"..However here in the
The following is a very unique letter of the Rebbe. From the year 1962 to a Professor at
“I must touch upon another, and even more delicate, matter concerning the teachings of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch whom you mentioned in your letter. There has been a tendency lately to apply his approach in totality, here and now In U.S. America While it is understandable that the direct descendants of Rabbi Hirsch or those who were brought up in that philosophy should want to disseminate his teachings,
I must say emphatically that to apply his approach to the American scene will not serve the interests of Orthodoxy in
However, here in the
Besides the essential point and approach is “Thou shalt be wholehearted with G-d, thy G-d.” The surest way of remaining a faithful Jew is not through philosophy but through the actual experience of the Jewish way of life in the daily life, fully and wholeheartedly. As for the principle “know what to answer the heretic,” this is surely only one particular aspect, and certainly does not apply to everyone. Why introduce every Jewish boy and girl to the various heretics that ever lived?
The whole problem is a delicate one, and I have written the above only in the hope that you may be able to use your influence with certain circles in
Enclosed is a copy of my message to the delegates of N’shei Chabad, which I trust Mrs. Good man will find interesting, since the contents of the message are intended for all Jewish men and women.
I was gratified to read in your letter that you recall our conversation with regard to your writing of your Memoirs, and, as in case of all recollections in Jewish life, the purpose of which is to give it expression in actual deed, I trust that this will be the case also in regard to your Memoirs.
I want to take this opportunity to mention another point which we touched upon during our conversation, and which I followed up in writing. I refer to the movement of “Torah v’Derech Eretz” which has sometimes become a doctrine of “Derech Eretz with Torah” alluding to the saying of our Sages that Derech Eretz came before Torah. However, the term “Derech Eretz” is interpreted as a college education, and it is claimed to be the doctrine of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch of blessed memory.
As you will recall, I made the point in my previous letter on this subject that in my opinion, with all due respect to this policy and school of thought which had their time and place, they are not al all suitable for American Jewish youth and present times and conditions, especially in the United states. I even made so bold a move as to try to enlist your cooperation to use your influence to discourage the reintroduction of this movement on the American Jewish scene, since it is my belief that your word carries a great deal of weight in these circles here.
I want to note with gratification that on the basis of unofficial and behind the scenes information which has reached me from the circles in question, the point which I made with regard to this school of thought has been gaining evermore adherents. It is becoming increasingly recognized that a college education is not a vital necessity and is not even of secondary importance. Many begin to recognize that the Torah, Toras Chaim, is, after all, the best S’chorah, even as a “career.” In the light of this new reappraisal, attendance at college is being recognized as something negative and interfering with detracting from the study of Torah. So much for the younger generation. However, the older generation, especially those, whose own character and background has been fashioned overseas, in
In view of the above, and inasmuch as a considerable impact has already been made in the right direction, I consider it even more auspicious at the time that you should use your good influence in this direction. All the more so since, judging by your energy and outlook, I trust you can be included with the younger generation and not the older one. For the younger generation is not only more energetic and enthusiastic about things, but is more prone to take up new ideas which require an extra measure of courage, to be different from others and to face new challenges. I believe that you have been blessed with a goodly measure of these youthful qualities.
I might conclude that this subject is timely in these days, on the Eve of Shavuot when the first condition of receiving the Torah was the unity of the Jewish people so that it could be receptive to the unity of G-d, as expressed in the first and second of the Ten Commandments. For the unity of G-d means not only in the literal sense of the said commandments, but that there should be no other authority or power compared with
G-dliness, until there is the full realization that “There is nothing besides him.” And this idea is brought about by the One Torah, which is likewise one and only and exclusive, so that when we say that it is “Toras Chaim,” it means that it is literally our very source and only source of life in this life, too, and that there can be no other essential source or even a secondary source next to the Torah, even as far as our daily resources in the ordinary aspects of the life are concerned.