By the Grace of G‑d
17th of Shevat, 5723
[February 11, 1963]
Brooklyn, N.Y.

To All Participants in the Reunion of Camp Gan Israel,
G‑d bless you all—

Greeting and Blessing:

I trust you know that a few days ago (on the 10th of Shevat) we observed the Yahrzeit of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, my father-in-law of saintly memory.

Camp Gan Israel, which you enjoyed so much during the summer, and which you are now gathered to honor, is one of the important activities of the Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, which the late Lubavitcher Rebbe has created for your benefit.

In this connection, I wish to tell you a story which my father-in-law related. Some of you may have already heard it, but it is worth repeating, for its lesson can never become “out of date.”

The story is as follows: The first Lubavitcher Rebbe, known as the “Old Rebbe” (and about three weeks ago, on the 24th of Teveth, we observed the 150th year since he passed away) had a son Rabbi Dov Ber, who later succeeded his father as the second, or “Mitteler,” Rebbe. Rabbi Dov Ber was known for his unusual power of concentration. When he was engaged in study or prayer, he did not hear or see a thing around him.

Once, when Rabbi Dov Ber was engaged in study, his baby sleeping in a nearby cot fell out of its cradle and began to cry. Rabbi Dov Ber did not hear the baby’s cries and continued learning. But the infant’s grandfather, the Old Rebbe, who was in his room on an upper floor and was also learning at that time, did hear the baby’s cries. He interrupted his studies, went downstairs, picked up the infant, soothed it and put it back in its cradle. Still, the infant’s father did not hear or see what went on around him. Later on, the Old Rebbe told his son: “No matter how important the thing is in which a Jew is engaged, one must always hear the cry of a child.”

This story was told not only to parents, teachers and grownups who have to take care of children, but also to the children themselves, because this story has an important lesson for children also.

You see, everyone has a Yetzer Tov—which puts good ideas into the head, and a Yetzer Hora—which tries to put bad ideas into the head. The Yetzer Hora is the “older” one, for it comes early in the life of every boy and girl to tempt them to do things they shouldn’t. The Yetzer Tov is the “baby.”

It sometimes happens that just when a boy or girl has to do something really important, such as to study, do homework, and the like, they suddenly get an idea to do something else instead, which may also be good in its proper time, but not now. For example, when it is time to do homework, the boy or girl wants to put their room in order, or run an errand. Worse still, when the Yetzer Hora tempts them to do something they shouldn’t at any time. When this happens, the Yetzer Tov “baby” feels pushed out of its cradle, unhappy, and begins to cry.

The story I told you is to remind you to hear the cry of the “baby” the Yetzer Tov, and keep it happy by doing the right thing at the right time, and not doing the wrong thing at any time.

I will conclude by reminding all of you that this coming Shabbos we will read in the Torah about G‑d giving us the Torah at Mount Sinai, when all Jews, young and old, boys and girls, declared with one voice: “All that G‑d has spoken, we will do!” If you will remember this always—the Yetzer Tov will have no tears, and you, too, will be happy in every respect.

I send you and your teachers and parents good greetings and all wishes.

With blessing,