In a letter about the Holy Land – the Rebbe makes reference to Yom Ha’atzma’ut when he compares those who celebrate it with those who do not celebrate it, but nevertheless support its existence and survival as a holy land and a land of the Jews, in the truest sense.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
26 Iyar, 5740
North Hollywood, Cal. 91606
Greeting and blessing:
I received your letter with the enclosure and as requested will remember you and your family in prayer when visiting the holy resting place of my father-in-law of saintly memory.
In light of your writing, there is surely no need to emphasize to you at length that there is always room for advancement in all matters of Torah and mitzvos, which, though a “must” for their own sake, also widen the channels to receive G-d’s blessings in all needs.
Needless to say, no Jew is exempt from the said commitment, as indicated also by the fact that the Ten Commandments were given in the second person singular, addressed to every Jew personally; and all Jews accepted the Torah and mitzvos both individually and collectively, which includes the commitment to spread and strengthen Yiddishkeit to the fullest extent of one’s ability and influence.
With regard to your question, and to begin with the question why Lubavitch is not active in this or that project – apparently you are not fully informed about the Lubavitch activities, since some of the specific projects you mention in your letter have not only been included in Lubavitch work, but have been part and parcel of it for many years. However, you can rectify this lack of information through your Lubavitch contacts.
As for the areas where Lubavich is not active, you can rest assured that there is good reason for it and well-founded in the Shulchan Aruch. Suffice it to say that in some instances the reason may be that those areas are already covered, while others demand priority; and where manpower and resources are limited, these must be carefully utilized for maximum productivity.
Let me cite some examples with reference to some of your questions. You ask why Lubavitch Chassidim do not serve in Zahal. Obviously, you are misinformed, for many do and may have attained high rank in the defense forces on active duty; and not only in the Chaplaincy, as you thought. As for those who serve in the Chaplaincy, clearly that is where they contribute most to Zahal and the security of the country, since keeping the morale of the defense forces on the highest level is of primary importance. T would be poor judgment on the part of Zahal to press one who is qualified to be a Chaplain into service as a private, as it would be to force one who is qualified to be a colonel to serve as a private instead.
While on the subject, let me mention a further point, though you do not refer to it explicitly, namely the exemption of Yeshivah students from military service. As you may know, this exemption was recognized and agreed to by the founder of Zahal, the late D. Ben Gurion. It is based on fact that a Yeshivah student can accomplish more for the security of the country by continuing his Torah learning than by military duty. Anyone familiar with the Sedra Bechukosai and is not prejudice, can see it clearly.
Much more can be said on these topics but a letter is hardly the medium for it.
Having answered some of your questions, I trust I may indulge in asking you some pertinent questions in turn.
In light of your deep concern for the security of the Land of Israel and the people of Israel, and since you are aware of how much this security is entwined with the adherence to the Torah and mitzvos, as repeatedly stated in the Torah (in Bechukosai and elsewhere) – how much have you done, and have you done enough, in these past years to strengthen this security by strengthening and spreading Yiddishkeit, Torah and mitzvos?
Secondly, since all Jews and the Jewish people constitute one entity, one organism, where the benefit to one part of it is a benefit to all – what have you done and couldn’t you perhaps do more, to encourage the observance of mitzvos in those circles where you nave influence, whereby all our Jewish people and particularly our brethren in our Hoy Land, could have benefited so much?
Thirdly, being aware of the ill-conceived and wrongful approach of those Jews who base their claim to Eretz Yisroel on the Balfour Declaration and on the “kindness” of the nations of the world (the very same that forced the surrender of the oil wells and military installations so vital to the security of the Land of Israel and clamor for further concessions eroding its security) – what have you done, or have you done enough, to make these misguided Jews see the light, namely, that the G-d-given Torah is our inheritance and has reaffirmed it by and everlasting Covenant with our Patriarchs and our people ever since (as emphasized by Rashi on the first Posuk of the Torah)? What have you done to support and encourage the so-called “religious extremists” who are stubbornly fighting to prevent the dismembering and surrender of parts of our Eretz Yisroel, while those whose position is based on “Yom Haatzmaut”, namely, on the good graces of the United Nations, have already surrendered parts of the land and are eager to give away more for worthless promises?
Needless to say, these are not rhetorical or homiletic questions, but a challenge to practical action, which I trust will not be lost on you, as well as on those on whom you can bring your influence to bear in the right direction – if you share my views and accept my words in their proper spirit.
And surely such action is called for even if it were not related to the security of our Holy Land and our people who dwell therein, for it is an imperative of the “Great Principle” of our Torah, the mitzvah of v’ohavto lre’acho komocho, making it the obligation and privilege of every Jew to see to it that all Jews live by the Torah and mitzvos.