This letter was sent to R. A. Friedman.

B”H, 16 Elul, 5710

Greetings and blessings,

In response to your letter of 7 Elul:

a) Regarding your statements concerning the inverted yud 1 which forms the letter tzaddik 2 and your question concerning the clarification of the halachah: This matter has already been discussed by many, and the different opinions have been collected. Consult Mishnas Avraham,sec. 23:86-88; Meir Einei Sofrim, sec. 7; Maasef Lichol HaMachanos, sec. 36.

b) With regard to actual practice concerning tefillin: I would be amazed if there is anyone in this orphaned generation who would dare issue a ruling concerning actual practice against the AriZal who directed that in tefillin, [this letter] shouldbe written with an inverted yud. As faithful witnesses 3 that this is indeed the opinion of the AriZal, I will cite Mishnas Chassidim;the text Tikkun Tefillin, ch.1, mishnah 10, matzas shimurim;and last and cherished, 4 the Alter Rebbe. These words of the AriZal are quoted as halachah by several halachic authorities and by the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch, ch. 36.

c) Regarding actual practice concerning a Torah scroll: The above ruling concerning tefillin proves that a tzadi with an inverted yud is considered as having the form of the letter tzadi. Since this deviation is not mentioned in the Talmud [as invalid], according to the well-known responsum of the Nodeh B’Yehudah, 5 it is obvious that a tzadi [written] in this manner is valid in all places, including a Torah scroll.

d) What is the initial preference when writing a Torah scroll? In your letter, you cited the letter of my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe, הכ"מ, who writes that our custom is also to write [a tzadi] in a Torah scroll with an inverted yud. See Mishnas Avraham, loc. cit., who writes that he saw Torah scrolls [written by] great sages and experts from several generations [with tzadis written in] such a manner and Torah scrolls were also written in this manner by experts in his generations. It is only “newcomers recently arrived” 6 who deviate from this practice. ([His statements] differ from those of the Responsa Heishiv Moshe, Yoreh Deah, responsum 51, who writes that in a Torah scroll, the initial preference is to write [a tzadi] with an upright yud.

e) What is the opinion of the Vilna Gaon on this issue? In your letter, you cite what is stated in the text Tosafos Maaseh Rav that the Vilna Gaon invalidated “tzadis that were bent over and crooked from behind; he said that an error crept into the writings of the AriZal.

I do not possess that text. Nevertheless, [I don’t understand] how this wording alludes to [the question of] the inverted yud. Nevertheless, in his text Kesov LeChayim, the scribe R. Avraham Chayim of Minsk (Vilna, 5618) states that he heard from R. Elazar Moshe of Mannestirshitzina in the name of the Vilna Gaon that the proper version of the text in the Zohar 1, p. 2b, is “[the face of the yud is turned] around” and not “...backwards.” And that author concludes that we follow the opinion of the Beis Shmuel, the Beis Yosef, and the Vilna Gaon with regard to actual practice.

It is understandable that this is a weak basis on which to establish that the opinion of the Vilna Gaon is the opposite of the opinion of the AriZal. This particularly applies because the correction [to the text] of the Zohar does not read well at all, as [evident from] the continuation of the passage from the Zohar [cited above]:“[The faces of the yuddim of the tzadi] are not turned face to face.... I will ultimately divide you and cause them to be face to face.” From this, it is evident that before [that transpires], the faces [of the yuddim] are turned from each other. Thus the text should read “backwards” and not “around.”

f) The form of a tzadi is mentioned in Chassidus, according to my notes in: Likkutei Torah, at the beginning of the explanation of the maamar entitled Heichaltzu 7 (there too the Zohar is cited as saying that [the faces of the yud of the tzadi] is turned backwards), and in the maamar entitled Netei es Yadcha, 5663. 8

g) Thank you for your note regarding the term “Shabbos blessings.” Several Polish chassidim have already informed me that in several places in Galicia, etc., they refer [to this portion of prayer] by this name. 9

h) Thank you also for your note concerning the organization of a place in your community and the like where anyone who desires can find books of Chassidus to study. If everyone in the community will choose, by majority rule, one place and I will be informed of it, we will send copies of all our publications there.

i) Enclosed is the kuntreis for Chai Elul that was now published together with an accompanying letter.

j) As per your request, I will remember you and your household at the gravesite of my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe, הכ"מ, for a kesivah vachasimah tovah and for all forms of good.

Concluding with blessings for a kesivah vachasimah tovah,

Rabbi Menachem Schneerson

As is self-understood, [the flow of] letters from Riga has become limited. 10 Herewe have no further information about your uncle, R. M. A. The address of his synagogue is....