[This letter,1 dated 6 Teves, was published in connection with the conclusion of the recital of Kaddish2 after the passing of the Rebbe Rayatz.]

By the Grace of G‑d

Opinions vary3 as to how long Kaddish should be recited:4 throughout one’s life; twelve months and eleven days; a whole year, including the additional month in a leap year; twelve months; twelve months less one week; eleven months; and eleven months less one day.

For us, the authoritative ruling is the custom of our Rebbeim, as is recorded in an extract from the will5 of the Rebbe Rashab - that the eleven months of Kaddish should be discontinued a month and a day before [the yahrzeit]. If, for example, the yahrzeit falls on Yud Shvat,6 then Kaddish should be said up to and including Tes Teves.7 This in fact is the view of a clear majority of the legal decisors of recent generations.

According to the writings of the AriZal8 - and this teaching is cited by the poskim - the recitation of Kaddish is also connected with the ascent of the soul from one level to the next within Gan Eden.9

From this it is clear that with the conclusion of the eleven months’ recitation of Kaddish, this pattern of ascents comes to an end and is replaced by a new one, for, as our Sages teach,10Torah scholars have no rest [in this world nor] in the next, as it is written,11 ‘They shall proceed from strength to strength.’ ”

It follows of necessity that every one of those who have a bond with my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz], ought to exert himself more than until now in strengthening his hiskashrus. Every individual should make an earnest reckoning in his own soul as to what he has done in this regard in the past eleven months, and should compensate for whatever is lacking - in the ways that we have been taught by our Nasi, viz., my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz] - in intensifying his connection with him (i.e., to him), so that as the Rebbe ascends, he, too, will ascend.

And, as our Sages assure us,12 “He who sanctifies himself a little below, is sanctified a great deal from above.”

Menachem Schneerson