The text of this letter was sent to various individuals, personally addressed to each one.1

B”H, erev Shavuos, 5709

Greetings and blessings,

Your letter was received. Enclosed is the kuntreis for the Shavuos holiday that has just been brought from the binder. It is intended to be shared with people at large at all times, [for] as explained in the kuntreis, the Torah is not limited in time.

To conclude with “repartee concerning the Torah” that are relevant to [the upcoming holi]day: Our Sages state (Bava Basra 147a): “[Before his death,] Achitophel gave his sons three commands: Do not participate in a dispute. Do not rebel against the royal dynasty of the House of David, and if the holiday of Shavuos is a clear day (without clouds), sow wheat.”2

There are several matters that require explanation in this passage. Among them:

[a)] Seemingly, “Do not rebel...” is superfluous, since he already said: “Do not participate in a dispute.”

[b)] A person’s final testament, in particular, a person of stature of whom Scripture states:3 “The counsel of Achitophel in those days wasas if one was inquiring of the word of G‑d,” certainly contains fundamental guidance, including general instructions through which his approach [to life] can be recog­nized. What is the common factor in these three directives? What is the inner message of the Shavuos holiday falling on a clear day?

In brief, it is possible to say the following: The heights of personal development to which a person should strive are threefold and are reflected in the mishnah:4 “There are three crowns: the crown of Torah, the crown of priesthood, and the crown of royalty.” On the surface, [a person can] be led to [the attainment of these qualities] through either of two paths: his fear of sin (acceptance of the yoke of Heaven) comes before his wisdom (reason or logic), or vice versa.5

[a)] Throughout his life, Achitophel followed the second path (see Tosafos, Chagigah 15b, s.v. kol),but, as Rashbam comments (Bava Basra, loc. cit.), it did not prove advantageous for him. Therefore, he warned his sons (and this warning was communicated to us by the Talmud, because it is an eternal directive, applicable in every time and place, and for every person): “Do not participate in a dispute.” The encompassing example that epitomizes every dispute that is not for the sake of Heaven is the dispute of Korach and his company.6 [Korach’s dispute focused] on the crown of priesthood. Korach’s claim was intellectually sound and [fortified by] wisdom, as explained by our Sages.

b) “Do not rebel against the royal dynasty of the House of David.” [David] established a yoke of Torah and a yoke of teshuvah.7 According to intellect, [David’s claim to kingship could have been challenged]. For Shaul transgressed with regard to one matter and the kingship was taken from him.8 If so, how much more so should this have been the result with regard to David, for he transgressed in two matters?8

c) Wheat is food for humans,9 [i.e., appropriate] for one who possesses intellect and wisdom, [as implied by our Sages’ statement:] “The Tree of Knowledge was [a stalk of] wheat, for a child does not know how to [call to his father until he tastes wheat]” (Berachos 40a). Now, the Tree of Knowledge involves wisdom and intellect, and that is both good and bad.

Achitophel directed his children that the success of a wheat crop [i.e., intellect] and its positive results is dependent on the Shavuosholiday. [Now,] what is the new development associ­ated with the Shavuosholiday? After all, [the Jewish people] had been studying the Torah many years previously, as our Sages comment (Yoma 25b): “Our ancestors never ceased attending yeshivah.” [Moreover,] we speak of the yeshivah of Shem and Ever. The new development that distinguished the Giving of the Torah was that the Jewish people [expressed a] perfect [commitment] to accept G‑d’s yoke, saying “We will do” before “We will listen,” as explained in the [enclosed] kuntreis. And G‑d began, [declaring] Anochi,which is an acro­nym for the Aramaic words meaning, “I wrote down and gave over Myself” (Shabbos 105a).10 The essence of the Ein Sof was invested in the wisdom of the Torah, [i.e.,] the crown of Torah.

This is the common factor in all three directives of Achito­phel: The perfection of Torah, priesthood, and kingship results from the acceptance of G‑d’s yoke in a manner that transcends [the limits of] intellect.

This is also the allusion in the mishnah (Avos 4:13): “There are three crowns.... And the crown of a good name surpasses them all.” For the crown of a good name11 is a fundamental condition for all of the other three crowns mentioned above. This is not the place for further elaboration concerning the matter.

With blessings for receiving the Torah with happiness and inner feeling,

Rabbi Menachem Schneerson