This letter was also addressed to R. Shalom Posner.

B”H, The Festival of Redemption, 19 Kislev, 5709

Greetings and blessings,

With regard to the texts [authored by] Rabbi A. Benyamin Silverberg from your community:1 These books are not in my possession, nor are they in the library of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch. By chance, I saw only his collection of Responsa, Mishnas Benyamin. I received much satisfaction from perusing it, [happy that such a book was published] in this country and at this time. To borrow the wording used by my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe Shlita, in his preface to Kuntreis Etz HaChayim (in reference to another country):

Young men who are described with the titles of Geonim and intellectual giants, with trimmed beards and clipped peiyos, enter into learned discussion regarding a deep Talmudic passage [with the intent of] arriving at a leni­ent ruling regarding every matter that is a mitzvah, leaving [the Torah] naked, like a body without a soul. [Moreover,] they have the nerve to challenge the opin­ions of the Geonim and to crush the prohibitions [enacted] by the Rishonim.

Instead, a text was printed here that reinforces the customs of our ancestors without giving extra weight to the power of leniency,2 [the latter being so insidious] that it suppresses straightforward thinking and causes one to deviate from delivering a genuinely true judgment.

(I was, however, surprised to see him depart from his pat­tern in Responsum 76 and speak weakly against using a microphone in a synagogue on Rosh HaShanah, using pleading tones and only making reference [to the discussion of this issue] in the Pardes. [This is especially surprising since] there are authorities who forbid this even when all the care prescribed in positioning the microphone and setting it up is taken. {It appears to me that several of these [stringent opinions] were quoted in the 5705 issue of the Pardes.} [The institution of microphones in synagogues] is a matter over which common people have authority, and if they are permitted to use it on a festival, they will use it on Shabbos as well.

“The eyes of a wise man are in his head.”3 [Leniency] will lead to tearing down precautionary barriers [that will lead to the violation of] Scriptural prohibitions. Even if after thoroughly contemplating the matter and applying deep thought he did not find clear reason to prohibit it, he should at least not have printed this responsum. For this gives room for people to say: “See, even those who usually rule stringently rule leniently in this instance.” In regard to situations like this, it is said: “If you would purchase a word with a sela, purchase silence with two.”4 )

What amazed me, however, was that when looking at the text, I saw that the author cited Acharonim and later Acharonim, but he is very careful not to quote the Alter Rebbe or the Tzemach Tzedek or their rulings.

See Rama (Orach Chayim) and Nesivos HaMishpat, sec. 28, with regard to the power of Torah texts that have spread throughout the Jewish people. An error with regard to the glosses of the Shulchan Aruch is considered as an error with regard to a statement of the Mishnah.5 (This concept is also alluded to in the Alter Rebbe’s Hilchos Talmud Torah, at the beginning of ch. 2.)

At the outset, I judged the author with favorable considera­tion, [thinking that] perhaps he did not see these texts or know of them. (See the Shelah’s interpretation of the verse:6 “I sinned, because I did not know.”) Then, however, I saw that he quotes [the halachic encyclopedia,] Sdei Chemed which cites [the rulings of] the Alter Rebbe and the Tzemach Tzedek in several places.

[The Rebbe proceeds to cite several examples where it would have been appropriate for the Mishnas Benyamin to have referred to the Responsa of the Tzemach Tzedek. He concludes the letter as follows:]

I am concluding with blessings for the Festival of Redemp­tion, Yud-Tes Kislev, 5559. That is when the Divine service of spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus outward began. From that time onward, it continued and increased. (See [Tanya,] Iggeres HaKodesh, Epistle 14.7 ) In these days, Mashiach’s promise to the Baal Shem Tov will certainly be fulfilled and Mashiach will actually come and redeem us in the most literal sense in the true and Ultimate Redemption.

M. Schneerson