By the Grace of G‑d
10th of Nissan 5741

To all Participants in the
International Symposium on
Jewish Mysticism

Greeting and Blessing:

I was pleased to be informed of the forthcoming Symposium on Jewish Mysticism, and extend prayerful wishes for its success. And success, or rather hatzlachah in its true Jewish concept, is rooted in the Torah, which insists on the primacy of action—“the essential thing is the deed.”

Mysticism, in general, has a variety of connotations, but Jewish mysticism must necessarily be defined in terms of specific topics that have to do with the Nistar of Torah—one of the two primary facets of the Torah: Nigleh and Nistar, the revealed and the hidden. Needless to say, there can be no dichotomy between the two, because it is One Torah, given by One G‑d, to the “one people on earth.” According to the Baal Shem Tov’s interpretation, the words “one people on earth” allude to the mystical nature of the Jewish soul that is endowed with the capacity to reveal the oneness in the multiplicity of earthly things.

Jewish mysticism teaches that the purpose of the soul’s descent to earth is to reveal the harmony that is inherent in the created world, beginning with the “small world,” namely, man—a creature of Nigleh and Nistar, of a body and a soul.

Inner personal peace and harmony can be achieved only through the supremacy of the soul over the body, since in the nature and scheme of things, the body can be made to submit to the soul—willingly, and in the case of the true mystic even eagerly; but not vice versa.

Jewish mysticism helps to realize the said purpose of the soul by teaching it how to recognize the spirituality of matter, and that in every physical thing, even in the inanimate, there is a “soul,” which is the creative force that has created it—a being out of non-being—and continuously keeps [it] from reverting back to its former state of non-existence. It is this “spark” of G‑dliness that is the true essence and reality of all things, and this spark is released and revealed when physical matter is used for a sublime purpose or deed in accordance with the will of the Creator, as, for example, in the performance of a Mitzvah (tefillin made of leather, etc.).

One of the aspects of ChaBaD is to reveal and expound the esoteric aspects of the Torah and Mitzvot so that they can be comprehended by the three intellectual faculties— Chochmah, Binah, Daat, and reduced to rational categories, down to the actual performance of the Mitzvot. The final analysis shows how G‑d can be “comprehended” better by action (the performance of Mitzvot) than by meditation, which is one of the cardinal differences between Jewish and non-Jewish mysticism.

As we are about to celebrate Pesach, the Festival of our Freedom, we are reminded that yetziat mitzrayim (in the sense of metzarim—“constraints”) is a continuous process of Jewish living, gaining an ever-growing measure of true freedom through the everyday experience of Torah and Mitzvot with emphasis on actual deed.

With esteem and blessing for a Kosher and inspiring Pesach,

Menachem Schneerson