Editor’s Introduction

The late Reb Zalmon and Roselyn Jaffe ע"ה had the distinct privilege and merit of carrying on a unique correspondence with the Lubavitcher Rebbe. To date, we have discovered approximately 260 letters that they received from the Rebbe over the course of 40 years.

Reb Zalmon’s mother, Golda Rivka was the youngest of three sisters who were born in Ra-kas-hik, Lithuania. Their father was a chosid of both Rabbi Shmuel and Rabbi Shalom DovBer, the fourth and fifth Rebbes of Lubavitch. In the early 1900’s the second sister, Rochel Leah, joined her husband Menachem Mendel Schneur Zalmon Bor in Manchester where he had travelled to seek out a livelihood. She soon asked her younger unmarried sister, Golda Rivka, to join them. While in Manchester, Golda Rivka met Zev Jaffe, whom she married in 1910.

Far removed geographically from the Rebbes, contact was extremely sporadic, until 1923 when the eldest sister, Hinda Malka, arrived with her husband Rabbi Shmuel Rein who became Rov of the Kahal Chassidim Shul in Manchester. Shortly after his arrival, Rabbi Shmuel reintroduced the family to the importance of corresponding with the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak, and seeking his advice.

The Jaffes’ first correspondence with the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel, was through the famed chosid and Shliach, Rabbi Bentzion Shemtov, or, as they affectionately called him, ‘Shemmy.’ Rabbi Shemtov travelled far and wide raising funds for the Rebbe's institutions and planting the seeds of ‘Chasidishkeit’ wherever he went.

On the 13th of Sivan 1958, the family of Zalmon and Roselyn Jaffe were injured in a serious road accident in which their younger son, Jeffrey (Gedalya), was tragically taken from them. This was a crucial turning point in the Jaffes’ relationship with the Rebbe. Immediately upon hearing the news, the Rebbe sent a letter of comfort and consolation. On the 15th of Sivan, a second letter was dispatched with blessings for a full recovery. Not long afterwards, they recognized the need to meet with the Rebbe personally.

In the winter of 1959 they made their first journey to the Rebbe, who spent many hours in Yechidus with them. The Rebbe offered them encouragement and elevated their spirits. They immediately formed a special relationship with the Rebbe who virtually took the entire family under his wing. It was then that Reb Zalmon took upon himself his life’s mission – to bring joy to the Rebbe.

On his return to Manchester, he attempted to increase the entire city’s connection with the Rebbe, by encouraging numerous individuals to correspond with the Rebbe, and organizing the first charter flight to visit the Rebbe in 1961.

Reb Zalmon viewed the Rebbe not merely as a Rebbe, but also as a father and confidant; someone to whom he could divulge the depths of his heart and soul. He hid nothing from the Rebbe, writing directly from his heart. He would write a letter every week, although he did not necessarily receive a weekly reply. He was fond of saying that he did not want to be a ‘Tzoros’ Chossid – one who only writes to the Rebbe in times of need. His greatest joy was to inform the Rebbe of glad tidings and good news.

As can be seen by the letters in this book, the Rebbe reciprocated this sentiment.

* * *

Global Warming

“England's climate is on the cold side all year round, and Englishmen are basically conservative, reserved and cool‑headed, not given to a display of exuberance and over‑reacting…”

So wrote the Rebbe to Reb Zalmon in 1980, after a nearly 30-year relationship.

Throughout his years, the Rebbe worked tirelessly to uplift a downtrodden generation of Holocaust survivors and sought to pave the way for the imminent Redemption. England was part of the Rebbe’s grand plan and vision, and Zalmon Jaffe was one of those who had the privilege to be a partner in this great work.

