Igros of the Rebbe .

This letter was addressed to Rabbi Yerachmiel Benjaminson. Reference to it is found in the text, Marbitzei Torah UMussar, Vol. III, p. 66

B"H, Shvat 19, [56]99, Paris

Greetings and Blessings,

....With regard to your comments concerning the tzimtzum, [the initial contraction of G-dly light,] and the statement of your acquaintances that all the different approaches [to the concept] flow in a single direction.

I was amazed to hear such a proposition, in particular insomuch as in your letter, you describe that person as one who has studied kabbalistic texts. Obviously, he does not fit that description at all.

Even in the first generation after the AriZal - the one who revealed the secret of the tzimtzum - there were radical differences in opinion among his disciples with regard to the tzimtzum. These are obvious from the texts they composed, and these differences were perpetuated [in the subsequent generations].

The crux of the differences centers around two issues:

a) Should the concept of tzimtzum be understood literally or not, i.e., are we speaking about a withdrawal of the light, or merely its concealment?

b) Did the tzimtzum affect merely G-d's light, or did it affect also the Source of light, [i.e., that He Himself has withdrawn or is hidden from our world]?

[In dealing with these questions,] it is possible to outline four different approaches:

a) the tzimtzum should be interpreted literally, and moreover, that it affected G-d's essence. The proof offered in defense of this theory is that it is impossible for the King to be found in a place of filth, heaven forbid;

b) the tzimtzum should be interpreted literally, but that it affected only His light;

c) the tzimtzum should not be interpreted literally, but it affected the Source of light as well; and

d) the tzimtzum should not be interpreted literally, and it affected only His light.

As is well known, the misnagdim at the time of the Alter Rebbe followed the first approach mentioned. They explained the expression, [1] "there is no place apart from Him," meaning - apart from His providence. [2]

They said, moreover, that the approach which states that G-d's essence is found everywhere contradicts the laws applying to [the restrictions against prayer and Torah study] in places of filth, [3] as reflected in the notices and proclamations which were circulated at the time of the Baal Shem Tov and the Alter Rebbe.

See also the references to the issue in Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah, ch. 7, and Iggeres HaKodesh, the conclusion of Epistle 25.

It appears to me that Beis Rebbe also includes a letter from the Alter Rebbe concerning this subject. [4]

[Reb Chayim of Volozin,] the author of Nefesh HaChayim which you mentioned in your letter, follows the third approach mentioned above. In this, he differs from his master, the Gaon, Rav Eliyahu [of Vilna].

In general, it appears that Reb Chayim of Volozin had seen Chabad texts, in particular, the Tanya, and had been influenced by them. I do not, however, have definite proof of this.

[As chassidim,] we follow solely the fourth approach mentioned which explains that the concept of tzimtzum should not be interpreted literally, and that it affects only [G-d's] light, but not the Source of light.

[Indeed, within the light], it affects only the lowest level of the light which existed before the tzimtzum, as explained in the texts and manuscripts of Chabad [teachings].

In our time, we have merited the revelation [of Chassidic teachings], and the concept of the tzimtzum has been explained at length - at least relatively so - and in many of its particulars, in the texts of the Chabad Chassidic teachings in print and in manuscript. As such, one who desires to understand the concept of the tzimtzum has no alternative except to study these texts.

To corroborate this, it is sufficient to compare the discussion of this issue in other texts - where it appears that for various reasons, these texts shied away from speaking in detail about the matter - to its discussion in the texts of Chabad.

I do not know which texts and manuscripts are available to you to make recommendations.

The subject of the tzimtzum is mentioned in Torah Or, in the maamar Pasach Eliyahu (and there are notes on this from the Rebbe Rashab which were printed in lithograph in Otvotzk); Likkutei Torah, in the additions to Sefer Vayikra, the maamar Lehavin Mashekasuv beSefer Otzeros Chayim; Shaar HaYichud; Sefer HaMitzvos, [the maamarim] Mitzvas Haamanas Elokus, and Shoresh Mitzvas HaTefillah (beginning ch. 34); in the Siddur, [the maamar] on the verse Zecher Rav Tovecho.

In the maamarim of my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe shlita that have been printed, [the subject is discussed] in the maamarim: Al Yipater Adam [56]89, Dirshu Havayah [5]691, Al Kein Yomru [ 5]691, Shavuos [5]693, p. 8, and Tov Li [5]697.

