This letter was addressed to the students of the Lubavitcher Yeshivah in Montreal.

B”H, between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, 5705

Greetings and blessings,

In response to your blessings for the coming year: May all those who grant blessings be blessed by the Master of all existence, as He has promised (Bereishis 12:3): “I will bless those who bless you.”

See Berachos 55a and the rulings of the Tur, the Shulchan Aruch 201:3,and the Shulchan Aruch HaRav 201:5 which interprets this as referring to every descendant of Avraham.

It is possible to explain that blessing a colleague is an act of kindness (gemilas chassadim). And our Sages (Sotah 14a) state: “The Torah begins with an act of kindness (clothing the naked, Rashi)1 and concludes with an act of kindness, as it is written:2 ‘He buried him in the vale.’”

The name Torah is derived from the word horoah,3meaning “instruction,” i.e., it teaches us to know:

a) One should never despair, for there is nothing that can stand in the path of teshuvah,4 for G‑d is abounding in kindness and forgives profusely;

b) even completely righteous men should [not rely on their merits and instead,] ask only for a free grant (Sifri, Devarim Rabbah [commenting on] the beginning of Parshas Vaes’chanan).

The above passage supplies proof for these concepts. When naked, Adam and his wife were in the midst of the ultimate descent. As our Sages explain (Bereishis Rabbah 19:6), they had one mitzvah and they became lax in its performance. Nevertheless, the Holy One, blessed be He, clothed even these “naked ones” through an arousal from above, as an act of kindness.

Acts of kindness surpass charity (Sukkah 49b), because they represent a profusion of good (Moreh Nevuchim, Vol. III, ch. 53, quoted in Derech Emunah of the Tzemach Tzedek in his comments on the verse:5 “And G‑d, the L‑rd, made...”, sec. 1, p. 67b).

Similarly, [acts of kindness] are relevant on the highest rung possible, as reflected in [the burial of] Moshe (see Shemoneh Perakim by Rambam, ch. 7). For there were 50 gates of understanding created in the world and they were all granted to Moshe with the exception of one.6 Now, “the righteous are greater in their death than during their lifetime.”7 Thus at his death, [Moshe] attained also the fiftieth gate of understanding. This is intimated by the verse:8 “No man knew his burial place.” (See the lengthy explanation in Likkutei Torah, in the maamar entitled Me’at Tosafos Biur al Inyan U’Sefartem, as cited in my letter to HaChaver, Shavuos, 5703.)9

This was also an act of kindness and an arousal from above from the Holy One, blessed be He indeed, an arousal from above that surpasses an arousal from above that is stimulated from an arousal from below. (See Likkutei Torah, loc. cit.: “We cannot draw down this level.... Instead, it is drawn down from above as a gift.”) For [G‑d] was the one who tended to Moshe, as it is written:8 “And He buried him.” And to conclude with a quote from the Mishnah (Sotah 9b): “This was not said concerning Moshe alone, but concerning all the righteous, as it is written:10 “Your righteousness will proceed before you and the glory of G‑d will gather you in.”

It is possible to say that this is particularly true with regard to the righteous who were sent into exile after exile,11 as [can be understood] from our Sages’ statement (Bereishis Rabbah 44:21) that Avraham chose [exile among] the nations [as the medium for his descendants’ atonement].

The above applies, in a general sense, with regard to souls.12 With regard to time, the concept of clothing the naked applies to Rosh HaShanah, the anniversary of man’s creation. For every year is poverty-stricken at its onset (see Rosh HaShanah 16b, and Rashi’s commentary). We have no recourse but to petition with supplication. [As we say in our prayers:] “We do not come before You with good deeds...,” “We have been left naked.” [When we approach G‑d in this manner,] we have been promised that the Holy One, blessed be He, will make us “garments of skin,” i.e., from snake-skin (Targum Yonason, to Bereishis 3:21). [In a spiritual sense, this refers to] peeling kelipas nogah awayfrom the three impure kelipos and returning it to holiness.13 From this, precious garments are fashioned (Derech Emunah, loc. cit., sec. 12).

And then, we ascend level by level until the holiday of Sukkos which represents an expression of kindness that surpasses charity and mercy, as [intimated by the statement that acts of kindness] are also granted to the wealthy (Sukkah, loc. cit.; Likkutei Torah, Parshas Devarim). The ultimate ascent will be on Shemini Atzeres when we read: “And Moshe ascended to Mount Nebo,” [i.e.,] Nun bo.14[There he received the revelation of the fiftieth gate of understanding. For the Torah concludes]15 with deeds of kindness. For this is a time [of oneness with G‑d, as indicated by the sacrifice brought,] “one bull,”16 for “[the Jews] alone, without any others joining with them.”17

With blessings for a chasimah and a gmar chasimah tovah and [with the blessing,] “Immediately to teshuvah; immediately to Redemption,”

Rabbi Menachem Schneerson
Executive Director