In this week’s edition of Letter & Spirit, in honor of Shabbos Bereshis, we present a letter of the Rebbe in which he makes it very clear that the duration of ‘one day’ in the narrative of creation is a day as we know it (and not, as many would try to interpret, as many thousands or millions of years). The letter was written through the Rebbe’s trusted secretary Rabbi Nissan Mindel, and was made available by his son-in-law Rabbi Sholom Ber Shapiro.
The Rebbe explains that it is only possible that each day of creation had a duration of 24 hours, since our day of rest – Shabbos – corresponds to and is equal to the seventh day of creation.
This new weekly feature is made possible by a collaboration between CrownHeights.info and Nissan Mindel Publications. Once a week we will be publishing unique letters of the Rebbe that were written originally in the English language, as dictated by the Rebbe to Rabbi Mindel.
By the Grace of G-d
6th of Cheshvan, 5741
Greeting and Blessing:
This is to acknowledge receipt of your letter. Since we have no facilities in our office to write in French, the reply comes in English. However, you may continue to write to us in French.
With regard to your question about the duration of a day in the narrative of Creation. In the beginning of the Bock of Genesis I do not quite understand why there should be any question about it, inasmuch as the Torah states it explicitly and emphasizes it in connection with the seventh day of Sabbath as a Day of Rest. To mention but two well known passages, may I refer you to the fourth of the Ten Commandments, where the Torah states clearly: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shall you labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath unto the L-rd, your G-d – for in six days the L-rd made heaven and earth and rested on the seventh day; therefore the L-rd blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed lt.”(Exod. 20: 8-11).
Again: “And the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever that in six days the L-rd made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He ceased from work and rested” (Ibid 31: 16-17).
Of course, we also have a Sabbatical year, but there the Torah speaks clearly in terms of years namely working the fields and orchards for six years, and resting the earth during the seventh year, which is designated as a “Sabbath unto G-d.”
Noting your interest in the Torah, I trust that you are active also in disseminating the study and teachings of the Torah and its eternal values, particularly with emphasis on the actual performance of the mitzvot in the everyday life, in accordance with the basic Torah-rule that “the essential thing is the deed.” And since G-d would obviously not request of a person to do anything beyond his or her capacity, it is certain that the mitzvot and obligations which He has commanded and expects every Jew to fulfill are within the capacity of every Jew to fulfill, and it is ultimately mainly a matter of one’s own will and, determination.
The above letter is from the archives of Rabbi Dr. Nissan Mindel, a personal secretary to the Previous Rebbe and The Rebbe, whose responsibilities included the Rebbe’s correspondence in English.
Many of the letters are now being published in The Letter and the Sprit, a series of volumes by Nissan Mindel Publications.
We thank Rabbi Sholom Ber Shapiro, director of Nissan Mindel Publications and the one entrusted by Rabbi Mindel, his father-in-law, with his archives, for making these letters available to the wider public. May the merit of the many stand him in good stead.