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The U.S. State Department and the State of Israel
With Israel prominent in the news these past few weeks  & with the accusations leveled against it - we present a  letter of the Rebbe to the recently appointed Ambassador to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights - which should be of interest. As relevant today as it was then.

By the Grace of G-d

                                                                                                                                      25 Shevat, 5740

                                                                                                                                      Brooklyn, N.Y.


Philadelphia, Pa.

Greeting and Blessing:

With reference to my letter, I just received the bulletin in which I am pleased to read about your vigorous defense of Israel’s human rights record at the United Nations parley in Geneva.

Gratifying as this is in itself, I like to think that it marks a new and favorable turn in American policy vis-à-vis the Land of Israel. Indeed, I fervently hope that your appointment as U.S. Ambassador to the Commission on Human Rights is a significant sign in this direction.

                                                                       With esteem and blessing,

P.S. What follows here really deserves a special letter of its own. But in these hectic days it is wise to take advantage of a good opportunity, even if it comes in the form of a P.S. – which of course in no way detracts from the importance and high priority of the subject at hand.

I refer to the recently published annual State Department report on human rights. According to my knowledge, the section dealing with the Land of Israel contains most deplorable assertions and misconceptions (such as in reference to East Jerusalem, etc.) which are unworthy to repeat here.

It is a pity that your appointment as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights was not made earlier, for you might have been able to influence the said report or at least temper its prejudice. But I am hopeful that you can still do something even at this stage, since a report of this nature, with over 800 pages, takes a long time to prepare and in a rapidly changing world, cannot be considered the final word. It no doubt leaves room for revisions and supplements. Thus the opportunity may still be present for you to assert your influence in the way you know best.

It is not surprising, though not less painful, that the prevailing attitude in the U.S. State Department encourages such despicable bigotry, to say the least, as the world has just been treated to by a high ranking Egyptian official, said to be a close friend and confidant of Sadat, in his interview for a Kuwait newspaper, of which you are of course fully cognizant. It is high time that American foreign policy makers should reappraise their stand on such a sensitive issue and provide bold leadership in the community of nations, certainly vis-a –vis our Land of Israel. I rather like to think that your appointment as Ambassador to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights is a significant sign in this direction.



Ten Commandments: Profundity of Monotheism & Simplicity of Moral Laws
In honor of Shavuos - Festival of the Receiving of the Torah on Sinai - we share a letter of the Rebbe in which he explains the significance of including in the Ten Commandments the apparently simple and obvious moral laws together with the profound and revolutionary idea of monotheism. How are they connected? Are they both equally important?

By the Grace of G-d

                                                                                                                                 16th Shevat, 5724

                                                                                                                                 Brooklyn, N.Y.


Minneapolis, Minn.

Greeting and Blessing:

It was a pleasure to meet you at the Farbreingen and it was gratifying to receive regards from you. Recently, I was informed that you addressed a gathering at the home of ….. , at which you gave your impressions of your visit here, and stimulated your audience towards greater activity to strengthen yiddishkeit in your community in general and the work of the Regional Merkos Office in particular. I understand that you spoke, as our Sages said, with “words coming from the heart,” and I therefore hope that they have penetrated the heart and have found fertile soil to take root and produce good results.

Although I have not heard from you since our meeting, I trust that this will also come eventually, for there is really no substitution for one’s own impressions when delivered personally, rather than through a second party, even if it is an eyewitness account.

At any rate, I wanted you to know that I was very gratified to receive your regards, as well as a report about the said meeting.

Now that we are in the weekly portion of Mattan Torah, we can all draw inspiration from it, as indeed we ought to, in accordance with the teaching of the Old Rebbe, author of the Tanya and Shulchan Aruch, that the weekly portion of the Torah should be a source of timely inspiration and instruction to every Jew, in all his affairs of that week. Mattan Torah has the further significance in that it has to be regarded and accepted as a new experience every day. This is also evidenced from the brocho over the Torah which we make every morning in the morning prayers – nossen ha’Torah – in the present tense. As you know, our Sages declared that the words of the Torah should be as new every day.

One of the basic messages of the Ten Commandments is contained in the fact that they begin with “I am,” etc., i.e. the profound principle of monotheism, which in itself was a tremendous revolutionary idea in those days of idolatry, dominated by the polytheistic culture of Egypt (as indicated in detail in the Second Commandment, where all forms of idolatry are strictly prohibited). Incidentally, the emphasis on monotheism and the denial of polytheism is to be seen not only in the fact that these ideas form the subject of the first two Commandments, but also in the quantity of words and detail which they contain. At the same time, the Ten Commandments conclude with such apparently simple and obvious injunctions as “Thou shall not steal,” etc.

The profundity of monotheism, with which the Ten Commandments begin, and the simplicity of the ethical and moral laws with which the Ten Commandments conclude, point to an important lesson namely:

  1. The true believer in G-d is not the one who holds abstract ideas, but the one whose knowledge of G-d leads him to the proper daily conduct even in ordinary and commonplace matters, in his dealings with his neighbors and the respect for their property even if it be an ox or an ass, etc.

