This letter was addressed to R. Yitzchak Menachem Mendel Liss.

B”H, 3 Cheshvan, 5709

Greetings and blessings,

In response to your questions:

a) On Yom Kippur, it is not our custom to say the passage Elokeinu V’Elokei Avoseinu that precedes the Akeidah, nor the passage Ribbono Shel Olam which follows it.

b) We do not recite Tachanun1 or [the Confessional Prayer] Al Cheit in the recitation of the Shema before retiring on Yom Kippur. This applies even if [Yom Kippur] does not fall on Shabbos. My revered father-in-law, the Rebbe Shlita, said: “On Yom Kippur, we say Al Cheit only as many times as we are obligated to.”

c) [You asked:] Why, when mentioning the good character traits that are naturally found within the Jewish people,2 does the Tanya, at the conclusion of ch. 1, mention mercy and deeds of kindness, but omit the third quality, bashfulness?3

To be more specific: Tanya, at the conclusion of ch. 1, speaks about the nature of the Jewish people from the perspec­tive of the animal soul. Iggeres HaKodesh, Epistle12, speaks about this subject from the standpoint of the G‑dly soul. In both cases, [the Alter Rebbe] mentions mercy and deeds of kindness, but does not mention bashfulness.

The rationale [for this can be explained] as follows: These three qualities [are alluded to with the acronym] גבר.4 The qualities of deeds of kindness and mercy stem from the attribute of kindness, [Chessed,] and from the vector of decision5 which tends to kindness. Bashfulness, by contrast, stems from the attribute of Gevurah and tzimtzum (see the maamar entitled Ki Yedaativ in Or HaTorah from the Tzemach Tzedek). Therefore, in Iggeres HaKodesh, [the Alter Rebbe] explains that within the Jewish people, the attribute of kindness is predominant. Hence, their natures are conducive to being merciful and performing deeds of kindness. There is not, by contrast, a connection to the qualities of brashness or bashfulness, for both are motifs that stem from the attribute of Gevurah.

With regard to the Jewish people, they are doers of kind­ness, [and are] bashful and merciful, even from the perspective of the animal soul (Yevamos 79a). The quality of bashfulness is, however, different from the attributes of doing kindness and mercifulness in that the latter two qualities are intrinsic quali­ties; natural [to the Jewish people]. [This is not true with regard to] bashfulness. On the contrary, according to their nature and inherent tendencies, the Jews are the brashest of the nations (Beitzah25b). It is only that at the time of the Giving of the Torah, the Torah weakened their strength and made them bashful. And from our ancestors [who received the Torah], this quality is transferred as a heritage to the descendants without any effort or labor on the part of the children (Nedarim 20). See the Chiddushei Aggados of the Maharsha to the passage from Yevamos, loc. cit. Therefore when Tanya, at the conclusion of ch. 1, mentions the positive qualities that are inherent to the nature of the animal soul of the Jewish people, [it does not mention bashfulness,] because it is not one of those qualities.

Fixed times to study Tanya communally have no doubt been established in your locale in a public place, in addition to the establishment of fixed times to study the sichos and the maamarim of my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe Shlita. [This is alluded to by the verse]:6 “On the eighth day, you shall hold an assembly.”

With greetings to all the members of our brotherhood,

Rabbi Menachem Schneerson