15 Tamuz 5781 / Friday, June 25, 2021 | Torah Reading: Balak
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Exquisitely Engraved

A Jewish soul is an engraving. A Jew’s connection to G-d is etched upon his soul, an inseparable part of his very being. Torah is not something separate from the Jew...


Success is assured, for one is not doing battle against a foe, and the goal is not the conversion of bad to good. The quintessence of a Jew is his soul, and that is always connected with its source. No matter how distant a Jew is from his religion, it is only an illusory separation. Beneath the layers of indifference that have enveloped a Jew, the soul still shines, untouched and untouchable. One need but remove the layers, and the soul is revealed.
A simple parable: Words can be written with ink or engraved in stone. In both cases words can be removed. The ink can be erased from the paper, and the engraving filled to obliterate the shape of the letters. The difference is that the ink and the paper are two separate entities, and once the ink is removed, new writing is necessary to provide new words. But with engraving, the letters are part of the stone, and one need but remove the silt which has filled the grooves to reveal the original letters.
A Jewish soul is an engraving. A Jew’s connection to G-d is etched upon his soul, an inseparable part of his very being. Torah is not something separate from the Jew, but part of his essence. And if, G-d forbid, a Jew has become alienated from the Torah, if the letters of the Ten Commandments engraved upon his soul have become filled with the silt of worldly grossness, one need but remove the silt, and the letters stand revealed. A Jew by his nature wants to serve G-d. We are but the instrument with which to remove the concealments and lay bare the reality which was always present. In our work of spreading Torah and mitzvos we need but make the first move, reach out a hand, and he will come running to grasp it. The quintessential spark of Judaism within every Jew which until now lay dormant will ignite into a flaming torch of longing for G-d.
When we approach a Jew with love and enthusiasm, with the warmth of our convictions, we can be sure that "words which come from the heart enter the heart." We must not speak coolly, not mechanically, and above all, not out of a sense of forced duty. Rather, reach out because a Jew cannot do otherwise than help another, because when one sees a Jew in spiritual darkness one’s own soul is in agony. How can one see a Jew in distress and not help him? He is my brother, son of my Father, his soul and mine linked together in eternity.
"Even if your dispersed are at the ends of the heavens, from there the L-rd your G-d will gather you and from there He will fetch you." Even if a Jew is spiritually at the "ends of the heavens," far removed from G-dliness, he is still "your dispersed." He is a Jew. He will never be forgotten.
This ingathering will be through Mashiach, who, as Maimonides writes, "will gather the dispersed of Israel." Our service in these last days of exile, our deeds and works, are the preparation to the coming of Mashiach. In other words, the Messianic age is dependent upon our actions now in exile. Even those who are totally removed from Judaism, the "dispersed of Israel" -- they too are part of our people, G-d’s people. We must do our utmost to ensure that they are gathered and brought to their people, to their religion, to their heritage. We can do no less than emulate our Maker.
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Excerpts from “Sichos in English”, reprinted with the kind permission of www.sichosinenglish.org

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