One day “out of the blue,” very unexpectedly, during Shevat 5713 (January 1953), I received my first personal letter from the Rebbe. It was written in Yiddish. Following is my translation:

I was pleased to receive regards from you through Rabbi Shemtov. I was especially pleased to hear from him that your business is going well, thank G‑d, and the Almighty should help you, that your business shall go from good to better.

According to my opinion however you should take it upon yourself, bli neder [without a vow], to immediately give from your earnings something more than maaser [a tenth] to charity organizations and not to wait until you see increased success in your business ventures, but to immediately fulfill the saying of our sages of blessed memory: “Give a tenth in order that you should become wealthy,” which indicates that first one gives the maaser (and we are not so exacting in that, but give a little more), and one can rely on the honesty of the Almighty, that He, blessed be He, will fulfill His promise of bestowing riches. And a wealth which the holy Torah calls wealth, is that which will be used for healthy Jewish and happy matters. And may Hashem, Blessed be He, give you good fortune.

With blessing of hatzlocho.

Rabbi Shemtov just happened to be in Manchester at that time. I proudly showed him the letter from the Rebbe. He insisted that I reply right away to the Rebbe, and that I could actually write in English. I followed his advice.

A completely new vista - a new era - had opened before me. I now had a confidant and an advisor, a “father” upon whom I could implicitly rely. It is certainly a great relief to be freed from the burden and responsibility of having to make vital decisions on one‘s own.

It is a great comfort to be able to receive an unbiased opinion and objective advice, especially from a saintly person who will intercede on one‘s behalf, through fervent prayer, directly to our Heavenly Father.

In due course, I received a reply to my letter. It was in English too. In fact, most of our correspondence henceforth was written in the English language.

On Iyar 20, 5713 (May 5, 1953), the Rebbe wrote:

I was pleased to receive your letter. You need not excuse yourself for writing in English, and should not hesitate to continue to do so. The important thing is that your letters should contain good news.

I was gratified to note in your letter that you feel the need and urge to devote more time to learn Torah, and that to increase the amount of tzedakah cannot make good the deficiency in the time of study. That this is true we can see from physical life. Each organ of the body must receive its nourishment, and although strength in one indirectly benefits also the rest, each and every one must receive its own blood and nourishment. Spiritually, the soul has its own 248 “organs” and 365 “blood vessels,” namely, the positive and negative precepts, respectively, which make up the spiritual stature of the Jew. And although a greater effort in one mitzvah benefits the whole organism, each mitzvah has its own function which cannot be substituted by another.

I trust this feeling of the need for more time for study, which springs from an inner desire for Torah, will be translated into practical deed, and without loss of time, and that you will go from strength to strength as our sages rule: “Maalin b‘Kodesh.” [Increase in holy matters.]

Your determination to give tzedakah above maaser, is certainly praiseworthy, and in addition to all else, it is a seguloh [good omen] for good business and avoidance of losses, so that not only would your anxiety about your surplus stocks prove unfounded, but even bring a profit, in accordance with the words of our sages “Aser bishvil shetisasher” [give a tenth in order to become wealthy].

I am looking forward to receiving good news about your coming addition to the family. It would be advisable to have all the mezuzos checked in the meantime.

May G‑d help you and your wife to raise your children to the life of Torah, chupah and massim tovim [good deeds], and that you continue to increase your share of Torah and mitzvos.

For the following six years - until Shevat 5719 (January 1959) when I had the merit and pleasure of actually meeting the Rebbe at 770 - I enjoyed a regular correspondence with the Rebbe, thank G‑d. This continued even after I began visiting the Rebbe, and continued until the Rebbe‘s passing. In all, I received almost 240 letters from the Rebbe. They cover a wide range of subjects - communal and general, as well as personal. The Rebbe himself very carefully read the letters before signing, because on many of the letters there were alterations and additions made by the Rebbe in his own handwriting.