Weekly Letter: The Significance of a Mitzvah

After receiving the Torah and our promise to keep its mitzvos, we present a letter from the Rebbe in which he explains the significance of mitzvos in general and the mitzvah of taharas ha’mishpacha in particular.  The Rebbe points out that every mitzvah has a specific significance in a particular area of our life, and that undertaking to do a mitzvah can have retroactive effect. The letter, written originally in English, is from the archives of the Rebbe’s personal trusted secretary, Rabbi Nissan Mindel.

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                                                                                                                                 By the Grace of G-d

5th of Nissan, 5730

Brooklyn, N.Y.

Mr.

Amsterdam, Holland

Greeting and Blessing:

I was pleased to receive your regards as well as your letter… As requested, I will remember you and yours in prayer, in accordance with the contents of your letter.

I trust you will not take amiss the subsequent lines:

It is difficult for a human being to know and to decide how to conduct all his affairs, especially in regard to the future. Therefore, the Creator and Master of the world, in His infinite goodness – and since it is in the nature of the Good to do good – has given each and every one of us a guide in life, for our own benefit, since He knows the past, the present and future and knows what is truly good for us. This guide is our Torah (from the Hebrew word hora’ah, meaning instruction), which is also called Torat Chaim, for it is the true guide in our daily life. This is the general principle that underlies all G-d’s commandments for your daily conduct. Even if these commandments did not specify any direct benefits for us, we would have to carry them out, since they are commanded by our G-d and Maker. But it is good to know that this is our guide in life for a truly happy life.

In addition to the above general principle, each and every mitzvah has a specific significance of its own, in certain areas of our daily life. In many instances this is obvious from the nature of the mitzvah itself. For instance, the eating of kosher food, in addition to it being a commandment like all the others, is also related specifically to good physical and mental health; tzedakah  – is related to an improvement in parnassa and so forth.

It follows from the above that the laws and regulations of taharat ha’mishpachah (separation during the time of nidah, tevila in a kosher mikvah etc.) have a direct bearing upon children in every aspect, namely to be blessed with healthy offspring, physically and spiritually. All this has been explained at length in many sources of our Sages of blessed memory.

In light of the above, it will also be clear how to treat the problem about which you write. First and foremost it is necessary to be meticulously careful to observe the laws and regulations of taharat ha’mishpachah to the fullest extent of the requirements. It is natural for parents to spare no effort to ensure the happiness of their children, not merely in a minimum or average degree, but to the maximum happiness possible, even if it entails considerable difficulty and sacrifice on the part of parents. How much easier it is to observe the laws and regulations of family purity especially when there is so much at stake.

It is explained in the Torah, in regard to a Jew’s determination to observe the mitzvot, that since G-d knows the future and looks into the heart, a resolute resolve to observe His commandments has an immediate impact not only in regard to the future but to some extent also in regard to the past that is, retroactively.

Inasmuch as this is my first letter to you, it is difficult for me to go into the matter at greater length. But I trust that what has been said above will suffice for you, although the great importance of the matter merits a much lengthier elaboration.

On the subject of taharat ha’mishpachah there are several booklets in which the laws and regulations appear in a condensed form and in a variety of languages. It is good to have such a booklet as a constant companion.

I trust you will accept all the above in the spirit that it has been offered and may G-d grant that you should have good news to report.

Wishing you and yours a Kosher and happy Pesach,

With blessing,

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The above letter is from a future volume 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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