I am sure that you have the series of maamarim [beginning in the year 5]666. There the subject is also explained in the maamarim VaYoilech Havayah es HaYam and Anochi Havayah Elokecho.

The subject of the tzimtzum also relates to the concepts under discussion in Tanya, chs. 48 and 49, as explained in greater length in the maamarim entitled Yavi'u Levush Malchus in Torah Or and in Shaarei Orah.

I have mentioned sources of which I am certain you are aware so that a complete list would be included.

With respectful and warm regards, M. Schneerson


This letter was addressed to Rabbi Yisrael Jacobson who was one of the primary leaders of the Chabad community in the U.S. before - and after - the arrival of the Previous Rebbe.

B"H Shvat 20, [56]99, Paris

Greetings and Blessings,

Your letter written in the end of Teves arrived.

As you requested I sent a telegram to you on the day that I submitted the check for $1000 for collection. You no doubt received it at that time.

[I complied with your wishes,] although it involved an extra expense that served no purpose. By and large, all checks are submitted for collection on the day after they are received (unless it is Shabbos or the like). As such, in the future, it is easy to estimate the day on which checks have been submitted for collection.

And the Torah takes into consideration the financial concerns of the Jewish people: [5] of individuals, of the community, and of the Beis HaMikdash. As such, we also take such concerns into consideration....

M. Schneerson


This is a translation of one of a series of four letters centering on the rescue of the Previous Rebbe from Warsaw in the midst of the Nazi invasion of Poland.

While living in Paris, the Rebbe relayed information from Reb Chayim Lieberman, the Previous Rebbe's secretary, who was in Riga where contact with Previous Rebbe in Poland was possible, to Rabbi Yisrael Jacobson in New York who headed the rescue efforts in the U.S.

Because of the constraints of communication in wartime, the letter was originally composed in French.

Paris, 17/11/1939

Dear Rabbi,

Today, I received a letter from Mr. Lieberman, and with immediate dispatch, I am informing you of its contents.

The Shmotkin house in Warsaw where my father [6] and his family were living was totally destroyed by a large fire. Thank G-d, [the family] are all safe and sound.

In the fire, all their belongings were destroyed. It would appear that they do not have any clothing to shield them from the cold. (They had the courage to save all the manuscripts. The library remained in Otvotzk.) From this time onward, they are living with Reb Hirsh Gurary.

I am certain, that you, dear Rabbi, are doing all you can to help them, and are trying - and in light of their situation, this is of primary importance - to enable them to be extricated [from that country] in the most immediate future.

With the deepest wishes of friendship, M. Schneerson


This letter was sent to Rabbi Menachem Zev Greenglass, one of the prominent leaders of the Lubavitch community of Montreal.

B"H Elul 13, [5]702

Greetings and Blessings,

I was grateful to receive the two letters [you sent]. Surely, you have received the maamarim and the pamphlets which were sent to you.

Together with this letter, I am sending a clipping from the Morgen Journal which includes a writeup on the activities of Machne Yisrael.

Since the days of Elul and the upcoming High Holidays are most appropriate for a campaign concerning the spiritual matters in which Machne Yisrael is involved, [I ask that] you make an effort that the enclosed writeup, or a similar one, be printed in the paper "The Canadian Eagle."

It is my strong hope that you and your colleagues will immediately begin vibrant activity in all the concerns of Machne Yisrael. For this is of immediate urgency, and G-d will assist you.

Let me suggest certain fundamental points with regard to these efforts:

a) To hang-up the digest of the farbrengen of Acharon Shel Pesach on the walls of shuls. If possible, it is desirable that this digest be printed in the newspaper in part or in its entirety before Rosh HaShanah.

b) To send out the letter concerning the Society for [the Recitation of] Tehillim (Psalms) to all the synagogues in your country. To synagogues in which you have acquaintances, it would be helpful if you would also include a personal letter of your own.

c) To spread the concept of purifying the air [by amplifying its spiritual content] through the review of the words of the Torah by heart everywhere. In particular, this applies with regard to reviewing mishnayos by heart.

d) To utilize the days of Selichos and the Ten Days of Repentance for a campaign in synagogues and the like to arouse people to teshuvah, making it known that this era is "the birth throes of Mashiach" [described by our Sages], [7] and that we have the promise "Immediately, to Redemption" through [our efforts of] "Immediately, to teshuvah."

Needless to say, [the manner in which the above is communicated] must be appropriate to the conditions of your country and locale. [In this], rely on your own understanding.

