This letter was addressed to Rabbi Avraham Eliyahu Axelrod, an active Rabbi within the Baltimore Jewish community.

B”H, Erev Sukkos, 5703

Greetings and blessings,

In response to your blessings for the new year: [Our Sages teach:]1 “Whoever gives blessings will be blessed” with blessings… whose accruement exceeds the principal, in material as well as spiritual matters….

Anyone who gives blessings certainly endeavors, that those blessings be brought to fruition. Included in this are certainly the blessings for Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch and Machne Israel.

You are no doubt doing everything within your power to advance the goals of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch and Machne Israel, as expressed by the Rebbe shlita, transforming your potential into an active force through efforts in the spirit of which you outlined.

To take a little verbal license: your name Avraham Eliyahu can be interpreted homiletically. For “a name is significant,”2 and “Rabbi Meir would analyze names.”3 [Your name] alludes to the full span of the spiritual cosmos and the Divine service required of man.

With regard to the spiritual cosmos: Avram — Avraham — refers to “knowledge hidden from all eyes,”4 i.e., “secret wisdom,” to the extent that he had to be told: “I will show you,”5 which is interpreted to mean: “I will cause you to be revealed.”

Eliyahu is “the angel of the covenant,”6 relating to the attribute of yesod, the end of the torso,”7 serving as an agent to reach the lowest levels.8

With regard to our Divine service: Avraham is one of the seven “shepherds,”9 [whose initiative parallels that of] water which descends from above, and Eliyahu is one of the eight “princes of man”10 [whose thrust is] ascent from below.11

This reflects the totality of our Divine service. For after the sin of the Tree of Knowledge, our Divine service is to purify the world and illuminate the darkness [which ensued] after the seven generations which caused the Divine Presence to withdraw upward.12 [The efforts] to draw the Divine Presence downward were initiated by Avraham who began to illuminate13 [the world]. Therefore, he was granted the mitzvah of circumcision, so that his endeavor to draw down Divine influence through the Torah and its mitzvos [would affect] our material plane.14

And yet the [mitzvah] of priyah, removing the thin membrane covering the male organ was not granted to him.15 For at the outset, it was not [yet] possible [for the world to receive] the Divine influence that [today would be] prevented from expression by the membrane that must be removed through priyah.16

Afterwards, however, we were also granted the mitzvah of priyah, so that this higher light could also be revealed through the Divine service of the subsequent generations. This requires the removal of this thin covering, and the refinement of the material dimension of existence. The ultimate expression of this motif was accomplished by Eliyahu, whose physical body ascended in a storm [to the heavens].17

(See the maamar Sameach TeSamach which mentions that Chanoch also [manifested the same quality]. But as explained in Torah Or, in the maamar Mi Sam Peh, Chanoch was not as connected to [the material dimensions] of our existence.)

With regard to our Divine service, the concepts of circumcision and priyah refer respectively to the revelation of the external dimensions and the internal dimensions of our hearts. [To refer to the Torah’s wording:]18 “And you shall circumcise [the foreskin of your heart,” refers to the efforts of man which reveal the external dimensions of our emotional potential]. “And G‑d, your L-rd, shall circumcise19 [your hearts]”20 [refers to the revelation from above which brings out our deeper, inner spiritual potential].

In the present era, we are able only to perform the service implied by the command: “And you shall circumcise.” [The revelation implied by] “And G‑d, your L-rd, shall circumcise” in the world at large will be manifest only in the Era of the Redemption. (As an individual, however, Avraham attained that level. Similarly, this is possible for the spark [of G‑d] present in every individual even in the present era.)21

[The revelation in the world at large] will be accomplished by Eliyahu who will come “to prepare the hearts of the Jews”22 as it is written,23 “And he shall turn the hearts….”

May G‑d cause us to merit complete teshuvah immediately, and may this in turn lead to the complete Redemption immediately. With blessings for a happy holiday.

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson

Chairman of the Executive Committee