Furthermore, I earnestly ask of my esteemed listeners,

וְעוֹד זֹאת אֶדְרוֹשׁ מִמַּעֲלַתְכֶם,

On the above matters between man and G-d, the Alter Rebbe referred to himself as merely “repeating reminders.”

Here, however, as he begins to speak of the relationship between man and man, he uses stronger terms.

not to cast aside my words, in which I have asked that every man be upright and walk with integrity, just as “G-d made man upright,”52

שֶׁלֹּא לְהַשְׁלִיךְ דְּבָרַי אַחֲרֵיכֶם, אֲשֶׁר עָרַכְתִּי שִׂיחַ, לִהְיוֹת כָּל אִישׁ יָשָׁר וְהוֹלֵךְ בְּתוּמּוֹ, כַּאֲשֶׁר "עָשָׂה הָאֱלֹקִים אֶת הָאָדָם יָשָׁר",

nor to seek “numerous calculations”53 regarding “the pretexts of man’s steps and a person’s thoughts and devices.”54

וְלֹא לְבַקֵּשׁ "חֶשְׁבּוֹנוֹת רַבִּים", מֵ"עֲלִילוֹת מִצְעֲדֵי גָבֶר וּמַחְשְׁבוֹת אָדָם וְתַחְבּוּלוֹתָיו".

It is not man’s task to weigh the motives of his fellow.

For that is the work of heaven and not an occupation for flesh and blood.

כִּי זוֹ, מְלֶאכֶת שָׁמַיִם הִיא וְלֹא מְלֶאכֶת בָּשָׂר וָדָם.

Rather, every one should believe with absolute faith in the precept of our Sages, of blessed memory: “And be humble of spirit before every man,”55 without exception,56

וּלְהַאֲמִין בֶּאֱמוּנָה שְׁלֵימָה בְּמִצְוַת חֲכָמֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: "וֶהֱוֵי שְׁפַל רוּחַ בִּפְנֵי כָל אָדָם" בִּכְלָל,

for it is a true statement and a correct proverb that every man becomes better through his fellow.

כִּי יַצִּיבָא מִלְּתָא וְתַקִּין פִּתְגָּמָא, שֶׁכָּל אֶחָד מְתוּקָּן מֵחֲבֵירוֹ.

Since every individual possesses specific qualities that others lack, the realization by disparate people that in essence they comprise one whole, enables them all to be complemented and perfected by each other.

The above form of address, “Furthermore, I earnestly ask of my exalted listeners…,” is expounded by Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak, sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, on the nonliteral level of derush. Noting that אֶדְרוֹשׁ מִמַּעֲלַתְכֶם can also be understood as speaking of “calling forth exalted qualities,” Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak once remarked:57 “This form of address does not mean that the Alter Rebbe was confining his appeal to an exclusive group of exalted individuals; after all, he was addressing this letter to his Chasidim at large. Rather, in using this phrase, he was implying an underlying plea: Call forth your exalted qualities!

With regard to the following pair of phrases, “not to cast aside my words, in which I have asked…,” Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak explains that the former phrase refers to the indirect and transcendent (makif) mode in which the Alter Rebbe influenced his Chasidim while the second phrase refers to his simultaneously direct and internalized (pnimi) mode of influence.

Finally, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak points out that the Alter Rebbe’s following affirmation that “every man [literally:] is better than his fellow” really means that one’s fellows enable one to become a better person; i.e., as translated above, “every man becomes better through his fellow.”

Thus, too, it is written, “All the men of Israel…associated together like one man.”58

וּכְתִיב: "כָּל [אִישׁ] יִשְׂרָאֵל כְּאִישׁ אֶחָד חֲבֵרִים",

Just as one man is composed of many limbs, and when they become separated, this affects the heart, for from it, there issues life,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁאִישׁ אֶחָד מְחוּבָּר מֵאֵבָרִים רַבִּים, וּבְהִפָּרְדָם נוֹגֵעַ בַּלֵּב, "כִּי מִמֶּנּוּ תּוֹצְאוֹת חַיִּים",

therefore, by our truly being all like one man, the service [of G-d] in the heart i.e., prayer will be firmly established.

