By the Grace of G‑d
13 Kislev, 5723
[December 10, 1962]
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Greeting and Blessing:

I was pleased to receive the news of your forthcoming Dinner on the 20th of Kislev, the day after the historic Day of Liberation of the Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman, author of the Tanya and Shulchan Aruch and founder of Chabad.

It is both timely and meaningful to recall the following episode from his life and teachings:

The Alter Rebbe shared his house with his oldest married son, Rabbi Dov Ber (who later succeeded him as the Mitteler Rebbe). Rabbi Dov Ber was known for his unusual power of concentration. Once, when Rabbi Dov Ber was engrossed in learning, his baby, sleeping in its cradle nearby, fell out and began to cry. The infant’s father did not hear the baby’s cries. But the infant’s grandfather, the Alter Rebbe, also engrossed in his studies in his room on the upper floor at the time, most certainly did. He interrupted his studies, went downstairs, picked the baby up, soothed it and replaced it in its cradle. Through all this Rabbi Dov Ber remained quite oblivious.

Subsequently, the Alter Rebbe admonished his son: “No matter how engrossed one may be in the loftiest occupation, one must never remain insensitive to the cry of a child.”

This story has been transmitted to us from generation to generation; I heard it from my father-in-law of saintly memory. It was handed down because of the lasting message it conveys, one which is particularly pertinent to our time. It characterizes one of the basic tenets of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement—to hearken to the cry of our distressed Jewish children.

The “child” may be an infant in years, a Jewish boy or girl of school age, fallen from the “cradle” of Torah-true Jewish education, or it may be someone who is chronologically an adult yet an “infant” insofar as Jewish life is concerned, an infant in knowledge and experience of the Jewish religion, heritage and way of life.

The souls of these Jewish “children” cry out in anguish, for they live in a spiritual void, whether they are conscious of this or feel it only subconsciously. Every Jew, no matter how preoccupied he may be with any lofty cause, must hear the cries of these Jewish children. Bringing these Jewish children back to their Jewish cradle has priority over all else.