Jan 11, 2018
The Rebbe's Letter to a Prisoner

The letter the Rebbe wrote to a Jewish inmate with handwritten notes on it encouraging him to remain faithful behind bars.

COLlive.com and Nissan Mindel Publications present "Archive Gems", a periodical column sharing guidance from the Rebbe and unknown details of Chabad's history in the United States.

The material is from the archives of Rabbi Dr. Nissan Mindel, the trusted personal secretary of the Frierdiker Rebbe and the Rebbe, and a renowned Chabad author of literature for young and old for close to 60 years.

Rabbi Shalom Ber Schapiro, Director of Nissan Mindel Publications, was entrusted with these treasured archives by his father-in-law, Rabbi Mindel and it is to his lasting credit that the dissemination of chassidus is thereby being strengthened.

Much of this material will be published in the forthcoming book "Chabad in America Through the Folders of Nissan Mindel," covering Chabad's activities in America from 1940 until 1994, as preserved by Rabbi Mindel in his folders.

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The following letter from the Rebbe was written to a Jewish person in prison and includes words of encouragement to continue living a life of Torah and Mitzvos even behind bars.

It is interesting to note, as seen in the original letter, how the Rebbe had written and crossed it out. It seems that the Rebbe was starting to write (in prison) and decided not to. As this is indicative of the Rebbe's usual way in his personal letters, to reveal as little as possible, so he makes references to delicate matters in an indirect way.

Whereas the note he writes to Dr. Mindel on top of the letter, it says explicitly the word prison, as it is necessary for the secretary to know the situation. "He is in prison and therefore this needs to be b'ang(lit)" [in English], the Rebbe wrote.

But in the actual letter, no reference is made to prison. Even the Rebbe's reference at the end of the letter is to the administrators of the institution () - a neutral term. The only reason we know this is written to a prisoner, is because of the Rebbe's note on top, for his secretary to know).

The letter itself reads:

B'H 15th Tammuz, 5747
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Greeting and Blessing:

I am in receipt of your letters and in it the requests for blessing " of July 22, and the one that came before it

And in an auspicious time I will read your letters at the resting place of my father-in-law " " " " ".

And it is certainly superfluous to stress about the conduct in the daily life [the Rebbe crossed out "that it will be" and added instead "however much is possible to be done in the place you find yourself"] should be in accordance with the teachings of our Torah, Toras Chayim, and the fulfillment of its mitzvos about which it is said "And you shall live with them," that in addition to the essential thing that we do the mitzvos because they are the command of " - they are also a channel through which a person receives blessings for his needs.

[the Rebbe noted to add: "Additionally - when the administration of the institution will see his good behavior and his fear of Heaven, they will relate to him with more importance/respect etc."]

With blessing,

[the Rebbe notes on the bottom: "for Rabbi Nissan Mindel" and "urgent"]


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