This letter was addressed to R. Yitzchak Dubov, one of the leading members of the Lubavitch community in Manchester, England.

B”H, 16 Iyar, 5708

Greetings and blessings,

Enclosed is the kuntreis for Lag BaOmer. Without a doubt, you will allow others to gain merit by making it available to them.

I hope that in the near future, our shluchim, the young men, Rabbis Posner and Baumgarten, will visit your country and your community. Certainly it is superfluous to ask you to help them to fulfill the purpose of their mission to the full extent of your capacity. It is necessary only to encourage you to add to the assistance [that would be forthcoming] in a substantial manner on your part and on the part of all those whom you can influence.1

In response to your questions [raised] in your letter of Erev Shabbos [Parshas] Acharei:

a) With regard to [my] statement in Haggadah Im Likkutei Minhagim VeTaamim, p. 35, that the place for statements of Torah Law is in the Shulchan Aruch and not in the Siddur: you raise the question that [in fact] the Alter Rebbe included several statements of Torah Law in his Siddur.

I concluded [my statements in the Haggadah] with the words: “He makes known to us only the practices associated with the Seder.” For the statements of Torah Law included in the Siddur are of two types:

i) Complete tracts which the Alter Rebbe composed to include in the Siddur as a self-contained entity. These are extremely concise statements of Torah Law concerning common matters that are pertinent for every person and must be accessible even for a person who does not have the Shulchan Aruch on his desk at that moment. They are called by the name Seder2(as stated in Shaar HaKollel, ch. 1, sec. 4) or Hilchos....3It is possible to say that Hilchos Berachos Kohanim is included in this category.

ii) Discrete practical [directives] ([that are] not statements of Torah Law), [but instead] are related to the recitation of a particular prayer and/or blessing. (See the Shaar HaKollel [which states] that all the laws of the recitation of the Shema should be printed together at the beginning of the Siddur.)

With regard to the Haggadah, the Alter Rebbe did not compose a tract [of laws], but rather stated the practices that are necessary to know at the time of actual observance. This is the basis for what I wrote in my gloss.

b) [You write that] on p. 45 of HaYom Yom, I state that the search for chametz should be [conducted] after the evening service without making any qualifications, while the Shulchan Aruch mentions distinctions with regard to this.

[In response,] as I explained in the introduction to HaYom Yom, I did not include statements of Torah Law in it, but rather the customs of chassidim as based on the customs of the Nesi’im or on their directives. And the accepted custom is always [to search for chametz] after the evening service.

Several rationales can be stated for this. What appears most correct to me is that this follows in accordance with the [Chabad] approach, for it is our custom to take a long time in searching for the chametz.4I did not mention this in HaYom Yom because I have not heard a fixed measure concerning [the time to take]. See S’dei Chemed, Maareches Chametz U’Matzah, sec. 5, subsec. 16, who quotes the Magen HaElef, Hilchos Pesach, sec. 17, who debates and discusses the Alter Rebbe’s statements in his Kuntreis Acharon to Orach Chayim, sec. 431, concerning the above.

c) In Tanya, at the conclusion of ch. 42, it is written that “the bows [made] in the Shemoneh Esreh prayers following the acceptance of the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven in speech in the recitation of the Shema [represent] the repetition of that acceptance in actual deed.” [You] raise a question, for Berachos 21a [cites] our Sages’ statement that [the Shemoneh Esreh] prayer does not [feature the acceptance of the yoke of] the Kingdom of Heaven.

[In response,] it is possible to explain that every mitzvah possesses fundamental factors and secondary factors. In the mitzvah of prayer in particular, speech is most essential (see Tanya, ch. 38) and thought5 is of secondary importance (see ibid., Kuntreis Acharon, the section beginning Lehavin MaShekosuv BiShaar HaYichudim). The deed of [prayer] is of even more subordinate importance. Therefore our Sages said that with regard to speech, which is its primary element, it does not feature [the acceptance of the yoke of] the Kingdom of Heaven.

In particular, [these concepts] are appropriate, for that Talmudic [passage] concerns the ordinance of Ezra,6 and his ordinance focused on matters involving speech, as our Sages comment (Berachos 20b): “As we find with regard to [the Giving of the Torah at] Sinai,” as explained by Tosafos.7On this basis, we can appreciate the expression of wonderment in the Talmud (Sukkah 26b): “Are you saying that Rav Yossi maintains that it is forbidden for a person who had a seminal emission to put on tefillin?8 If so, the fact that bowing down in Shemoneh Esreh is an expression of the acceptance of the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven has no relevance to Ezra’s ordinance.9

The inner dimension of the rationale why Ezra’s ordinance involves only matters concerning speech can be explained based on our Sages’ statement that sanctity in speech and sanctity in intimacy are correlated ([see] the lengthy explanations in Reishis Chochmah, Shaar HaKedushah, chs. 11 and 17, and in Shelah, Shaar HaOsios, Os Shin, et al.).

With greetings to all those who seek our welfare,

M. Schneerson