The name of the recipient of this letter was not released.

(11 Tammuz, 5711)

With pleasure, I became aware of the letter of your father, the chassid … [which relates] that he is studying the Torah, and that he has a desire to study and advance in Torah study. Certainly, he will “hold firmly to his stronghold” which is also the stronghold of the Holy One, blessed be He, as reflected in our Sages’ (Sanhedrin 99b) comments on the verse:1 “If [Israel] would take hold of My stronghold, he would make peace with Me.” They interpret the verse as referring to one who is occupied in the study of the Torah lishmah, for its own sake. As explained at length in Tanya2 and in the teachings of Chassidus in general, the Torah is “the wisdom and will of the Holy One, blessed be He.” Since “He and His wisdom are one,” through the Torah and its study can be fulfilled the promise:3 “Israel, the Torah, and the Holy One, blessed be He, are all one.”

Nevertheless, because of the Sin of the Tree of Knowledge, death was drawn down into the world. As Rabbeinu Bachya writes:4 From the moment an infant is born, he begins to dry out. Thus, from the moment the infant’s life begins, his death begins. On this basis, one can also understand the verse:5 “On the day you partake of it, you shall surely die.”

This concludes the discussion of these concepts as they exist in a material sense.

Since the Holy One, blessed be He, looked into the Torah and created the world,6 every entity that exists in the world must have a source in the Torah. (On this basis, we can understand our Sages’ statement, {Chullin 139b}: “What is the allusion to Haman in the Torah?” For it is understood simply that it is impossible for anything to exist in this world without having a source in the Torah.)

In a similar manner, the Sin of the Tree of Knowledge brought about the possibility of forgetting the Torah. As stated in Tractate Eruvin (54a), were it not for the Sin of the Tree of Knowledge, the Torah would not be forgotten by the Jewish people. (Afterwards, the Sin of the Golden Calf [renewed this possibility]. As is well known, when the Jewish people stood at Mount Sinai, the spiritual impurity [imparted by the Sin of the Tree of Knowledge ceased7 [and the Jews] were freed [from its effects,] and it returned [only] because of the Sin of the Golden Calf.)

Forgetfulness is, in a spiritual sense, [equivalent to] death.

In a physical sense, the concept of death in its entirety applies after “seventy years, and if there is strength, eighty years.”8 [Or if one is granted a complete lifespan,] “His days will be 120 years.”9 Nevertheless, although in an ultimate sense, death comes at that time, it occurs at that time because it started [early], immediately at the time the child was born, as cited in the name of Rabbeinu Bachya above.

A similar concept applies to Torah study [and forgetfulness]. It is possible that a concept will be forgotten entirely because originally, it was not learned as it should have been. In that vein, our Sages teach (Eruvin 54a), “If [the Torah one studies] is bound up with all of one’s 248 limbs, it will be preserved”; see Tanya, ch. 37.

Within the Torah itself, there are dimensions that the holy Zohar refers to as “the body of the Torah”10 (similarly, in the Mishnah,11 our Sages state: “They are the body of the Torah”) and others which it refers to as “the soul of the Torah,” i.e., the Torah’s hidden, mystic dimension.

It is understood that when one is concerned only with the body of a person, although he is involved with the person, if the connection is to be full of vitality — for each to have a desire for each other, and for [the relationship] to bear good fruit — one must know the structure of the body and all of its aspects and particulars. [In addition,] it is necessary for him to contemplate the nature of the soul and its essence, its aspects and particulars. [Only] then can he know exactly [what to do] regarding the person in a physical sense.

All of these concepts also apply with regard to the analogue.

There were previous eras when the majority of the Jewish people were healthy in relation to the Torah and its mitzvos. As reflected in the general principle established by Rambam,12 the Torah focuses on the situation as a whole, addressing the condition of the majority. [To use an analogy,] like a healthy body needs food and water, the Jewish people as a whole needed the study of nigleh, the revealed realm of Torah Law and the simple understanding of its teachings. Only [a select few], those who were involved with the inner organs of the Jewish people as a whole, and more particularly, those involved with the heart and the mind, were also involved in the inner dimension of the Torah.13

[Unfortunately, there has been a downward spiral of undesirable spiritual factors.] Much time has passed, “because of our sins we were exiled from our land,”14 and darkness has greatly increased in the world at large. [As a result,] “Our emotional potential has been sapped”15 and our power of intellectual discernment confused. To borrow the words of the Prophet:16 “From the sole of the foot up to the head, nothing in him is whole.” Therefore, it is not sufficient to provide “food and water”; it is necessary to provide “medical remedies.”17 According to the extent of the darkness, the danger to the sick person has also increased. As such, the need for medical remedies has also multiplied. The fundamental [purpose of these remedies is] to strengthen and arouse the vitality of the inner soul [that exists within] the soul of Israel. This enables it to maintain itself without considering the challenges, hiddenness, and concealment [of G‑dliness that characterizes the present era]. Since, as mentioned above, the Torah focuses on the situation as a whole, addressing the condition of the majority, there is a great necessity [at present] for all of us to study the Torah’s inner dimensions, the teachings of Chassidus, for this “brings healing to the world,” as explained in Kuntreis Etz HaChayim, from the Rebbe Rashab.18

The lesson we can take from the above is reflected in our Sages’ teaching (Shabbos 31a) on the verse:19 “‘The faith of your times… the fear of G‑d; this is [one’s] treasure.’ Even one who has studied all the Six Orders of the [Oral] Law, ‘if the fear of G‑d is [one’s] treasure,’ it will be [a positive influence], if not, it will not.” Our Sages’ conclusion in that passage is that if the fear of G‑d is not one’s treasure, it is preferable not to study.

[Our Sages’] statements were made in that era, in a setting where it was possible to attain Torah [knowledge] without extensive labor; indeed, [one could do so, almost] without trying. How much more so [do they apply] in the present era when we see in actual fact that the overwhelming majority of those involved in the teachings of Chassidus, pnimiyus haTorah, remain G‑d-fearing. By contrast, among those youths who say, “I possess only Torah,” [we see,] unfortunately, the fulfillment of our Sages’ axiom, Yoma 109b, “Anyone who says ‘I possess only Torah,’ does not even possess the Torah.”

The above applies to the Jewish people as a whole.

How much more so does it apply to those whose fathers were chassidim. [The fact that one] is living in a setting where one knows about the teachings of Chassidus and the paths of chassidic conduct is an explicit directive from Above that one has been placed near a good portion without any effort on his part. Instead, it came to him as a heritage. It is as if he is being told: “Choose this. Go and occupy yourself with the teachings of Chassidus.” It is self-understood that in such a situation, one’s success will be of an entirely different nature. Moreover, [one’s study of Chassidus] can invigorate his study of nigleh, the revealed dimension of Torah Law, enabling him to study nigleh without hiddenness and concealment, confusion, or questions. What is fundamentally important is that his study will be charged with inner vitality. As a result, he will merit, in an individual way, the fulfillment of the maxim: “Israel, the Torah, and the Holy One, blessed be He, are all one.”

I would be interested to know about your studies in the teachings of Chassidus, which surely are progressively increasing, in keeping with our Sages’ directive20 — which according to some authorities has a Scriptural source — “Continually ascend higher in holy matters; do not descend.”

Awaiting good tidings and “there is no good other than Torah,”21 [this particularly applies to] “the luminary of the Torah”;22 concluding with wishes for success in studying with the fear of Heaven.