Having returned from a journey to daven with the Belzer chasidim, my very dear friend and holy teacher, Nadav Slovin, pitched me an idea. “We should all take turns being the Rebbe,” he said. Confused, yet fairly on board, I inquired as to what he meant. Nadav’s idea was that the Rebbe is so holy in large part because everyone around him supports him in being so. He wanted for us to each take turns trying to be as holy as we could. Everyone else would act towards the ‘Rebbe of the day’ as if they were the holiest person on Earth – prepare food for them, stand when they walk into the room, ask for brachot, etc.
A few Friday’s ago I was given the honor to share some words of Torah at an all school assembly. Terrified, I started to tell my story. A few minutes in, and I was getting nervous – it seemed like they were just not that into it. Then, as my eyes scanned the crowed, I caught glimpse of the Head of School wide eyed and smiling. To know that even one person was engaged with what I had to say gave me an astounding amount of confidence.
This is what Nadav had his finger on. Being there with another person when they are putting themselves out there is a powerful act of support – an act that can encourage and sustain otherwise unachievable heights. Creating space for each other to be our holiest, most true selves, allows that holiness to manifest into actuality.
We see this form of accreditation in Moses’s successor. The passuk says, “Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands upon him” (Devarim 34:9). Wisdom, leadership, and respect were instilled upon Joshua for no other reason than Moses put his hands on his head. Because Moses showed confidence in Joshua, Joshua believed in himself, “and the Israelites heeded him, doing as the Lord commanded Moses” (Devarim 34:9).
This is the type of confidence we can give to each other – this is the holiness we can allow each other to embody.
As we start off this new year forgiven, I pray we all give each other the opportunity to have changed. And in so doing, give one another permission to be holy – to be ourselves.