Once, a very patriotic guy visited Washington DC for the first time. As he walked by the great national monuments, he was filled with pride and love for the nation. But then suddenly he saw something that was completely out of place: he noticed not far from the White House there was a building that didn’t look like American architecture, and he heard people singing inside, but they weren’t American songs, and they were speaking and it wasn’t English, and weren’t dressed like Americans! The man was very offended. Here, in the nation’s capital, people were celebrating their own nations instead of America! He was filled with rage and decided to give them a piece of him mind.
He knocks on the door and says to the people inside “how long have you been living in the United States?”
They answer: “Thirty years.”
He says “for thirty years you enjoyed all the benefits of this country and you don’t have the decency to speak English, to dress like an American, to sing American songs, to build American structures. shame on you!”
Those inside were confused. One of them looked up at the man and said “excuse me but this is the Norwegian Embassy!”
Their job was to show America how they live, and how they dress, etc. If they dressed like Americans and sang American songs and spoke English, they would lose their jobs!
Every Jew, wherever we are, is an embassy. We are here in this world to show the world how it’s done Jewishly. So if we dress different, if we sing different songs, if we celebrate different holidays, that’s our job! If we stop doing that, we lose our job. So, are we justified in maintaining our customs? Of course we are! We are the embassy.
The greatness of the Rebbe’s achievement was that he raised an entire generation of ordinary, average students, but he raised them with the conviction that they are embassies, that they are not private citizens, and that you don’t live for yourself; you take responsibility for your family, for your community for the world. because we were born to make the world better. That’s our mission, that’s our job, that’s our purpose.