This letter was addressed to Mr. Baruch Litvin.

B”H, 13 Menachem Av, 5709

Greetings and blessings,

I received your letter sent after Shavuos. As I mentioned in my first letter to you, you should not be offended if my work with Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch and Machne Israel causes my response to be delayed.

I am surprised that, in your letter, you make no mention of your progress in your private and public studies. Most likely you will write about it next time — what is of primary importance is that you should have good news to write about.

You write that you have become depressed because the level of Jewish life in your city and in the surrounding cities is not good.

Do you think that this is a solution and a means to correct the situation?

You no doubt know that, as the Alter Rebbe writes in Tanya, ch. 26, the opposite is true. Sadness weakens a person [and holds him back] in the battle that he must wage with the yetzer hara and with the evil in the world. If he sees that the enemy is strengthening itself, Heaven forbid, he should become even more energetic and should seek methods to become victorious.

Remembering G‑d’s promises: “I will cause the spirit of impurity to depart from the earth,”1 and “All flesh shall see that the mouth of G‑d has spoken,”2 should provide each one of us with the inspiration and strength to carry out the struggle, i.e., his own individual battle on the portion of the front where he is located. No positive activity is ever lost. Even if one cannot see this with his physical eyes, every good thought, word, or deed illuminates the darkness outside and brings the true Redemption closer.

On the surface, the Three Weeks and the Nine Days which have just passed bring sadness. Nevertheless, they contain within them messages of hope and consolation. Our prophets assured us that when, speedily in our days, Mashiach comes, the tearful period of time from 17 Tammuz until Tishah BeAvwill be transformed into a period of rejoicing.

In previous eras, when the Beis HaMikdash was standing, the physical structure made from wood and stone was also a symbol of the inner Beis HaMikdash that exists within the Jewish people. [Indeed,] the physical Beis HaMikdash could endure only as long as the spiritual Beis HaMikdash [within the Jewish people] existed.

After the First Beis HaMikdash was destroyed — the spiritual [Beis HaMikdash] by the Jewish people themselves and the physical Beis HaMikdash by Nebuchadnetzar, King of Babylon — our people had a twofold mission in the Babylonian exile:

a) to reestablish the spiritual Beis HaMikdash [within their hearts]; and

b) to build the Second Beis HaMikdash in a physical sense.

The Second Beis HaMikdash continued to exist as long as its spiritual counterpart was maintained. Directly after the spiritual Beis HaMikdash was destroyed, the physical dimension of the Beis HaMikdash was also destroyed.

With regard to the Third Beis HaMikdash, by contrast, G‑d told us that our objective and mission is — according to many interpretations — to build only the spiritual dimension of the Beis HaMikdash. G‑d Himself will build the physical dimension. As explained by Rashi and Tosafos,3 the Third Beis HaMikdash will be built by the hand of Heaven.

For that reason, our spiritual Beis HaMikdash must be built entirely through our efforts: through teshuvah, Torah, and mitzvos. Every spiritual brick that a Jew fashions can never be displaced. The process of laying these spiritual bricks began at the moment the last portions of the physical Beis HaMikdash werein flames. This is the inner meaning of the story in the Midrash (Eichah Rabbah) that, at the moment the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed, Mashiach was born.

The major part of the building of the spiritual Beis HaMikdash,which Jews are required to build in this long and dark exile, has already been erected by the spiritual endeavors of the previous generations and only a small portion has been left for us. Nevertheless, our portion must be permeated with the same holiness as that of the previous generations.

The consequence of this realization is that we should be permeated with the understanding that with every positive activity we perform in our everyday lives that is in accordance with the Torah — no matter how great or how small it appears to our physical eyes — we are laying one of the final bricks in the eternal Beis HaMikdash for our people and for the world at large. Through this, we are doing our part in building the spiritual Beis HaMikdash and the physical Beis HaMikdash which will be established immediately thereafter, speedily in our days.

May G‑d grant that we all merit [to see] the building of the physical Beis HaMikdash as well, speedily in our days, Amen.

With wishes for everlasting good in all matters,

Rabbi Menachem Schneerson