This letter was addressed to Rabbi Avraham Eliyahu Axelrod, an active communal Rabbi in Baltimore, in response to his reply to letter 149 above.

B”H, Thursday, 1 Tammuz, 5704, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Greetings and blessings,

In response to your letter:

a) With regard to your attempt at resolving the apparent contradiction between the statements in Chassidus which explain the necessity (in the initial stages of Divine service) for an eighth of an eighth measure [of pride] and the ruling (Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Deos 2:3; the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch 156:1, 157:3) that one should not have even a trace of pride: [You write that] a Torah scholar [should have an eighth of an eighth of pride], while an ordinary person [should have no pride at all].

Note the [Rambam’s] commentaryto the Mishnah, Avos 4:4: “Be exceedingly humble.” The Rambam writes that the opinion that one should not have a trace of pride differs with the opinion which states that a Torah scholar should have an eighth of an eighth measure of pride. This is also obvious from the Gemara (Sotah 5a) which quotes all the opinions one after the other. (There is somewhat of a difficulty in this for the text uses the expression: “Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak said” and not “Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak says” which is usually the expression used to signify a difference of opinion.)

See Kitzur Klallei HaTalmud and Klallei HaTalmud by the author of the text Knesses HaGedolah, sec. 111, printed in the Rom edition of the Talmud, after the tractate of Berachos; Shaloh, the beginning of the section Torah SheBaal Peh; Tosafos Yom Tov in his gloss to Bikkurim 3:6.

The above1 is also apparent from the statements in the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch which concludes its discussion [of whether pride is allowed or not] with [a description of] the manner in which awe can be cast over a community and the conduct of a Torah scholar who was disgraced.

b) In response to your statements that there will be no benefit from your expressing your views in your city with regard to using textbooks that are written from a perspective of holiness and purity, because the community will not listen since they are not observant: It is possible for you to emphasize that from a pedagogic perspective and the like, these texts are fitting and appropriate. [You should not excuse yourself by saying that they will not respond, for] as our Sages ask (Shabbos 55a): “Although it was revealed for You, was it revealed for them?”2 Who knows, perhaps your outcry will be of avail?

c) With regard to history texts in Hebrew written on a foundation of holiness and purity: One text which I do know of is “Jewish History” by [R. Zev] Yaavetz.

d) With regard to the Beis Rivkah High School: At present, they study only Torah subjects. No decision has been made on the curriculum for the coming semester.

With the blessing “Immediately to teshuvah; immediately to Redemption,”

Rabbi Menachem Schneerson
Executive Director