By the Grace of G‑d
10th of Nissan, 5721
[March 27, 1961]
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Greeting and Blessing:

This is in reply to your letter and questions:

You ask, how can one accept the Mishnah “All Israel have an portion in the world to come” and how, by the widest stretch of the imagination, can one believe that the worst “apikores” will have a share in the world to come.

The answer to your question may be found in various sources and is especially illuminated in the sources of Chasidus at length.

The belief of our Jewish people in true Monotheism is, of course, the very basis of our faith and way of life. This means not only that there is only One G‑d and none other beside Him, but “nothing else beside Him” (ein od Milvado). The whole Creation and all the worlds have no reality of their own, for there is only one Reality—G‑d, inasmuch as a spark of G‑dliness animates and keeps everything in existence, as it is written, “By the word of G‑d the heavens were created,” etc. This “word” of G‑d is the essence and reality of everything.

Thus, the individual you call “apikores” is also animated by the “word” of G‑d, which is surely eternal, for that individual is also a part of Creation and is animated and sustained in the same way. Except that it was the will of the Creator that this individual, created by the word of G‑d, should have complete freedom to choose good or bad, life or death, as it is written, “Behold, I place before you this day life and good, and death and evil.” The individual who misuses this gift of freedom and chooses evil, loses and forfeits that part of his G‑d-given energy which went into the commission of the sin or omission of the Mitzvah, which, had he chosen otherwise, would have been imbued with an eternal quality. However, the very essence of his reality, that is, that which has been created and came into being by the word of G‑d, cannot be destroyed, so long as it retains its essential character. It can only be soiled and stained by sin, G‑d forbid.

But inasmuch as every individual Jew is a “whole world,” as our Sages said, and, moreover, the whole universe was created for his sake, and as the Sages commented on the word “Breishis”—for the sake of Yisroel called “Reishis,” the Jew who sinned must undergo various transformations and stages of purgatory to be cleansed of the impurities which had attached themselves to his soul, which is his essence, and which has a portion in the world to come because of its eternal quality.

This is also what our Sages meant when they succinctly said—as they often compress a far-reaching idea into a few concise words—by way of explanation immediately following the statement in the said Mishnah of Kol Yisroel: “For it is written, ‘And Thy people are all righteous . . . a branch of My planting, the work of My hand to be glorified (by them).’” Because every Jew contains in him something which is like a branch of the Divine Tree and the work of G‑d’s own hands, it is eternal, and that is why “Every Jew has a portion in the world to come.”

I trust that in harmony with your search for knowledge which you display in your letter, you have regular daily periods of study of the Torah and the Torah view, and that is the kind of study which leads to action and practice in daily life, as our Sages emphasized that the essential thing is the deed.

The enclosed message will surely be of interest to you.

Wishing you and your fellow students a kosher, happy and inspiring Pesach,

With blessing,