Empowering Expectations

Friday, 8 July, 2022 - 6:33 am

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

With such an eventful sendoff at the Bangkok airport, as I embarked on my trip to the Rebbe on the occasion of his yahrtzeit, you can imagine that the trip itself was special.

It was indeed extraordinarily inspirational.

More than 50,000 visitors prayed at the Rebbe’s resting place during this period. Including the mayor of New York.

There was one particular theme about the Rebbe’s approach to the nurturing of others, that grabbed my attention and became the message I took home with me.

Acceptance | Empowerment | Expectations

These are the ingredients needed when nurturing children, students or anyone else in your sphere of influence.

Let me explain.

Mrs. Rishe D. was interviewed about her experiences as a young girl accompanying her parents to a private audience with the Rebbe. She told about the feeling of love and acceptance and how the Rebbe offered her a choice of lollypops (she chose red).

‘But’, Mrs D. continued, ‘a good grandmother also receives her grandchildren with love acceptance and lollypops’.

‘Visiting the Rebbe was different’ summed up Mrs. R. ‘When visiting the Rebbe, we also felt that the Rebbe had expectations of us.’

Expectations sound a bit judgmental. Many a child has complained that they have felt judged when they didn’t live up to their parents’ expectations. This has sometimes led to negative results and low self-esteem.

It is therefore important to emphasize the overarching feeling of love and acceptance that was the backdrop of all interaction with the Rebbe.

From the context of total acceptance, expectations are an indication not of judgmentalism but rather empowerment.

Expectations on their own, can be a source of feeling judged.

When the expectations for what that person can achieve, are preceded by non-judgmental acceptance, this becomes the empowerment that is so critical to personal growth.

The Rebbe totally accepted every person the way they were and saw the inherent good in them.

Yet he also saw the latent potential that was still waiting to be unpacked and fulfilled.

As Rabbi Jonathan Sacks Z”L said ‘ You saw your reflection in the Rebbe’s eyes, and you were suddenly much bigger than you thought you were.’

I met Boruch D. in NY. While he grew up in a Chassidic home he veered off the ‘straight and narrow’ and became a bit of a ‘hippy’. Boruch was not outwardly Chassidic looking. His aunt once brought him to receive a dollar and a blessing from the Rebbe and proudly said about her nephew Boruch that ‘he has now become a good young man. He prays daily, wears Tzitzis….’

To which the Rebbe responded, ‘why do you say he has become good, he was always good’.

This was the Rebbe’s trademark acceptance.

‘Boruch, you are already good’.

But the interaction didn’t end there.

The Rebbe then gave Boruch a dollar for tzedakah and said ‘this is for an addition in all good things’.

The Rebbe was stating his expectations for Boruch to increase in doing good things.

This is a winning combination.

Acceptance plus Expectation = Empowerment.

The Rebbe taught this by example.

Take this message and apply it to your life.

First of all, recognize that you are amazing. Hashem loves you. Just as you are.

Then, recognize that there is a role Hashem is expecting you to play which only you can fulfil.

He expects you to rise to that occasion. To aim for greater heights.

If He has expectations, and of course you believe in Him, then that means that you have the means to fulfill those expectations.

You must be bigger and more endowed than you previously thought.

That should make you filled with an inner peace and self-esteem. And it should produce within you an inner drive to do even better than before.

After all, if G-d believes in you, who are you to say you don’t believe in yourself.

He – G-d the Creator of all of existence - knows better.

Treat your children in this way. Your students. Peers. And anyone else you interact with. The world will be a kinder more loving and more good-deeds-filled place.

I came home to Thailand (yes, Thailand is home…) feeling that more is expected of me.

To do more good, to more people, in a more beneficial way.

And if that is expected of me it’s not because I am being judged disparagingly.

Rather, it means that G-d has empowered me to do even more.

Feeling empowered is blessedly uplifting.

I hope you read these lines and apply this way of thinking and feel that way too. Because if we act collectively, we have so much more power. The power of community and joint effort is very great.

Let’s change the world together, deed by deed.

And bring Mashiach NOW.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

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