I had thought that things had changed a bit in England in recent years…

Lubavitch here, as well as in Manchester, Great Britain and elsewhere, has, with G‑d's help, succeeded in breaking the ice‑age.1

Futures Market – Making Deals With G‑d

The Rebbe’s letters to Reb Zalmon cover many topics, both personal and communal. Undoubtedly however, most prominent in this voluminous correspondence is the Rebbe’s letters regarding Tzedokah (charity) and its direct effect on one’s business success. From his very first letter to Reb Zalmon, the Rebbe imparted his revolutionary approach to charity giving:

In my opinion, however, you should immediately make a resolution, bli neder, to increase your charitable commitments to a bit more than 10% and not wait until you see an additional increase in your business. Rather, you should immediately fulfill the Talmudic dictum, “aser bishvil shetisasher,” which implies that first one gives maaser [tithe] (and one is not particular about the exact sum and gives a bit more) and we can rely on G‑d’s faithfulness to fulfill His promise of ‘tisasher.’2

After ‘testing the waters’ with Reb Zalmon and receiving a positive response, the Rebbe goes on in his next letter to elaborate the benefits of this unconventional approach towards charitable giving:

Your determination to give Tzedoko above Maaser, is certainly praiseworthy, and in addition to all else, it is a Segula for good business and avoidance of losses, so that not only would your anxiety about your surplus stock prove unfounded, but even bring a profit, in accordance with the words of our Sages ‘Aser bishvil shetisasher.’3

Even when business wasn’t doing so well, the Rebbe demands that he keep up his additional charitable contributions:

Although you write that business leaves much to be desired, I hope that in these days between Purim and Pesach which are auspicious for our people, there has been a noticeable improvement, especially as you are keeping up your contributions to Tzedoko, which is an additional Segula for success in business.4

And again:

I was especially pleased to learn from your letter that even when business was not all that could be desired for a while, you have maintained your Tzedoko at somewhat more than “Maaser,” which showed that your faith in G‑d did not weaken, and G‑d does not remain in debt and rewards generously, so that before long one can see that one’s faith was justified.5

It was at such a difficult time in Reb Zalmon’s business that the Rebbe added the following handwritten post-script6:

Finally, when the ‘big payoff’ does come through, the Rebbe doesn’t hold back his vision of even greater blessing!

I was pleased to read … that you so quickly saw the fulfillment of G‑d’s promise, “Test me now herewith, saith our G‑d... if I will not open for you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing more than enough.” (Malachi 3:10). Thus, your pledge of £500 for Kfar Chabad, has been returned to you many fold. It is a pity that you did not pledge more, so that the benefit would have been so much greater. I trust, however, that this will be a lesson for the future, to remember how trust in G‑d is well rewarded.7

At one point there arose a question regarding the amount of money Reb Zalmon was giving to charity, relative to his financial position:

What is perhaps even more important is to remember that your business turnover has grown quite remarkably since we began to discuss your Tzedoko contributions. I believe I mentioned to you that sometimes the order is “asseir” first, and then comes the “tisasheir,” and sometimes it is reversed, namely, G‑d extends His “credit” first, increasing the turnover of business and a proportionate increase in profits, expecting confidently that the “asseir” will follow in a commensurate measure. In your case the latter order was followed. Hence, the increase of your Tzedoko contributions should be at least proportionate to the increase in the volume of business, especially, as in your case, bli ayin‑hora, the volume increase has been lma'alo miderech hateva (supernatural).8

In later years the Rebbe became synonymous with charity, using every occasion to distribute dollars to everyone he met, to be given to charity; whether it was at Yechidus, Farbrengen or the famous Sunday morning ‘dollar line’. In those early years, however, the Rebbe was training his Chasidim as to how charity should be given.

* * *

“Mr. Manchester”

Another significant topic in the Rebbe’s letters to Reb Zalmon is his communal responsibility (askonus), both for the wider community as a whole and for Lubavitch in particular.

