Mr. ——
New Haven, Connecticut

Greeting and Blessing:

I am in receipt of your letter. I was pleased to read in it your impressions of your meetings with the rabbonim [rabbis] you mention, with whom you discussed matters of Yiddishkeit . . .

Parenthetically, I note that you qualify the word Yiddishkeit with the term “orthodox.” It is surely unnecessary for me to point out to one who chooses his words carefully and interprets them correctly, that “Yiddishkeit” as generally used, is a term synonymous with Torah Judaism. That is to say, “orthodox Yiddishkeit” is a redundancy. “Yiddishkeit” by definition excludes the Reform and Conservative ideologies. Clearly, the very word “reform” denotes something that has been reformed and changed, so that it is no longer the authentic original. Similarly the Conservative school, which advocates changing or modifying the laws of the Torah in accordance with changes of time and place—thereby denying the divine and immutable character of the Torah. Indeed, the Torah is called Torat Emet [the Torah of truth], because the truth cannot be changed or modified or compromised, and once it is, regardless of the extent and the degree, it ceases to be true.

I completely agree with you, of course, about the importance of the role of Jewish youth both in this country and elsewhere. However, I do not agree with you when you take a defensive and almost apologetic attitude towards the great things that can be achieved with Jewish youth. Firstly, how can one judge or measure the greatness and significance of any particular mitzvah which is performed in one’s daily life, especially in light of the saying of our Sages that we should “not engage in weighing the mitzvot of the Torah.”

Moreover, the infinite importance of a mitzvah has been aptly pointed out by our Sages, and incorporated in the Rambam as a matter of Jewish law (since his work Yad Hachazakah is a Code of Jewish Law), namely that a person should always see himself, and the whole world with him, as being equi-balanced, so that by doing one additional good deed he tips the scale in favor both of himself and of the whole world.

If this has been stated in respect of all of us, it is of particular significance in respect of youth, who represent an untapped reserve of energy and enthusiasm, and who have yet to establish their way of life. At this stage, every improvement is eventually compounded, as is the case for example with a seed or seedling, when proper care at this early stage has permanent effects in producing a healthy fruit-bearing tree, while even the slightest damage to the seed or seedling may blight its growth irreparably. Then, there is the added consideration that each and every youth brought closer to the Torah and mitzvot is likely to form part of a chain reaction, in terms of the positive effects both upon himself as well as upon the society at large.