Weekly Letter: The Basis of Our Holy Prayers
In preparation for Rosh Hashanah – we share a letter in which the Rebbe explains the basis of our holy prayers, especially those of the High Holidays.
Ksiva Vachasima tova, L’Shana tova um’suka
By the Grace of G-d
Isru-Chag, 24th of Tishrei, 5738
Brooklyn, N.Y. 11234
Greeting and Blessing:
I am in receipt of you letter in which you offer some suggestions concerning the prayers in congregations during the High Holy Days in which, in your opinion, too much emphasis is given to the past and future ge’ulo but not enough emphasis is given to the present.
I trust you know that the prayers have been formulated not by one or two individuals or any particular congregation, but they have been formulated with prophetic inspiration for all the Jewish people and for all times and, indeed, have been so accepted and practiced for some two thousand years and more.
To be sure, in the course of time certain supplementary prayers have been added, but basically our prayers have remained unchanged, even though there may be slight differences in wording or minor differences in the order of some prayers, without in the least affecting the general format and content of our prayers. And like all matters of Torah, the prayers too are eternal and unchangeable and they coverer all times and all possible situations.
Inasmuch as everything is by Divine Providence and you have written to me, and have shown your interest in our prayers, it is surely also evidence of your interest in Yiddishkeit in general. It is therefore my pleasant duty to remind you of the great mitzvah of V’Ahavta L’Re’acha Kamocha, which is the great principle of our Torah and which makes it the duty and privilege of every Jew to use his influence in the fullest measure to strengthen Yiddishkeit in his surroundings, since there is always room for advancement in all matters of goodness and holiness, Torah and Mitzvos. We have also been assured that words coming from the heart penetrate the heart and are eventually effective, especially when accompanied by a shining example.
For the Lubavitcher Rebbe