We present a letter from the Rebbe with a timely message for this week, which spans Yud Tes Kislev and Chanukah (as it was at the time of the letter), connecting the two with the theme of not being discouraged when the “weak and the few” are confronted by the “mighty and the powerful.” And a fascinating insight in the P.S. part of the letter: using the English language to maximize the spreading of the light to the furthest reaches in the darkness, another theme of Chanukah. The letter, written originally in English, is from the archives of the Rebbe’s personal trusted secretary, Rabbi Nissan Mindel.
By the Grace of G-d
Greeting and Blessing:
I appreciate very much your thoughtfulness in sending me a copy of your esteemed publication in which appeared excerpts from what was said at the Yud Tes Kislev Farbreingen. What is most gratifying is that through this medium many people will have been reached who otherwise could not have been reached and while I hope with practical results and benefits. Since this is a benefit for the many, it is truly a public service and the Zechus Horabim will stand you in good stead.
As it is customary among Jews to connect everything with a timely topic in Torah, a word in connection with Chanukah will be in order, especially as this year the 19th of Kislev occurred on the first day of the week, with Chanukah beginning at the end of the same week.
One of the basic lessons of Chanukah is that Jews should never be discouraged when they find themselves in a situation of “weak and few” confronting the “mighty and many,” so long as they are dedicated to theTorah(as indicated in the prayer of V’Al HaNissim). At first glance it seems useless to even attempt to fight in such a situation of overwhelming odds. However, a Jew is expected to do all that he can in the natural order of things, since ultimately it is the spiritual strength that will prevail and if necessary, with obvious miracles.
The same situation that determines the course of Jewish history in relation to the outside world, applies also to an ideal or good idea, which for one reason or another may not be popular and those supporting it are few and outnumbered, etc. But eventually the truth and the good must prevail, though it is a pity that sometimes it takes a long time until this actually comes to pass.
While the above is a clear message of Chanukah, anyone who knows Jewish history and the course of Yiddishkeit, right up to the present situation, can see that Chanukah only bears out a definite pattern which runs through our history like a golden thread.
I hope and pray that the spirit of Chanukah as it was displayed in those days, will assert itself also at this time. Just as we light the Chanukah candles after sunset, when it gets dark outside, so we demonstrate that Jews do not feel discouraged by the surrounding darkness. On the contrary, that is the time to spread the light and not only within the house, but also to light up the outside and to do so in an ever growing measure.
May G-d grant that you, too, will use your influence to spread Ner Mitzvah v’Torah Or – the true light of Yiddishkeit – in like manner.
With esteem and blessing,
P.S. In considering in what language to send you the above acknowledgement, the obvious assumption was to write to you in our Holy Tongue. However, precisely in the spirit of Chanukah, which is to spread the light among those to whom the contents of this letter may be somewhat strange, at this time at any rate, I decided to write it in English, so that you might make the utmost use of it. As a matter of fact, your own publication bears this out, for in view of its Jewish content, it should have ideally been published in Yiddish or Hebrew, yet for practical reasons, as above, it is published in English.
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.