This letter was addressed to R. Yosef Flier, a communal activist in Chicago.

6 Tammuz, 5711,
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Greetings and blessings,

With pleasure, I received your letters from 1 Tammuz with the enclosed checks. [As our Sages commented:]1 “The wine belongs to the owner, but the waiter deserves favor” — thank you for your positive efforts on behalf of Collel [Chabad] in our Holy Land, ת"ו. Surely, you will continue to add strength to, magnify, and increase these [efforts] as necessary for the needs of the time. This is particularly true, since — as you write in your letter — just a little more than half the money [usually collected] was collected at this time. Thus you can justly demand [support] from all those who participated this year only through a minimal sum or did not participate at all. For, on the contrary, a living entity must also proceed and grow, proceed and increase. If not, Heaven forbid, it proceeds to become small. For growth and increase are signs of life. In contrast, shrinkage and contraction represent the opposite.

“When one increases, he is also granted an increase.”2 With regard to tzedakah, our Sages said:3 “One who motivates others to give is greater than the one who gives.” [This statement conveys] even greater [recognition] than that indicated by their statement: “The wine belongs to the owner, but the waiter deserves favor.”

By the way, there is a well-known question:4 Since we say: “The wine belongs to the owner, but the waiter deserves favor,” why then is the worship of the stars and the constellations forbidden? For it is through them that influence is drawn down to this material plane, as it is written:5 “With the goodness of the sun’s crops and with the goodness of the moon’s yield.” The answer is straightforward: The sun, the moon, and the heavenly hosts do not possess free choice, but are merely “an axe in the hands of the chopper.”6 There is no rationale to offer thanks to the axe, [because it does not act independently at all]. A waiter, by contrast, possesses free choice. Out of his good will, he becomes an agent to bring good things in actual fact; therefore, he deserves thanks.7

The concept can be taken further. Angels do not possess free choice, as stated in the beginning of ch. 39 of Tanya. Similarly, on this physical plane, [the true concept of] free choice applies only to the Jewish people. Thus, in an ultimate sense, the concept of showing “favor to the waiter” applies only with regard to the Jewish people.

It is self-understood that, in an absolute sense, free choice is the domain of the Creator alone. For there is nothing that can compel Him, Heaven forbid. Hence, His choice is utterly free. This is not true of the created beings [as a whole]. They cannot possess absolute free choice since ultimately, their nature, their intellect, their will, or their desire forces them to perform a given activity or its opposite. Moreover, even if the compulsion comes from their own inner being, it still cannot be considered as free choice.

Thus the concept of free choice applies only to G‑d’s very Essence, for He is the ultimate of perfection. Accordingly, the only place where such a quality exists is in man, for he was made “in Our form and in Our image.”8 [And the term “man” (adam) is exclusive, as our Sages say:]9 “You are called ‘man.’”

Thank you for the few lines you wrote concerning Keren HaHatzalah.10 As you know, this year they have not given anything for the institutions of my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe זצוקללה"ה, נבג"ם, זי"ע, in Europe, although in previous years their funding was dedicated solely to these institutions. This year, they have not given anything, even though they gave assistance to Europe, to Romania…. It is my hope and my trust that you will work to correct the fault so that nothing will be lacking for these institutions. For they are the institutions of my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe זצוקללה"ה, נבג"ם, זי"ע, who is certainly watching over them with a watchful eye even now, takes interest in their welfare, and arouses abundant mercy from Above so that success will crown all their concerns.

May it be that we can share only good tidings with each other.

With blessing,