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

4 Menachem Av, 5711,

Greetings and blessings,

I received your undated letter with the enclosed pan. I will read it when I visit the gravesite of my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe זצוקללה"ה, נבג"ם, זי"ע. He will certainly arouse abundant mercies for you for proper health for you and for your wife, and for your material and spiritual needs.

I have already written you my opinion, that your pattern of thought is incorrect and that your concerns have no foundation at all. Certainly, this is only the design of the yetzer hara. [In general,] it would be good for you to minimize your thoughts about yourself — even about those matters which appear to need correction — and exchange these thoughts for matters that involve others. How good would it be if those thoughts would focus on G‑d! As explained in numerous places in Chassidus,and also in Rambam, Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah, the beginning of ch. 2, that the path to achieve love and fear of G‑d [is through contemplation].

Particular [emphasis regarding the above comes from] the explanations in Chassidus aboutone of the differences between the teachings of Mussar 1 and the teachings of Chassidus. In general, the approach of Mussar emphasizes a focus on, and contemplation of, the shortcomings of a person’s undesirable emotional qualities and adverse concerns, and how to correct them. Consequently, if he will be successful in actually correcting these undesirable qualities, it will be good. Nevertheless, in what did he spend his time? In thoughts and contemplation of matters that are bad — or, at least, not good.

In contrast, the teachings of Chassidus place an emphasis on “gazing on the glory of the King”2 or, at least, contemplation of man — who is given the name adam, because he “resembles the One Above”3 — in the context of the love of one’s fellow Jew. In such a situation, even if one does not carry out the conclusion that is the natural consequence [of his contemplation], i.e., he is not successful in correcting his conduct in actual practice, he has nevertheless spent his time in fulfilling the mitzvah: “Know the G‑d of your father,”4 [i.e.,] in contemplating goodness and the positive qualities of holiness.

All of the above points apply to our previous discussion, i.e., your involvement in matters that are not appropriate. [First of all,] who is to say [that it is at all necessary]; maybe [the matter is merely a product of] your imagination. Even if you have a concern — and there is a basis for the concern and correction is necessary — it is explained in Tanya,5 that [such matters] require [attention] at times that are designated and set aside for this purpose. Moreover, who is to say that even after the contemplation and the bitterness ([not sadness,] for sadness,6 Heaven forbid, is not worthy of mention) there is no doubt that you will be able to carry out the appropriate conclusion entirely. In contrast, if you involve yourself in contemplation of the greatness of the Creator Who brings into being and maintains all existence each and every moment,7 and it is thereby necessary that the force which brings about change must be present within the changed circumstance8 at all times,9 firstly, you are spending your time in fulfillment of the mitzvah, “Know the G‑d…,” [in the contemplation of] the greatness of G‑d, that Havayah is Elokim,10 and [in fulfillment of the commandment]:11 “You shall love G‑d your L‑rd.” How much more [is this valuable] if it will lead to the actual improvement of your situation, in which instance, you will profit from every perspective. In other words, why should you involve yourself in the path of Divine service that focuses on “turn[ing] away from evil”12 when you have the choice to focus on “do[ing] good”? As a natural consequence, this will lead to “turn[ing] away from evil.”

May it be G‑d’s will that these days be transformed for us, and for all of Israel, into days of gladness and joy, speedily in our days. May happiness and gladness be drawn down for each of us so that we will fulfill the commandment of general import: “You shall serve G‑d, your L‑rd, with happiness and with gladness of heart; with an abundance of all things.”13 (See Rambam, the conclusion of Hilchos Lulav.)14

With blessings for good health — and for the awareness of such,