Twelve years ago, during my visit with you in Chicago, I told you that I had come not only to take money for our brethren in Europe, but also to give – for that has been my life’s mission throughout years of work in the cause of G‑d-fearing Torah study and of kosher schooling. And now, Divine Providence has made me hit the road from country to country, all the way to America. “By G‑d are a man’s steps made firm” – with a specific mission for the above causes. And an emissary is obligated to fulfill his Divinely-ordained mission with self-sacrifice, under all circumstances.

I arrived in America, like all the rabbanim who have now arrived in America, not because we earned and deserved the privilege of having G‑d save us from the tyrant’s blood-stained hands. Rather, G‑d dispatched us here with a dual mission to American Jewry and to their rabbanim and lay leaders.

The first mission is to urge them all to do whatever possible to sustain and save the Jews abroad from sinking. Efforts have been made, to be sure, and all praise to those who have been supporting the overseas Torah institutions and my fund for the ransom of the people who are trapped in Europe. However, all of this is still far from enough. Greater exertion is called for. My dreadful experiences at the hands of the Yevsektsia’s inquisition do not compare with the unspeakable torments to which our Jewish brethren over there are being subjected. Over there, in the thick of warfare, their spirits are so crushed by cruel bondage that they have no strength to cry out. I was there with them for three months, and witnessed the horrendous situation in general and of Jews in particular. Intensified support must be organized energetically to provide food on the spot, and to increase the possibilities for emigration.

The second mission which Divine Providence has placed upon me is the furtherance of G‑d-fearing Torah study and of kosher schooling, here in this country. Immediately on my arrival, a fund for the ransom of captives was founded, and a yeshivah was established in the spirit of Tomchei Temimim in Lubavitch. The devout, chassidisher spirit of its students is also impacting the serious students of other yeshivos.

This visit to Chicago and the vicinity has been strenuous, but I am gratified to meet its rabbanim, householders, lay leaders and shul presidents, and in particular the heads of the religious and charitable institutions that are conducted in the spirit of the Torah.

I would now be happy to hear a report of what has been done in the field of the observance of family purity and Shabbos, and I am particularly interested to hear about the state of the education provided by the local Talmud Torah schools.1

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[At this point the local rabbanim summarized the local efforts regarding family purity, kashrus, Shabbos and education.]

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There is no need to dwell on the mournful impression left by the reports that we have just heard. The situation is deplorable. Even greater cause for heartache is the fact that so little is being done for Torah and Yiddishkeit, despite the fact that the local rabbanim enjoy respect – both because it is well deserved (unlike the communities in which such respect is deserved but not received), and because your community is willing to listen. In addition, the local Yiddish press is ready to cooperate. The state of neglect is apparent in every aspect of Chicago’s religious life. As one of the speakers expressed it just now, “the Jewish street2 is in ruins, and the Jewish homes are shattered.” That statement is no mere figure of speech. Sadly, it is a valid description of the state of affairs. Moreover, as the speakers themselves have said, the situation is deteriorating.

All the proposed improvements that we have heard are no doubt worthwhile, and with G‑d’s help will upgrade Chicago’s religious life. However, after all of that, those suggestions all deal with particulars, while the basic foundation on which everything depends is missing. Basically, the entire religious state of the Jewish people depends on the nature of the education and guidance provided by the cheder, the Talmud Torah and the yeshivah. The fate of the entire Jewish people, whether for religious life or, G‑d forbid, for the opposite, lies in the hands of the male and female melamdim, and of the principals and administrators of those institutions, and especially in the hands of their respective education boards. The future religious state not only of their pupils, but in fact of the entire Jewish people, depends on the ideological identity of all those office-holders.

So what should be done?

Matters of Torah and education must be entrusted to the hands of unswervingly G‑d-fearing people who have a proper conception of kosher education. First of all, the educational scene must be cleared of unclean disbelievers. Education boards should likewise be in the hands of G‑d-fearing individuals who are willing and able to cleanse the Talmud Torah schools of the living uncleanness of faithless principals, teachers and books. All of those will then be replaced in those schools and yeshivos by principals, teachers and books that diffuse the light of faithful Judaism. If this is not done immediately and earnestly, the destruction will (G‑d forbid) become even more intense.

Rabbis should explain the sorry state of education to their congregants, explicitly. They should warn parents that the principals and teachers who desecrate Shabbos are leading their schoolchildren to an active rejection of the faith. You rabbanim bear full responsibility for the current state of education. Realize that every victim of the local schooling scene, every boy or girl, who ends up with the missionaries, was sacrificed by your neglect and petty politicking with regard to that scene.

Rabbanim! Take firm hold of the controls, and fulfill your rabbinic duties with all the power that the Torah has granted you.

Address to the Talmud Torah Pupils

Since you attend the Torah-true, kosher Talmud Torah schools, and are taught by fine and observant male and female teachers, you should realize how important you are to your parents, your families, and to the entire Jewish people. You, being children, were chosen by G‑d to be His guarantors for the contract that He made with our forefathers, and with all of us, before the Giving of the Torah. At that time He demanded of the Jewish people3 that they give Him guarantors who would ensure that Jews over the ages would study the Torah, and fulfill its commands as to what one should do and what one should not do.

