[Picture taken this morning]The world knows by now to expect from their Lubavitch friends to hear the impressive account of how many Shluchim there are worldwide.
We speak about numbers a lot.
“Shluchim all over the world!”
It is a source of true pride.
But, when you get down to it, come on…
Let’s stop pretending.
There really is only one Shliach.
Being in Crown Heights for the Annual Shlichus Convention is a one of a kind experience, filled with much inspiration, energy, and deep realizations of what it means to be a Shliach, a messenger for the Rebbe, for the world.
My eyes were wide this past Shabbos, as I tried to take in all the light from the figures that awake within me such intense pride.
Shluchim are so dynamic, and they all hold somewhat of a celebrity status in my mind.
All Shabbos, in my mind, I was thinking, “wow, so many Shluchim!”
I found myself at the resource fair Motzei Shabbos, looking around – “wow, so many Shluchim!”
I saw the convention picture, and, again, “wow, so many Shluchim!”
I am sincerely amazed, and the pride is ever-present.
But when I looked deeper into the common thread, the underlying foundation, of what really inspires me, I was forced to stop and reconsider the exact point of pride within.
My observation led me to rethink a common notion of the Shlichus revolution.
Are Chabad’s worldwide triumphs the result of many Shluchim? Do all the power, aliveness, and focus find its roots in the power of numbers?
And not just impossible, but just the opposite.
The Rebbe's greatness is not that he produced a multitude of emissaries. The strength of the Rebbe’s leadership is that he sparked and supported a team that held within a unique sort of oneness - the kind of oneness that is not impressed by numbers but instead driven by the underlying mission and message.
Sure, each Shliach has their unique description, the details of what a day looks like in their specific communities.
But, really, the difference in needs, abilities, and direction - it’s all part of the multi-faceted personality of one Shliach.
Because there is only one Shliach, there is no discord as to who the directives come from. Everyone has the same picture on the wall, the same hometown where their revolution was born.
Because there is only one Shliach, everyone is happy to hear about a generous donation to any Chabad house. There is only one Shliach, so everyone feels the gain.
Because there is only one Shliach, the emissary to Thailand addresses an audience of many, and everyone feels deep down that, “he is talking to me.” The words of one Shliach apply personally to every single person.
Because there is only one Shliach, a Bachur says he can’t wait “to go on Shlichus” and not “to become a Shliach.” He’s joining something, not becoming someone.
Because there is only one Shliach, hundreds of Shuchim’s children sit in a room with their arms around each other, and they are wise and capable beyond their years because they are truly one family.
Because there is only one Shliach, a bachur hugs a Shliach he may not really know. He knows one, though. And if he knows one, he knows them all.
Because there is only one Shliach, everyone is trying to do fulfill their purpose, instead of competing for the top. When you’re truly one, there’s no bottom and there’s no top.
There’s no separation between Shluchim. Because there is only one Shliach, the Rebbe says, “Light up the world” and all of a sudden an ex-hippy Chabadnik and a man from a legacy of Chassidim are doing the same thing; sparking Jewish souls, reviving communities, and paving the way for redemption.
Now that’s what I call true oneness.
The only surprising thing about the numbers is that there can be so many and still the oneness pervades. This is possible only because of the Rebbe’s remarkable vision and guidance. Such oneness is a product of a people in tune with their leader, their father.
So the next time someone starts to boast about the numbers, stop them in their tracks and tell them the truth. Say, “So many Shluchim. So what?” Show them that feeling the power in the unity is the truest and greatest source of pride.
Tell them that there is one Shliach.
Watch the smile on their face as it sinks in.
In bewilderment, they will ask, “Really? One Shliach, eh?”
Just respond, “Yup, worldwide.”