I once walked into a Crown Heights restaurant and met a bachur who works there. We got into a conversation in the course of which he told me: I became interested in Judaism without anybody being mekarev me. I got up every morning feeling bad and didn’t feel good about myself and the entire day followed the same pattern. I thought about how religious people get up in the morning and put on t’fillin and I decided to do the same, thinking this might put me in a better mood. I did it and really started feeling better. I bought a pair of t’fillin and started putting them on every day. I pray as much as I can. I learned that just as I nourish my body, I also have to feed my soul.
Sometimes I meet people who are feeling down and the first thing I say to them is “good morning” and talk to them about their gashmius: I hope you are successful in everything and make money. Do you know what will help you succeed in life, in gashmius? Put on t’fillin and say Shma! You provide nourishment for your soul and that will enable you to enjoy the gashmius.
There was someone to whom I said this and he did it. He met me two months later and said: After two months of putting on t’fillin, I thought, maybe it’s not necessary and the week that I did not put them on, I lost my job! You are right. You have to feed the soul; otherwise it doesn’t work. I started putting on t’fillin again and found a better job. Today, boruch Hashem, he puts on t’fillin and wears tzitzis.
You have to address the neshama and the pocket and identify with a person’s challenges and create a connection of love and affection.
A rich man once went to Berditchev to spend Shabbos with R’ Levi Yitzchok. That Shabbos, the tzaddik changed his usual way of eating, and with every bite he ate he said “lichvod Shabbos kodesh” with great enjoyment. The rich man noticed this and thought: I have three kinds of fish every day and he eats one small piece of fish with such relish that I wish I had such pleasure from material things as he does. I have houses and ships and don’t have the pleasure the tzaddik has.
After Shabbos, the rich man decided he had to know how to achieve this kind of pleasure in material things, which is precisely what the tzaddik wanted to convey to him. On Motzaei Shabbos, the man said to the tzaddik: Rebbe, I have a problem. I have all the good things of this world and yet I don’t have the pleasure that you have when you eat the Shabbos foods.
The tzaddik said: A Jew has a problem. He has a G-dly soul and an animal soul, an evil inclination and a good inclination. When you sit and learn, the evil inclination tries to get you not to learn with all kinds of thoughts that appear in your mind. When you go to eat, the good inclination comes and says: Did you come into the world for this? And so too, with everything you want to do, in gashmius and ruchnius, either the evil inclination or the good inclination comes along to disturb you.
What is the solution? You need to get them to work in tandem! This means that throughout the week I do not eat with pleasure, since the job is avodas ha’birurim, but on Shabbos it’s a mitzva to eat and then the neshama and body work together. This is a joint pleasure for both the neshama and the body.
But you are rich, so how can you have pleasure? By taking the poor into your home and giving tz’daka; this will give you pleasure. A Jew cannot have pleasure if he does not nourish his soul.
Everyone knows, especially those who learned in Chabad schools, that if he does not give his neshama what it needs, he will not be able to enjoy this world. The Alter Rebbe took Olam HaZeh from us. Those who touched and tasted from the Tree of Life that is Chassidus will be able to enjoy this world only through doing Torah and mitzvos.
R’ Pinchas Koretz, one of the disciples of the Baal Shem Tov, was named after his grandfather. In the grandfather – R’ Pinchas’ town there was a group of meshumadim (apostates). R’ Pinchas would go to them every day and say Shema with them and he would promise them that they would merit the World to Come.
One of the problems of a meshumad is that he is convinced he is a lost cause and is no longer a Jew. That is the worst feeling, that he feels disconnected. When R’ Pinchas promised them that they are b’nei Olam Ha’ba, unconditionally, and just had to say Shema, they were happy to say the verse. They all ended up doing t’shuva and became good Jews.
The worst thing is to give up hope and say, I’m a lost cause. When you tell someone like that how he is a precious Jew, a ben Olam Ha’ba, it reassures him and shows him that he is not hopeless.
So when you meet any Jew, no matter who, you need to be warm and give him the feeling that he matters, for every Jew is precious, whether he sinned or even if he did not go off the derech…
The Rebbe teaches us to act with love, brotherly love and friendship. Love between parents and children, love between friends and acquaintances. Love between every single Jew. Then we actualize the Rebbe’s approach to chinuch and see the results in the fullest sense, and we merit all the blessings from Hashem in material plenty and in nachas from our dear children.