The above is the first of many letters of the kind known as michtav klali (“a communal letter”) which the Rebbe addressed to every member of the Jewish people. These letters were customarily sent out in connection with the holidays of Tishrei and Nissan and select other occasions. 1

Chai Elul, 5710

To our brothers and sisters,
the sons and daughters of Israel,
wherever they may be:
May G‑d’s blessing be upon you.

Greetings and Blessings,

As we stand on the threshold of the New Year (May it bring us and all of the sons and daughters of Israel goodness and blessings!), every man and woman among us is aroused and takes stock of everything that has happened with him in the course of the passing year — everything that he has done and everything that happened to him. [Each of us] resolves to improve his ways, and turns in prayer to our Father in heaven with the request that He inscribe and seal each of us and ours for a good and sweet year, materially and spiritually. 2

Our Sages have taught 3 that through giving tzedakah to a needy person, one’s prayer secures and draws down a good life, redemption and salvation, livelihood and sustenance.

Now man, 4 like all created beings and including even sublime angels, 5 has a body and a soul. Just as a man can be poor in body and in the needs of the body, so, too, a man can be poor in soul and in the needs of the soul. Therefore with regard to tzedakah, there is material tzedakah and spiritual tzedakah. As our Sages teach (in Tanna dvei Eliyahu Rabbah, sec. 27): “How does one fulfill the obligation [Yeshayahu 58:7]: ‘When you see the naked, clothe him’? If you see a man who has no words of Torah, bring him into your house, teach him Kerias Shema and prayer; teach him..., and encourage him to observe the commandments.”

Just as each man and woman among us asks to be inscribed and sealed for a good year materially and spiritually, so should each one of us exert himself in extending both material tzedakah and spiritual tzedakah, particularly in the days of Elul and Tishrei.

And as we stand during these days before the King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, each man and woman among us will have in hand a large account 6 — large in proportion to his ability — of acts of tzedakah that he has undertaken to save the pauper in body, and acts of tzedakah that he has undertaken to save the pauper in soul.

Just as with material tzedakah, 7 even a person who is materially poor is under an obligation, for there is no poor man who cannot find a way to help a fellow pauper, so, too, with spiritual tzedakah: even a person who is spiritually poor has an obligation [to give] — for there is no Jewish man or woman who cannot influence the sons and daughters of the Jewish people and bring them nearer to the fear of Heaven and to the Torah and its mitzvos.

“Load a camel according to its [strength]” 8 : those who are wealthy materially and those who are wealthy in spirit — i.e., Torah scholars and yeshivah students — should disburse their money and their knowledge generously, in order to save, heal, and rehabilitate the soul and the body of their brothers and sisters.

May our Father, the All-Merciful Father, 9 inscribe and seal every man and woman among us, together with all of Israel, for a good and sweet year — with good that is visible and overt, materially and spiritually. And may He bring us, speedily and in our very own days, the true and complete Redemption through our Righteous Mashiach, Amen.

From one who blesses you and who seeks your blessing — for a kesivah vachasimah tovah,

Menachem Mendel ben Chanah Schneerson
Son-in-law of the Nasi, his holy honor,
Our master, mentor and Rebbe; זצוקללה"ה, נבג"ם, זי"ע, הכ"מ 10