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

B”H, 21 Menachem Av, the day following
the yahrzeit of my father and master, 5705

Greetings and blessings,

In response to your letters and in particular to your letter of 25 Tammuz:

a) [With wishes for] blessing upon the engagement of your daughter. May the wedding be in a good and auspicious hour. May [the couple] establish an everlasting structure on the foundation of the Torah and its mitzvos and raise a just and blessed generation.

b) Yesterday, I received R. Shimon Glitzenstein’s article concerning the celebration of the festival of redemption [of Yud-Beis Tammuz] and the 50 years [of the Rebbe‘s communal involvement]. (The pictures have not arrived yet.) I am sure you will send us [copies of] the blessings [sent by honored guests] who were invited to the celebration and answered in writing.

Similarly, I suggest that you contact the representative of the Morgen Journal in your community so that he write about the celebration in the correspondence which he regularly sends to the Morgen Journal [from Eretz Yisrael].

c) I still have not received a reply with regard to the matter you promised to investigate with the attendant of the author of Toras Chesed... concerning [the points mentioned] in my letter of 23 Teves.1 Surely, you will reply speedily.

d) In connection with [my father’s yahrzeit]: From the funds belonging to Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuchand Machne [Yisrael] in your possession, please give $100 to Collel Chabad and $18 to Yeshivas Toras Emes in my name. I have deposited the sum here. Also, give $25 to the International Committee for the Recitation of Tehillim.

e) [I sent] a price list for the books published by the Shlessinger publishing house on a separate page. The price — for yeshivos — for both volumes of Likkutei Torah together is $5. The price of our other publications are printed on the books themselves. To this, one must add the shipping expenses which increased greatly.

I am forced to repeat again my previous statements and emphasize them twofold. The lack of means which Kehot [faces] actually prevents several projects from being carried out. What you have received from different places and what is owed has already reached a very large sum.

I would like to suggest, as mentioned in sec. g of my letter of 23 Teves,2 that you send us tefillin as requested there. [As of yet,] we received two pairs of tefillin from you and they were highly priced, at approximately the same price as tefillin from Eretz Yisrael are sold here. Apparently, you purchased them individually. Our suggestion is that you purchase a significant number of tefillin at one time. In that way, their price will be much cheaper. Please be so kind as to respond to me concerning this matter.

f) Please send on our account a copy of the Commentary [to the Tanya] composed by R. Shmuel Gronem Esterman which is possessed by R. Takatsch, as mentioned in [my] letter of 23 Teves;2 with thanks in advance.

To conclude with words of Torah: In continuation of the explanation of the Mishnah (the conclusion of Mikvaos, ch. 7):3 “[When] a needle is placed...” according to Chassidus which I heard from my father, ז"ל, as mentioned in my previous letter.2

In my humble opinion, it is possible to offer an explanation of the previous clause of the mishnah based on the foundations of Chassidus. [That clause reads: “When the waters of a mikveh are shallow, one may even press down bundles of sticks or bundles of reeds so that the water rises. {Then} one may descend and immerse oneself.”]

Among the points requiring explanation:

a) The expression “descend and immerse oneself” appears to be superfluous.

b) Why is it necessary to mention both “bundles of sticks” and “bundles of reeds”?

c) “Bundles” is [also seemingly] superfluous.

To explain in short: The waters of a mikveh convey purity. [In the analogue,] they refer to suitable meditation. As Rambam writes at the conclusion of Hilchos Mikvaos: “Immersing oneself [to absolve] impurity is among G‑d’s decrees.4 There is an allusion to the matter... Immers[ing] one’s soul in the waters of knowledge.” [Similarly, it is explained that] טבילה, “immersion,” and הביטול, “self-nullification,” share the same letters. [The intent is] the self-nullification that results from meditation, the outcome5 of the meditation. See the maamar in the Siddur entitled Kavannas HaMikveh.

A mikveh — and similarly, a spring [used for immersion] — must contain enough water for one’s entire body to be submerged within. For if a portion of one’s body is not covered by the water, that is a sign that one’s bittul is not [entirely] genuine.

