By the Grace of G‑d
9 Iyar, 5719 [May 17, 1959]
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Greeting and Blessing:

[This is] in response to your letter of the 3rd of Iyar, in which you relate the main points of what has transpired with you and your present situation, and conclude with the query: Why is it that when you desire to ascend in Torah and mitzvot, you encounter many difficulties, while at the same time one sees young men who elect to live a "free" life experience no difficulty, and require no toil or effort, to achieve their goal?

The answer to your question is to be found in your own letter. You describe how in order to realize your plans you need to study the profession for three to four years, and that in the interim you earn only 110 lirot per month, as an ordinary laborer. In other words, for work to be of greater value, it must be preceded by study and knowledge, in proportion to which the work is enhanced and more highly rewarded.

The reason for this is simple: the greater the achievement, the greater and broader the investment required; lesser achievements or activities which do not achieve anything require a lesser investment or no investment at all.

By the same token, a meaningless life requires no prior effort. Whatever satisfaction such a life holds is but momentary, so it should be no surprise that it requires no investment.

Anyone who gives thought to his future will readily devote several years of concentrated effort and investment, since by this means he will improve his life many times over in the near future, and in the decades to follow. As in the succinct and acute saying of our sages, "According to the pain is the gain."1 Indeed, the gain is many times the pain, toil and effort; that is to say, each increase of the "pain" yields an even higher rate of exchange in terms of reward and utility.

I hope that these few lines of mine will suffice so that, contemplating their content, you will reach the proper conclusion: that you must utilize these years and the youthful vigor they contain to make the proper investment for your entire future, one that would bring you happiness both materially and spiritually. There is but a single path that leads to this: the spiritual investment in the study of Torah, the Law of Life, and the fulfillment of its mitzvot ... in fulfillment of G‑d's request, encouragement and command: "You shall choose life."2

(A freely-translated excerpt from a letter)3