The First Day of Selichos,
5710 [1950]

To1 the Students of the Yeshivos:
May G‑d’s blessing be upon you.

Greetings and Blessings!

With the sanction of the learned rabbis who head your yeshivos, I would like to address myself to you - my loved ones, students of the yeshivos - in particular, in addition to my letter of Chai Elul.2

The happy privilege with which Divine Providence has enabled you to be counted among those whose portion in life is G‑d’s Torah, and the unique characteristic with which G‑d has endowed young people, giving them unusual strength and energy, - these two gifts charge you with a distinctive responsibility: to stand in the forefront of those who are active, and who activate others, in giving spiritual tzedakah to those who are poor in understanding, disbursing this tzedakah with a generous eye and an open hand.

Our Sages have stated decisively: The positive commandment of studying Torah is superior, in itself, to the other mitzvos. It is considered their equal because study brings action in its train.3 However, if a particular mitzvah cannot be carried out by others - for example: if a person knows that his words will be heeded more, or if what others are doing does not suffice for the mitzvah in question, then he is obliged to interrupt his study, perform the mitzvah, and only then return to his study.

In the days of the approaching month of Tishrei (May it come to us with blessing!), the month during which every Jew is obliged and privileged4 “to refresh his deeds and improve his deeds,” it is the task of every yeshivah student to gird himself with ever-increasing vigor:

(a) In avodah that relates to himself: to rouse himself in true teshuvah, accepting upon himself the yoke of G‑d’s sovereignty, the yoke of studying the Torah with the awe of heaven, and the fulfillment of the mitzvos joyfully;5

(b) In avodah that relates to others: to bring near to the Torah those who need to be brought near, and to lend strength to those who need to be strengthened - in the avodah of teshuvah, in the study of Torah and in the fulfillment of the mitzvos. What is called for, above all, is extensive publicity in every appropriate manner - that all Jewish boys and girls, children and adolescents, should be given an authoritatively Jewish education (chinuch hakasher) in the time-honored traditions of our people, without compromise.

“The6 Holy One, blessed be He, said to His people: ‘If you better your ways, I shall rise from the Throne of Judgment and take My place on the Throne of Mercy; for you I shall transform the attribute of stern justice to the attribute of mercy.’”

From one who blesses you and who seeks your blessing - that we all be inscribed and sealed for a good year,7

Menachem Mendel ben Chanah Schneerson

Son-in-law of the Nasi, his holy honor,
Our master, mentor and Rebbe (of Lubavitch);
May the memory of a tzaddik be a blessing,
for the life of the World to Come;
His soul is in the hidden realms on high;
May his merit protect us;
And may I serve as an atonement for his resting place.8