Take responsibility. This is one of the main messages that the Piaseczna Rebbe wanted to pass along to us. Today, 76 years ago, he was murdered in the Holocaust. Up until the last moment of his life, he continued to teach, to guide, and to give strength to those around him. Here are two tidbits from his teachings:
- Who is our most important educator? Parents, teachers, friends? In fact, it’s us. And so the rebbe explains: “It is not sufficient to teach young people that they are obligated to listen to the voice of their teachers. The main thing is to penetrate their hearts with the understanding that they themselves are their own educators. They alone are responsible for developing into magnificent atzei chaim, trees of life.”
- But how do we educate ourselves? Is it enough merely to desire this? Absolutely not. A true aspiration or spiritual desire demands work to bring it about: “Only a spiritual desire that a person truly wants and works hard to fulfill may be called by that name. If you do not work for it, even if you claim to really want it – this is not a true spiritual desire, but a kind of congratulatory, if heartfelt, blessing for yourself. An unrealistic, inauthentic spiritual desire can be very great, but it’s just a fantasy. This is not the case with a true, authentic spiritual desire, a desire inseparable from the work required and undertaken to fulfill it.”
The Piaseczna Rebbe’s children were murdered in the Holocaust. He did not leave any descendants behind, but left a glorious legacy, for generations to come, on the true meaning of education.
Translation by Yehoshua Siskin