This letter, a response to a question posed by R. Menachem Mendel Margolios, was originally written on 20 Av, 5705, but was revised and, like the preceding two letters, was printed in Kovetz Lubavitch, Vol. 11.

Question: I saw an essay in [the forum] Teshuvos U’Biurim (Vol. II, p. 22)1 which states that everything written in the talks of the Rebbe Shlita has a source in the statements of our Sages. Certainly, how much more so [must we say that] there is a source for the statements made in the maamarim andprinted texts of Chassidus.

I would like to ask if there is a source in Nigleh, the revealed teachings of the Torah, for the statement in Tanya, Iggeres HaTeshuvah, ch. 7, that a multitude of minor transgressions can create a blemish [for the soul] equivalent to [that produced by the transgression of] a prohibition [punishable by] kareis or death?

Response: There is an example of a similar concept in Nigleh. Moreover, it involves a law that is applied in actual practice. Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 328:14) states that if a person who is mortally ill requires meat, we slaughter an animal for him [on Shabbos] rather than have him eat meat that was not ritually slaughtered.

[Now,] if he would eat less than a k’zayis2 of meat that was not ritually slaughtered, he would be transgressing only a prohibition [that does not require punishment by an earthly court].3 Slaughtering [an animal] on Shabbos, by contrast, is punishable by execution through stoning. Nevertheless, we slaughter the animal, [rather than have the person eat the meat that was not ritually slaughtered].

One of the reasons given for this is that in slaughtering the animal, one transgresses only once. When eating the meat that was not ritually slaughtered, by contrast, one transgresses every time he eats, even though it is a [lesser] prohibition (Rabbeinu Nissim; Magen Avraham as quoted in the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch 328:16). There are opinions (Bach, Taz) which hold that this principle applies even when a food is forbidden only by Rabbinic decree. Even when the prohibition is very light, this law remains in force.

See also the text Lekach Tov — by R. Yosef Engel — General Principle 15 ([which debates] if a greater quantity outweighs a greater quality), that cites several places in Talmud that express this principle. Among them: Rashi, Yevamos 32b; Tosafos, s.v., Kasavrei, Sanhedrin 50a.4