by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths
I love a good story, especially chassidic ones or stories of tzaddikim. Yet I find they come in two types... One is the miraculous story, the other is the see the dedication to helping others story.
In the first I find some inspiration in seeing that Hashem is indeed directly caring for His people in this world by providing tzaddikim in each generation. This is strengthening, but doesn't help ME find direction.
In the second, I begin to learn the difference between a living Gehenom (hell) and a living Gan Eden (heaven). When people are supporting and helping each other, when community cares for every member as if they are their own blood, the troubles of the world that affect each of us are smoothed over - and each has an opportunity to act like Hashem - to GIVE. And when people don't help each other, leaving each to suffer the ravages of seemingly random events of life - then daily life becomes hell.
When I read stories of rebbes and tzaddikim and the Rebbe and others who dedicated their lives to HELPING, I see those who would make this world Gan Eden. Then I know I'm looking at malachim (angels) right here in this world - and know that even I can make a difference, help someone else, and change this world, maybe for just a moment, for someone else from hell to heaven.
BS"D - בסיעתא דשמיא