By the Grace of G‑d
Chanukah, 5732 [December, 1971]
Brooklyn, N. Y.

Greeting and Blessing:

I duly received your correspondence, including your most recent letter of the 11th of Kislev, in which you write about your background and present situation, etc.

I was particularly gratified to read in your letter about your progress not only to enrich your knowledge of Yiddishkeit [Judaism] but, in accordance with the teaching of our Sages that the essential thing is the deed – translating this knowledge and inspiration into the daily experience of Torah and Mitzvoth. Needless to say, since the Torah is "Our life and the length of our days," and the Mitzvoth are the things Jews live by – the experience of Torah and Mitzvoth must be a continuous process, and cannot be relegated to certain days in the year, such as Shabbos and Yom Tov [Shabbat and holidays].

With regard to various points and questions raised in your letter, it is, of course, difficult to explain such things adequately by correspondence. However, I will mention several salient points, after a brief introduction:

If one considers the world in which we live, the world at large, as well as the small world, namely man, it becomes evident that there is no uniformity, but many differences, both external as well as internal. Moreover, everything and every person has its own purpose or task, and this does not make anyone any more or less important, for all are important in the totality of things, just as every limb or organ of a body is important. Indeed, if one member would wish to change his function, it would not only disturb his own personal harmony, but would also disturb the total harmony. Imagine, for a moment, what would happen if the brain would wish to do the work of the heart to pump blood; it certainly would be disastrous, for even an extra tiny drop of blood in the brain would be dangerous, whereas the heart must always have an ample supply of blood. Similarly, if the heart would wish to do the work of the digestive organs, where even a tiny speck of food would be dangerous in the heart, and so on.

The same is true in regard to the Torah and Mitzvoth, as well as in regard to the destiny of the Jewish people, and its place in the family of nations. For reasons best known to G‑d Himself, He wished that there should be many nations in the world, but only one Jewish people, a people who should be separated and different from all the other nations, with a destiny and function of its own. Even in the future Messianic era, as has been prophesied by our Prophets, there will be a distinction between the Jewish people and non-Jews, where the Jews will retain the 613 Mitzvoth, whereas the gentiles have to observe only seven commandments with all their ramifications, which is also no small thing, as explained in various sources.

The above, I trust, will answer your question why should a Jew separate himself, and not be involved in the world at large. Indeed, if a Jew should completely separate himself from the world, it would be contrary to the Torah, since among the Mitzvoth which a Jew is duty bound to fulfill there is also the Mitzvo that he should try to do all he can to encourage the environment in which he lives that it will be permeated with the awareness of the above mentioned seven commandments given to the children of Noah, that these Divine commandments with all their ramifications should be implemented in the daily life. However, this does not mean that a Jew should take over functions which are not his, for the results would be as disastrous as in the analogy of the human body mentioned above. It is due to the failure to realize this, with the resulting confusion, that there is such a great incidence of intermarriage, etc., but it is difficult to dwell at length on such painful matters.

I will only emphasize the point that one's personal convenience, desire or gratification is no justification to involve oneself in something which is wrong, especially to involve another person, least of all a loved one, into such a situation. Even if the other party is agreeable, and sincerely so. For no person has a right to harm a second person, even if the latter desires to be harmed.

I trust you will not take amiss my writing on something which appears to be at first glance a personal and intimate matter, but since you wrote to me and brought the matter to my attention, I have no right to pass over it in silence. I would strongly urge you to consult an orthodox Rabbi, whose guidance would be in accordance with the Will of G‑d as is clearly spelled out in the Shulchan Aruch [Code of Jewish Law], and to inform him of all the aspects and details of the matter, with a view to rectifying it. No doubt the Rabbi would also wish to later discuss the matter with your wife. You may rest assured that acting in accordance with our Torah called Toras Chaim, the Law of Life the true guide in life, will be of real benefit to allconcerned.

In conclusion, I hope that you will accept the above in the spirit that it is offered, stemming from a deep concern which has to permeate one person for another, especially as the commandment of V'Ohavto L'Reacho Komocho [love your fellow as yourself] is one of the great principles of our Torah. I would have been greatly remiss if I had not written to you the above, although it necessarily had to be conveyed in very brief terms, all too brief in relation to the importance of it.

Now that we are in the auspicious days of Chanukah, recalling the struggle and triumph of Jews over the forces of Hellenism and assimilation which had threatened the very existence of our people, every Jew can take heart from the message and inspiration of Chanukah to overcome all difficulties regardless of the odds, as is emphasized in the special Chanukah prayer recalling the victory of the few over the many, and the physically weak over the mighty and strong, etc.

Hoping to hear good news from you, and wishing you a bright and inspiring Chanukah,

With blessing,

M. Schneerson