In a letter dated 15 Sivan, 5688 (1928),1 the first anniversary of the arrest, the Rebbe Rayatz writes: “…At the beginning of the year 5687,2 I made a request to the chassidic brotherhood – that every group of worshipers in the shuls after Shacharis should make a regular practice of reading the daily allotment of Tehillim as apportioned throughout each month, and that this be followed by Kaddish, according to custom. This request still stands – for the public good. (Indeed, it would be proper to institute this practice in every shul, for it is not relevant to chassidim alone.) And by virtue of this reading, may all those concerned be blessed by the Source of Blessings with all manner of bounty both spiritual and material….”

The Rebbe appended the following note to the above letter: “In order to clarify the chronology of events, we hereby reproduce a passage from the account of The Imprisonment and the Liberation of the Rebbe, my revered father-in-law, in 5687 (1927), written by a friend of the Rebbe’s household – the esteemed and venerable chassid, R. Eliyahu Chayim ben R. Pinchas Todros Althaus (May G‑d avenge his martyrdom!).”

The passage reads as follows:3 “From the beginning of that fateful year, 5687, a fearful dread overcame all those who felt close to the Rebbe, the House of our Life. The fear reached even the Rebbe himself, as my friend R. Michael Dvorkin and I heard explicitly from his holy mouth in Kostrama, the town to which he was exiled [after his reprieve on Gimmel Tammuz]. These were his very words, letter by letter: ‘I was very much afraid about the year 5687. I did not consider that it related to me; I was thinking about the chassidim. I experienced great difficulty in finally issuing the directive that people should start reciting Tehillim.’

“ ‘When was the directive issued?’ I asked.

“ ‘On Simchas Torah,’ replied the Rebbe.

“I then recalled that on Simchas Torah of that year, at the Kiddush that was held in the room of his mother, the Rebbitzin [Shterna Sarah], the Rebbe had repeatedly asked the members of the chasssidic brotherhood to undertake (bli neder) to read the daily allotment of Tehillim according to the monthly cycle – in all the minyanim after Shacharis, with Kaddish following. I recall that I asked him if I would discharge my obligation by the Tehillim that I read every day before davenen.

“The Rebbe replied in these words: ‘The Tehillim that one reads before [the morning’s] davenen is connected to Tikkun Chatzos.’

“All in all, the talks of the Rebbe on that Simchas Torah were pervaded by a spirit of bitterness, coming from a contrite and shattered heart.

“I have no doubt that the well-known penciled note concerning the reading of Tehillim that we found in the Rebbe’s study on the dread day of his imprisonment had likewise been written in Elul, 5686 or in Tishrei, 5687.4 This is my conclusion, because though it was undated, it concludes with his blessing for ‘a happy year,’ as people are accustomed to do either at the end of the year or at the beginning of the next.

“This is a copy of the note that was found on a high table in the Rebbe’s study after he had been imprisoned on Wednesday, 15 Sivan, 5687 (1927), in Leningrad: ‘Chassidim, and all Jews who are waiting in hope for Mashiach: listen! Pass the word on in my name to all chassidim around the world – that I have directed that in all chassidic shuls, after Shacharis every day (including Shabbos), Tehillim should be read communally by the congregation according to the monthly cycle, and this reading should be followed by Kaddish. Moreover, all the market folk and businessmen who cherish the homely warmth of yore should go to shul to pray, and should be present [between Minchah and Maariv] during the communal study of Ein Yaakov. And the Almighty will enable them to earn a comfortable livelihood.

“ ‘When you speak to chassidim, tell them that this comes from me as a directive; when you speak to other Jews, tell them that out of the love of a fellow Jew, and out of concern for the welfare of a fellow Jew, I ask them to fulfill the above requests.

“ ‘May the Almighty bless us all with a happy year, both spiritually and materially, and may we be privileged to experience a complete Redemption through Mashiach, Amen.’ ”