On Sunday afternoons, the Lubavitcher Rebbe would stand outside
the door of his office to greet and bestow a blessing upon anyone who
came to see him. He would often stand for hours as thousands of people
filed by, many of them seeking a blessing or advice about a personal
matter or a spiritual dilemma. The Rebbe was once asked how he had the
strength to stand all day, sometimes for seven or eight hours, to accommodate
everyone. The Rebbe beamed and replied: "When youre counting
diamonds you dont get tired."
The Rebbe Rashab was once asked by a Chassid: "Why do you so
emphasize the quality and value of simple Jews; how can they be compared
to the obvious greatness of the esteemed scholars and the pious?"
Knowing that the Chassid was a diamond merchant, the Rebbe asked him
to display several diamonds of different values. The Chassid complied.
Though he was surprised at the request, he knew that the Rebbes
wishes had deeper meaning. The Rebbe studied the diamonds for a while,
picked up one of them and exclaimed: "Ah! This must be the most
valuable of the bunch. Am I correct?" The Chassid did not want
to contradict the Rebbe even though this particular stone was not the
most precious. The Rebbe persisted: "Is it or is it not?"
The Chassid relented and said no. "How could that be? It looks
so beautiful. So large and bright." "Well," the Chassid
continued, "only a trained eye can appreciate the true value of
a diamond. The naked eye is unable to discern the diamonds worthits
cut, carats, clarity and color." The Rebbe smiled and said: "My
dear friend, the sameand even more sois true with souls.
The naked eye cannot see the value of souls. One needs a trained eye
to be able to distinguish the true value of a soul."
Why diamonds? A Rebbes every utterance is absolutely precise.
Why did the Rebbe choose this particular metaphor to demonstrate the
value of souls?
The answer becomes clear upon examining the nature of a diamond and
the process used in producing the precious stone.
Diamonds are as old as the universe itself. Most of them are found
deep beneath the earths surface and need to be excavated from
molten rock, called kimberlite. On the average, more than 20 tons of
kimberlite must be processed in order to procure just one diamond.
After the surrounding rock is crushed, what remains is the diamond
in rough. The rough diamond is then cut by sawing or cleaving (splitting)
along the grain of the stone. The pieces are then mounted in a fast-turning
lathe where the gem is shaped roughly by a diamond-tipped tool, followed
by the bruiting process, which rounds out the stones. Finally the diamonds
are polished, allowing all of their facets to emerge. The stone is then
placed in a holder (a dop), and facets are ground on the surface by
a spinning disk bearing a paste made of diamond dust and olive oil.
The cutting of each facet requires changing the position of the stone
in the dop. The final product is a brilliant crystal that refracts,
reflects and disperses light. Most diamonds are polyhedrons, meaning
they have many surfaces (facets), which are converted in the polishing
process into many more facets, the most popular being the "brilliant
cut," which has 58 facets.
The value of a diamond is determined by four characteristics: carat
(weight), color, clarity and cut.
Among the diamonds unique qualities is that it is the hardest
of all known substances, and it therefore can only be cut with another
diamond or diamond dust. "Diamond" comes from the Greek term
"adamas," which means "unconquerable." A diamond
is also known for its outstanding brilliance and fire.
Every phenomenon in life is our teacher, the Baal Shem Tov tells us.
So what can we learn from a diamond?
By using the analogy of a diamond to describe the value of each man,
woman and child, the Rebbe is telling us that regardless of externals,
every person is a true diamond, the toughest substance in existence.
Everyone has a divine neshama, a pure soul, and regardless of behavior
and outward appearance, every neshama remains intact. Unconquerable.
However, God wanted the pure neshama to descend into our material world
and demonstrate its power and glory and to illuminate the universe.
He uprooted the soul from its natural spiritual habitat and embedded
the diamond-neshama in the hard rock of harsh materialism, under layers
upon layers that initially shroud and obscure the fire and brilliance,
and even the very existence of the soul.
Our immersion in material survival makes it difficult for us to recognize
the spirituality within. The majority of our timemore than 20
tons of rock compared to a one diamondis preoccupied with work,
eating, sleeping, paying our bills, entertaining ourselves. No wonder
our inexperienced eyes dont see diamonds. But the trained eye
sees the diamond in others. The Rebbethe most shining diamond
of them all, whose selfless personality is a transparent channel and
expression of Godlinesssees the true value even when covered over
by mountains of rock.
To fulfill its purpose, the diamond needs to be excavated, cut and
polished. This is the mission with which every one of us has been charged.
The first step is gaining the awareness that in the hard rock is hidden
a precious diamond. We must identify the neshama-diamond and reach for
it with unconditional love. The second step is excavation and cutting:
clearing away the externals and allowing the diamond to emerge. To reveal
the diamond in a raw world of rock requires bittulpeeling away
the outer layers, shedding unrefined habits, eliminating the inappropriateallowing
for the diamond to surface. Some stones need to be sawed, others cleaved.
They then need to be rounded out and polished through Torah and mitzvot,
each mitzvah allowing another facet in us to shine. And finally this
process yields the completed diamond that radiates and beautifies this
Every diamond-soul has its own unique personality, its own chaine (the
sum of the Hebrew letters (gematria) of chaine equals 58: the
58 facets of a "brilliant cut")its strengths (carats),
clarity, color and cutand it must be treated in kind, befitting
its personal individuality. Each stone needs to be cut precisely, with
the greatest sensitivity, a most beautiful cut uniquely appropriate
for this particular stone.
We are all diamond cutters. The Rebbe, being the "master cutter,"
trains us all in the process. How appropriate that only a diamond can
cut a diamond. Only one soul can reach another. No machines, no other
powerful forces can do the job. Take the strongest body, the strongest
material force, and you can cut and shape any other piece of matter.
But not a diamond. The physical body cannot touch the ethereal spirit.
A soul, on the other hand, even if it is only soul "dust,"
can reach and touch another soul.
"When youre counting diamonds, you dont get tired."
The Rebbe isnt just telling us that everyone is a diamond, he
is also telling us why we must wait patiently, untiringly because
this tenacious attitude will bring the diamond to the surface. The Rebbe
is also directing us as to what we must do, what is our mission in this
world: we must recognize that all people are diamonds and help actualize
every individuals precious potential, by excavating, cutting and
polishing and revealing the brilliance within, allowing every man, woman
and childs inner personality to emerge and illuminate the world
in which we live.
Why did G-d create diamonds? Perhaps to have an example in our lives
of the value and preciousness of the soul; a soul that lies deeply embedded
in rock and which, when it emerges, shines with unprecedented brilliance