By the Grace of G‑d
20th of Kislev, 5736
[November 24, 1975]
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Greeting and Blessing:

This is to acknowledge receipt of your letter of Rosh Chodesh Kislev [November 5, 1975].

I was pleased to note your determination to advance in matters of Yiddishkeit [Judaism], in actual commitment as well as in gaining more knowledge. There is the assurance of our Sages that “He who is determined to purify himself, receives help from On High,” and “A person sanctifies himself a little here on earth, and he is sanctified a great deal from Above.” If even a “little” sanctification brings forth a great deal from Above, how much more so more than a little.

I trust that you are maintaining contact with the Lubavitch people in ——, who will surely be glad to help you in every way possible.

I would like to add a few words in connection with greater “awareness” which you mention in your letter—a point which my saintly father-in-law often emphasized by the following illustration: When a person is hungry or thirsty, and desires to know how food and beverages satisfies hunger and thirst, the way to go about it is to actually begin eating and drinking to still his hunger and thirst, which will also enable him to better and more quickly understand the process of digestion. If he should attempt to reverse the order, and try to understand the process of digestion first, he will not have the mind or heart to understand it, and may never understand it. At first glance, it may seem puzzling how such physical things as food and drink can nourish and cultivate the mind. But the fact is indisputable. If this is so in the physical aspect of life, it is certainly so in the spiritual aspect of life. In order to develop a greater awareness and sensitivity and appreciation of Torah and Mitzvoth [its commandments], the first thing is to satisfy the hunger and thirst of the Neshama [soul] through the actual performance of the Mitzvoth in the daily life. If a Jew is in such a state that he does not even feel the pangs of hunger and thirst for Yiddishkeit, this makes it even more vital for him to begin with the actual observance of the daily Mitzvoth.

As usual, our Sages of blessed memory express the above in a few concise words, when they emphasized that the Torah was accepted by the Jewish people on the principle of Naaseh v’Nishma, putting Naaseh (we will do) before v’Nishma (we will understand).

At this time, before Chanukah, I send you prayerful wishes for a bright and inspiring Chanukah, and may all things go with you in a manner of “increasing the light,” in accordance with the message of the Chanukah lights which are kindled in growing numbers from day to day.

With blessing,

M. Schneerson