by Rabbi Sholom Avtzon
A Mashpia was always a central figure in Lubavitch. The Rebbeim would send young chassidim to learn from and be guided by them. A mashpia is a role model on how one should conduct themself, how one should daven and serve Hashem.
By a chassidishe farbrengen, the mashpia speaks and tries to inspire others to refine themselves and strive to go in the ways of Chassidus, fulfill a mitzvah meticulously and learn nigleh and Chassidus. Sometimes they are in the challenging position of demanding from others to improve or even change their conduct. Obviously it is done with love and caring, but it is a tremendous responsibility and not always so easy.
Chassidim always availed themselves to the opportunity of being granted a yechidus with the Rebbe. Being that each person and their particular situation was different than the other, their questions and requests were also different. Some asked for guidance, others for advice, and everyone wanted the Rebbe’s brocha, for whatever the need was.
One evening two mashpi’im entered the Frierdiker Rebbe’s room for a yechidus. They both asked the same question. How can I demand from others [to improve? I know I am not perfect, so what gives me the moral authority to demand from somebody else to improve themselves? Don’t our sages instruct us adorn yourself and then adorn someone else]!
To the first mashpia the Frierdiker Rebbe replied, Vi’balt du muntz by zich, keintz munen by yenem – Since you demand from yourself [to improve], you can demand from others to improve.
When the second mashpia entered and asked the very same question he replied, az du veist munen by zich, keintz du munen by yenem – when you will demand of yourself, then you can demand from others.
Rabbi Avtzon is a veteran mehanech and author of numerous books. He is available to farbreng in your community and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.