This letter was addressed to R. Chanoch Hendel Havlin, one of the members of the Lubavitch community in Jerusalem.

B”H, 25 Menachem Av, 5708

Greetings and blessings,

My letter from the previous week (whose fundamental point is that at present nothing should be done with regard to Rebbitzin Sheina)1 certainly reached you. Similarly, you have surely already received the kuntreis for the Festival of Redemption, [Yud-Beis Tammuz].

Certainly the yahrzeit of my revered father, o.b.m.,2was observed according to law. Please give from our funds there on my account three pounds each to Yeshivas Toras Emes, Collel Chabad, and the International Association for the Recitation of Tehillim. I will pay the equivalent here when you notify me.

To conclude with a discussion of Torah with regard to the explanation I gave for the mishnah at the beginning of the twenty-fourth chapter of Keilim,3 according to the teachings of Chassidus, during a farbrengen on the day of the yahrzeit. To recount in brief:4

[The mishnah states:] “There are three shields.” [This refers to] the Torah and its mitzvos which are “like a shield [in the face of....]”5 There are three types [of shields], i.e., three approaches to their observance.

[First, the mishnah mentions] a bent shield [which surrounds the combatant on all sides and upon which he lies during war]. This refers to those who observe [the Torah and its mitzvos] because they desire that they protect them from all difficulty. Not only that: “he lies upon it during war,” i.e., he is in the midst of a battle with the yetzer [hara] and he lies down. [This refers to a low level;] the head and the feet are on the same plane. [This implies that] his Divine service is not stimulated by the intellect as it exists independently — standing. Nor does it come from love and fear that result from intellect — sitting, i.e., the head is lowered toward the feet. Instead, it comes from natural love and fear, or even just from the hidden love [every Jew possesses] which also includes fear.

This is the beginning stage of Divine service (Rambam, Mishneh Torah, the conclusion of Hilchos Teshuvah). Nevertheless, since at this level of service, he is “serving himself” and not [observing the Torah and its mitzvos] out of a positive feeling for spirituality, there is nothing to prevent him from becoming “debauched with the Torah’s permission.”6 As a result, it is possible for him to contact ritual impurity, including the impurity of midras,7i.e., not only transgressions that stem from natural drives, but also those that come about because one has become so materially oriented and sunk in physical matters [that they influence him] even when there is no burning desire (like a zav [whose discharges come] from a flaccid organ; see Or HaTorah, [Parshas Vayishlach,] p. 246b).

This reflects a pattern of measure for measure. Since his Divine service lacks vitality — i.e., life-energy, intellect — as it exists independently,8 [his situation is] lying, sitting, or falling with a flaccid organ.

b) The second type of shield [mentioned by the mishnah] is one used by combatants in sword-play. [In the analogue, this refers to one] who will not lie down or sit, because his observance of the Torah and its mitzvos results from the Divine service of the intellect as it exists independently ([before] it is lowered to the emotions — [in the analogy:] standing. [He is involved] in meditation concerning the goodness of G‑dliness. Nevertheless, he is still found in battle and it is possible that his opponent (see the notes of the Rebbe Rashab to Siddur Torah Or, p. 230a,9 concerning the charge: “And you shall love your neighbor...”) will strike him and fell him from his level. This comes about only through a battle with hot desire. Therefore there is no place for the impurity of [midras mentioned above], but one may contract other forms of impurity and certainly he may contract the impurity stemming from contact with a corpse. For [this level] reflects [the outcome of] “the counsel of the snake,”10 [i.e., the fundamental human condition].

The third type [of shield] is an Arab buckler, [a small shield used in sports and festivities. It is not considered a utensil at all and hence, is not susceptible to ritual impurity. In the analogue,] it refers to a person who does not regard the Torah and its mitzvos as a utensil for his benefit at all. For he is the [positive] spiritual counterpart of an Arab, one who bows down to dust,11 recalling the prayer:12 “Let my soul be as dust,” i.e., the quality of bittul. Therefore the shield is very small as Rav Ovadiah of Bartenura writes, [and it is used in festivities]. [In the analogue,] the person is not a self-concerned entity at all. He exists only to generate happiness Above and the pleasure of the Master is his pleasure.13 Therefore he is not found at war. Instead, it is the One Who sends him [Who goes out to the battlefront]. Thus there will not be any battle against him, for “they will melt like wax [before Him].”14 Therefore “it is entirely pure.”

With wishes for everlasting good in all matters.

Rabbi Menachem Schneerson