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In Melbourne Shabbat begins Fri 23 Nov 2018 07:59 PM and ends Sat 24 Nov 2018 09:00 PM
כ"ח חשון ה' אלפים תשע"ב
I once heard two teachers chatting about their common dislike for writing end-of-year report cards, especially the particular constraints of the genre where one is forbidden from saying anything directly negative, but is expected to couch any criticism or censure in roundabout phrases. They jokingly began imagining how an ‘honest' comment might read, were they just afforded to freedom to really speak their minds.
Its been a few years but I clearly remember a few of the lines they came up with, such as not as irritating as her older sister and, in a comment that has often since come to mind, may one day show potential.
I've thought about that last one a number of times because, for all its cynicism, one wonders sometime whether it is totally misconceived. We've all met people who give off an impression of absolute decadence, with no positive character traits to recommend them. Does everyone really have some potential? Maybe with some of us, what you see is what you get, and there's very little to get at that.
However, cynicism aside, we all recognise that everyone has some good; just that sometimes it's buried deep within and needs a bit of work to be revealed.
It takes a bit more effort to assume the best about people and judge them favourably, but it's worth it. Maybe the reason those teachers have so much trouble in the first place, is because they walk into the classroom with such low expectations of their students. If you anticipate that a child will fail, he'll probably live up to your expectations, but if you see him as an endless source of possibilities, just waiting for a touch of guidance and inspiration, you will treat him differently and induce far more positive results.
Given a chance and the right encouragement, people usually exceed expectations. However, a good teacher knows that the possibilities and potential were always there and he did nothing more than reveal it to a doubting world. Think of the example of our ancestor Yitzchak, who spent his life digging wells.
A well digger doesn't create water; he just reveals it. To remove the mud and silt blocking the mouth of an underground spring may be the work of hours, yet the affects can extend for ever. The potential was there all along and the water gushes forth of its own accord, the mentor's job is just to recognise that potential and to know where to dig.
There are thousands of chabad shluchim, rabbis and educators meeting in New York this weekend for the annual Shluchim conference. They will learn together, farbreng together and then take the inspiration of these few days back with them into their communities.
When the Rebbe sent his emissaries to serve local communities, he did not task them to ‘create' Jews or ‘convert the heathen' to a new and unfamiliar way of life, but to help people reveal for themselves the latent possibilities that lie within. Every Jew is a well of living water (Toldos 26:19) that just waits to be revealed. There is nothing miraculous about the process; the energy and passion lie just beneath the surface, hoping to be revealed.
The soul of a Jew just waits for someone to recognise the potential and begin clearing away the obstructions and blockages until it begins to flow of its own accord, gushing forth, in a never ending stream of rediscovered G-dliness and creativity.
If you wish to be seriously inspired, you too can tap into the passion and excitement that is the International Kinus of Shluchim. We will be live streaming the Kinus banquet on our website http://link.jewishmelbourne.com.au/go.asp?li=3470C8139D0412EDA485AEF7CEF06BC7&ui=9611A174E4AE201BB1E58D5B69AFF862from 9:30am on Monday morning.