By the Grace of G‑d
4 Elul 5734
[August 22, 1974]
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Greeting and Blessing!

I am in receipt of your letter of 14 August. Needless to say, I am very sorry that my previous letter caused you some anguish, which, of course, was neither intended nor anticipated. I therefore hasten to reply to your letter in order to clarify my intent and, hopefully, to dispel your anxiety.

By way of preface, you must not think that I take personal offense if the suggestions which I convey in writing or orally are not followed. Certainly, in your case, there was no thought in my mind that if my suggestions were not accepted there would be cause for apprehension. It is only that when I am asked for advice and the like, I offer it as I see it, to the best of my knowledge, in the best interest of the inquirer, and in the case of your husband and yourself—in the best interests also of those in your environment.

Now to your letter and my previous one, to which it refers: I am certain that —— can accomplish a great deal in his field, and that he can accomplish it in a way that will be beneficial and to the cause of Yiddishkeit, which will be a source of blessing to yourselves and many others, as indicated above. The more the activities are in harmony with G‑d’s directives—and Shabbos observance is one of the most important ones, not only as a basic Mitzvah of the Torah, but also of the Ten Commandments—the wider are opened the channels to receive G‑d’s blessings.

In the present instance there is a further benefit in that generally when there is a proposition to appear in a show or entertainment, and, in the nature of things, such propositions may have both positive and negative aspects—the question of Shabbos and Yom Tov observance can serve as a test of its desirability. For if it has to be declined on this ground, it is an indication that it is not desirable also on other grounds, including the material aspect.

The above may seem like a mystical approach to material things. But on deeper reflection it can be seen that the mystical approach is also a practical one. Moreover, in recent years we have seen that where certain celebrities who insisted on Shabbos observance, their religious convictions were respected. To cite some instances: The American Grand Master of Chess, Samuel Reshevsky, participating in a tournament in Moscow, refused to play on Shabbos, and the game was postponed for after Shabbos. And although religion is not at a “premium” in that country, it only raised his prestige. It was also beneficial to him from a practical viewpoint, for it gave him an opportunity to rest an extra day in between games, which, needless to say, are rather strenuous.

The world chess champion, B. Fisher, who is a Jew, though he professes to be a follower of the Seventh Day Adventists, also refused to play on Shabbos, even though he forfeited the game, but it did not hurt his chances to win the crown.

A further example from the world of business. A personal friend of mine participated in an International Fair in Moscow some 4 or 5 years ago. He notified the authorities that he could do no business on Shabbos, and a special session was arranged for him on Sunday. It turned out highly satisfactory for him, even business-wise, quite unintentionally and unexpectedly.

You write that you hesitated to show my letter to ——, not knowing if he would follow my suggestion, etc. But I do not see why you should be apprehensive, since, as I explained above, it is not connected with any stricture on my part. It is only free advice which, I believe, is for his benefit also materially, in addition to the spiritual aspects. But if he is not ready yet to accept it, I am certain we will remain good friends as before.

May I add that apparently I give —— more credit than you, for I firmly believe that he is capable of foregoing the material gain and personal satisfaction of appearing in a show if he will be convinced that there is a worthwhile cause to warrant it. At any rate, my suggestion was based on the assumption that it would come—as you express it in regard to yourself and also—“from within, on a voluntary basis,” being certain that —— already has it “within” him, and only needs to bring out to the surface in actual deed.

Be it as it may, I trust that the present letter will not cause you a “difficult week,” G‑d forbid, and I am looking forward to good tidings. Especially as we have now entered the month of Elul, which is an auspicious month for Jews in all their affairs.

At this time, in accordance with the centuries-old Jewish custom to wish one another a Happy New Year from the beginning of Elul, I extend to you and —— and all yours prayerful wishes for a Kesivo VaChasimo Tovo for a good and sweet year.

With blessing,