אִם כֵּן אֲנַחְנוּ הֱיוֹת כּוּלָּנוּ כְּאִישׁ אֶחָד מַמָּשׁ – תִּיכּוֹן הָעֲבוֹדָה בַּלֵּב,

To consider both this divisiveness and this harmony on the cosmic level, in terms of the relation of souls to the Divine Presence: The above sentence means59 that divisiveness among Jews affects, as it were, the Divine Presence, the “heart” of the Jewish people; conversely, since the task of prayer is to connect a soul with its source in the Divine Presence, cultivating one’s sense of unity with one’s fellows—which in turn connects all souls with the Shechinah—enhances the Divine service of prayer.

And from the affirmative [you may infer the negative].60

וּמִכְּלַל הֵן כוּ',

(The bracketed clause is euphemistically omitted in the Hebrew original and merely hinted at by “etc.”) I.e., when unity is lacking, the service of prayer is likewise imperfect.

That is why it is said, “To serve Him with one purpose”61 (literally, “with one part” or “with one shoulder”): only when all Jews fully unite in this way can it be said that they “serve Him.”

וְעַל כֵּן נֶאֱמַר: "וּלְעָבְדוֹ שְׁכֶם אֶחָד" דַּוְקָא.

The Alter Rebbe resumes his plea to his Chasidim: Therefore, my beloved and dear ones, I beg again and again that each of you exert himself with all his heart and soul to firmly implant in his heart a love for his fellow Jew,

וְעַל כֵּן אֲהוּבַיי יְדִידַיי, נָא וְנָא לִטְרוֹחַ בְּכָל לֵב וָנֶפֶשׁ לִתְקוֹעַ אַהֲבַת רֵעֵהוּ בְּלִבּוֹ,

and, in the words of Scripture, “let none of you consider in your heart what is evil for his fellow.”62

"וְאִישׁ אֶת רָעַת רֵעֵהוּ אַל תַּחְשְׁבוּ בִּלְבַבְכֶם" כְּתִיב,

Moreover, [such a consideration] should never arise in one’s heart [in the first place];

וְלֹא תַעֲלֶה עַל לֵב לְעוֹלָם,

and if it does arise, for even a person who has attained the rank of a beinoni cannot prevent a thought from presenting itself to his mind,

וְאִם תַּעֲלֶה –

one should push it away from his heart63 “as smoke is driven away,” as if it were an actual idolatrous thought.64

יֶהְדְּפֶנָּה מִלִּבּוֹ כְּהִנְדּוֹף עָשָׁן, וּכְמוֹ מַחֲשֶׁבֶת עֲבוֹדָה־זָרָה מַמָּשׁ.

For to speak evil [of another] is as grave as idolatry and incest and bloodshed.65

כִּי גְדוֹלָה לָשׁוֹן הָרָע כְּנֶגֶד עֲבוֹדָה־זָרָה וְגִילּוּי עֲרָיוֹת וּשְׁפִיכוּת דָּמִים.

And if this be so with speech, [then surely thinking evil about another is even worse,66]

וְאִם בְּדִבּוּר כָּךְ כוּ',

for all the wise of heart are aware of the greater impact [on the soul] of thought over speech,

וּכְבָר נוֹדָע לְכָל חֲכַם לֵב יִתְרוֹן הֶכְשֵׁר הַמַּחֲשָׁבָה עַל הַדִּבּוּר,

whether for the good or for the better.

הֵן לְטוֹב וְהֵן לְמוּטָב.

This really means, “whether for good or for bad.” Here, too, however, the Alter Rebbe uses a traditional euphemism (“for the better”), which could be understood to mean, “for that which needs to become better.67

Thought is a soul-garment that is more intimately involved with the soul than speech. For this reason, (a) good thoughts leave a deeper impression on oneself than good speech, and conversely, evil thoughts leave a deeper impression than evil speech; (b) thought is a constant, just as the soul itself is a constant, whereas with regard to speech,68 “There is a time to keep silence and a time to speak.”

May the good L-rd, Who blesses His people with peace, bestow peace and life upon you forever more,

וַה' הַטּוֹב הַמְבָרֵךְ אֶת עַמּוֹ בַּשָּׁלוֹם, יָשִׂים עֲלֵיכֶם שָׁלוֹם וְחַיִּים עַד הָעוֹלָם,

as is the wish of him who loves you deeply from heart and soul.

כְּנֶפֶשׁ אוֹהֵב נַפְשָׁם מִלֵּב וָנֶפֶשׁ: