Weekly Letter: Advice on the “Nine Days”

During the period of the Nine Days, we share a letter of the Rebbe in which he refers to the Nine Days and its connection to the advice he is giving the writer regarding his question. The letter, written originally in English, is from the archives of the Rebbe’s trusted secretary Rabbi Nissan Mindel.

B.H

6 Menachem Av, 5737

Brooklyn, N.Y.

Prof.

Golden Valley, Minn.

Shalom u’Brocho:

After a long interval, I was pleased to receive you letter with enclosure. May G-d grant that all your expectations and options should materialize for good, both materially and spiritually, and in the essential aspect – you and your wife should bring up each and all of your children to a life of Torah, chuppah and good deeds, and enjoy much true nachas, namely Yiddish Torah nachas from each and all of them in happy circumstances.

With regard to your question as to where to make your future domicile, my general view is well know – and it is not my view, but a clear ruling in Torah and Shulcha Aruch: “The poor of your city have first claim.” This would be the rule even where the degree of poverty is equal; how much more so where for the poor of your city it is a question of pikuach nefesh and where the others need a little butter for their bread – where the question of choice does not even arise. Needless to say, if this rule applies to material needs, how much more so in case of spiritual poverty in the basics of Yiddishkeit, where it borders on assimilation and mixed marriage, G-d forbid. Hence, one who has lived so many years in the U.S.A. and has been active with Jewish youths, knows them intimately and has been successful in giving them guidance and direction, it is clear beyond a doubt as to where his priorities are.

The fact that not every boy and girl responds immediately, should not be discouraging in the least, for experience has shown in recent years that with the right approach the sinner spark of Yiddishkeit ignites sooner or later. Indeed, those who are not even aware of their inner spark deserve even more sympathy, as in the case of a person who does not realize that he is sick, or even thinks that he is in perfect health and requires no medical attention, which puts him in grave danger – a clear case of pikuach nefesh.

in this period of the “Nine Days,” recalling the sad events relating to the churban and the golus, every Jew is reminded to make a special effort to help eliminate the cause – “umipnei chato’einu” and thus eliminate the effect “…golinu me’artzeinu.” And needless to say, in all matters of goodness and holiness, Torah and mitzvos, there is always room for improvement, both in one’s own life and in one’s surroundings. Indeed, the mishnah declares, “He is wise who learns from every person.” Considering that the Sages infer this from the text, “From all who teach me I have gained wisdom” (Ps. 119:99) – which King David said in the last (fifth) book of Tehillim, when he had attained a very high personal level, as can be well imagined, there is no need to emphasize how much the said rule applies to individuals of lesser stature.

And with every one of us making their personal and collective effort, we will bring closer the fulfillment of the Divine promise that these days of sadness will be transformed into days of gladness and festivity.

With blessing,

***

The above letter is from 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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