This letter was printed as an introduction to the Lag BaOmer kuntres that was distributed among the chassidim in 5710.1


The Zohar2 records that on the day of his passing,3 Lag BaOmer, R. Shimon [bar Yochai] opened [his discourse with the verse,]4 “I am my Beloved’s, and His desire is towards me,” and said: “Throughout the days that I have been bound in this world,5 I have been united in a perfect bond with the Holy One, blessed be He; and now, by virtue of this, ‘His desire is towards me.’”

There is a well-known interpretation6 of the common idiom of the Zohar [which describes the beginning of a discourse as] an opening: [i.e., the sage] opened the appropriate conduit and made a downflow of Divine blessings or enlightenment possible,7 thus enabling others following after him to attain them likewise. Thus it was that in the generation of R. Shimon bar Yochai, even little children uncovered the mysteries of the Torah,8 because he had opened the conduit which enabled the innermost dimension of the Torah to become accessible.

Though [it is written]: “Who is the man whose heart would dare to approach”9 the level of R. Shimon bar Yochai, nevertheless:

G‑d bared His holy arm”:10 Through our master, the Baal Shem Tov, and his holy disciples, viz., our saintly forebears, the Rebbeim of their respective generations, up to and including my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe, הכ"מ, He illumined for us the teachings of Chassidus..., which unlock the gates of the heavenly palaces of Chochmah and Binah.... [These teachings] light up a path by which every single individual, according to his own capacity, is able to approach the realm of holiness, and to serve G‑d with his brain and with his heart.11

On Lag BaOmer every year, the festive anniversary of the passing of R. Shimon bar Yochai, the heavenly conduits open afresh. This day is therefore particularly suited for fortifying and invigorating one’s efforts in the study of the pnimiyus of the Torah and in the avodah which one undertakes in this spirit. For, as declared by my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe, הכ"מ,12 these conduits were thrown open by [R. Shimon bar Yochai] — until the coming of the righteous Redeemer, speedily, in our own days, Amen.

Menachem Schneerson

Pesach Sheni, 5710
Brooklyn, N.Y.