By the Grace of G‑d
4th of Adar I, 5736
[February 5, 1976]
Brooklyn, NY

Mr. Mordechai Shoel Landow
Miami Beach, Fla.

Greeting and Blessing:

This is to acknowledge your correspondence and telephone message. Although my reply was conveyed to you by phone, I will reiterate it here in writing, for the record.

It would therefore not be right not to utilize your capacities and talents fully in the future

(1) With reference to retirement, it is self-evident that you should continue actively in the business world, which obviously will be good for your self-confidence and in general, as well as for your wife and family.

There is also a further point to this. You have been successful in business for many years, having put to good use the capacities and talents which G‑d has bestowed upon you in a generous measure. It would therefore not be right, to say the least, not to utilize them fully in the future, for it would be tantamount to rejecting something which G‑d has given you to make good use of. In other words, it is not merely a personal problem, but one that has also other far-reaching implications.

(2) It follows from the above, and in order to go about it in the most practical way, you should concentrate your efforts in the line of business in which you have experience, connections and general recognition.

As in all areas of fruitful endeavor, it is more effective and successful, and at the same time less strenuous, when it is carried out with confidence and in a happy disposition.

As in all areas of fruitful endeavor, it is more effective and successful, when it is carried out with confidence and in a happy disposition

(3) You will probably suspect that in advising you the above, I have also the good of the Torah Center in mind. I must confess that I do, for I see no contradiction in it. To be sure, there could be situations where personal ambition may be in conflict with communal interests, but this is certainly not the case in the present instance, where the interests coincide . . .

. . . It is an old Jewish custom to connect everything with the Torah portion of the week, as was also emphasized by the Alter Rebbe, founder of Chabad. This week’s portion, Terumah, begins with the Divine commandment, “Make Me a Sanctuary, and I will dwell among them”—within each and every Jew. It goes on to call for contributions of gold, silver and brass, etc., with which to construct the Sanctuary with all its requirements.

At first glance, there seems to be a difficulty here. If G‑d wanted a Sanctuary for Himself, promising that He will then dwell within each and every Jew who will contribute the “gold, silver and brass,” etc., for the Sanctuary—why was it necessary to contribute these material things in the first place?

One of the explanations is as follows:

Every Jew has the ability—hence the duty—to use his “gold and silver,” etc.—not just for his own material pleasures (which contributes nothing to holiness, but sometimes to the contrary); instead he could convert his gold and silver into something so sacred and holy that G‑d desires to dwell therein. Indeed, in doing so, a Jew makes himself personally a fitting abode for the Divine Presence. For, as is well known, it is human nature for any person, particularly a successful businessman, to put his heart and soul into his business, to make the utmost possible amount of “gold and silver.” Now, when a Jew takes part of this hard-earned money and dedicates it to a sacred cause in fulfillment of G‑d’s Will, he dedicates thereby also his body and soul, all the physical and mental efforts that had gone into the gold and silver which he had worked so hard to earn, thus making himself personally a fitting object of holiness. Moreover, it also serves him as a springboard for further and greater achievements in the realm of goodness and holiness.

With prayerful wishes for Hatzlacha in Parnassa, in the plain sense of the word, and to have the Zechus not only to continue as heretofore your contributions of “gold and silver” to sacred causes, but also to do so with joy and in an ever-growing measure.

With blessing,

(In response to a chain store owner who lost most of his wealth during the Arab oil embargo in the 1970s)