Chabad is influenced by the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Chassidism, who loved and valued each individual passionately. The calamities that befell the Jews during his lifetime in the 18th century, created a situation in which the Jewish population consisted of many simple and uneducated Jews alongside great scholars who looked down on the commoners. The Baal Shem Tov taught us to look deeper, beyond a person’s education and his outward behavior, into the depths of his heart where the divine spark shines and reveal it with unconditional love. The Baal Shem Tov taught, “G d wants the heart.”
Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of Chabad Chassidism, taught that you can reach the heart through the mind: through questioning, meditation and deep contemplation, and through reframing your concept of the world.
After the Holocaust, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson (The Rebbe), of righteous memory, understood that today life is different and the same. There are not as many simple Jews, but there are plenty of very complicated ones. The chasm remains; there is a fissure that at times appears between the Jews that rest on Shabbat and those who do not yet know its beauty, between those that cherish the wisdom of Torah and those who are looking for wisdom elsewhere instead.
The approach of Chabad today mirrors that of the Baal Shem Tov in his time. Look past the external make-up of a person and trust in the soul deep inside. You may disapprove of everything they do, and their views and beliefs may oppose everything you believe in. Don’t argue with them. Instead, be one with them. Unconditionally. You enjoy Shabbat? Enjoy it with them.
In 1957 the Rebbe called for his followers to join him in his mission of spreading the light of Torah and Chassidism to all four corners of the earth by becoming “Shluchim”, emissaries. The Rebbe challenged his emissaries to be lamplighters in the cities that they serve through touching the souls of every Jew, one by one.