My Moment of Clarity

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Last night I had a moment of clarity.  I am constantly asking myself what I'm doing here in Temecula.  Obviously, we're representatives of the Rebbe to spread the light of Torah and Yiddishkeit, but how can we best fulfill our mission?

Our first couple years here, we were hosting big events and were pushing social gatherings.  We've delivered food and money to people who need it, advocated for people's medical needs, visited inmates in prison, found people jobs, and guided orphans.  Lately, we've put almost everything on the line to start a Jewish preschool.

Even after all that, I still wonder what my purpose is.  Which one is the essence of why I'm here.

And last night, it came.  The head Chabad organization has three branches (similar to our country):  Kehot is the publication society, printing Jewish books.  Machane Israel is the social services branch.  Merkos L'inyonei Chinuch is the educational branch.  

Which branch do you think the army of 6,000 shluchim (Chabad rabbis) fit under?

We are part of the educational branch.  That's it.  Our primary purpose in Temecula is to educate.  Of course we provide social services as needed (and lately that's been a lot- like a full day this week helping a domestic violence victim get into a home, and start counseling), but the reason we were sent here is to educate.  Indeed, the more I come to understand the challenges that people face, the more I realize that the solution is education.

What kinds of things can we help educate people about?

Well, we can obviously educate people to put on tefillin, hold a siddur (prayer book) and possibly even eat matzoh balls.  There must be more to it though.

One of my soft spots is educating children.  Our Hebrew School and preschool are the apple of my eye.  While they've started small, we can already see the potential they have, in quality and in quantity.  I love educating children, but there's even more to educating than a preschool.

I spoke with a fellow today who was complaining about his job insecurity.  We went back and forth about how tough life is, and I told him how I would like to educate Temecula about trusting in G-d and how to stop worrying (it's at least four years since I moved here that he's been worrying about losing his job).  At that point, he asked for my permission to get off the phone and go back to his misery.

My mission is educate people that life doesn't have to be miserable!  Oh, there are so many wonderful things to educate people about.  We can educate people about values, like what a family is really supposed to look like, and how they're supposed to interact with each other.  We can educate people about one of the greatest pleasures in this world, nachas.  We can educate people about living balanced, healthy and normal lives.  How about educating people how to give of themselves and their livelihood to tzedakah.  Another biggie is educating people about happiness.

It's not like we've got everything figured out, but we're on the journey and we know the address for the answers.  Indeed, the Torah is the lens through which we can find the answers to all of those questions.

I hope that you're on this journey with us, and that we can all help educate each other, until the world is bright with the light of Torah and Yiddishkeit, and the world reaches the perfection that we're all waiting for.

Shabbat Shalom, 

Rabbi Abrams


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