This letter was sent to Rabbi Yisrael Noach Belinitzky, one of the active members of the chassidic brotherhood.

B”H, 3 Teves, 5709

Greetings and blessings,

Your undated letter was duly received. Because of my many concerns (in particular, the editing and preparation for printing of the Book of Shmos by the Tzemach Tzedek which will resemble Or HaTorah on Bereishis, but will have additional notes and references), I am unable to answer all of your questions. In particular, this applies because I did not want to delay sending the letter from R. Yochanan Gordon which is enclosed within. [Thus] I have answered only some of them. Over the course of time, I will, without making a promise, add my understanding of the issues with regard to your other questions.

a) Hashgachah Peratis (Divine Providence): [This concept applies] to all inanimate matter, plants, animals, and humans, in an individual sense. Through [G‑d’s] knowledge of Himself, He knows them. In addition, according to the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov, there is a special [Divine] intent in every individual occurrence involving inanimate matter, plants, animals, and humans.

In response: In my previous letter to you,1 I wrote that such concepts are stated in the maamar entitled Al Kein Yomru HaMoshlim, 5696. In all four forms of being, there are [four dimensions] of relation to G‑d: how He brings the object into being, His providence, His knowledge, and His intent. Even before the revelation of the Baal Shem Tov, [Jewish thinkers] acknowledged and knew that G‑d brings into being and knows even the individual dimensions of inanimate matter, plants, animals, and humans. The new concept revealed by the Baal Shem Tov is that there is Divine providence in all these matters and he negated all concepts of chance occurrences entirely.

Since each and every event is watched over from Above, [we can be certain that these events are happening because of a Divine intent]. For even a thinking person would surely not do anything without having an intent behind it. How much more so does this apply with regard to G‑d?

Enclosed is also [a treatise that] I wrote on another occasion in response to questions regarding hashgachah peratis2and the innovation revealed by the Baal Shem Tov in contrast to the system of thought that preceded him. In sec. I and at the conclusion of sec. V [of that treatise], I wrote what appeared to me to be the approach of Chassidus, including sources from the works of the maamarim of the Rebbeim. There the wording of the maamar entitled Al Kein Yomru HaMoshlim mentioned above is cited. Please return the enclosure to me after having read it.

b) [Question:] Should one add an aliyah beyond the seven [designated aliyos] on Shabbos3lest the person [who would be honored with the additional aliyah] feel slighted [were he not to receive it]?

In response: In general, this is dependent on the nature of the person involved, [i.e.,] what could happen if the suspicion [that he is being shunned] is not eliminated, and the like. With regard to these and matters of the like, everything depends on the judgment of the local halachic authority.

Nevertheless, I am sure you are aware that although the custom of adding aliyos on Shabbos has become widespread — indeed, in Poland, it appears to me that calling a person as an acharon4 has become such an established matter that it is impossible to dispense with it — nevertheless, within our community, we are very careful not to add aliyos, not even on Shabbos. It appears to me that this is based on the directive of the Tzemach Tzedek in his Responsa, Orach Chayim, sec. 35.

Once, here, on a Shabbos close to a wedding, my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe Shlita, did not agree to add to the number of aliyos and instead [instructed] that the Torah be read in two different places.

Because of the great value of hiskashrus,5its importance and dearness (particularly if one is geographically separated [from the Rebbe]), it is incumbent on all of us to endeavor to uphold the directives of the Rebbeim, the Nesi’ei Chabad, the customs and practices they [follow] that are relevant to us (with the exception of those that apply solely to the Nasi.)

Please forgive me for finishing [the letter] at this point. With good wishes to all the members of our brotherhood,

Rabbi Menachem Schneerson