By the Grace of G‑d
22nd of Elul, 5716 [August 29, 1956]
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Mrs. Rachel Altein

Blessing and Greeting:

I received your letter, in which you describe your economic circumstances and certain other conditions which are the causes of dissatisfaction and lack of spiritual gratification.

If you have a copy of your letter, and will re-read it again in a more objective frame of mind, I think you will come to the conclusion that human life on this earth unfortunately is not free from various factors which bring about unhappiness; and that this is universal, though the causes vary: in some cases it is children, in others – health, in still others – Parnosso [livelihood], and so on. To go through life in complete happiness, is not destined for man. One of the basic things, however, is to have a clear vision on the fundamental issues, and to cultivate attitudes. You surely know the explanation of the [biblical] words "baShomaim mima'al veal ho'oretz mitachas" [in the heavens above and on the earth below] that in heavenly (spiritual) matters one should look "up," comparing oneself to one who is on a higher spiritual plane and strive to attain it, while in earthly matters one should see the less fortunate, and thus better appreciate the blessings of the Creator and Master of the world.

It is difficult at this time before Rosh Hashanah to elaborate on the above. But I trust with your training upbringing and back-ground, the above few lines will suffice to give you "food" for further thought and reflection.

As for the details of your letter, it should be borne in mind that the key to self-improvement is not to be found in dwelling upon the defects of the present situation – since there is no perfection in life, but rather in considering the availability of a situation where the benefits are relatively greater and the defects fewer than in the situation which one desires to change.

The same applies to your husband. It is not a question of obtaining "permission" to leave his post. Personally I cannot see where he can find another position which should have at least the same measure of positive aspects, and where one can be reasonably certain that the defects would not be any more than at present, whether of the same nature or not, but equally fraught with nervous strain, etc.

Needless to say, I do not advocate resignation to the existing defects, for one should bear in mind the words of our Sages "Ma'alin b'kodesh" [in matters of holiness one should be in a state of ascendancy]. Nor is the solution in giving up the job, but rather in trying to improve the conditions, lessen the frictions, and making the work more efficient and gratifying.

Wishing you and yours a Kesivo vachasim toivo [to be written and sealed for the good, for the new year],

By [secretary's signature]