This letter was sent to R. A.D.

B”H, 16 Menachem Av, 5710

Greetings and blessings,

In response to your two letters from Monday and from Tuesday:

A note was omitted from the sichah of Yud-Beis Tammuz.1 It should read: A question should not be raised from [the ruling] that [returning] a lost object belonging to one’s teacher takes precedence over returning the lost object of one’s father (the conclusion of the second chapter of Bava Metzia), nor [from the statement]: “a teacher takes precedence over one’s father in all situations” (the conclusion of Kerisus). In these instances, however, the reason is that one is obligated to honor [his teacher], and with regard to this, what is significant is that [his teacher] brings him [greater] benefit [than his father], for even a partial share of a portion in the World to Come2 surpasses the entire life of this world. Moreover, ([as stated in] Kerisus, loc. cit.), his father is also obligated to honor his teacher.

With regard to a miracle, by contrast, one recites a blessing because the occurrence of this miracle affects him as well. In this context, what is relevant is the connection that [the father and the son] share. And in this, the connection between a father and a son is more apparent [than that of teacher and student]. This can be easily understood.

b) Regarding your question concerning the statements of the Shelah, Shaar HaOsios3 (p. 100b):4 I am amazed at what you think is a new idea. When we spoke, I suggested that you look at the writings of Ramban (Bereishis 31:35; Vayikra 18:19) who mentions concepts similar to those stated by the Shelah.

c) Your [argument] attempting to support the prohibition against [a husband] touching [his wife while she is in the niddah state], because of the concept of ritual impurity and not that it could lead to familiarity, is not valid. For were this to be the issue, the matter would be more serious.

[With regard to] the appearance of a niddah,5 (even though [her husband] does not see her), it is explicitly stated: The Torah has not forbidden this matter at all. Indeed, the opposite is true. The Sages were diligent concerning the welfare of the daughters of Israel with regard to this [matter] as well. As our Sages state (Shabbos 61a): “The elders of the early generations [stated that a woman in the niddah state should not paint her eyes]... until Rabbi Akiva came and taught: [‘If {she does not paint her eyes}, she will become unattractive to her husband’]”; see Rashi’s commen­tary.6 And Kesubos 61a states: “[A woman in the niddah state] may perform [any labor for her husband usually performed by women].” The reason conversation is permitted is, as Rambam writes in his response (printed in the Shelisinger printing of the Mishneh Torah, Sefer Kedushah, sec. 169): “Because the concepts of ritual impurity and purity are regarded as different from the concepts of what is forbidden and what is permitted by the Rabbis.”

d) Several explanations can be given why the Sages did not forbid the above despite the impurity and foulness [that accompanies the niddah state]: i) the reason given by the Shelah, [loc. cit.]:[the Sages] saw that the people would not be able to bear [any greater severity;

ii) [so as not to cause] irritation to the women; this resem­bles [the concepts] stated by [Rama,] Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, sec. 88;7

iii) in keeping with modesty, so that the members of the household will not become aware of the matter [i.e., that she is in the niddah state], in a manner parallel to what the Shelah says in the name of Reishis Chochmah;

iv) the Karaites followed many of the above stringencies, maintaining that they are [mandated by] Scriptural Law (see the Rambam’s responsum, loc. cit.). In order to be distinct from them, [the Rabbis] refrained from forbidding the above activities for whatever reason (except for individual sages who conducted themselves [with stringency]). Greater measures than this [were taken to repudiate the Karaites], as evidenced [by the measures taken] with regard to the red heifer ([Rambam, Hilchos] Parah 3:7).8

With regard to matters such as this, it is possible to cite the explanation that “since many have dealt without caution concerning the manner, ‘G‑d protects the simple ones,’”9 and therefore even those who are conscious of the danger are protected, as the Tzemach Tzedek rules in his response, Even HaEzer, the conclusion of sec. 11.10

Signing with blessing,

M. Schneerson