Weekly Letter: The Two-fold Message in a Leap Year

As we enter the new year which is a leap year, we share a letter of the Rebbe explaining the concept of a leap year with a two-fold lesson and an encouraging message. 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

27th of Adar, 5733

Brooklyn, N.Y.

To the Boy Students and Girl Students

Lubavitch Yeshiva

Boston, Mass

Greeting and Blessing:

I was pleased to receive your letters, in which you write about your studies and ask for a brocho to be successful in all your studies and in doing mitzvoth.

I will remember each and every one of you in prayer at the holy resting place of my saintly father-in-law of Saintly memory, for the fulfillment of your heart’s desires for good.

Inasmuch as everything is by hashgocho protis , and your letters reached me in this special month of the Leap Year, when also my reply is sent to you, I want to take this opportunity of reminding you about the special lesson of the Leap Year.

You surely know that the reason for our having a Leap Year from time to time is that our Jewish Calendar is based on the Lunar Year, which is about 11 days shorter than the Solar Year. But inasmuch as the Torah requires us to observe our festivals in their due seasons – Pesach in the spring, Succoth in the autumn, etc. – it is necessary to make an adjustment from time to time to make up the deficiency between the Lunar Year and the Solar year.

Here again also lies an important practical lesson. For not only does the extra added month of the Leap Year fully make up for the past deficiency, but it usually also provides for an advance “on account” of the following year.

The lesson is two-fold… a person must from time to time make a review of the past, to see what he or she has accomplished. The first thing to remember is, therefore, that it is never too late to make good past deficiencies. Secondly, it is not enough to make up a deficiency; it is also necessary to make an extra effort as an advance on account of the future and then continue from strength to strength.

And when one makes a careful and honest review on the past, one will find that even if the past was satisfactory, it is possible that with a little effort, more could have been accomplished. Certainly if the past was not quite satisfactory. In either case, we should not say, “Well, the past is gone and there is nothing to be done about it.” For the Torah teaches us, and the Leap Year reminds us about it very strongly, that there is much we can do also about the past, namely, to make up the deficiency by extra effort. And not only make up the deficiency, but do more that that as an advance on account of the future, and then continue to go from strength to strength.

May G-d grant that each and every one of you should do all that is up to you to make up for any deficiency in the past and, indeed, to do so with an extra measure on account of the future, as mentioned above. The promise of our Sages “Try hard and you will succeed” applies also in this case. There is also the additional promise “Nothing stands in the way of the will.”

Wishing each and all of you hatzlocho in all above and also a joyous and inspiring Purim,

With blessing,

P.S. Your tzedoko was duly received and may the zechus of it stand each one of you and all of you in good stead.


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.