Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How To Resolve Conflict? A Beautiful Letter of The Rebbe.

The Avner Institute is proud to present a letter from the Rebbe to a frustrated Jew who had left the Torah path and written him explaining why. Included is a newly released photo of the Rebbe, with special thanks to the Rebbe Archive.

B”H 15 Iyar,

5738 Brooklyn, NY

Sholom Ubrocho:

I am in receipt of your letter of May 13, in which you write about your present state and feelings toward Jews, Yiddishkeit, the Torah, etc., which you blame on the attitude towards you on the part of the Yeshiva and its students.

Needless to say the connection is most surprising, for it is plain and obvious that a Jew, whoever he may be, who believes in the Torah and does his best to observe its mitzvoth, does it because of his personal commitment to G-d’s Torah and mitzvoth, which were given to each and every Jew at Sinai, and as our Sages tell us that the souls of all Jews of all generations were present there and accepted the Torah and mitzvoth. Hence, if a Jew should declare, G-d forbid, that he does not accept the Ten Commandments because his friends or teacher do not conduct themselves as they should – I do not think that anyone will say that this is a proper or sensible approach.

To put it a different way: If a teacher whom you respect will say that two times two is five, it is incorrect; and if a teacher whom you do not respect will say that two times two is four, it is nevertheless correct, for Torah is independent. Judging by your writing, there is surely no need to elaborate to you on what is self-evident. As for you, your complaint about your friends’ attitude toward you – it is also clear that neither I nor anyone else can make a judgment on this without first hearing what both sides have to say.

Now, let us assume – from your point of view – that you have reasons to complain – surely you know, and must have seen it yourself from other situations where people have a disagreement, that in every dispute between two people it is impossible that one should be 100% right and the other 100% wrong. It would be rare indeed, if it ever happened, although one does not have to be 100% right to win his case, and 99% against 1% is also sufficient. But when one of the parties, who is personally involved and subsequently subjective, claims to be 100% right and all the other 100% wrong,

this is most extraordinary. Don’t you think that someone who examines the whole situation objectively may find you also wrong, at least to the extent to 1%? If this be very likely, how is it that you don’t mention anything about it in your letter, not even by as much as a hint? All that has been said above is by way of response to your writing, dealing with the “letter” as distinct from the “spirit.”

The crucial point, however, is that suffice it to consider the fact that Yiddishkeit, Torah and mitzvoth, and the Jewish people have survived 3500 years of persecution, pogroms, the Holocaust, etc., and yet our people are alive and thriving to this day, while many powerful nations and “civilizations” have disappeared without a remnant – to be convinced (despite your assertions in the beginning of your letter) that the Torah is Toras Emes, and its mitzvoth are Emes, and that “they are our life and the length of our days,” both for our Jewish people as a whole and for every Jew individually.

It is also self-understood that G-d desires Jews to observe his mitzvoth not for His benefit, but for the benefit of the one who lives in accordance with G-d’s Will. In light of the above, I hope and trust that you will do all that is in your power to learn the Torah with devotion and diligence and to fulfill the mitzvoth with hiddur – not because I, or anyone else, tells you to do this, but because it is the Truth itself, as has been amply verified by the uninterrupted history of our people from generation to generation. And although this is an obvious “must” for its own sake, this is also the channel to receive G-d’s blessing for hatzlocho in all your needs, as well as for your parents and all your dear ones.

With blessing,

M. Schneerson

Good Shabbos.