Upon reflection after the recent Kinus HaShluchim, the question is: What is behind the success of Chabad shluchim? Is there a role model that Chabad houses follow?
The Medrash extensively describes the operation of Avraham Avinu. In the middle of the desert, he set up a tent with four doors, one in each direction. In that tent he would serve hungry travelers food of the best kind and he would not charge them anything. The Medrash tells us the main staples at Avraham Avinu’s table were meat and wine.
It is noteworthy that until this very day, the signs of a royal feast are the two staples of meat and wine. These are also primary items on the menu of Yom Tov meals. Commenting on the verse “V’somachto b’chagecho – you shall rejoice in your festival,” the Gemara focuses on the word “simcha” and says, “ein simcha ela b’bosor v’ein simcha ela b’yayin” – What generates simcha is wine and meat.
One of the successes of Chabad houses, and especially those on campus, lies in the great Shabbos feasts. The shluchim and shluchos, Hashem bless them, serve a royal table that includes challah, fish and other varieties of food, and, of course, wine and meat. Some of the students may come for the meal – which is not only delicious but also free.
So the student may come for the meal or for any other reason of his or her choice. Nevertheless, they stay for the d’var Torah, for the songs, for the Jewish festivity, for the Jewish warmth and spirit. It invokes in them a sense of Jewish identity and Jewish continuity and they remain part of the Jewish people. That was the success of Avraham Avinu in his day and that is the success of shluchim in our days.
It is, therefore, safe to say that the one who opened the “First Chabad House” is Avraham Avinu, as Chabad Houses today are modeled after Avraham Avinu’s work and his activities.
According to a 2020 study by the Pew Research Center, two in five Jewish adults (2.2 million people) engage with Chabad each year. In 2021, a survey of synagogues in America found that the number of Chabad congregations has grown by 199 percent since 2001 and is today the largest network of synagogues.
This is as gratifying as it is heartwarming.
This comes, as mentioned, as shluchim copy a page out of the book of Avraham Avinu and the steady encouragement of the Rebbe to approach another Jew with dedication and selfless devotion.
The Rebbe said many times that the key to our youth is only by shining positivity, acting charitable, being open, and spreading warmth. That’s the only way that we are going to reach our Jewish youth and that is the approach of the Rebbe’s shluchim and Chassidim.