This letter is addressed to Rabbi Avraham Eliyahu Axelrod, an active communal Rabbi in Baltimore.

B”H, Erev Pesach, 5704

Greetings and blessings,

I received your two letters concerning the sacred texts from the estate of [Mr.] Neuhaussen. I immediately notified my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe Shlita, concerning this and I am sure you will receive a reply.1

Surely, our most recent publications — Kuntreis Chai Elul, Sifreinu, Vols. II and IV, Simanei Seder Shel Pesach, and Kovetz Lubavitch reached you.

It is unfortunate that you do not employ the full strength of your influence on the different circles in your place of residence to increase the number of readers and students of these and similar texts.

In particular, this applies with regard to the educational texts. For in this area, there is a twofold advantage; by studying these texts, texts that contain heretical ideas are eliminated from the school’s environment. [Indeed, there are] educational institutions here that can in no way be considered as part of Chabad Chassidus, on the contrary... and yet, they began using these texts for the above reasons.

In such contexts, it is certainly appropriate to exemplify the verse:2 “And his heart was uplifted [in the ways of G‑d].” For even in this country, importance is attached to statements that are made forcefully and definitively. I am certain, on the basis of what I have heard concerning your influence that if you would attempt to state your opinion in a forceful manner, you would be successful. (In particular, this applies because proof could be brought from the fact that the Beis Yaakov Schools and the like use texts and pamphlets published by Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch.)

[Excess humility is not befitting. For our Sages state3 that] a Torah scholar should possess one-eighth of an eighth [of a measure of pride]. As explained in Chassidus, (Derush Purim)4 this removes the wicked’s source of nurture.

While mentioning this concept, I would like to add that I have wondered why that maamar and others elaborate on the opinion that a Torah scholar should possess one-eighth of an eighth [of a measure of pride] when the halachah follows the opinion (Sotah 4a) that one should not possess even a trace of this quality, as Rambam states in Hilchos Deos 2:3, and as the Alter Rebbe states in Shulchan Aruch HaRav, ch. 155, and ch. 156, law 3.5

I will conclude with the same theme concerning which you concluded — the Redemption. I heard a saying that is commonplace among Polish chassidim Shemini Shemoneh Shemainah, i.e., a year like the present where Parshas Shemini is read eight times will be a prosperous one.6

Perhaps it is possible to say that a basis for this concept can be found within the context of the explanations in Chassidus concerning the advantage of the number eight. [Hence] the harp of the era of Mashiach will be of eight strands, as stated in the maamar entitled LaMinatzeach Al HaSheminis in Likkutei Torah.

Reading “And it came to pass on the eighth day” eight times is comparable to the concepts explained in Chassidus with regard to drawing down the influence of Binah in all the boundaries (see the maamar entitled Lehavin... Yom Tov Shel Rosh HaShanah, sec. 5,7 and the two levels of the fiftieth gate (see the maamar entitled Me’at Tosafos Biur Al Inyan U’Sifartem8).

In general, this refers to a level that relates to the three higher levels9 — and not to the seven lower levels10 within Binah. In general, [these three categories reflect the level of] Binah, as is well known with regard to the interpretation of the phrase:11 “You grew and became developed” and with regard to the Holy of Holies (see the maamar entitled ViEleh Pekudei12).

[Although this is the reality,] at the outset, it is necessary to bring proof from the Torah that this is so, as we do with regard to the recitation of the verses of Malchiyos (see the maamar entitled Lehavin cited above and similar concepts in the series of maamarim entitled Yom Tov Shel Rosh HaShanah 5666). Thus when the passage Shemini is read eight times, the year is prosperous. As my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe Shlita, relates in the name of the Maggid of Mezeritch with regard to the interpretation of the phrase BaYom HaShemini Atzeres: Shemini (“the eighth”), also [alludes to] shemen (“oil”) and shamein (“prosperous”). For the positive quality of Shemini Atzeres is [reflected in the sacrifice offered]: one bull which our Sages13 interpret [as referring to a state where the Jews are alone with G‑d,] with no others intruding. This state will be realized at the coming of complete Redemption, may it be speedily in our time, led by Mashiach.

With blessings for a kosher and happy holiday and [with the blessing] “Immediately to teshuvah, immediately to Redemption.”

Rabbi Menachem Schneerson