I have a family member who I haven't seen in quite some time. Unfortunately, this is a boy who is traveling some rocky roads in recent years. Formerly in Yeshivah, he has fallen into some pretty dark alleyways.. I haven't seen him in over 2 years, given that we live on opposite sides of the globe. I've heard about the paths that he's been taking and have davened for him many times, but it wasn't until this past week that I saw him again. This was a boy who was the sweetest of the sweet, dressed in black and white a few years back, with tremendous potential, who now looks like he's been living on the street since birth. Tattoos, chains, pants down to his knees. As much as I wanted to show this boy my love, seeing him like this was so shocking that I couldn't cover it up. I couldn't give him the hug that he truly deserved. It broke my heart, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about my own inability to get past his appearance. Oy, H" Yisbarach, how appearances are so hard to get past.
As I thought more and more about it, I thought back to how this boy looked only a few short years ago. The before picture looked like any other Yeshiva boy. And now the after picture, well, is a whole different story. But I keep asking myself - what has really changed? If this boy would have dressed himself in a "Yeshivishe" levush the other day in advance of our meeting, my hug would have been on a whole different level. My feelings would have been entirely different. This realization hurts. I should have been able to give this boy my entire attention and love without his appearance creating a barrier between us. But I couldn’t. Before I saw him, I tried to mechazek myself with eitzos that I could give him, Torah’s that I can give over to him. But instead, I was blown over by his appearance.
After our meeting, I thought about the chelek Elokah that is within him, despite his appearance, and despite his actions. I thought about the potential within him. I thought about who he was, and who he could become. And then I reminded myself about Rebbe Nachman’s Lesson “Azamra” in Likutey Moharan I : 282. In that Torah, the Rebbe teaches about the pasuk in Tehillim Psalm 146:2 - Azamra l'Elokai be-odee! "I will sing to my God as long as I live!". I reviewed the Torah, and realized it is the medicine that I needed to reach out to those like this boy. Listen to what Rebbe Nachman says:
“Find the good in others...
KNOW that you must judge all people favorably. This applies even to the worst of people. You must search until you find some little bit of good in them. In that good place inside them, they are not bad! If you can just find this little bit of good and judge them favorably, you really can elevate them and swing the scales of judgment in their favor. This way you can bring them back to God.
This teaching is contained in the words of King David in the Psalms: "And in just a little bit (ve-OD me-at) there's no sinner; when you think about his place, he won't be there" (Psalm 37:10). King David is teaching us to judge everyone favorably. Even if you consider someone to be totally bad, you must still search until you find some little bit of good in him. There in the place of this tiny bit of good, that person is not bad! This is the meaning of the words, "And in just a little bit there's no sinner..." In other words you must seek out the little bit of good that is still in him. For in that place he is not a sinner. Maybe he's a bad person. Even so, is it really possible that he is totally devoid of even the slightest modicum of good? How could it be that all his life he never once did anything good? By finding one tiny good point in which he is not bad and thereby judging him favorably, you really do raise him from being guilty to having merit. This will bring him back to God. "In just a little bit there's no sinner!"
By finding this little bit of good in the bad person, this place inside him where he is not wicked, through this "...when you think about his place, he won't be there." When you examine his "place" and level, "he won't be there" in his original place. For by finding some little bit of good in him and judging him favorably, you genuinely raise him from guilt to merit. And "when you think about his place, he won't be there". Understand this well.”
In our quest for Deveikus (closeness) to Hashem Yisbarach, we are making hishtadlus to mechazek other Jews around to world to bring about Achdus within Klal Yisroel in the hopes of arousing divine compassion towards our people, in order to help to bring the Geulah Sheleimah, Bimhaira V'Yameinu