This letter was sent to various individuals, personally addressed to each one.1

B”H, 22 Elul, 5709

Greetings and blessings,

In anticipation of the coming year, I would like to convey my wishes that you and your entire household be blessed with a kesivah vechasimah tovah for a good and sweet year in all matters.

Enclosed is the kuntreis for Rosh HaShanah that was just published. “The one with a generous eye will be blessed,”2 [i.e., the kuntreis] should be shared with people at large in the most fitting manner.

[To dwell on] an allusion [from the observance of Rosh HaShanah] this year: [Our Sages teach] (Rosh HaShanah 4:1): “When the festival of Rosh HaShanah falls on Shabbos, [the shofar] would be sounded in the [Beis Ha]Mikdash, but not in [the rest of the] country.”

The spiritual counterpart of the sounding of the shofar on Rosh HaShanah is teshuvah, as Rambam explains in Hilchos Teshuvah 3:4, and as is thoroughly explained in the enclosed kuntreis.

[On this basis, an inference can be drawn from] a careful analysis of Rambam’s wording there [which mentions the sounding of the shofar] “on Rosh HaShanah,” i.e., excluding the sounding of the shofar [on Yom Kippur] in the Yovel, for there is a different spiritual intent associated with [the sounding of the shofar] then.

The teshuvah [of Rosh HaShanah] is relative to — and [compensates] for — one’s conduct during the course of the year. Accordingly, when a person is involved in business activities, in the thirty-nine labors3 of the week, [in a spiritual sense,] his Rosh HaShanah and his sounding of the shofar fall during the week. In contrast, a Torah scholar has no [concern] in the world other than his involvement with the Torah and its mitzvos. [He is involved with] “the concerns of Heaven,” and not the personal concerns of the weekdays ([see] Shabbos 113a). Therefore a Torah scholar is called Shabbos (Zohar III, p. 29b; alluded to also in Shabbos 119a [which relates]: “Rabbi Ami and Rabbi Asi were continually carrying [packages to their homes in honor of the Shabbos.” Students asked them why they undertook such menial tasks.] “They explained: ‘Were Rabbi Yochanan4 to come here, wouldn’t we carry [packages in his honor]?’”5 [Thus, Torah scholars share a connection to] the laws concerning Rosh HaShanah that falls on Shabbos. Therefore [with regard to them] the shofar is not sounded “in the [rest of the] country,” for they are not involved with [the world at large] at all. This can be seen through a comparison to a Kohen Gadol. [Indeed,] a Torah scholar is given precedence over a Kohen Gadol. And with regard to the Kohen Gadol, it is stated:6 “He shall not depart from the Sanctuary.”7 “His Torah study protects him.”8 See Rambam, [Mishneh Torah,] Hilchos K’lei HaMikdash 5:7.9 [This consistency is also desirable with regard to Torah study; see] Bava Basra, p. 8b, which states: “ ‘Now as well, I am also thinking of them.’ Which [source describes] our Rabbis [who continually study Torah]?”10 Tosafos, Sotah 21a,11 entry zeh, et al.

One should not postulate, however, that the concept of sounding the shofar does not apply to Torah scholars. For they would sound the shofar in the Beis HaMikdash, i.e., a place where there is no connection to ordinary matters, as [implied by the statement:]12 “One should not enter the Mount of the Beis HaMikdash [with his staff, his sandals, and his money belt].” For teshuvah is necessary even [for a person] on such a level, as [alluded to by] the statement of Rabbi Nechuniah ben HaKanah (Berachos 28b)13 and [the story of] Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai related by our Sages.14 See also the incident involving Rabbi Akiva, as explained according to R. Yaakov of Korbiel (Tosafos, Kesubos 17a), entry mevatlin,15 the incident mentioned in the Talmud Yerushalmi (Pesachim 3:7),16 et al.

May G‑d cause us to turn to Him in complete teshuvah in the immediate future, and then we will immediately (to quote Rambam, Hilchos Teshuvah 7:5, cited by the Alter Rebbe in his Iggeres HaTeshuvah, ch. 11) merit the complete Redemption, led by Mashiach.

You have no doubt duly received my letter with the kuntreis for Chai Elul. Concluding with wishes for a kesivah vechasimah tovah.

M. Schneerson
Chairman of the Executive Committee