If it will assist your work, you may announce that a branch of Machne Yisrael has been opened in your country and is located at the following address - preferably, the address should not be that of the yeshivah, so that this will emphasize that [these efforts] are not the initiative of any particular camp - and that you have been appointed as the director of the executive committee of Machne Yisrael in your country.

It is, however, desirable that everyone should have a direction connection here, [i.e., to the Rebbe,] so that any difficult matters can be clarified immediately with my revered father-in- law, the Rebbe shlita.

We are preparing a collection of letters from the Rebbe shlita on the above matters, and will send it to you when it is printed. Please advise how many copies should be sent.

With blessings that you be inscribed for a good year. May we merit the fulfillment of the promise "Immediately to teshuvah, immediately to Redemption. With most warm regards and wishes for an inscription for a good year to all of your colleagues.

M. Schneerson Chairman of the Executive Committee


This letter served as the publisher's foreword to a collection of letters and talks of the Previous Rebbe mentioned in the previous letter.

[the conclusion of 5702]


Immediately upon his arrival in America two-and-a-half years ago, my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe shlita, began his untiring efforts to arouse American Jewry to teshuvah, Torah study, and good deeds.

He made a clear statement that the harsh [heavenly] decrees being visited upon the Jews are "the birth throes of Mashiach" [spoken about by our Sages], [7] and there is only one response and that is: Immediately to teshuvah.

This path will lead immediately to redemption, the ultimate Redemption led by our righteous Mashiach, with kindness and mercy.

The words of my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe shlita, had an effect.

In many different circles of the Jewish community, we saw a turn to teshuvah. Many different Jewish organizations included programs on teshuvah in their schedules.

To give everyone the opportunity to become familiar with the talks and letters of my master and father-in-law, the Rebbe shlita, concerning the call: "Immediately to repentance, immediately to Redemption," we are publishing a sample of a selection from one of his talks, and one of his recent letters.

It is our hope and intent to rouse the Rabbis, the students of Torah, and indeed, anyone in a position of influence to respond to the call of my master and father-in-law, the Rebbe shlita, and utilize the days of Selichos and the coming Ten Days of Repentance for:

a) clarifying that the harsh [heavenly] decrees being visited upon the Jews are "the birth throes of Mashiach" [spoken about by our Sages], [7]

b) encouraging [our people] to turn to G-d in true teshuvah, and strengthening their observance of the Torah and its mitzvos,

c) explaining the concept of purifying the air [by amplifying its spiritual content] through the recitation of the words of the Torah, in particular mishnayos, wherever it is permitted to do so according to Torah law,

d) seeing to it that everyone joins one of the Societies for [the Recitation of] Tehillim (Psalms) which is, in turn, registered in the International Society for Tehillim in Jerusalem (May it be speedily rebuilt). In this manner, their prayers will include the entire Jewish people.

With wishes for an inscription for a good year, [a year in which we will merit the fulfillment of the promise:] "Immediately to teshuvah; immediately to Redemption."

Menachem Schneerson Chairman of the Executive Committee


This letter was written in response to holiday greetings sent by the students of the Lubavitcher Yeshivah in Montreal, and the members of the community which gathered around that yeshivah.

That yeshivah, like the Central Lubavitcher Yeshivah, carries the name Yeshivas Tomchei Temimim. Hence the elaboration on the name Tamim.

B"H, Tishrei 8, [5]703,

Greetings and Blessings,

In response to your blessings for the new year: [Our Sages teach:] "Whoever gives blessings will be blessed" [8] with blessings... whose accruement exceeds the principal.

The name Tamim refers to someone who is perfect in the observance of the Torah and its mitzvos.

As our Sages taught, [9] the 248 positive commandments parallel the 248 limbs of the body, and the 365 negative commandments parallel the 365 sinews.

Chassidus, which reveals the inner meaning contained in every matter, explains that to be perfect in [the observance of] the Torah, one's observance should reflect how Havayah is Elokecha. [10]

Havayah [refers to the Torah], because all of the mitzvos of the Torah are dependent on one of the letters of the name Havayah. [This spiritual potential] should become Elokecha, your strength and your vitality.

[The intent is that] a person's study should unite him with the Torah, [as implied by the expression,] "with his Torah in his hand." [11] This is accomplished through preparing [oneself through] the Divine service of prayer. [12]

When a person sins and transgresses, he creates a blemish, crippling himself, as it were. The way to correct this blemish is through teshuvah, for teshuvah brings healing to this world. [13] Healing, however, has an effect only from the present on, and a trace of the blemish the person created remains; [14] he does not become perfect as he was before.

