This letter was addressed to Rav Yaakov Katz, an active member of the Jewish community in Chicago and one of the primary supporters of Lubavitch in its early years in the U.S.

B”H, 1 Adar I, 5706

Greetings and blessings,

Certainly, you have received my letter of 7 Shvat. I hope that you will speedily return [the manuscript of] the talks of the Pesach holiday [from last year] which I lent you.

It is my recollection that you once spoke to me about your wish to participate in one of our publication efforts. Now such an opportunity has presented itself, and I am writing to you now for this reason.

A long time ago, my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe Shlita, gave permission to publish a limited quantity of a collection of the talks of his father, the Rebbe [Rashab], in mimeograph form. The printing of the book will be completed at the end of the week. It will contain 330 pages.

The publishing expenses came close to $1900. To meet them, we had made the following calculation: There would be two partners who would pay $500 each and the remainder would be collected from sales. One of the two partners1 has already donated $500 on this account. At the last moment, however, the second partner was forced to retract, because he could not undertake such a commitment.

At this opportunity, I would like to call upon you to become the second partner and help in the printing of the above-mentioned text. It would be acceptable if you pay the sum in installments of $100 a month for five months.

I feel it unnecessary to elaborate on the great importance of the project to [a person such as] yourself. I would however ask you: Since [the printing of] the book will be completed at the end of the week, let me know your decision — either way — immediately.2

To conclude with an idea from this week’s Torah reading, Parshas ViEleh HaMishpatim: [The account of] all the laws [communicated] after the Giving of the Torah begins with the laws of a Hebrew servant, [as it is written:]3 “If you purchase a Hebrew servant, he shall work for six years and in the seventh year, he shall go free without obligation.”

It is very difficult to understand why [the Torah reading] begins with such a law. This is particularly true according to the Talmud (Kiddushin 14b) which states that this passage refers to a servant who is sold by the court because he stole and was unable to make reimbursement for his theft. Firstly, if it was appropriate to begin with this concept, logically, [seemingly,] it would have been appropriate [for the Torah] to begin with the laws of theft, [relating] that a thief must pay double for his theft, then state that if he cannot make restitution, he is sold as a servant, and then to relate the laws pertaining to a Hebrew servant. Secondly, in general, it is difficult to understand why the passage begins with laws pertaining to a negative occurrence: a) a Jew steals, b) he has no property with which to make recompense, and c) nobody is willing to help him and so the court must sell him as a servant for six years.

[In resolution, it can be explained that] this law serves as a paradigm and as instruction with regard to the entire category of mishpatim, [laws that can be comprehended by mortal intellect]. The purpose of these laws is to teach a person to overcome his undesirable tendencies and desires and correct the bad which he performed previously.

How is it possible that after the giving of the Torah a Jew will have undesirable desires and deeds? This is only, as our Sages (Berachos 28b) explain, because he sometimes forgets that the Owner of the home (G‑d) sees what he is doing. Therefore, he thinks that he can “steal.”

The advice to correct this is for him to become G‑d’s servant. Through serving Him through the Torah and its mitzvos for six years, it is possible that in the seventh year, the seventh millennium, he will go free. For in that era, mitzvos will be performed in a different manner, as the Alter Rebbe clarifies in Torah Or at the beginning of this week’s parshah.

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

Rabbi Menachem Schneerson
Executive Director