If you went through the full Chabad schooling system (any time in the past 50 years or so) then you know what I’m talking about. We heard it almost every day, and definitely at every farbrengen: shlichus. We were given the message at every turn; that shlichus is the most important thing in the world, that being shlichim of the Rebbe is the greatest achievement – and maybe even the only worthy one.

We all grew up admiring the Rebbe’s shlichim – those people who would go out to the far corners of the world to spend every day of their lives helping other people, spreading Torah, building Jewish communities, and doing exactly what the Rebbe wanted. They were the Rebbe’s Army and we just couldn’t wait to join them.

Not only did we admire the Rebbe’s shlichim, we did everything we could to be like them. Our schools were the best training camps for this one purpose. We learned to approach strangers and ask if they were Jewish. We learned to have conversations about G-d with just about anyone. We practiced and gained hands-on experience in planning large scale events of all kinds. We were camp counsellors from age 16, and Hebrew School teachers from 17. By the time we finished High School we had travelled and experienced more than most people twice our age. We had already done plenty shlichus. We were ready for this.

If you were like most Chabad teens, you finished high school certain that you were soon going out on shlichus. You might have even written a dating profile that said you were looking only for someone who wanted shlichus. Because what else could a Chabad Chassid possibly do with their life?

But then something happened. Or didn’t happen. Many of us, even some who grew up on shlichus, didn’t end up on going out on shlichus. Many spent hours, days, years hunting for a position, but never found a match. Some found that they just didn’t have the personality to be a pulpit Rabbi or Rebbetzin. Others discovered that they fit better working in the business world. Mostly, many young Chabad couples discovered that going out on shlichus today doesn’t work for everyone.

Were we disillusioned? Misguided? Are we a generation of failures?

Who’s fault is this? Should we stop teaching our young Chabad students about shlichus? Tone it down a notch?

Maybe it’s time we step out of the box. The Rebbe spoke a lot about shlichus, and built a brilliant army with remarkable accomplishments around the world. The Rebbe always spoke proudly of the shlichim. But the Rebbe never gave a square definition of the Shliach’s job.

Shliach •sha-lee-akh•

noun

A person who lives in a remote town and establishes a Chabad House. Typically gets confused for an Amish family, and overuses words such as “permeate” and “encompass.”

Nope. Nope. Let’s try this instead:

Shliach •sha-lee-akh•

noun

A person who represents the Rebbe wherever they go, and in whatever they do. Constantly strives to make the world a better place, and spread G-dliness even in the most unlikely of places.

Turns out that Shlichus is for everyone. That we didn’t all train for nothing, and that we’re not a doomed generation of nobodies after all.

We’re a generation that was powered up with a special energy and strength to turn over the world. It wouldn’t just be a shame to let it all go to waste, it could be fatal. That energy needs to go somewhere. We learned to get our motivation from helping others and from being a constant representative of Chabad and all it stands for. We need to do that in order to continue on as chassidim in a challenging world.

Chabad families belong on shlichus.

Maybe that shlichus isn’t in the middle of nowhere, maybe it doesn’t involve opening a new Chabad House or starting a preschool. Maybe some of the Rebbe’s Army need to do their job from within the working world, while living an otherwise seemingly normal day to day life.

So let’s start a revolution. Let’s start looking for shlichus everywhere. In business, day jobs, teaching, meeting people on the street, shopping in the mall. If your mindset is to fulfil the Rebbe’s mission, you are doing the Rebbe’s shlichus – you are an important part of the Rebbe’s Army, and you should be proud of it.

In Neve Chabad we’ll be taking this a giant step further. The entire town will be built and designed so that everyone knows they’re on shlichus, at every moment, no matter their day job.

The Rebbe told the early chassidim of Kfar Chabad that they are all shlichim, and all responsible to spread chassidus out beyond measure (שיחות קודש תשכ”ב, 335). They weren’t just a closed community to mind their own business. They were given a special responsibility to do from a special location.

shlichim

Neve Chabad will be an additional special location, bringing a unique new commodity to the table, while working together with Merkos and Aguch in Israel. The community will be centred around a resort where guests from around the world are welcome to experience Judaism hands-on, and learn about the Torah in a personal way. The town will be an oasis where chassidus comes to life from every corner.

Shlichim from around the world will be able to bring group tours for visits or retreats. Tourists looking for fun and meaning wrapped in one experience will come and find plenty to do. First-times and old-timers will be able to stay over to spend some time in the books. Truth-seekers who are hunting for meaning, and worn-out people who just need a refresh from the world will come and find exactly that.

Every Neve Chabad resident will be involved in helping strangers and spreading chassidus. They will give shiurim, learn one-on-one, lead tours, invite guests for Shabbat meals, answer questions, design exhibits of practical Judaism, and mostly – know that at any moment someone might be watching them to see an example of a real Chabad Chassid.

Neve Chabad will be a town of regular people with regular jobs who are also proud shlichim in an extraordinary army.

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Today the Neve Chabad community is temporarily living in Be’er Sheva while waiting for the land to be ready for construction. Even before building our town though, we’re constantly on the Rebbe’s shlichus. Follow us on our blog or Facebook to hear more of our adventures.