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"All Jews are
one big family"

A letter from 1969 to a student in England – Part two

Now to refer to your last question in the order of appearance in your letter, though in my opinion it is first and foremost, as well as the most practical one, namely the question of where you should continue your higher learning,

You have no doubt heard of my position on such a question, which I have reiterated many and is based on the fact that an educational institution, regardless of its character, and regardless of the student’s purpose, has a twofold influence, namely in the area of knowledge ”accumulation’ as well as in influencing the character, views and beliefs of the students, to the extent of having an impact also on the observance of the precepts of the Torah, etc. Clearly the second aspect of an educational institution is not less important than the first, and perhaps much more important, especia1ly in our day and age where the outside influences are unfortunately negative, while the home influence is no longer as exclusive as it used to be. There is no need to go into the factors which have brought about the present state of affairs, but the facts are there.

In the light of the above, it is my considered opinion that insofar as the continuation of your studies is concerned, even if you remain close to your home under the good influence of your parents and home atmosphere, it is important that you should study in an institution wherein the influence in regard to Torah and Mitzvoth is a positive one. According to my knowledge, a good institution on this level in England is the Gateshead Seminary for Girls Certainly if you plan to study outside England, I would recommend either the Bais Rivka Seminary near Paris, or the one in Kfar Chabad, or the Bais Yaakov Seminary in Jerusalem or Bnei Brak. The other institutions which you mention are, in my opinion, complete unsuitable for you, especially in the light of the situation as it has developed lately, and where no improvement seems likely in the near future, in the natural order of things, but perhaps a deterioration. The subject is too painful to discus in detail.

I wish to add a further point, which I think is also essential, Our Sages of blessed memory have emphasized the fact that all Jews are like one big family, and consequently the private life of every member, as well as the career or profession one chooses, and how one utilizes one’s capacities, etc., are not the private concern of the individual, since they affect, more or less, every member of this family, and the Jewish people as a whole. If this has always been true, it is especially true in our time, particularly in regard to Jewish youth, and more particularly those, like yourself, whom G-d has endowed with a special gift and capacity to work in the field of education, that is to say, to influence other youngsters by instruction and education, in addition to being a living example. Moreover, good influence on a youngster, as I have emphasized this many times before is like doing something beneficial to a seed or seedling, where even a slight benefit at that early stage is event compounded into great benefits, not to mention a great benefit to begin with.

Knowing your parents and your background, I think that it is unnecessary for me to further elaborate to you on all the above.

May G-d, whose benevolent Providence extends to each and everyone individually, guide you in your choosing the right way in life. In the present days between Pesach, the festival of liberation from slavery and Shavuot, the festival of our receiving the Torah, may you draw lasting inspiration and guidance to free yourself from all distracting thoughts, so as to be able to follow the path of our Torah, the living Torah, and from day to day strength and deepen your understanding and appreciation of the light of the Torah and its precepts. For, although the day of the giving of the Torah was more than 3,000 years ago, every Jew, man or woman, is expected to appreciate and cherish the Torah every day, as if it were newly given, and eagerly draw vitality and inspiration from it in every aspect of the daily life.

Hoping to hear good news from you in all above,

With blessing, M. Schneersohn

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