This letter elaborates on a response given in the section “Replies to Readers,” from the monthly publication, HaKeriah VehaKedushah, Menachem Av, 5703.

[Elul, 5703]

To Chayim Aharon DovBer P.

In reply to our response in HaKeriah VehaKedushah, Menachem Av, that our Sages’ statement: “With difficulty, [the Sages] permitted speaking words of Torah on Shabbos” is quoted in the Hosafos to Torah Or and Likkutei Torah, you asked whether this statement was found in holy texts of the previous generations.

Questions of this nature bring to mind our Rabbis’ statement:1 “Be careful with regard to [the Sages’] coals, lest you be burnt.”

For the Alter Rebbe and his son the Mitteler Rebbe are worthy that we rely upon them. If they quote a statement in the name of our Sages, we can be certain that our Sages made such a statement, even though we do not know the source of that statement.

We, however, judge our readers favorably, and do not suspect that they are casting suspicions of this nature, but rather are merely seeking to discover the source of these statements, as our Sages frequently say: “What is the source for the words which our Sages said ... the verse states.”2

The quote mentioned above is cited towards the conclusion of the text Sefer HaYirah written by Rabbi Yonah from Gerondi. There is no apparent prior source in the Midrashim that are in our possession. It is, however, well known that some of the Midrashim which the Rishonim possessed have been lost, and are not in our possession.

To Rabbi Y. Y. H:

1) The above also applies with regard to our Sages’ statement: “It is not said: ‘And I will dwell within it,’3 but ‘I will dwell within them,’4 within every individual,” which is cited in the Rebbe shlita’s maamarim.

Note the above answer.

This quote is cited numerous times in Chassidus. It is also found in Reishis Chochmah, Shaar HaAhavah, ch. 6, and Shaloh, Shaar HaOisios, Os Lamed, and in many other texts.

It is obvious that the expression “Our Sages said,” can be used in reference to Rabbis who lived after the period during which the Talmud and the Midrash [were composed]. It does not necessarily refer to Sages of that era.