This can be accomplished only by a higher degree of teshuvah, the teshuvah emanating from powerful love from the depths of the heart which transforms sins into merits. [15] This extracts the very roots of the sin.

The attainment of this level of teshuvah, turning to G-d "with all your might," [16] comes about through the influence of a Rebbe. For "a wise man removes [the vow] as if it never was." [17] For he searches for and finds an opening through which the sinner himself will seek regret....

May we soon merit the coming of Mashiach who will motivate the righteous - whose Divine service reflects a commitment "with all your soul" [18] to turn [to G-d] in teshuvah, [19] [thus reaching the unbounded commitment of] "with all your might." [20]

When blessings for an inscription for a good year, and the fulfillment of the promise "Immediately to teshuvah, immediately to life, and immediately to Redemption."

Menachem Schneerson Chairman of the Executive Committee


This letter was addressed to Rabbi Avraham Eliyahu Axelrod, an active Rabbi in the Baltimore Jewish community.

B"H, Erev Sukkos, [5]703,

Greetings and Blessings,

In response to your blessings for the new year: [Our Sages teach:] [8] "Whoever gives blessings will be blessed" with blessings... whose accruement exceeds the principal, in material as well as spiritual matters....

You are no doubt doing everything within your power to advance the goals of Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch and Machne Yisrael, as expressed by the Rebbe shlita, making your potential an active force through efforts in the spirit of which you outlined.

To take a little verbal license: your name Avraham Eliyahu can be interpreted homiletically. For "a name is significant," [21] and "Rabbi Meir would analyze names." [22]

[Your name] alludes to the full span of the spiritual cosmos and the Divine service required of man.

With regard to the spiritual cosmos: Avram - Avraham - refers to "knowledge hidden from all eyes," [23] i.e., "secret wisdom," to the extent that he had to be told: "I will show you," [24] which is interpreted to mean: "I will cause you to be revealed."

Eliyahu is "the angel of the covenant," [25] relating to the attribute of "yesod, the end of the torso," [26] serving as an agent to reach the lowest levels. [27]

With regard to our Divine service: Avraham is one of the seven "shepherds," [28] [whose initiative parallels that of] water which descends from above, and Eliyahu is one of the eight "princes of man" [29] [whose thrust is] ascent from below. [30]

This reflects the totality of our Divine service.

For after the sin of the Tree of Knowledge, our Divine service is to purify the world, and illuminate the darkness [which ensued] after the seven generations which caused the Divine Presence to withdraw upward. [31]

[The efforts] to draw the Divine Presence downward were initiated by Avraham who began to illuminate. Therefore, he was granted the mitzvah of circumcision, so that his endeavor to draw down Divine influence through the Torah and its mitzvos [would affect] our material plane. [32]

And yet the [mitzvah] of priyah, removing the thin membrane covering the sexual organ was not granted to him. [33] For at the outset, it was not [yet] possible [for the world to receive] the Divine influence that [today would be] prevented from expression by the membrane that must be removed through priyah. [34]

Afterwards, however, we were also granted the mitzvah of priyah, so that this higher light could also be revealed through the Divine service of the subsequent generations.

This requires the removal of this thin covering, and the refinement of the material dimension of existence.

The ultimate expression of this motive was accomplished by Eliyahu, whose physical body ascended in a storm [to the heavens]. [35]

(See the maamar Sameach Tesamach which mentions that Chanoch also [manifested the same quality]. But as explained in Torah Or, in the maamar Mi Sam Peh, Chanoch was not so connected to [the material dimensions] of our existence.)

With regard to our Divine service, the concepts of circumcision and priyah refer respectively to the revelation of the external dimensions of our hearts, and the internal dimensions. [To refer to the Torah's wording:] [36] "And you shall circumcise [the foreskin of your heart," refers to the efforts of man which reveal the external dimensions of our emotional potential]. "And G-d, your L-rd, shall circumcise [your hearts]" [37] [refers to the revelation from above which brings out our deeper, inner spiritual potential].

In the present era, we are able only to perform the service implied by the command: "And you shall circumcise." [The revelation implied by] "And G-d, your L-rd, shall circumcise" in the world at large will be only in the Era of the Redemption.

