By the Grace of G‑d
6th of Tishrei, 5734
Brooklyn, N.Y.

To the Sons and Daughters of
Our People Israel,
G‑d bless you all:

Greetings and Blessing:

Pursuant to the letter for Rosh Hashanah

Wherein the theme centered on the task which the Creator bestowed on man, the chosen one of all creatures, together with tremendous powers to carry it out in life—

I wish to dwell here on a further point, namely, that just as this matter concerns every Jew as an individual, it applies also, and even more strongly, to the Jewish people as a whole, the Chosen People1, whom G‑d has given a special task as a nation among the nations of the world. In the words of the Prophet Isaiah: “Thus said the L‑rd G‑d, Creator of the heavens...the earth and its creatures...‘I’ll protect you and set you up as a covenant-people for a light of the nations.’”2

And just as the Jew, as an individual, must not forget his task, but must rather be permeated at all times with the responsibility of it,3 and not underestimate his powers, so must also the Jewish people, as a nation, always be mindful of its special purpose and not underestimate its powers, and certainly must not slavishly follow or imitate other nations.4

The same applies, on a more limited scale, but in more concrete instances, to every Jewish community or organization, whatever the official purpose of its inception may be, and even to a single Jew whose status is such that people regard him as exemplary or representative of the entire Jewish nation.

* * *

The said affirmation is not necessary, needless to say, in the area wherein the uniqueness of the Jewish people is plainly evident to all, namely in the sphere of the purely spiritual life, of true Yiddishkeit, Torah and Mitzvoth. But rather in the sphere of things wherein all nations are more or less comparable externally, i.e. in the sphere of the so-called 5 general and mundane affairs, as, for example, in the relations of communities and organizations with the outside world, or with each other, as to what should be the aims and aspirations of the particular Jewish body, who should be the leaders, what priorities to establish, how the resources should be allocated, and so forth.

There is a tendency sometimes to determine such endeavors on the basis of quantitative rather than qualitative criteria. Wherefore also in the area of these endeavors the Jewish people have been given the directive: “Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit, says G‑d.”6 To the Jewish people and Jewish community (even to the Jew as an individual) special Divine capacities (“My spirit”) have been given to carry out their task in the fullest measure. For, where Jews are concerned, their physical powers are linked with, and subordinated to, spiritual powers, which are infinite.

An historic example of this is found in the time of King Solomon, when the Jewish people stood out among the nations of the world by virtue of having attained the highest degree of its perfection. Our Sages of blessed memory, referring to that state, describe it as being like “the moon it its fullness.”7

For, as is well known, the Jewish people is likened to the moon, and they “reckon” their times (calendar months) by the moon.8 One of the explanations of this is that just as the moon goes through periodic changes in its appearance, according to its position vis-a-vis the sun, whose light it reflects, so the Jewish people go through changes according to the measure of its reflecting the Light of G‑d, of Whom it is written, “For G‑d Elokim is sun and shield.” 9

This perfection in the time of King Solomon (notwithstanding the fact that even then Jews constituted numerically and physically “the fewest of all the nations”) expressed itself, in quite a distinctive form,10 in the relations between the Jewish people and the other nations of the world. The reputation of King Solomon’s wisdom aroused a strong desire among kings and leaders to come and see his conduct and learn from his wisdom11 —the wisdom he had prayed for and received from G‑d, and permeated with G‑dliness.12

And when they came they also saw how under his leadership there lived a people, even in its material life, “with security, every man under his vine and under his figtree,”13 in a land where “the eyes of G‑d, your G‑d, are constantly on it, from beginning of the year to the end of year.”14 And this is what brought peace between the Jews and the nations all around.

Thus, it was clearly demonstrated that when Jews live in accord with Torah, true peace is attained, and they serve as a guiding light for the nations—“the nations will go by your light”15 —the light of Torah and Mitzvoth.16

* * *

The said task of the Jew and of the Jewish community is not limited to the time when they are in a state of a “full moon,” but also when in exile, “spread and dispersed among the nations.” For even then they are “one people, whose laws are different from those of all other nations,”17 a fact that is known to and acknowledged by all nations of the world.

Because even when Jews are in Golus (exile), it is only the Jewish body that is in exile, but the Jewish soul is never exiled18 and is free from any external subjugation. Consequently, also while in exile Jews must not ignore their task, nor underestimate their capacities, however limited their material powers may be, inasmuch as a Jew’s material resources, as already noted, are bound up with the spiritual, and in the spiritual realm there are no limitations also during the time of exile.

In plain words: Wherever Jews find themselves, in the diaspora or in the Land of Israel, even a single Jew in a remote corner of the earth—it behooves every Jew and Jewish community to remember that they are part of the whole Jewish people and representatives of the entire Jewish people, the one people ever since the Torah was given at Mount Sinai and until the end of times.

* * *

What has been said above has also a special relevance to the new year we have just entered, the year of Hakhel—“Gather together the people, the men, and the women, and the children,”19 which reminds us of the Mitzvah that was observed in the time of the Beth Hamikdosh, immediately following the year of Shemittah, (Sabbatical Year), during the Festival of Succoth. On this occasion all Jews, men, women, and even small children,20 were gathered in the Beth Hamikdosh, and the king read to them certain portions from the Torah, and all present “listened with rapt attention, with reverence and awe and joyous trepidation, as on the day when the Torah was given at Sinai...and they felt as if they were now receiving the Torah for the first time from G‑d Himself, for the king was the emissary to convey the words of G‑d.”21

And while the Mitzvah of Hakhel, in its plain and actual application, is connected with the existence of the Beth Hamikdosh and cannot now be actually carried out, it is nevertheless, like other Mitzvoth of this category, extant and applicable spiritually also in the time of exile and everywhere, since the Torah is eternal also in its details and not limited in time and place.

Thus, the Mitzvah of Hakhel reminds us that wherever Jews are, and however dispersed they may be, each one remains an integral part of the Hakhel-people, the one people, through embodying in himself and in his daily life the one Torah, as in the day when it was given by the one G‑d; and everyone, without exception, has the G‑d-given task to “hear, and learn, and fear G‑d, your G‑d, and observe and do all the words of the Torah.”

And this is also the ultimate purpose and factor that should animate and direct all decisions of every Jewish society, organization, community, and the like.

This is also the way to bring closer the true and complete Geulo (Redemption) through our Righteous Moshiach, who “will restore the Beth Hamikdosh and gather-in the dispersed ones of the people Israel,”22 which will bring about the fulfillment of the prophecy, “I will restore unto the nations a clear language, that they all will call upon the Name of G‑d and serve Him with one consent,”23 and, finally, bring all the world to its highest perfection of being “filled with the knowledge of G‑d as waters cover the seas.”24

With blessing for Chasimo uGmar Chasimo toivo,

both materially and spiritually,

/Signed: Menachem Schneerson/