By the Grace of G‑d
Chanukah, 5735
[December, 1974]
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Mr. Mordechai Shoul Landow

Greeting and Blessing:

I was pleased, as usual, to receive regards from you through our friend Rabbi S.B. Lipskar, though it was with mixed feelings that I received the special message which he conveyed in your behalf regarding the vital Torah institution which it was your great Zechus to help create, support and develop to the present stage, with exemplary dedication and enthusiasm.

I say “mixed feelings,” because the fact that it has run into a deficit is a good sign of its rapid growth in terms of student enrollment and program expansion. At the same time it gives impressive evidence of its vital service to the community. Ultimately—in terms of real values and services—it is this side of the balance sheet that is important, while the financial deficit is surely of secondary importance, or less. There is no need to enlarge on this assessment to you, since we have discussed it more than once, personally and by correspondence.

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I was further pleased to receive your message during Chanukah, the events of which occurred “in those days,” but they are just as valid “at this time.” Chanukah teaches us—to paraphrase the prayer of “V’al Hanissim”—that the “few” and the “weak” (in a material sense) do overcome even overwhelming odds, and so decisively as to bring about a “great deliverance and redemption.” And the reason for this is that they represent the “pure,” “righteous,” and “those engaged in Thy Torah.”

A further, and general, point is to look at such a situation realistically, as I believe we also had occasion to mention it. It is that a deficit in terms of students, namely if even one boy (or girl) is turned away, can be an irretrievable loss, for that boy (or girl) may become a casualty of the pernicious forces of assimilation, etc., whereas a financial deficit can always be made good, if not today then tomorrow, or the day after, with G‑d’s help. Here, too, a successful American businessman like yourself knows very well what the real score is.

In light of the above, my opinion is that if it is possible to make some economies where there is duplication and the like, it may be justified, provided that it in no way whatever jeopardizes the institution to affect even remotely the enrollment of students and the vital programs. These may be affected not only directly, by lowering the educational standards or limiting scholarships, etc., but also indirectly, by giving a mother a possible excuse for not enrolling a child by finding fault with the material and physical aspects of the institution.

Thus, the administration can determine what can be done to effect economies, as above, but not at the expense of the students, those dear souls of whom our Sages said that each Jewish soul is like a whole world.

As mentioned above, I was particularly pleased to receive your message in the days of Chanukah, for the Festival of Lights truly sheds light on this problem too. Chanukah reminds every one of us of the vital need to kindle lights in growing numbers from day to day. “Light” for a Jew is the eternal light of Torah and Mitzvoth (Ner-Mitzvo v’Torah-Or). These are auspicious days for every Jew to help increase this light, and I want to take advantage of this opportunity to have a Zechus in helping reduce the deficit by the enclosed check from one of my special funds.

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Having done this, I am emboldened to express my hope and confidence that not only will there be no limitation on the absorption of students, but, on the contrary, every effort will be made to increase the student body and illuminate these young souls, which are also called “lights,” as it is written, “The soul of man is the candle of G‑d,” namely lights which G‑d has sent down to earth to light up the darkness of this world. And may all this be in a steadily growing measure, in accordance with the teachings of the Chanukah lights which we kindle in growing numbers from day to day, as mentioned above.

Because of the urgency and importance of this matter, the letter is sent to you by airmail special delivery.

With warm personal regards and with blessing,
M. Schneerson

P.S. In view of the fact that your message was received during Chanukah, and so is this letter written in these auspicious days, I take the liberty of fulfilling an old Jewish custom of sending Chanukah-Gelt. I trust you will do me the pleasure to accept it for yourself, Mrs. Landow and your son, about whom you wrote to me.