The name of the person to whom this letter was sent was not released.

B”H, 25 Tammuz, 5709

Greetings and blessings,

In response to your letter from 14 Tammuz:

a) We sent some of our publications [to Eretz Yisrael ] with R. Avraham Paris. He no doubt has some copies of the text Kitzurim VeHaaros LeTanya about which you inquired. If not, inform us and we will send them from here. He also possesses a catalogue of our publications and the texts that we possess which are for sale.

b) With regard to the series of maamarim entitled [BeShaah Shehikdimu,]5672, I have already written and notified other members of the chassidic brotherhood that I have permission1 to publish it, but the means to do so — or at least a portion of them — must be on hand at the outset, for as is obvious, this is not a text that will be sold in quantity. To my knowledge, nobody has done anything about this from the time I began speaking about the matter until the present; i.e., for about 4-5 years.

c) With regard to the letter concerning the photographs:2 The letter was enclosed in my letter to R. Hendel Havlin. If it was not true that the content of the letter reflected the directives [of the Rebbe], I would not have sent it. If you would know Rabbi Chodakov, there would be no shadow of a doubt in your mind that the concepts of falsehood and exaggeration are not relevant to him.

d) With regard to the matter itself: I am amazed at your protests. The letter was directed to those who are connected [to the Rebbe] through bonds of hiskashrus;i.e., to those who turn [to the Rebbe] from time to time for advice and blessings for themselves and for their wives, sons, and daughters, and from time to time, describe the particulars of these individuals’ situations. This practice is known to everyone. On the contrary, the widespread view is that if someone does not do this, he is also lacking in his connection [to the Rebbe].

e) Perhaps your [protest] was over the fact that [the suggestion introduces] photography into the Lubavitch community? [In response,] I recall that I heard that years ago, a ritual slaughterer was removed from his position — and rightly so — because he wore galoshes.3 And at present, even vintage chassidim wear galoshes — and also rightfully so.4

f) With regard to your complaint: “What will the chassidim from Poland say?” It is certainly obvious, in your eyes as well, that those chassidim from Poland and Hungary5 who raise questions about etc. (— I write “etc.” because they all raise questions, but not necessarily about one matter —) in a loud voice will speak about this manner regardless, because of “the envy of the students of scribes”6 that exists among them. There is no need for an intellectual explanation about this to such a degree.

I am not entering into a discussion of the question of whether pictures of humans [are forbidden] according to [Torah] law7 or beyond the measure of the law. I merely want to say that I am not familiar with anyone who does not have a picture of himself and the members of his family. This is done willingly, not because the government compels him — and in most instances, it is done out of pleasure.

g) One point can be made in support of your position, i.e., the question: What advantage is there to making a book of pictures, and is it worth entering into the entire debate for that reason?

In my opinion, there is no need for an explanation about this. It is obvious even to people like ourselves that not only does a picture arouse feelings of friendship and connection on the part of those who hold it, it also brings about feelings of closeness on the part of the person who sent the picture when he recalls that his picture is in the possession of his friend. How much more so does the concept apply in this instance.8

Here, it is already possible to see the positive feelings that were aroused among different people who are bonded [to the Rebbe] from the knowledge that the Lubavitcher Rebbe desires their family pictures so that he will be able to recall them. This is all my inference, because I did not ask [the Rebbe] the reason for the directive.

h) Even if you are correct in your wariness that a refined chassid may be harmed by the knowledge [of the Rebbe’s desire for these pictures] and his directive, there are — as is well known — two different approaches:

1) when “something is appropriate for one refined person, but it is not appropriate for 10,000 fools... I will not be sensitive to the degradation of that large multitude, but instead, will desire to try to save that one refined person” (the Introduction to Moreh Nevuchim);

2) It is worthwhile for a person who is an oved and a maskil9 to become a wagon driver for the duration of several years in order to perform a particular favor for one individual as is related in the introduction to Pokeiach Ivrim that was printed here.10 How much more so does this apply in the present instance when, as stated in sec. g, this suggestion has positively affected and affects several people. In particular, this applies because even according to the first approach, [Rambam] writes as a preface that this is appropriate only when this is the only method that can be found.

i) After elaborating on all the above [in accordance with] your wish that I answer you immediately, I will, on my part, add a few lines:

Gevald! Reb... How much critique will you give? Even if you were correct in all of your letters and demands, there is nothing but negativity. Why don’t you invest your energies in positive things, in building Chabad activities in your community, in your synagogue, and in your city? Behold, [our Sages] state a general principle:11 “A positive commandment supersedes a negative commandment.” [Note] all the explanations that can be made concerning this.

I assume that you have counterclaims and complaints [about the above], but that is also negativity. Even when we see that the Torah absolves a person compelled by forces beyond his control,12 [he is only absolved;] it is not considered as if he performed the desired act. And even if one would postulate that it is considered as if he performed the deed, that applies only to him individually, but a person who could have received from him does not receive anything at all.

j) This I would like to make known. Despite everything I have written above, just as when we met together, I have no pleasure in communal activity and obviously, I cannot arouse another person’s power of pleasure to be directed to communal activity. But for you, the opposite is true. Will you remain satisfied guarding the vineyards of others?13 No doubt, you will agree that our vineyard is no worse than theirs. On the contrary,.... And we have been promised that ultimately, the victory will be ours,14 and the wellsprings will spread outward.15 All of this will be accomplished by mortals and in our generation [who are living directly] before the era of Mashiach.

With wishes for everlasting good in all matters and with greetings to all the members of your household,

M. Schneerson

Enclosed is another letter from Machne Israel in continuation of the letter mentioned above.