shliach is considered as the person himself.
A further point:
When the donations were offered to the Mishkan, they were presented not only by the men and women but also by the children as explained in Avos D'R. Nosson.
From this is understood that "the entire congregation of the children of Israel" which Moshe gathered included not only men and women, but also children.
Since all interpretations on one verse are connected, it follows that the imperative to gather congregations on Shabbos also extends to the gathering of children.
From here we see that the job of the mashpiim also extends to the children. It is also worthwhile that mashpiim should be appointed among the children themselves to influence other children of similar ages, to increase in Torah study, including the study of the Twelve Pesukim and sayings of the Sages and also the mitzvos that pertain to them.
(In addition to the children taking on more learning amongst themselves, this will also lead to an additional arousal among adults, as one sees in practice that when an adult observes a child performing a mitzvah or learning Torah with warmth and sincerity, it has a great effect on him.)
And when it will be explained that to influence other children is the shlichus of Moshe and is done with the power of Moshe, (and even a child knows his great connection with Moshe, for as soon as he is able to speak he is taught, "Torah tzivah...," which, in addition to the fact that the child knows that he is one of the congregation of Jacob and has received the Torah as an inheritance from Moshe, he also sees that the verse puts him as one of the congregation of Jacob in the same verse as Moshe,) it will have a great effect on him and he will not be put off by any difficulties. On the contrary, he will do his work with alacrity and energy, knowing that what is being done is the shlichus of Moshe.
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As stated above, in order for the mashpiim to be effective, they must be filled with a spirit of ahavas Yisrael, and therefore a special printing of Kuntres Ahavas Yisrael will be printed for the mashpiim. A special kuntres will also be published for children with sayings about ahavas Yisrael which will be on a child's level, starting with the saying: "Love your fellow as yourself; Rabbi Akiva said, this is a great principle of the Torah," which is one of the Twelve Pesukim. This kuntres will be given to those children who are mashpiim, and it will definitely give added success to their work.
* * *
May it be the will of G-d that very soon, "...with our children, with our elderly, with our sons, and with our daughters, we will go (to the Redemption)," and with many children as was the Exodus from Egypt
which is compared to the future Redemption,
and there should be the "returning of the hearts of the fathers on the sons"
and as Rashi explains "through the sons" (as stated above) that the children will have an effect on the adults. And all together we will go to greet our righteous Mashiach very soon.
The text of the priestly blessing includes: "To bless the people of Israel with love." the simple meaning is that the priestly blessing should be given by the Kohen with love. One of the mystics explained that the meaning of the blessing is that the Kohanim bless the people that a spirit of love and friendship should prevail among them.
(Lubavitcher Rebbe's Memoirs, Vol. 1, p. 343)
The Rebbe Maharash once said: The Alter Rebbe invested tremendous effort so that the chassidim should be like one family, each one searching for the good of the other. The help one offers should be given out of a feeling that this is one large family.
(Igros Kodesh of the Previous Rebbe, Vol. 4, p. 34)
In addition to general Ahavas Yisrael, the Rebbes of chabad wanted Anash to conduct themselves as one family. one of the ways to do this is to let each other know of good and happy tidings.
(Igros Kodesh of the Previous Rebbe, Vol. 3, p. 323)
Chassidim in general and Temimim in particular need to be warm. Each has to feel that my Simchah is your Simchah, and your Simchah is my Simchah.
(Likkutei Dibburim, Vol. 1, p. 89)
The Baal Shem Tov used to say: One cannot imagine the great effect of love for one's fellow. Friends who gather and arouse mercy for their fellow who is in a difficult situation have the ability to avert a decree of seventy years. They can change a curse into a blessing and death into lengthy days.
(Sefer HaToldos of the Previous Rebbe, Vol. I, p. 131)
The Baal Shem Tov used to say: A heartfelt Perek of Tehillim, the effort to do another a favor - be it material or spiritual - and Ahavas Yisrael: these are the correct keys to open all the locks of supernal mercy, healing, salvation and income.
(Sefer HaSichos 5700, p. 76)
- (Back to text) The concept of a mashpia is explained at length in the sichah of Yud Shevat 5737.
- (Back to text) See Iggeres HaKodesh, Epistle 21.
- (Back to text) The Mitzvah Campaigns: campaigns instituted by the Rebbe to strengthen key areas of observance.
- (Back to text) Pirkei Avos 5:18, in which there are three levels: he receives merit himself; he gives merits to others; and the merits of others are dependent on him.
- (Back to text) See Likkutei Levi Yitzchok in his comments on the Tanya, p. 23.
- (Back to text) It is obvious that this also applies to women, since they are obligated in the mitzvah of ahavas Yisrael and women are obligated to learn the halachah of those laws in which they are obligated. (See Hilchos Talmud Torah of the Alter Rebbe, the end of ch. 1.) This is true of learning Chassidus in general, since many of the issues discussed in Chassidus are among the six mitzvos that are continually applicable (i.e., love of G-d, belief, etc., see Introduction to the Sefer HaChinuch) and therefore women are obligated to learn them. This is also true of the actions which result from these mitzvos as it is explained on the verse: "Know the G-d of your father (and through that) serve Him with a perfect heart" - "and what is the path to come to love and fear Him...," see Tanya, Kuntres Acharon, p. 156b; Rambam, Hilchos Yesodai HaTorah, 2:2, in which both men and women are equal.
- (Back to text) See Yoreh De'ah, ch. 228:21.
- (Back to text) Yeshayahu 27:12. See Rashi, Nitzavim 30:3.
- (Back to text) Yalkut Shimoni, beginning of Vayakhel.
- (Back to text) And quoted also in halachah - Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Orach Chaim, ch. 290.
- (Back to text) As explained in many places that in order to be mashpia it is necessary to contract one's thought process and "go down."
- (Back to text) An expression of the Alter Rebbe in Shulchan Aruch HaRav, ibid.
- (Back to text) Ibid.
- (Back to text) Zohar, Vol. 2, pp. 63b, 88b.
- (Back to text) Kiddushin 41b.
- (Back to text) Ch. 11. Or HaChayim on Parshas Vayakhel. See also Tzafnas Panei'ach (who differentiates between the Mishkan and the Beis HaMikdash).
- (Back to text) As explained in the Or HaChayim.
- (Back to text) See Likkutei Sichos, Vol. 3, p. 782.
- (Back to text) See at length the sichos of Rosh Chodesh Iyar, Lag BaOmer, and the 13th of Tammuz 5736.
- (Back to text) See Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Orach Chaim 343:3.
- (Back to text) See Hilchos Talmud Torah of the Alter Rebbe.
- (Back to text) See Sotah 11a; Shemos Rabbah 1:12; Targum Yonason, Bo 12:37.
- (Back to text) Michah 7:15.
- (Back to text) Malachi end.