In the spring of 1955, Reb Zalmon wrote to the Rebbe of his election as president of the Shechita Board in Manchester. The Rebbe replies on the 2ndof Tammuz:

Since you have again been elected to a prominent communal position, I trust that you are using all your influence both in a wider circle, as well as among your relatives and friends, to strengthen their faith and confidence in G‑d and feel certain that all G‑d does is for the good.9

After his re-election four years later, the Rebbe reveals his keen insight into the democratic process:

It happens that promises before elections are not always kept after elections. Therefore, even if the said person will not always abide by his promises, I trust that it will in no way affect your work for the benefit of the community. Furthermore, the Zechus Horabim will stand you in good stead and you will be successful, which will at the same time also provide additional channels to receive G‑d’s blessings in all your affairs, public and private.10

Often, the Rebbe referred to Reb Zalmon as “Mr. Manchester.” As such, he was expected to be at the forefront of all Lubavitch activities in the city.

I received your letter of December 4th, in which you write, all too skimpily, about the Yud Tes Kislev Farbreng. I was glad to receive indirect reports, however, that it was a considerable success, and that it was largely due to your considerable efforts, not only in the preparation for it, but also as the Chairman of the affair.11

On another occasion:

I looked in vain for some word about the preparations for Yud Shevat, but I take it for granted that this is an omission only in writing, but in fact you had a very inspiring gathering in observance of this auspicious day.12

When the responsibilities and commitments became too great a strain for him and it was felt that he was exerting himself too much, Reb Zalmon turned to the Rebbe for advice:

Needless to say, it is difficult to express an opinion at this distance as to what should be the time limit allotted to communal responsibilities. Besides, it is difficult to make a hard and fast rule, since the need is not the same in a uniform way, in every matter and at all times. However, the way of the Torah is, generally speaking, the golden rule, avoiding extremes, but occasionally to lean over “to the right.”13

* * *

Of the 260 letters that the Rebbe wrote to Reb Zalmon, many of them consisted of a standard pastoral text, letters containing New Year and other festival greetings. The reader will find these blessings already published in various other publications.

However, the vast majority were letters of unique content. From this vast collection we have chosen those letters that we think to be interesting, relevant and beneficial to the reader. Those parts of the letters that are of a personal nature have been omitted, indicated by ellipses.

Footnotes in standard text-size are the Rebbe’s; those in a smaller text-size are by the editor.

A number of letters were written in Hebrew or Yiddish and have been translated for this book. My thanks to Professor Dovid Katz, Professor of Yiddish Language at Vilnius University Lithuania, for his assistance with the Yiddish translations.

For the benefit of those readers unaccustomed to the Jewish calendar, all dates have been rendered in the Gregorian calendar as well. These modified dates do not appear in the original letters.

For further convenience, at the end of the book the reader will find a thorough index and a full glossary of terms for those words in Yiddish and Hebrew. My thanks go to my sister-in-law, Miss Dina Jaffe, for her efforts in composing these.

* * *

To read a letter from the Rebbe is always an exciting event. To be given access to an entire treasure trove of letters is a dream. I thank my father in law, Rabbi Avrohom Jaffe for allowing me the privilege to sift through and organize his father’s archives. In the process we discovered misplaced letters and memories. For some we were able to find only a second page; for others we had to search for a date as it was missing or erased. Though 40 years have passed, my father in law’s memory hasn’t failed him and he was able to place all events concisely.

Special mention must be made of Rabbi Shmuel Lew, Mr. Manchester’s son-in-law. His valuable advice and help is greatly appreciated.

The opportunity to do all this wouldn’t have been possible without the willing support and encouragement of my wife. When I began this project I thought it would be quick and simple; it then ballooned into many hours, days and late nights. I thank her for her assistance and tolerance.

* * *

It has been eleven long years since we have last heard our dear Rebbe teaching us, and three years since Reb Zalmon and Roselyn passed on.

It is our fervent prayer and wish “that we should all merit to see very soon the final and true Geulo through our Righteous Moshiach. And in the meantime, may there be for all Jews “Light, Joy, Gladness and Honor.14

Avremi Kievman

Liverpool, England

In the days15