This letter was addressed to Mr. Meir Witeski of Akron, Ohio.

4 Tammuz, 5711,

Greetings and blessings,

I duly received your letter from the first day of Rosh Chodesh Tammuz. I was happy to hear that the study session in the shul was renewed. Thank you for the greetings that you conveyed to the men in the shul and for [the establishment of] the observance of the structure of Shabbos Mevarchim.1 I hope that you will be able to influence them to accept the other dimensions of the structure of Shabbos Mevarchim:to recite Tehillim, etc.

You will certainly share with them the concepts that were spoken about [at the farbrengen of] Shabbos Parshas Shelach concerning the sin of the Spies. [At the outset,] they were upright men, as Rashi relates. Nevertheless, they did not desire to enter Eretz Yisrael. In Chassidus,2 it is explained that the mistake of the Spies was that while they were in the desert, they were involved only in Torah study and spiritual matters, because for food, they had manna; for drinking, they had the well of Miriam; and their clothes grew with them, as Rashi comments on the verse:3 “Your garments did not wear out while upon you.” As such, they did not desire to be involved with matters of this world. By contrast, when they would enter Eretz Yisrael, they would have to begin another pattern of life: to work the land, engage in commerce, and the like. Now these activities would have to be carried out according to the Torah; i.e., precautions would have to be taken against theft, lashon hara [unfavorable gossip], overstepping a colleague’s rights, and the like. Similarly, it would be necessary to fulfill the mitzvos of tithing, the Sabbatical year, and the separation of terumah. However, less time would be left for study and prayer. The Spies questioned: Why should they change the more refined [mode of] service [of G‑d] that they practiced in the desert for the [mode of] service of Eretz Yisrael in which they would be involved with the produce of the land (not with manna), and with the nations that dwell within it (not as in the desert, where the Jews lived as “a nation that dwells alone”4 ). As a consequence, Eretz Yisrael would be “a land that consumes its inhabitants”;5 i.e., it would consume the spiritual qualities and the holiness of the Jewish nation.

Their error revolved around [the following misconception]. As the Torah relates:6 “The land is very, very good.” Even though the service [of G‑d] involves simple and ordinary matters, this is G‑d’s will — that even these ordinary matters should reflect that they are being carried out by a Jew as they should be. This is dearer to the Holy One, blessed be He, than the Torah that was studied in the desert.

This should serve as ethical instruction for all of us. Although we are found in a difficult exile and, for [various] reasons, we cannot study eight hours a day; all we can do is participate in the communal study sessions in the synagogue. Moreover, these study sessions do not involve the deep aspects of Torah study. Instead, they are comprised of the study of the laws in Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, the Aggados7 of our Sages, and the stories of tzaddikim. Nevertheless, we should not have low self-esteem. We should always recall that “The land is very, very good.” We should not be affected by all the difficulties, and we should conduct ourselves as a Jew should. Through this, we can fulfill G‑d’s will to the same degree as through studying the Torah in the desert. When these efforts are carried out with happiness, they are even more cherished [Above].

I would like to request that you convey greetings to all of those who participate in the study sessions. May G‑d help that the study sessions be successful and that [the participants] take Jewish warmth from these study sessions and bring it into their homes.

With blessing,