The name of the recipient of this letter was not released.

B”H, 17 Elul, 5710

Greetings and blessings,

In reply to your letter from the first day of Rosh Chodesh Elul: I was happy to find out that you finished your required studies, that you already received your degree, and have found a place in your profession.

The elaborate interpretation that Rambam offers 1 concerning the Divine service suggested by the verse: 2 “Know Him in all your ways” is well known. Implied is that whatever a person’s path in life shall be, he can use this path in the service of G‑d. Undoubtedly, if you invest the appropriate effort in searching how to serve G‑d in this path, you will find the proper means [of doing so].

With regard to what you wrote that on your journey you met G‑d-fearing Jews and learned from them: That is very good, as the Mishnah states: 3 “Who is wise? One who learns from all men.” (See the Memoirs of my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe, הכ"מ, who quotes the Baal Shem Tov’s interpretation of this teaching.) 4 This, however, is not sufficient, for every person must not only be a student, but also a teacher of others.

There are several ways in which this is expressed:

a) to be a teacher in a simple sense, [i.e.,] to speak with others and teach them upright conduct in matters between man and G‑d and between man and man; or

b) to teach others by serving as an example for them in [admirable] conduct in general and in the observance of the Torah and its mitzvos in particular; i.e., when a person will see him and take notice of his good conduct and exclaim: “Look at so-and-so who is conducting himself as a Jew should. Everyone should learn from his conduct.”

I hope that in the course of time [you] will also [become a teacher], and not only in the second manner [mentioned above]; that in addition to the teaching you do in Sunday school and your work in a religious company mentioned in your letter, you will add to the teaching that you do, influencing others in a direct way and arousing them to study the Torah with the fear of G‑d, to observe the mitzvos, etc.

With regard to your statement in your letter that the refinement of your character traits is difficult for you: I do not understand what your intent was. Are you speaking about the traits involved in the relationships between you and your fellow men or other matters? In your next [letter], you will certainly clarify [your intent].

Regarding what you write concerning your amazement at the world’s political situation with regard to Mashiach’s coming: In this as well, you do not explain the particulars of your cause for amazement. Surely you remember what we spoke about while you visited here, that the Holy One, blessed be He, did not create anything in the world without a purpose. 5 This also applies to the events that take place in the world and our knowledge of how to interpret them. Thus if [knowing the future] was necessary for man’s service of his Creator, there would certainly be people occupied in telling the future to make a person’s Divine service easier. If there are not people who can foretell the future, that itself is a sign that Divine service is being asked of us without knowing what the future will hold.

I already made a statement about two months ago that in the coming months there would not be a war. 6 Thus there is no need to panic. Everyone should involve himself with the appropriate tasks that present themselves. What is most important is to fulfill the purpose of one’s soul in this world. This is achieved primarily through the study of the Torah and the observance of the mitzvos, as they are all explained in the teachings of Chassidus.

A person who had the merit to have the Rebbe, my revered father-in-law, הכ"מ, charge him with a mission [should realize] that this is also included in the fulfillment of the purpose of his soul in this world.

With regard to our previous conversation in which you asked me several questions regarding Eretz Yisrael: 7 Certainly it is now clear, even in your eyes, that, as can actually be seen, the Holy One, blessed be He, tries to explain to the children of Israel that this is not the redemption that is hoped for. He tries to explain this with kindness and mercy so that they will understand that this is a small deliverance 8 and for certain reasons the Redemption concerning which our prophets prophesied and for which we pray each day: “To Jerusalem, Your city...,” “May You cause the scion of David Your servant...,” and “May our eyes behold [Your return to Zion]...,” 9 has not yet come. Before saying, “[Return] to Jerusalem, Your city,” we say: “May we never be ashamed because we have trusted in You.” And before [saying,] “May our eyes behold [Your return to Zion]...,” we say, “Merciful Father, have mercy on us.” Implied is that the Redemption will come from G‑d and it is connected to the Torah and its mitzvos, as explained in our Sages’ statements in several sources. Among them: “Israel will be redeemed only through teshuvah,10 [and] “Israel will be redeemed only through tzedakah.11

Every Jewish man and woman has to know that with each positive deed that he or she performs, he brings the end of exile and darkness closer and brings closer the complete and true Redemption [to be led] by Mashiach. This is the only way for there to be a redemption of the Jewish people, as Moshe our teacher told the Jewish people over 3,000 years ago. And this is written in G‑d’s Torah, in Parshas Nitzavim (ch. 30) at length. 12

Regarding your request that I remember you at the gravesite of my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe, הכ"מ: I will do as you ask. You write that you do not have any understanding in this matter. [That is not an impediment.] When you eat, drink, and sleep, you certainly don’t meditate beforehand how that affects your body and soul. [Instead,] you perform all these activities even if you do not understand how it causes those effects. Similar ideas apply with regard to the above.

With regard to what the statement in your letter that [when making such requests], it appears that one is speaking to the dead 13 and having someone other than G‑d in mind, Heaven forbid: You yourself certainly understand that this is not the case, for it is accepted that Calev ben Yefunah 14 and several other Tannaim, Amoraim, and righteous men throughout the generations also [prayed at the graves of tzaddikim].

To resolve your question in brief: When coming to the Rebbe to ask for a blessing [during his lifetime, people] would come, not because of the qualities of his body, but because of the qualities of his soul. Now the entire concept of death involves the body alone, because the soul is eternal. In particular, this applies to the soul of a tzaddik who has no connection at all to Gehinnom 15 or the kaf hakeleh. 16 For [such a soul], the concept of death is explained by the term histalkus which means an ascent to a higher level. [A tzaddik who passed away] is not referred to as dead, as stated in the Zohar (Vol. 3, p. 71b). 17

Regarding what you write that [asking for the Rebbe’s blessings involves] having someone other than G‑d in mind: In brief, this is not the intent, because:

a) the intent is that the tzaddik, because of his great virtue, should intercede positively before the King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, on behalf of the person making the request.

b) The second intent is that the soul of every chassid and person who is bonded [with a tzaddik] is a particular element of the soul of the tzaddik, whose soul is a great, comprehensive entity. It is described with the analogy of a head when compared with its particular elements, as explained in Tanya, ch. 2. In the process where every limb receives its vitality from the soul, the soul initially encloses itself in the head and brain. Afterwards, the vitality is apportioned from the head and the brain to every limb according to its quality. Similar [concepts apply] with regard to the Rebbe-chassid [relationship]. Since the head is healthy and strong, it contains all the vitality for the different limbs. In order for the limb to also be healthy, its connection with the head must also be intact; i.e., the vessels and nerves that connect the head to the limbs must be “open” so that the vitality for a limb will be drawn down to it.

This is the general concept of the bond between a chassid and a Rebbe through which a chassid receives everything he needs both in material and spiritual matters.

Time does not allow me to elaborate more. I hope that this will be sufficient. If you have questions regarding what is written here, you may certainly inform me, and in my free time, I will endeavor to answer them.

Enclosed is the kuntreis for Chai Elul that was just published. Concluding with blessings for a kesivah vachasimah tovah for a good and sweet year,

Menachem Schneerson