Editor’s note: To the Rebbe, all criticism was self-criticism. As he saw it, finding fault with others was simply an avoidance of one’s own responsibility to rectify whatever was amiss. Here we bring you freely translated excerpts of two letters, both from the spring of 5719 (1959), which exemplify this point:
…Regarding what you write about the nature of Chabad’s activities in the Holy Land, it is known that, in such cases, one must first make the utmost effort to do whatever is dependent upon oneself. And if you see that some other person is not fulfilling his task, this should prompt you to a greater and more intense effort on your part.
This, for two reasons:
On the most basic level, if you see a deficiency—even if it is in your fellow’s domain—you must do everything in your power to fill the lack.
Furthermore, Chassidic teaching—as taught by the Baal Shem Tov—tells us that the very fact that you were made aware of a deficiency in a particular area is a clear indication that it is your responsibility to rectify it. For certainly you were not shown this for no reason!
In another letter, the Rebbe writes:
…Regarding your despondency, which you explain as brought on by the weakening of certain activities of the Lubavitch Youth Organization, particularly….
It is obvious and self-understood that your reaction should be the very opposite of what it is. To employ the analogy of the human body: if a person recognizes a certain weakness in one of his organs, would it occur to him to deal with this by inducing a weakness in his other organs? On the contrary: one of the ways of healing the weakened organ is to strengthen the other parts of the body.
And are not all Jews as one body?
Adapted from the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe by Yanki Tauber
. Igrot Kodesh, vol. XVIII, pp. 306-307.
. Ibid., p. 341.