From an undated letter by the Rebbe

By way of general introduction, it is necessary to have a clear understanding of where certain movements stand in relation to authentic Judaism. A closer look at their tenets confirm without a doubt, that these movements are based on compromise, and the surrender of principle in favor of convenience, for an easier "adjustment" to a particular time and place.

The consequence of this attitude is, first of all, that once one begins making concessions, holding no more to the principle of the inviolability of the pure faith and Divine Law, there is no telling how far one will go. Human nature is such that once one accepts the
principle of compromise in matters of faith, there is bound to be a steady erosion, every time with a lighter mind and less qualms. Secondly, it is bound to undermine one's respect for one's religion, knowing that anyone can "do business" with it; trim it a bit here, a bit there; and whatever is left - what real value can be attached to it, and what binding force can it have? Moreover, one, at the same time, loses also one's self-respect, recognizing one's lack of courage and personal weakness to hold on to one's own belief, or the beliefs of his people, and taking instead the line of least resistance.

Young people, filled with energy and determination and unsullied faith are not naturally inclined to compromise in any field, much less in the higher values of life. This explains why most of the "conformists" in social and conventional aspects of life are to be found among older people. Consequently, young people take their personal convictions much more seriously and are bound to be more affected.

Has the present young generation been prepared to cope with the real aspects of life?

Unfortunately, in America at any rate, most parents, however well-intentioned, have been more concerned about their children's material, rather than spiritual, well-being. The reason for this is not hard to find. Having themselves had to face economic hardships, as immigrants or the children of immigrants, and having found that religious conviction and principles not infrequently proved "restrictive" in a materialistic society, they decided to do their utmost to shelter their children from the economic hardships which they had experienced. They were thus primarily interested in providing their children with careers and professions and other means of economic security, leaving it to their children to find their own way, eventually, in regard to such things as religion and a world outlook. However well-meaning the parents may have been, the result is the same: It fostered a way of life where principles have been sacrificed to expediency, and time-honored traditions have been relinquished formaterial gains, actual or imaginary.

Under these circumstances, it is small wonder that the tremendous upheavals which shook the world in general, and the Jewish world in particular, in our generation, have found young men and women almost totally unprepared. World wars on an unprecedented scale, followed by economic booms and busts, have made a shambles of hopes and aspirations even in the material sphere.

As for the world of the spirit, the bankruptcy of ideas and ideologies have left many young people terribly disillusioned morally and spiritually. A void has been created in their hearts and minds which they did not know how to fill. The widespread disillusionment and frustration among the young generation, and even among the not so young, with the resultant ethical, moral and social ills, are too well known, and too painful, to be elaborated here.

Fortunately, one has been able to clearly discern a new trend among our young Jewish men and women, especially academic youth, who come closer to the world of ideas and thought. Being children of The People of the Book, of essentially spiritual and holy people, they are by nature and heredity inclined, subconsciously at least, towards the spiritual. Their disillusionment and dissatisfaction have prompted them to search for a new way of life which would give them a slice of terra firma under their feet, make their life meaningful and put their mind at peace with themselves.

Some of them have been fortunate in making fateful encounters, by design or "accident" (everything is, of course, by Divine Providence) which have put them on the right track. Others, unfortunately, are still groping in the dark. It is the momentous duty and challenge of our day to help these young Jewish men and women to find their way back to the "fountains of living waters" to quench their thirst for life. We of Lubavitch have made it our "business" to do all we can to help them. But this, of course, is the duty and privilege of every Jew, since the commandment "Love thy fellow as thyself" applies to every one of us.

Needless to say, the transition from one mode of living to another, is fraught with trials and tribulations. Therefore, the sooner this critical period is over, the better. It requires determination and fortitude, and where these are not lacking (they are certainly not lacking potentially, and need only be brought to the surface), the difficulties will turn out to be much less insurmountable than they had loomed at first. It may sometimes require an initial leap to break away from the past, but then slowly but surely the going becomes increasingly easier. One must try to shorten the birth pangs of the transition and all the sooner emerge into the new-found world of Torah and Mitzvos, which holds the key to inner harmony and peace, true fulfillment and happiness.

From what has been said above, you will readily understand what my views are on the subject matter of your letter. You write about the clash between your original decision to follow what you know as the right way and your parents' reactions. But even from the parents' viewpoint, surely their first and ultimate desire is to see their children happy. Whatever their ideas of happiness may be, they surely realize that without inner harmony and peace of mind, life is a very dismal thing. Looking at the situation from their viewpoint, if you act under pressure and accept a life of compromise, it is possible that for a time friction will be avoided. But one must think in terms of a lifetime, not of immediate expedience; and, as outlined above, and as clearly indicated in your letter, this is the kind of life with which you will not be able to make peace. Sooner or later your parents will notice, or instinctively feel, that they had defeated their own objective.

The limitations of a letter must curtail the discussion. However, I trust it will suffice in presenting salient points which you could elaborate yourself.

Before concluding, I want to make reference to the person who figured in your encounter, whose life may well serve as an illustration. As you probably know, he was born and brought up, together with the rest of his family under the Communist regime. There seemed no possibility, nor any hope, in the natural order of things, to escape from there. One might have concluded that the only thing to do under the circumstances was to adjust oneself to the prevailing conditions; all the more so, since the religious minority to which he and his family belonged was not only a minority, but one which had been singled out for ruthless persecution by a dictatorial regime, which could not be toppled by democratic processes. Nevertheless, he and his brothers and family remained steadfast and would make no compromise and concession. Now he and his brothers have established their own homes in this free country on the same foundations of the Torah and Mitzvos of their parental home under the Communists, and they need not be ashamed of their past.

They realize that the freedom and opportunity which they enjoy here impose upon them additional obligations towards their fellow-Jews. They also realize that after such a large proportion of our people has been brutally annihilated in the Second World War, the obligation of every surviving Jew is so much the greater.

What has been said in this letter is by way of general analysis and throwing some light on the situation and its solution. As for the method how to bring it about, this must be decided upon in the light of the personalities involved, as well as the circumstances and factors. A friendly and pleasant approach, coupled with adequate firmness, is the method and way of the Torah. It is also the most effective method.