Shortly after reading the article last week about varying standards on shlichus, I came across a sicha in which the Rebbe compares such practices to medicine, and discusses how they should be prescribed.
By a shliach
Thank you for publishing Mrs. S.’s article last week about the importance of telling our children when a practice they are witnessing is not l’chatchila, but being done out of necessity and with the guidance of a rav.
B’hashgacha pratis, shortly after reading the article I came across a sicha from Yud Beis Tammuz 5717 (1957) that addresses this very topic. In the sicha, the Rebbe brings an example of a doctor who must prescribe medicine to ill patients and put them on a regimen that is out of the norm, in order to save whatever is possible.
However, the Rebbe explains, these medications and routines, if imposed on a healthy person, will not help him – on the contrary, they will harm him! Even when dealing with one who is ill, the techniques used must be according to exact instructions – ingesting more medicine than required is harmful as well.
The Rebbe then connects this to the task of an educator:
In education, it is sometimes necessary to introduce practices to help those who are “ill” in the spiritual limbs and sinews. However, it is imperative to clarify and emphasize to the teachers, parents and students that such practices are like a hospital. They are reserved for when there is no other way to heal a spiritually ill person.
When a teacher speaks to spiritually healthy people, he should not praise the “medication”. To them he must speak on avoiding the medication at all costs, and consuming only healthy food and drink. He should explain that he only dispenses “medication” to those who are, unfortunately, unwell in Torah and mitzvos.
Nowadays, it is even more necessary to emphasize that these modes of conduct are reserved to remedy “illness”… In this manner, one will enlighten himself as well, raising a generation of children who will follow the Torah and its mitzvos.
Bringing this back to the topic at hand – the “remedies” – practices that shluchim must implement on occasion:
Not only are these practices inappropriate for anash communities, many of them aren’t even meant to become standard Chabad house practices! As with medicine, they must only be implemented in the right time and place, and with exact instructions from a qualified, chassidishe rav. And it’s our job to emphasize this not only to our children, but to our colleagues as well.
In an age when we get much of our inspiration and ideas from social media, it’s worth being cautious. Not every program we come across is appropriate for our own shlichus. And, I might suggest, those trickier ‘customs’ we implement – with a rav‘s guidance, of course – need not be publicized online for all to see.
In keeping in line with the Rabbonim's policies for websites, we do not allow comments. However, our Rabbonim have approved of including input on articles of substance (Torah, history, memories etc.)
We appreciate your feedback. If you have any additional information to contribute to this article, it will be added below.
In well meaning efforts to promote shlichus, “praising the medication” has become commonplace.
It seems that the Rebbe is saying that despite the importance of this work, it must always be the “exception.” The only way to do that it by NOT celebrating it prominently.
When children see it celebrated, they are inevitably drawn to it despite clarifications. People don’t read the fine print.