Freely translated excerpt

By the Grace of G‑d
Tishrei 5732
[September 1971]
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Greeting and Blessing:


As we know and see, there are situations in which Jews, regardless of their best intentions, regardless even of their self-sacrifice, are truly unable to fulfill the will of G‑d, due to circumstances beyond their control. As the parable goes, self-sacrifice can enable one to jump off a roof down to the ground, but it cannot enable one to jump from the ground up onto the roof…

But G‑d is the master of the entire world. Since G‑d Himself has commanded and spelled out how every Jew should behave in his daily life, how is it possible that there should be a situation in which a Jew is unable to carry out the will of G‑d, in every detail?

The answer:

There are two components to a mitzvah: the deed, and the intent and feeling that accompany it. It is true that “the deed is the primary thing,” but the intent and feeling are also of great importance.

When it happens that a situation arises in which it is impossible for a Jew to actually carry out the will of G‑d despite his self-sacrifice, this stimulates in him a deep spiritual pain that pervades him to the very core of his soul, bringing him to a deeper connection with G‑d, His Torah and mitzvot, and his Jewishness, the likes of which he could never have attained without this painful experience.

The fact that he did not actually do the mitzvah has no adverse effect on his relationship with G‑d, since he was prevented from doing it by forces beyond his control. On the other hand, in terms of the inner intent and feeling of the mitzvah, he achieves a height otherwise unattainable, and the experience imparts to his spiritual life a depth and completeness that only this situation can generate...