Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
Good morning from New York. Here are a few lessons I learned here at the annual gathering of the women emissaries of Chabad.
1. Unity is not a cliche. Particularly against a backdrop of internal strife in Israel, the outreach activity of 6,000 female Chabad emissaries throughout the world is significant. It is a testimony to the possibility of those who disagree finding common ground. The love for a fellow Jew and finding the good in everyone are essential components of living together in harmony, in recognizing that what we have in common is greater than what divides us.
2. Our mission is for all ages. In the front row, the most veteran emissaries, who will never retire, are seated. Behind them young mothers are seated with their babies who have just recently been born. No, there is no maternity leave for emissary mothers.
3. The power of women. The success of these emissaries is proof that a very public life is possible within the framework of traditional Jewish observance. On the contrary, Torah and Chasidut and faith have given these women the strength to be a wife, a mother, and an activist, even in faraway places, initiating projects and building Jewish institutions from scratch.
4. We don’t see the whole picture. The thousands of smiles on the faces of the women in their group picture obscure the fact that their lives are far from perfect. I heard a lot about difficult challenges, loneliness, and homesickness. These women are not sorry about their chosen path, but those of us on the outside see only their successes and none of their struggles.
5. Everyone is a potential emissary. The goal of these emissaries is to make their work infectious: Even though we don’t appear in the emissaries’ picture, we all have the potential, wherever we are, to be one of them, to enrich the lives of others. We don’t have to take up residence in Kathmandu or Mexico, but only need to change how we look at and act upon those around us.
Thank you to the thousands of emissaries in the group picture (can you identify any of them?) for the past few days. You have given me much food for thought . . .