It1 is written that “your people are all righteous.”2 To whom does this refer? The Zohar3 explains that “whoever is circumcised is called a tzaddik.”39

“Accordingly,” states the Rebbe Maharash in a maamar,4 “the promise that ‘He will not let a tzaddik collapse’. Tehillim 55:23. applies to all Jews, who are called tzaddikim because they are circumcised. [...] Why, then, dowe see that so many Jews are in dire financial straits? Why are they not all provided for liberally?”

And the Rebbe Maharash answers his own question: “People are not lacking a livelihood; they are lacking trust. Every individual is indeed provided with a livelihood, for ‘He will not let a tzaddik collapse.’ It’s only that by lacking trust, a person sometimes turns off the tap.... If instead he were to place his trust in G‑d, he would earn far more. He would then see the fulfillment of the beginning of the above verse: ‘Cast your burden on G‑d and He will sustain you.’ ”5 [...]

The blessings that flow down to this world via my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz] are forthcoming not only when he was present as a soul vested in a body and could be seen with fleshly eyes. They are forthcoming now, too, when he cannot be seen with fleshly eyes. Indeed, after his passing6 the flow of blessings is more sublime, because corporeal limitations have ceased to exist. Moreover, those blessings are not only spiritual but also material.

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To consider this concept from close up:

An institution of the Rebbe should be conducted with an open hand, as in the verse,7 “I will walk about at ease.” In this spirit, the Sages speak of how G‑d reassures a person who is contemplating his forthcoming expenses for Shabbos and Yom-Tov: “Borrow on My account..., and I will repay the debt.”8 The same principle applies to one’s anticipated expenses for his children’s Torah tuition — and also, by extension, for one’s students, who are also called his children.9 (The source for the application of this principle to tuition fees is a statement in Sifri by R. Shimon bar Yochai, who is the source for the innermost, mystical dimension of the Torah10 — but [in addition] Rambam states it as a halachic ruling in the revealed dimension of the Torah.11 ) This, then, should be the guiding principle for the Yeshivah administration — to “walk about at ease,” spending generously according to need. As the Sages express the Divine reassurance, “Borrow on My account..., and I will repay the debt.”

(True, one of the administrators of the Yeshivah in fact “walks about at ease” and spares no expense. The only trouble is that he thinks that the possibility to be generous is his own doing, whereas one should know that in fact it is a blessing elicited by the Rebbe.)

Accordingly, when a prospective student arrives he should be accepted without any thought as to where one is going to find the money to pay for another mattress. Even the accountant’s warning that the balance is negative is no cause for alarm. Instead, one should “walk about at ease,” sparing no expense. And then the Holy One, blessed be He, says: “I will repay the debt.” [...]

As to buying an additional building, let them write out a check of four or five digits, or let it even be six, and the Rebbe will cover it. Such things have in fact already happened. People have seen that when they followed this path, they have met with success. [...] And I do not mean that the Rebbe will cover the checks in a spiritual sense, but actually and materially. As has already been said, one cannot discharge one’s [charitable] obligations with spiritual silver and gold, with the kind of silver and gold that serve respectively as mystical allusions to the love and fear of G‑d. The silver and gold that are needed are real and material. And not in the fullness of time, but within these two days — before the bank reopens on Monday morning.

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In one’s personal affairs, too, one should conduct oneself according to this principle, and cultivate the attribute of trust. One’s conduct will then accord with the above-quoted verse,12 “I will walk about at ease.” Or, in the words of another verse,13 “Open wide your mouth” [i.e., state all your desires] “and [then] I shall grant them.”

What concept underlies this approach?

Jews use material things in a way that utilizes them for holy ends and transforms them into vessels for Divinity.14 Rambam expresses this as follows:15 “A Torah scholar is recognizable... by the way he eats [and drinks and conducts his marital life],” and so on. Rambam proceeds to enumerate ten subjects in all, which correspond to the Ten Sefiros, and hence they also correspond to the ten faculties of the soul16 “that descend from them.”17 And some of these subjects are related to one’s material livelihood.

As was said above, with regard to spiritual matters such as one’s expenses for Shabbos and Yom-Tov and for Torah tuition fees, G‑d says: “Borrow on My account..., and I will repay the debt.”18 Accordingly, a Jew can conduct himself in this way with regard to his material livelihood as well, because his material affairs, too, become vessels for Divinity. In other words, every Jew is capable of transforming anything into an echo of Shabbos or (even more certainly) of Yom-Tov.

It is indeed conceivable that at an individual’s present level, his desire for material things in order to utilize them for spiritual ends is not utterly truthful, and that his desire for material things derives also from their material aspect. Yet the above capability remains.

This we see in a well-known Midrashic debate.19 [“When the Holy One, blessed be He, was about to create Adam..., the Attribute of Chessed said, ‘Let man be created, for man will do kindly deeds!’ The Attribute of Truth said, ‘Let him not be created, for man is all lies!’ ”] And in the Letter Concerning a Lowly Soul,20 the Alter Rebbe points out that even though man is prone to a certain lack of truthfulness, to the extent that Truth argued that he should not be created, Chessed nevertheless declared, “Let him be created!”

As I heard from one of the chassidim, in Lubavitch they used to say that this letter was written in response to a certain situation. In an earlier pastoral letter that appears in Iggeres HaKodesh in Tanya,21 the Alter Rebbe had admonished his chassidim for their “custom [...] to ask for advice in mundane matters, as to what one ought to do in matters of the physical world.” Despite this rebuke, his chassidim had continued to consult him on mundane matters. And this was the situation to which the Letter Concerning a Lowly Soul responds: Since, in the case of a lowly soul, the links of hiskashrus that bind him to his Rebbe are material, the blessings22 that flow to him [through the Rebbe] must also be material.