The Rebbe’s letter this week is in answer to an interesting question which a young lady asks: “is it a sin not to like everything in the world; must we love everything Hashem created?” The Rebbe’s fascinating answer includes a clear definition of what “good” is. The letter, written originally in English, is from the archives of the Rebbe’s trusted secretary Rabbi Nissan Mindel.
By the Grace of G-d
Rosh Chodesh Nissan, 5742
Montreal, Que. H4V2N3
Blessing and Greeting:
I received your letter in which you ask various questions connected with Torah and Yiddishkeit.
In general, such questions should be discussed with you teacher, or with a Rabbi in your community.
Inasmuch as you have already written to me, I will answer the first of your questions: whether it is a sin not to like everything in the world and must we love everything Hashem created.
The answer that the Torah gives us, which is also a matter of common sense, is that inasmuch as Hashem is the Creator of everything, it is certain that He likes every act of His creation, as the Torah declares, “And G-d saw everything that He had made and behold, it was very good.” (Gen. 1:31).
However, we must bear in mind that everything was created for its specific purpose or purposes, and therefore everything must fulfill its purpose in accordance with the Creator’s design in order to be “good.” For example, while G-d created all things that are necessary to sustain a life on earth, He also created certain poisonous plants that could have the opposite effect. But these things were created not to be eaten, but for other purposes, such as medicine and drugs to relieve pain and to cure illness – when used in the proper restricted doses. Hence, although such plants may be beautiful to see, pleasant to the taste and agreeably fragrant, they must not be indulged in because of their toxic effects, and their external attractiveness is a test of man’s will and determination to control his appetites.
Such plants, incidentally, are often cited as an analogy of the temptations to which a person is exposed in life, to indulge in things or habits which are at first pleasurable, but are really harmful in the end. A classic lesson is to be found, of course, in the first human surrender to temptation by eating of the forbidden fruit, seeing that it was “tasty to eat, and a delight to the eyes, and desirable….” (Gen. 3:6)
Consequently, it is a matter of common sense that since G-d has endowed a human being with freedom to act either to do good or what is not good, we should certainly like what is good and dislike what is not good, as it is written “Turn away from evil and do good.”
At the same time, there is a certain aspect that we can like even in something which is in itself negative, because it is through the distinction between good and evil that we appreciate the good and reject the evil, even if the evil sometimes appears in the guise of something good and pleasant.
Needless to say, it is impossible to adequately discuss in a letter the above question or any of the other questions that you mentioned in your letter, and if these and similar questions really bother you, you should discuss them with a knowledgeable person as mentioned above.
Since you became bas mitzvah several years ago, and thus a full-fledged Jewess who is duty bound to observe all the mitzvos which a Jewish girl and woman has to observe, I trust you are observing them with devotion and diligence. If there is anything you missed out in the past, we have the assurance that nothing stands in the way of teshuvo. Any failing in the past can be corrected by being particularly careful in the observance of that mitzvah with hiddur.
Enclosed is a copy of my recent message in connection with Pesach, which has a bearing on the above.
With prayerful wishes for a kosher, joyous and inspiring Pesach and