(As an individual, however, Avraham attained that level. Similarly, this is possible for the spark [of G-d] present in every individual even in the present era.) [38]

[The revelation in the world at large] will be accomplished by Eliyahu who will come "to prepare the hearts of the Jews" [39] As it is written, [40] "And he shall turn the hearts...."

May G-d cause us to merit complete teshuvah immediately, and may this in turn, lead to complete Redemption immediately.

With blessings for a happy holiday.

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson Chairman of the Executive Committee


1. Tikkunei Zohar, Tikkun 57. 2. I.e., that G-d is not found in these places, but that He watches over them. 3. See Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Krias Shema, ch. 3, Hilchos Tefilah 4:8-9. 4. The letter is printed in Igros Kodesh Admor HaZakein, Epistle 34. 5. Rosh HaShanah 27a. 6. A coded reference to the Previous Rebbe. 7. Shabbos 118a; Sanhedrin 98b. 8. Sotah 38b. 9. Makkos 23b; Zohar I, p. 170b 10. As explained in Chassidic texts (See VeYadaata, 5657, et al), the two names Havayah and E-lohim refer to different manifestations of G-d's attributes. Havayah (derived from a rearrangement of the letters of the name yud-heh-vav- heh) refers to the infinite dimension of G-dliness, while E-lohim refers to the dimension of G-dliness which is the source for the natural order. 11. Pesachim 50a. 12. See Torah Or, the maamar entitled HaBo'im Yashrish, and Likkutei Torah, the maamar entitled Ki savo'u... vishavsa, et al. 13. Yoma 86a. 14. Ibid. 15. Yoma 86b, Tanya, ch. 7. 16. Deuteronomy 6:5. Chassidus interprets "with all your might" as referring to an unbounded commitment. With regard to the connection to the service of teshuvah, see Likkutei Torah, the maamer entitled Vilo Avah, and its explanation. 17. Kesubos 74b. {See the Tzophnas Paneach who explains the difference between the following two laws: The Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Ishus 7:8-9 states: If [a man] establishes a marriage bond with [a woman] on condition that she is not bound by vows, [and it is discovered that] she was bound by vows, but she went to a wise man who nullified them for her, the marriage bond is binding.

If [a man] establishes a marriage bond with [a woman] on condition that she does not have physical blemishes and she has blemishes, the marriage bond is not binding, even if she goes to a doctor who heals these blemishes.

The difference between the nullification of vows by a wise man and the healing of blemishes by a doctor can be explained as follows:

The wise man nullifies the vow at its source, causing it to be considered as if it had never been taken. Thus retroactively it is as if the woman had not been bound by a vow at the time of the establishment of the marriage bond. A doctor, by contrast, can heal a blemish only from the present onward and often a trace of the blemish remains. Therefore the marriage bond is not binding. Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XVII, p. 185.} 18. Deuteronomy, loc. cit. 19. Zohar III, p. 153b. 20. Deuteronomy, loc. cit. The connection to the service of teshuvah is developed in Tanya, Iggeres HaKodesh, Epistle 4, and Likkutei Torah, the maamar entitled Lehavin Inyan Yom-Tov Sheni Shel Galiyos. 21. Letters of the Rebbe, Vol. I, p. 288ff. 22. Yoma 83b. 23. Torah Or, Parshas Lech Lecha. 24. Bereishis 12:1. 25. Malachi 3:1; Pirkei d'R. Eliezer end of ch. 29. 26. Tikkunei Zohar, Tikkun Pasach Eliyahu. 27. See the maamar VeAtah Yigdal Na, 5670. 28. Sukkah 52b. 29. Michah 5:4. 30. See the maamarim of Chanukah (Torah Or, Mikeitz 34a ff.). 31. Bereishis Rabbah, ch. 19. [See the explanation of these concepts in the maamar Basi LeGani, 5710.] 32. See Likkutei Torah LeGimmel Parshiyos, Parshas Lech Lecha, the maamar entitled Lehavin BeTosafos Biur. 33. Yevamos 71b. 34. See the maamarim, LaMenatzeach al HaSheminis, and Atem Tih'yu, 5660. 35. II Melachim 2:11. 36. Devarim 10:16. 37. Devarim 30:6. 38. See the maamar entitled B'Etzem HaYom Hazeh in Torah Or, and in Likkutei Torah LeGimmel Parshiyos. 39. Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Melachim 12:2. 40. Malachi 3:24.

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