By the Grace of G‑d
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Blessing and Greeting:

I am in receipt of your letter, as well as of your previous correspondence. I carefully noted the contents of your letter, in which you describe the vicissitudes of your life, etc.

I trust that the frame of mind reflected in your present letter, particularly the indifference and despair which you mention, is in the nature of a passing mood, and that it will be of very short duration. For a person who has been fortunate enough to receive G‑d’s benevolence and, regardless of circumstances, was privileged some time back to return to religious practice, it should be much easier to shake off such a mood and become an active member of the Jewish people. You may also become active in the dissemination of Yiddishkeit (Jewishness), namely the dissemination of the eternal values and way of life of our G‑d-given Torah, called Torat Emet [the Torah of truth], which means that it is truth and not subject to compromise.

It is well to remember that one of the basic foundations of the Torah is that “the essential thing is the deed,” namely the fulfillment of the mitzvot. Clearly, the Reform Movement, which you mention, offers no substitute; for the very term “reform” indicates that it is something which has been reformed, or remade, by humans, and consequently it can no longer be considered divine. For what is divine cannot be reformed by man.

Thus, the only way to identify oneself with the Torah is through actually living it, by fulfilling its mitzvot. Indeed, right from the start, when the Jewish people received the Torah at Sinai, they accepted it on the basis of na’aseh v’nishma. As a matter of fact, through the actual experience of Torah and mitzvot (na’aseh), one receives a better understanding of, and deeper insight into, the Torah and mitzvot (nishma). An obvious analogy to this can be found in the case of one who is famished and at the same time wants to know how nourishment will assuage his hunger. The way to proceed is first to eat, and then to try to study, for if he should reverse the order and postpone taking nourishment until he knows how it is assimilated into his system, the very hunger will distort his powers of understanding and conception. Similarly, when a Jewish soul is famished for nourishment—its nourishment being the Torah and mitzvot—the proper procedure is first to supply it with the needed nourishment (na’aseh); then it will be able to comprehend (nishma).