Weekly Letter: Slim Prospects for Peace

This week, during the Nine Days and also at a time of increased tension in Eretz Yisroel, we present a letter from the Rebbe in which he discusses the idea of remedying the ills that brought about the tragedy of Tisha B’Av, as well as helping our brethren in the Holy Land. The letter, written originally in English, is from the archives of the Rebbe’s personal trusted secretary, Rabbi Nissan Mindel.

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Mr. ________                                                             5740

Brooklyn, New York

Greeting and Blessing:

This is to acknowledge receipt of your letter with the en­closure, in which you express your thoughts and ideas on the situation in Eretz Yisrael, especially in relation to its Arab neighbors, etc.

Although neither time nor space permit an adequate reply to the various aspects of your memorandum, I will take this opportunity to make several practical remarks.

When a person is deeply involved in a matter, both in thought and in writing, obviously the intention is to accomplish something thereby. In the present instance, this depends upon finding a receptive ear and proper response on the part of those to whom the thoughts and ideas are addressed–in the present case, the Arabs.

A second consideration to be borne in mind is that when there are two options, one of them more comprehensive and far-reaching but not very practical, and the other more limited but decidedly more practical, one must opt for the latter. By way of a simple illustration: in treating a patient, the first objective must be to strengthen his health and vital signs and then, to cure him of his illness. Similarly, if the patient is suffering from two maladies, one more serious than the other, the more serious one should be dealt with first.

Bearing this in mind, and in light of the present “Nine Days,” commemorating the destruction of the Bet Hamikdash and the beginning of the present Exile, Jews are called upon to reflect upon the cause of the latter, that is, as we say in our prayer, “Because of our sins we have been exiled from our land.” No other causes are mentioned, and rightly so, because all other causes were actually consequences of this main cause, namely, failure to cleave to the way of the Torah and mitzvot, with which the destiny of our people is so closely intertwined. Therefore, there is only one way to reverse the situation, and that is, by removing the cause; and whatever else must be done in the natural order of things is really secondary, and can only be successful if the primary approach is fully implemented.

Now with reference to the present situation of Eretz Yis­rael vis-a-vis the Arabs, it is surely quite evident that the chances of making peace with the Arabs on any terms but their own are very slim, for they demand everything and are willing to give nothing in return. If, at some time in the past, there may have been some hope that the Arabs would accept a compromise for the sake of peace, it is now quite clear that there is no such prospect, inasmuch as they no longer hide or disguise their demands. Worse still, in light of the interna­tional situation, there is no reason to expect them to modify their demands. There is no need to go into detail here, but it is clear that in the natural order of things, the prospects for peace are, as mentioned, very slim.

On the other hand, since the history of our people throughout the ages has provided ample confirmation of the fact that Jewish survival does not depend on the good graces of the nations of the world but, as already mentioned, is linked to our adherence to the Torah and mitzvot–for it is in this way that our Jewish people draws its strength from a Source that is supernatural–we therefore have to do every­thing in our power to strengthen that link. And this is where every Jew can do his share in a very practical and effective way, that is, by spreading and strengthening Yiddishkeit, Torah and mitzvot, to the fullest extent of his or her ability. Again, in order to be most practical–there is no need for gran­diose schemes, but let everyone do his or her part, in one’s own family and one’s immediate circle, step by step, both by example and by precept, for we have the assurance that “Words from the heart enter the heart and eventually have an effect.” In this connection, it is also well to bear in mind the ruling, (not simply the idea), of the Rambam to the effect that a person should consider himself, as well the whole world, to be in a state of equilibrium, so that one good action tips the scale in his favor, and in favor of the whole world.

May G-d grant that everyone should do his and her share, along the above lines, and thus hasten the time when the present days will be transformed into days of gladness and rejoicing.

With blessing,

[Sign.]

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The above letter is from Volume I of The Letter and the Spirit by Nissan Mindel Publications (NMP).

These letters were written originally in English and were prepared for publication by Rabbi Dr. Nissan Mindel, whose responsibility it was the Rebbe’s correspondence in English and several other languages.

We thank Rabbi Shalom Ber Schapiro, who was entrusted by his father-in-law Rabbi Mindel with his archives and who is Director of the Nissan Mindel Publications (NMP), for making the Rebbe’s letters available to the wider public. May the merit of the many stand him in good stead.

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