A Lesson on "I"


This is one of my favorite stories. It involves a rabbi. In this case, a famous one. Hassidic leader, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, last leader of the Chabad Lubivitchers. Rabbi Schneerson was a well known teacher, scholar and beloved by his community. Though at times controversial, there was no question his people adored him with reverence and deep respect.

One day Rabbi Schneerson got a letter from a man who wrote, “I must see the rabbi. I need the rabbi’s help. I am deeply depressed. I can hardly go on. I pray and am not fulfilled. I am not moved. I feel no satisfaction. I need the rabbi’s help.”

The Rabbi, who used to be in publishing, did nothing nor offered any opinion or commentary, save for one simple action. He sent the letter back, and circled the first word in each sentence in red. The lesson was clear. You live a life of misery because you are focused on yourself.

There is an old Talmudic saying, "Another's physical needs are my spiritual obligations." In this season of joy and light this may be the most worthy of considerations.