By the Grace of G‑d
Spring 1979
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Greeting and Blessing:

It was with pleasure that I received the emblem of the Northern Command [of the Israeli Defense Forces] which you sent with members of the Chabad community of Safed. I thank you, and those on whose behalf you sent the memento, for your thoughts and sentiments.

As a Jew who seeks a lesson in everything (in keeping with the teaching of the founder of Chassidism, Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, “Everything of which a Jew sees or hears should serve as a lesson to him in his service of the Creator”), I find a special significance in this emblem, which centers on the figure of a deer. The deer is one of the symbols of our Holy Land, which is referred to in the Torah as “the land of the deer.” Our sages explain that one of the characteristics of the deer is that “its hide does not constrain its flesh.” In other words, the extremely taut skin of the deer does not inhibit its growth but, on the contrary, adapts itself and conforms to it.

Therein lies a basic lesson in all areas of life: the “hide,” the external framework, must never inhibit the inner content. As the expression goes, the priority must always be of “quality over quantity.”

This principle is also basic to the nature and function of an army. On the surface, it would appear that the success of an army hinges on the sophistication of its weaponry and the skill of its soldiers. But as anyone with a deeper understanding of military affairs knows, the primary thing is the morale and spirit of the troops and the commanders. In fact, the spiritual fortitude of an army can prevent the need for any use of arms, by intimidating and frightening the enemy so that they would not dare to provoke war.

This is the secret of our nation’s survival: although numerically we are “the least among the nations,” yet because we are G‑d’s chosen people, the people of the Book and the spirit, steadfast in our Jewishness, no physical force on earth can threaten our eternity. This is the secret of the might and power of the IDF—in the words of the Psalmist, “Israel, trust in G‑d; [and they are guaranteed that] He is their savior and protector.” Although one must of course do all that is necessary by natural means, ultimately it is the faith in the Almighty and in our uniqueness as His nation which brings victory, to the point that “a fear and terror shall befall them, by the greatness of Your arm they shall fall still as a stone”: none will dare to “lift hand or foot” against us, “for the fear of the Jews befell them”—the fear of those who are bound to their Jewishness.

I was told that you assist the young men of Chabad in their campaign to raise the morale of the members of the IDF and to bring them close to the Torah and its mitzvot. Certainly, as one must do with all positive endeavors, you will continue and increase your involvement in this. And “may G‑d grant might to His people; may G‑d bless His people with peace.”