This letter was sent to Mr. Baruch Litvin.

B”H, 11 Menachem Av, 5710

Greetings and blessings,

I received your letter from the Friday preceding Shabbos Parshas Devarim with the check for Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch. Enclosed is a receipt.

[With regard to] what you wrote — that you wanted to write a longer letter but refrained from doing so because I am very busy: I want to assure you that I am always happy to receive detailed letters and I read them with the appropriate concentration. It may, however, happen that my reply will be delayed because of the large [amount of] work. I would like that, [in such an instance,] you not be offended and indeed, you probably will not become offended.

In continuation of my previous letter,1 whose content [emphasized] working with others, I would like to add several lines about the nature of the work which every person must and can achieve with himself. As my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe, הכ"מ, once said in his talks: “We must work with others, but we may not forget about ourselves.”

Nevertheless, the yetzer hara2 is [aptly] called “the clever one,” and therefore approaches every individual according to his particular character. If it sees that a person has abilities in communal activities ([the field of] social work), it tells him: “Why should you work on yourself? Saving lives supersedes everything. And besides, if you can make others more observant, there is no need to take care of one’s own [Divine service.”

This is what the Rebbe sought to clarify, that one can’t let himself be convinced by the words of “the clever one”: one must always examine oneself [to see] if all [the aspects of] his [conduct] are as they should be, as mandated by the Torah and its mitzvos, as clarified by Chassidus.

In general, one’s Divine service with one’s own self involves three dimensions: Torah study, service (prayer), and deeds of kindness. All of these must be performed as avodah, labor, working on oneself with strenuous exertion. As long as one does not exert himself, his Divine service is not being conducted as it should. As stated in Tanya, ch. 15, the battle with the yetzer hara requires that one struggle [to advance in his Divine service] far more than his nature motivates him. [Only then] is he referred to as “a servant of G‑d.”

Every person must carefully judge the extent to which he carries out the awesome battle [with the yetzer hara], as clarified at length in Tanya, ch. 30.

I hope you will not take offense at my writing openly. I await hearing good news from you, both in your work on yourself and your work with others.

Wishing you all forms of good and with blessing to you and your household,

Menachem Schneerson