By the Grace of G‑d
Erev Rosh Chodesh Kislev, 5738
[November 10, 1977]
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Blessing and Greeting:

After the interval, I received your (undated) letter.

As you surely know, the questions you ask regarding G‑d’s ways, etc. are already found in the Torah shebiksav and Torah shebe’al-peh [Written Torah and Oral Torah], for they are natural in time of stress.

One general answer, which is really self-evident, though hard to accept in a state of emotional upset, is that it is surely illogical to limit the Creator in his designs and actions to conform to the understanding of a created human being. I have often had occasion to cite a simple illustration to the effect that no one can expect an infant to understand the ideas and actions of a learned professor, although the professor was once an infant himself, and the present infant may have the potential even to surpass the professor in due course. How much more so, and incomparably, when it comes to the Infinite Intelligence of the Creator vis-à-vis the finite and limited intelligence of a created human being. This will, of course, not be a revelation to you; only, as the Torah says, it is difficult for a person to accept consolation in time of grief.

However, with all due respect, I must say that I was quite, and very much indeed, astonished at your remark, “Where is my father?” Knowing your family background, as well as your husband’s and yours, it is surely unnecessary to remind you that the soul is eternal, and moreover, its survival after the death of the body is not something that has to be believed, but it is plain common sense. For, obviously, physical illness that affects the body cannot affect the soul, which is spiritual; it can only affect and terminate the union of body and soul, but not the soul itself.

The above would be superfluous to mention to you, except that it has a direct consequence and bearing on what should be your attitude and conduct. For, inasmuch as the soul is eternal and, indeed, is now in a state where it is not limited by the body’s limitations, it is fully aware of what is happening in the family. When it sees that it is the cause of grief over and beyond the bounds of mourning set by the Torah, Toras Chaim [the Torah of life]—it is obviously distressed by it, and this is no way of contributing to the soul’s peace and blissfulness.

I have also had occasion to mention that even during the soul’s sojourn in this life when clothed in a physical body, the real bond between people and members of a family is not a physical one but a spiritual one, for what makes the real person is not his flesh and bones, but his character and spiritual qualities. Hence, this bond remains, and all those who loved the person dearly should try all the more to bring gratification to his eternal soul and continuous spiritual elevation (aliyas haneshomoh) through greater adherence to the Torah, Toras Emes [the Torah of truth], in general, and particularly in the realm directly related to the soul’s passing—to observe what is prescribed for the period of Shiva, but not extend it, and similarly in regard to the period of Shloshim, but not beyond, and then, and always, serve G‑d through the fulfillment of his Mitzvos as such service should be—with joy and gladness of heart.

Let me add one other point, and briefly. You should bear in mind that you and all your family are privileged to be in a position of leadership and influence—by both example and precept. Your exemplary conduct and every additional Hiddur [improvement in mitzvah observance] is reflected and multiplied in all those who observe you and are inspired by you. Therefore, even if it entails a special effort, it is surely of no consequence in relation to the benefits that accrue to all those around you. Not to mention how careful one has to be not to give a wrong impression, especially being in Chinuch [education], as also your husband, on whom your conduct is bound to have an impact, too.

I trust you will accept all that has been said above in the spirit that it has been given. The important thing is to go about the daily life and conduct in accordance with the Torah, which is both Toras Chaim and Toras Emes, inasmuch as its teachings reflect the truth at its truest. And G‑d will surely recompense you for all the grief, though at this time it is still incomprehensible how it will be recompensed.

With blessing,