By the Grace of G‑d
10 Sivan, 5724 [May 21, 1964]
Brooklyn, NY

Greetings and blessing:

It was with pain that I heard of your loss. In addition to expressing my participation in your sorrow, I ask you to please convey to your daughter and her family the traditional words of condolence, "May G‑d console you amongst the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem."

There are two characteristic points that can be derived from the traditional wording of the birkat tanchumin (condolence wishes):

1) Regarding the pain of the loss: The pain of the individual is connected to the pain of the community. Just as the destruction of Zion and Jerusalem is mourned by the entire nation of Israel, so, too, does the entire community share in the mourning of the individual's loss, since all Israel constitutes a single body. This makes the pain and sorrow more bearable.

2) Regarding the consolation: Just as the consolation over the destruction of Zion and Jerusalem is certain to come, this being a fundamental principle of our faith,1 so, too, is the consolation for the individual's loss. For, as Maimonides writes,2 the purpose of all mourning is to awaken us to teshuvah (repentance), which will surely bring the ultimate consolation from "The Consoler of Zion and the Builder of Jerusalem."3

(Freely-translated excerpt from a letter)4