The Jews suggested various guarantors, but G‑d did not accept them – until the Jews said that their little children would be their guarantors that the Torah would be studied and observed throughout the generations. You therefore have good cause to be proud of the trust that G‑d has placed in you. Study energetically, conduct yourselves properly, obey your male and female teachers, show deep respect for pious folk and Torah scholars, and honor your parents.

May G‑d strengthen your hearts so that you will want to learn and be able to learn. Observe the mitzvos carefully. And may your parents bring you up to the study of Torah, to the wedding canopy, and to the performance of good deeds.

Address to the Male and Female Teachers

As teachers, you need to keep constantly in mind what treasures have been entrusted to your hands. Material treasures – gold, gems, intricate jewelry – are all worthless next to the priceless, G‑d-given gifts of treasure that the parents of these children have entrusted to your hands. Every child, regardless of gender or ancestry, is the supreme treasure – not only of his parents and family, but of the entire House of Israel.

In a prophecy to Yeshayahu,4 G‑d describes His people as a fruit-bearing orchard. What an exquisite name! And no one but G‑d Himself could characterize His people so precisely!

An orchard comprises various trees of diverse height, branches, leaves and fruit. The fruits, in turn, are diverse with regard to their appearance, fragrance, taste, and even their peel. Now, anyone with experience in botany knows how much toil is needed to plant a fruit orchard, and how much care must be taken to ensure that every sapling takes root and grows straight, that it is irrigated at the right intervals, and that it is protected from vermin and harmful winds. The orchardist works hard for long years, until he lives to see that his tender sapling has grown into a strong and healthy tree that yields its species of fine fruit. It is only then that he can enjoy the gratification of seeing that his labors over the years were crowned with an eventual harvest.

Jews are G‑d’s orchard and you, as teachers, are its gardener. Your task is to clear the orchard of faithless stones and filth, to work hard as you plant the tender saplings, and to focus all your skill and understanding and strength on ensuring that they take root properly. You must fasten the weak little saplings firmly in place, so that they will not be warped by harmful winds. You must vigilantly protect them from godless vermin and blasphemous pests.

As teachers, your gardening responsibilities demand understanding and strength, and a certain degree of self-sacrificing dedication. In return, the greatest moral and spiritual gratification will be yours, when you see that your frail little plants have grown into big, sturdy, thickly-branched trees that yield delicious fruit and beautify G‑d’s own orchard.

The fate of your pupils also seals the fate of their parents and the fate of all Jews. All that is in your hands, the hands of their teachers, and hence your weighty responsibility for the fate of Jews at large. In your hands lies the religious, moral and spiritual life or death of them all. When teachers provide kosher education, the Talmud Torah schools in which the pupils are guided in the path of the Torah and the mitzvos are holy and precious; when teachers are desecrators of Shabbos and provide a treif education, those Talmud Torah schools are nests of apostasy, and their principals are an impure blot on the Jewish people.

In contrast, the principals and teachers of the kosher educational institutions are the pride of the Jewish people.

May you all be blessed.

Address to the Administration of the Shul
and of the Talmud Torah School

[When the board of the A. L. Congregation presented their contribution to the campaign, the President, Mr. B., and his fellow board members asked the Rebbe if he was pleased with their relatively fine participation. The Rebbe responded:]

I would prefer to be pleased by your spiritual state rather than by your material state. This – the money for the yeshivos – one should have; spirituality one must have. There is a big difference between should and must: materiality one should have, spirituality one must have.5

I have heard that in your Talmud Torah school the children learn from an abridged Chumash. Let me ask you: Were you taught that way? How do Jews take the liberty of holding in their hands a Chumash which freethinkers6 have autopsied and mutilated? And out of that Chumash they teach your children!

Don’t imagine that those freethinkers have shortened only the Chumash. By doing so they also shorten the Jewish years of little children, whom they effectively hand over to the missionaries. Every Jew should realize that the Talmud Torah schools that use the abridged Chumash and other impure freethinking textbooks, the schools whose principals and teachers desecrate Shabbos and eat treif food – such schools are nests of apostasy. The parents of those pupils will lie down, after their 120 years, leaving no one to say Kaddish or Yizkor.

[The board members now explained themselves. The curriculum, they said, was drawn up by the education committee, which held that it was better for children in their first year to use the abridged Chumash. The Rebbe replied:]

An education committee that includes the abridged Chumash and other impure, freethinking textbooks is expelling children from the Jewish faith. It must be moved out of the way, without any compromise. Such irresponsible people should not – and cannot – be entrusted with Jewish education. Such an education committee is treif.

As gabbaim and heads of the Talmud Torah school, you must do teshuvah. Unknowingly, you have brought misfortune upon Jewish souls and defiled them with heresy. Purify your hitherto-treif Talmud Torah school. Clean out and throw away the freethinking grime. Shake off the irresponsible education committee and entrust the Talmud Torah school to the hands of reliable, G‑d-fearing educators – and G‑d will forgive your serious, unknowing transgression, and you will be happily provided with fine students.

May you all be blessed.