  2. The ethical and moral laws, even those that are obvious as “Thou shall not steal and Thou shall not murder,” will have validity and will be observed only if they are based on the first and second Commandments, that is to say, based on Divine authority, the authority of the One and Only G-d.

If in previous generations there were people who doubted the need of Divine authority for common morality and ethics in the belief that human reason is sufficient authority for morality and ethics, our present generation has, unfortunately, in a most devastating and tragic way, refuted this mistaken notion.  For it is precisely the nation which had excelled itself in the exact sciences, the humanities and even philosophy and ethics, that turned out to be the most depraved nation of the word, making an ideal of murder and robbery, etc. Anyone who knows how insignificant was the minority of Germans who opposed the Hitler regime, realizes that the German cult was not something practiced by a few individuals, but had embraced the vast majority of tat nation, who considered itself the super race, etc. Surely it is unnecessary to elaborate on this at greater length.  

                                 With all good wishes and

                                                        With blessing,



   Strength from Tragedy
In this letter of comfort - the Rebbe discusses the  Days of Sefirat Ha'Omer - between Pesach and Shavuos - a time of tragic events in Jewish history. 
 Challenges bring out our strength and loyalty to Torah and mitzvos; questioning Divine justice is a sign of faith in G-d.

 By the Grace of G-d

                                                                                                                 26th of Iyar, 5733

                                                                                                                 Brooklyn, N.Y.


Lucca, Italy

Blessing and Greeting:

I was saddened to learn of the passing of your husband, peace to his soul. Please accept my sincere condolences to you and the bereaved family.

I immediately instructed the office in regard to the arrangement s for the recital of Kaddish , Mishnayos, etc., as you have no doubt been duly informed. May these sacred services in accord with our sacred tradition bring peace and ascent to his soul in everlasting life and may you and yours know of no more sorrow, but only goodness and benevolence be with you and yours always, for long life and in good health.

The current days between Pesach and Shovuos commemorate tragic events in Jewish history, associated with the martyrdom of our people, from the Middle Ages down to the holocaust in our own time. The persecutions and massacres perpetrated by the enemies of our people were fed by hatred towards the Jews as Jews, who steadfastly remained loyal to our Torah and mitzvos and sacred heritage to the point of martyrdom. Your late husband too was a victim of this hatred and he knew the bitterness of exile and suffering, the loss of near and dear ones in the holocaust which, with his sensitivity, made his personal anguish all the greater. Yet, he was blessed with perceptiveness and he knew how to evaluate these events. This is why his personal experience brought him closer to G-d and to his Jewish heritage, which found tangible expression in actual observance of mitzvos in his daily life. That he recognized this too, as Divine Providence and Grace, is also a mark of his stature and genius.

To be sure, those who questioned Divine justice in permitting the holocaust to take place, ipso facto demonstrate faith in G-d and His justice, for if they did not believe deep in their heart that there is a G-d, there would be no point to their questioning. But your husband, peace to him, rose high above that for he was moved to deeper attachment to G-d, Whose Essence and Attributes are beyond human comprehension and Who is the Essence of Goodness. This inspiration stood him in good stead.

I hope that the good he inspired in others by his life and work will be lasting and fruitful, for just as the neshama (soul) is eternal, so are one’s good works and spiritual heritage, left behind in this world.

May G-d grant that you should find an added measure of solace and comfort in these thoughts.

                          With blessing,


Candle Lighting for Jewish Women and Girls

During these weeks of the Torah readings  which celebrate the lives of our Matriarchs - Sarah, Rivkah, Rochel and Leah - we share a letter of the Rebbe in which he explains the significance of Shabbos and Yom Tov candle lighting by Jewish women and girls and the interesting connection of charity/tzedakah with this vital mitzvah

Miss ________ 5735
Rochester, New York
Blessing and Greeting:
This is in reply to your letter in which you inquire about the significance of the dollar bill you received in connection with the Candle-lighting Campaign.
Actually, it has many facets to it, but I must limit myself here to one or two of them. But first, a few words leading up to the subject.
As you know, Jews are commanded to remember and do all the mitzvot of our Torah. But there are certain mitzvot that the Torah specifically emphasizes with the command: "Remember!" This, to mention a familiar example, is one of the Ten Commandments: "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy."1 So also the commandment to remember Yetziat Mitzraim every day of the year; and various other commandments. The most central of all such remembrances, however, is the commandment to remember the day of our receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai, which we celebrate on Shavuot: "Remember the day when you stood before G-d, your G-d, at Horev (Sinai), lest you forget the things which your eyes saw."2
The Torah's reason for commanding us to remember those very important events is self-evident, for a Jew lives in a world which hustles and bustles with all sorts of material things that distract his attention from what is truly important and eternal. We are of course speaking even of "kosher" things, such as eating and drinking, doing business, etc., all of which must be done in accordance with the Shulchan Aruch. Yet, inasmuch as a person is inevitably and routinely involved with such things for the greater part of the day, day after day, he may become so much absorbed in them as to forget the very important and essential things which the Torah particularly wants us to remember.
It is also a matter of common experience that when people want to make sure they will not forget certain matters, they do all sorts of things to help themselves remember.