This letter was addressed to Reb Yaakov HaKohen Katz, one of the initial supporters of Lubavitch activities in America.

B”H, 25 Tishrei, 5708

Greetings and blessings,

I had thought that we would meet during Sukkos (for it has become customary for you to visit my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe Shlita, during these days) and wish each other a good kvitel1for a good and happy year. Unfortunately, you were [unable] to come this year. I hope you and your family are all in good health.

One of the positive qualities possessed by priests,2 which is perpetuated even after the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash, is blessing the people at the time of prayer. For synagogues are called “a sanctuary in microcosm.”

One of the qualities that the ascent to the Beis HaMikdash brought about is, as Chassidus explains, that it would [motivate] the Jews to bow down. This was not merely an external activity, carried out with their bodies [alone], but it also involved their souls. They would nullify all the powers of their souls — their will, their intellect, and their emotions — to G‑d. It is thus understandable that a synagogue where the inner [dimension of] bowing down is expressed in the most complete manner is more of “a sanctuary in microcosm,” closer to the positive quality of the Beis HaMikdash.

A chassid experiences this when he prays in the house of study of his Rebbe. Every chassid is to a certain extent batel to his Rebbe. And when a chassid who is a priest blesses the people in his Rebbe’s house of study, when compared to blessing them in an ordinary house of study, he is closer to blessing the people in the Beis HaMikdash (which was inordinately greater than blessing them outside the Beis HaMikdash; see the mishnah, Sotah 37b).

As you know, each year, on the morning of Simchas Torah, according to the order arranged by my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe Shlita,we sell the verses of Atah Horeisa on behalf of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch. This year, [because] you were not there, at the outset, I was unsure of what to do: a) to buy a verse on your behalf, and b) if yes, for which amount. [My uncertainty was reinforced by the fact that] you did not write to me concerning this.

Afterwards, however, I thought [as follows]:

a) According to the Alter Rebbe’s wording (Tanya, Iggeres HaKodesh, Epistle 16): “I am not unaware of the hardships of the present time when [the opportunity for earning] a livelihood has suffered a downturn.... Nevertheless, they are not acting properly... [by] closing their hand which had been open until now to give profusely and generously....

b) “For tzedakah is nothing but a loan to the Holy One, blessed be He,... who will repay one for his kindness many times [even] in this world....

c) “Also, one should be concerned... when his colleagues are included in a project involving a mitzvah and he is not included with them.”

d) As I once heard from my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe Shlita: “It is not appropriate to show [others] a way to decrease [their positive activities].”

e) “One may act on behalf of a colleague if it will be to that person’s advantage.”3

My conclusion was that from my side, I must consider and say that just as [you did] the previous year, you would purchase a verse and for the same amount (18 * $18).

The verses from Atah Horeisa from the morning of Simchas Torah that were purchased for people who were not present were recited by my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe Shlita.

With blessings for everlasting good in all matters for you and for all the members of your household,

Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson
Chairman of the Executive Committee

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