By the Grace of G‑d
In the Days of Teshuvah, 5732 [September, 1972]
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Greeting and blessing:

..Inasmuch as G‑d Himself has prescribed and enjoined upon each and every Jew the manner of Jewish conduct in the daily life — how is it altogether possible that there could be a situation wherein a Jew does not have the possibility of conducting himself, in all details of his daily life, in accord and the Will of G‑d, the Master of the whole world. Yet, as we all know and see it, in certain parts of the world, there is such a situation where Jews, and all their desire, and even Mesiras Nefesh (self-sacrifice), are actually precluded from adhering in every detail to the Will of G‑d, because of circumstances beyond their control. To cite a well-known analogy: Self-sacrifice can spur a person to jump from the roof, but it cannot make him leap from the ground to the roof.

The answer to the above questions — at any rate, briefly — is as follows:

To be sure, the essential thing is the actual deed. On the other hand, feeling and devotion are also of supreme importance. Thus, when a situation sometimes arises wherein a Jew finds it impossible, even with Mesiras Nefesh, to carry out a Divine commandment in actual deed, it evokes in him a distress and anguish at being unable to perform the particular Mitzvah; a true and profound anguish that pervades him through and through to the core of his soul. This brings him to such a close attachment to G‑d, and to Torah and Mitzvoth and Yiddishkeit in general, the like of which he could not have attained without the said distressing experience. In such a case, not only is he deemed quite guiltless for not having actually fulfilled the Mitzvah — since he had no possibility whatever of doing it, but he is rewarded for his intense desire to fulfill it: and what is even more important: His soul-life henceforth gains a profundity and completeness to which he might possibly never have reached in any other way.

Also in regard to actual performance, it becomes evident that when G‑d eventually takes him out of that situation and places him in circumstances where he is able to carry out also the Mitzvoh, or mitzvoth, which he was previously unable to fulfill, he now carries them out with a depth, enthusiasm and sincerity which he had not had before.

(Excerpt from a letter)