By the Grace of G‑d
2nd of Adar, 5732
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Rabbi ____

Greeting and Blessing:

I am in receipt of your letter postmarked February 11th, in which you write about the problems which you have encountered at ____ College, which complicate your task and the steps you have initiated. As a matter of fact, I have already received indirect reports about the problems, including what I have seen from clippings which I receive from time to time.

Reading your letter about your approach to the problems and the ways and means to cope with them, it surprises me that two points were omitted in your letter, and not even alluded to. Hence I gather that you have not tried them. I refer to the following:

1) There is a well known “diplomatic” approach which is successfully used in a case when one tries to put across a certain idea without knowing how the other party concerned might react to it, or where it is known that the other party does not favor it, etc. In such a case, an inasmuch as the desired thing is to carry the matter through, without other motivations or desire for personal credit, etc. – the thing to do is to present it in such a way as to make the other party believe that this is actually his idea, based on certain accomplishments in the past, or utterances that he made and be so interpreted. Or it can be presented in such a way where some of the arguments in favor of this matter are taken from speeches or utterings of the other party, etc. This approach is effective because it eliminates any suspicion on the part of the other party that there is an attempt to denigrate his authority or expertise, or to create the effect that he had overlooked this matter in the past and so forth. Such human considerations are quiet natural and it is always hard to accept criticism, however well intentioned, especially if it comes from a younger person, and one who is a newcomer.

The above approach also eliminates any suspicion on the part of the other party that there may an effort to push him out of the institution, if he is proved wrong in huis past policy, whereas the recommendations assume a different complexion if they appear to be supported by his own views. All this is quite self evident.

2) Insofar as the students’ reaction is concerned, it has always been good policy, especially in our day and age, to get them personally and actively involved in the program that is desired to be introduced. In other words, they should not feel that something is imposed upon the, by the administration or teaching staff, which they have to accept obediently, but that they are partners in the program, and take a personal responsibility in its successful execution. It should be possible to find among the students such that could be entrusted with appropriate assignments to be in charge of certain aspects of the program. Moreover, when such monitors tare appointed from among the students for a certain period, say on a monthly basis, they usually try their best to make a success of it, and the other students try to cooperate, knowing that they may be next in turn for such appointment. This was the basis of the well known custom of “Parnes Hachodesh” in Jewish communities of old, and the system worked very well.

There are also other ways of getting the students personally involved in a new program, by givig them an assignment to write an essay on the importance of the subject, or holding symposiums, and the like. IN all this it is possible to involve even young students, provided they receive the material and helpful instructions beforehand.

I have mentioned only two approaches and several points, but there is room for adjustment and adaptation in accordance with the character of the students, the special character of the College, etc.

I would like to mention a further point, which you did not mention in your letter. In an institution such as _____ College, as in similar institutions where there is a dormitory for the students, the wife of the Headmaster often can contribute a great deal to the success of the various projects, both indirectly as well as by taking an active role. Knowing of the background of the _____ family and its special gift for public activity, I trust that also your wife is so gifted, but perhaps there is room for greater utilization of her gifts.

Finally, a further point which is also important, and that is the effect of a personal living example. When it is desired to influence another person to a certain degree, it is usually required that the source of influence should be considerably above that degree. This is particularly true in matters of Yiras Shomayim, since the person who wishes to emulate his teacher or mentor, will generally not try to match or surpass him, but will be satisfied with a lesser degree. This too is a matter of common experience, as both you and your wife well know.

Enclosed is a copy of a recent general message connected with education, which I trust you will make use of in a suitable way.

Wishing you and yours a happy and inspiring Purim.

With blessing,

M. Schneerson