Weekly Letter: The Importance of Disseminating Yiddhikeit Among Women

With this week’s parsha we get an appreciation for Sarah – mother of the Jewish people, our first Matriarch. In our soon-to-be published Volume VI of THE LETTER AND THE SPIRIT – will be featured for the first time, a section on Women. The letter we share this week is from this section – where the Rebbe discusses the importance of disseminating Yiddhikeit among women, among other points he makes.

By the Grace of G-d
2nd of Tammuz, 5730
Brooklyn, N.Y.
Prof.
New South Wales, Australia

Greeting and Blessing:

After the long interval, I was pleased to receive your letter of last week.

For various reasons, I am replying in English, one of them being that you may wish to show the letter to some of the friends of Chabad in your community, for whom a Hebrew text may not be so easy.

Referring to the main topic of your letter, namely the dissemination of Yiddishkeit among the Jewish women, I can hardly overemphasize that this activity is one of the most basic and vital effort for the general strengthening and spreading of Yiddishkeit. The role of Jewish women in Jewish life foes back to the time of Mattan Torah, as is well known from the commentary of our Sages on the verse, “Thus shall you say to the House of Jacob and tell the children of Israel – the ‘House of Jacob’ meaning the women.” (Mechilta on Yisro 19:3, quoted in Rashi on this verse). In other words, before giving the Torah to the whole people of Israel, G-d told Moshe Rabbeinu to first approach the women and then the men. This emphasizes the primary role of the Jewish wife and mother in preserving the Torah. Ever since, and throughout the ages, Jewish women have had a crucial role in the destiny of our people, as is well known. Moreover, the Jewish housewife is called Akeres Habayis – “The foundation of the house.” In addition to the plain meaning of the term, namely, that she is the foundation of her own home, the term may be extended to include the whole “House of Israel,” which is made up of many individual homes and families, for, indeed, this has been the historic role of Jewish womanhood.

Being acutely aware of this role of Jewish women in Jewish life, especially in the most recent generations, my father-in-law of saintly memory frequently emphasized this, so much so that immediately after his liberation from Soviet Russia in 1927, when it became possible for him to publish his teachings, he published a number of discourses, talks and addresses in Yiddish, in order to make them more easily accessible to Jewish women and daughters. There is no need to further elaborate on the obvious.

In the light of the above and since this has been the consistent policy of all Chabad activities, it is hardly likely that any Chabad worker would not be interested in this area, and there can only be a misunderstanding if this is the impression in the particular case. I am confident that by discussing the matter together, it will soon be discovered that there has been a misunderstanding and the reasons that have given rise to such a misunderstanding could be cleared up and easily removed.

Needless to say, you may show this letter to the person to whom it may concern. I may add, however, that judging by your writing, that person seems to have a heavy burden of activities on his shoulders and this may be the explanation why little has been done in the area of disseminating Yiddishkeit among the women as you write, simply for lack of manpower and time, etc. at any rate, I trust that you will get together and clear this matter up, in accordance with the verse “ Az nidberu yirei Hashem.”

With regard to the second item about which you write, namely the over-centralization of activity in one place and one group, etc. – it is difficult for me to express an opinion at such a distance. However, generally the principle that applies here is – kinas sofrim tarbe chochmo”. Therefore, every effort should be made to increase and spread the good work, especially efforts connected to chinuch, wherever possible. The importance of this principle has also been discussed on various occasions. One proof of it is that although the Torah considers “hasogas g’vul” as one of the most stringent matters, so much so that it is one of the eleven blessings specifically mentioned at Mt. Grizim, nevertheless the psak din is that there is one exception, namely, in the case of establishing chinuch institutions even in the same neighborhood and in close proximity, one in addition to another, because of the mentioned reason that “Competition among scholars increases knowledge.”

At any rate, as already suggested above, this too calls for a mutual consultation and in the presence of the two of you, tete-a-tete, you will be able to discuss the matter candidly and decide what is the best thing to so to attain the utmost result.

I was pleased to read in your letter about the advancement in your position and may G-d grant that you continue to advance from good to better and best, since there is no limit to the good. In our days there is the additional important consideration and that is – when a Jew, a shomer Torah and mitzvos, attains prominence in his field, regardless what his field may be, this gives him additional opportunity and capacity to spread and strengthen Yiddishkeit , all the more so a person who is already active in the dissemination of traditional Yiddishkeit of the Torah and mitzvos.

May G-d grant that you should have good news to report in all above and together with your wife, to bring your children to a life of Torah, Chuppah and Good Deeds, in good health and happy circumstances.

With blessing,

P.S. Acting on your request, this letter is being sent ot you on a priority basis.

P.P.S. since everything is by Hashgocho Protis, it so happened that last night I was visited by Mr. and Mrs. – The first time Mrs.– was introduced to me was through your wife and I was glad to note at the time the great interest your wife took in the young lady. So when they visited me I naturally inquired of them about you. To my surprise, Mrs. – told me that she did not receive a mazal tov on the occasion of her shidduch and wedding. My impression was that she felt this keenly. Consequently, I thought that I ought to call your attention to this, hoping that you will surely not be offended by my interfering in a personal matter. It is my impression that she feels hurt by the absence of any word from you in connection with her marriage.

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