“When the waters of a mikveh are shallow” refers to a situation where there is a [halachically] sufficient measure of water, nevertheless, [it is dispersed and] will not cover one’s entire body. If he will immerse his feet, his head will be uncovered or the opposite. Or if he immerses himself lying on his side, his right side will be covered and his left side will be uncovered or the opposite.

[The rationale is that] man’s Divine service contains two thrusts: “study and deed.” There are people who have an advanced intellectual potential that enables them to understand their circumstances, but they cannot control themselves to overcome their desires in actual conduct.6 Conversely, there are those who are cold by nature, but are free-thinking. And there are some who find the Divine service of “do[ing] good” and extending a welcoming right hand easier. They cannot, however, withstand the challenges of “turn[ing] away from evil” and “ward[ing] off” which [require] the left hand. And there are those for whom the opposite is true. To cite a parallel: At the time of the Giving of the Torah, the descendants of Yishmael did not want to accept the commandment “Do not commit adultery,” and the descendants of Esav did not want to accept the commandment “Do not murder.”

Thus there is nothing lacking in the meditation itself — in the analogy, the water meets the required measure — nevertheless, one’s entire body is not covered by it. One is not butel; we are forced to say that he is lacking kabbalas ol, the acceptance of G‑d’s yoke.

[This difficulty may be remedied by adding substances to the mikveh.] Needless to say ([as stated by] Rabbeinu Shimshon and Rashi [in their glosses to the Mishnah]), it is possible to enable one to immerse and purify himself by adding stones {inanimate matter, [in the analogue, the quality of bittul, as reflected by the verses]:7 “My heart has not become proud... I stilled and silenced my soul,” [i.e., the Divine service of] kabbalas ol} to the water ([including this quality] in his meditation). Moreover, one can achieve purity even by adding “bundles of sticks” — i.e., plants, [in the analogue,] the emotional qualities, beginning with the Divine service of the love and fear of G‑d. [The sticks,] however, must be bundled, [i.e., characterized by oneness]. For it is impossible to overcome the yetzer hora with [only] one emotional quality. Instead, it is necessary to band together all of one’s different potentials [as explained in the maamar entitled Biur VeYadaata in Likkutei Torah].

Moreover, [although] the mind rules over the heart and [yet] the meditation with one’s mind was not effective, [further efforts are necessary]. It is necessary to “press down” [the bundles of sticks or reeds,] the love and fear, with stones ([as stated by] Rabbeinu Shimshon and Rashi), i.e., to blend kabbalas ol with the emotions. Otherwise, the mind will bend them according to its own inclination. This explains the mishnah’s use of the term “press down,” for “pressing down” [the emotions with kabbalas ol”] is fundamentally important. The mishnah is not merely giving us advice how to cause the water to rise.

The emotional qualities have two manners of expression, both from the perspective of their source:

a) through meditation on G‑d’s light which is sovev kol almin (“encompassing all the worlds”), i.e., [relating to the sublime,] hidden realms of existence; and

b) through meditation on G‑d’s light which is memale kol almin (“permeating all the worlds”), i.e., [relating to the lower,] revealed realms of existence;

and from the perspective of their nature, [i.e., they resemble] the attributes of Tohu or the attributes of Tikkun.

This reflects the difference between “reeds” (which are characterized by flexibility, are hollow, and grow near water — see Biurei HaZohar, Parshas Pekudei, the maamar entitled U’lizimnim) and sticks in general.8

Since each one possesses a positive quality absent in the other as explained in several sources (see the maamar entitled LeOlam Yehei Rach KiKanah, 5703), the mishnah mentions them both: “bundles of sticks or bundles of reeds.

The test whether this Divine service has been successful — a test is necessary since until now it was suspect [that one lacked such bittul] — is that the person “descends,” i.e., he crushes and descends from his coarseness. At that point the Mishnah, “the queen,”9 promises that he can “immerse himself,” [i.e., attain] bittul.

With the blessing, “Immediately to teshuvah; immediately to Redemption,”

Rabbi Menachem Schneerson
Executive Director