This week we read in Parshas Re’eh the laws of a kosher food. The importance of a proper diet for the general state of health and emotional life is well known and established. How much more so, says the Rebbe, the dietary laws given by the Creator, Essence of Perfection – for our physical, mental and spiritual health. 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
14th of Cheshvan, 5736
University Hghts. , Ohio 44118
Blessings and Greetings:
I duly received your letter, and will remember you in prayer for the fulfillment of your hearts desires for good.
On the basis of your writing, it is surely unnecessary to emphasize to you at length the importance of Yiddishkeit, as a continuous daily experience, not as some misconceived persons may think that it is sufficient to observe it on exceptional occasions or special days. For, as it is written, the Torah and Mitzvos are “our life and the length of our days.” Obviously, life must be continuous, and cannot be reserved for exceptional occasions or special days. So it is with the life giving Torah, and the Mitzvos which the Torah instructs us to observe ever day. No doubt you have had occasion to discuss this topic with our mutual friends in your community and will also do so in the future. Hence, there is no need to say any more on this, although the subject matter certainly warrants a great deal more to be said.
I would like to dwell, however, on a point mentioned at the conclusion of your letter, namely in reference to Kashrus. It has always been known, and it has been particularly emphasized lately, that the diet is very important for the general state of health, as well as the emotional life, etc., and many books and articles have been and are being written on this subject by experts and physicians who have dedicated their life to this subject. It is now universally believed and accepted that in the area of eating and drinking a human being cannot just follow his desires and temptations, but must learn to regulate his habits. And this is what the experts and dieticians try to do, namely to prescribe the right diet of foods and beverages for persons in accordance with their type of activity, environment, etc.
As usual, wherever there is a human research, there is always something new from time to time, and very often the latest findings invalidate previous ones, though it is assumed that in due course the latest may similarly be invalidated. However, laymen can only follow the advice of the experts, as long as they are trustworthy, and he accepts the restrictions they impose, and accepts them willingly and readily, and even pays for their advice, and so on. Needless to say, this is as it should be, since not everyone has the time and capacity to do the research to find out what is good for him physically and spiritually.
In light of the above, how grateful a Jew must be to G-d, the Creator of the world and the Essence of Perfection, who is certainly trustworthy, for His directives in this field, by giving us our Dietary Laws, the laws of Kashrus, which ensure our good health physically, mentally and spiritually. Moreover, these are laws and regulations which we can carry out with relative ease. It follows, therefore, that knowing this, a Jew should not rest but should try his very utmost to make other Jews in his environment aware of this important and vital aspect of the daily life and encourage them to order their life accordingly. One of the most effective ways of influence is to show a living example. But inasmuch as other people do not always emulate the example 100%, thinking that for them it would suffice to follow it up to half way or so, the example must be on a much higher level in order to make allowances for human nature.
May G-d grant that just as you wrote your letter, so you should have good news to report in regard to its contents.
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.