www.LubavitchArchives.com - Chabad history on the web





Soul Meetings




Becoming "immune"
to evil

Continuation of the series of letters to a well know Scientist (for previous letter click here)
A letter from 1969

Greeting and Blessing:

I duly received your recent three letters, with the enclosures. Thank you very much for the good news they contained, and may G-d grant that you should always be able to report good news in all your affairs, both personal and general.

With regard to the idea of taking leave of absence in order to devote the time to visits in England, the European continent, etc. – generally speaking, judging by your description of the project, it would be advisable to implement it and make the most of it. On the other hand, this is contingent on being quite certain that it would in no way jeopardize the security of your present position. For, undoubtedly, there are quite a few aspirants who would like to step into the vacancy. It would therefore be necessary to make quite certain that your leave of absence would in no way jeopardize the security and tenure of your position.

Needless to say, there is also the consideration that your visits to foreign countries could be used in a manner that would actually strengthen your position. It is for this reason that my first thought was that it would be a good very idea. I do hope that the apprehension I mentioned earlier is groundless, or you could in any case make sure that it would remain groundless. Whatever your decision in this matter, may G-d grant that your decision be the proper one, and be with success in every detail, all the more so since your success means a benefit for many through enjoying your good influence in an increased measure.

I was particularly interested to note the enclosure reflecting the response to your article which originally appeared in the London Jewish Chronicle. In view of the fact that a part of your article was regrettably omitted in its original publication, I trust that you will find an opportunity to have the article republished in full in other media. And since people prefer something new, it does not mean that the article should be presented in exactly the same form as before, but it can externally be changed and recast, for the important thing is the content and the thoughts expressed, that they should be inductive and stimulate the reader towards authentic Judaism without compromise. As a new addition to the article could serve your experiences and activities in spreading of Judaism among faculty and students. No doubt this point occurred to you also, and it could fit in very well with the general tenor of your published article.

With personal regards, and with blessing, Menachem Schneersohn

I am usually very reluctant to express view on matters which lie outside my field of competence. However, having "glanced'' through the detailed research program which you enclosed in your letter, I decided to make an observation: I fail to find among the itemized points of study one aspect which, in my humble opinion, should have been of particular interest. I am referring to the recognition that certain microbes and infections may be germane to hospitals – a view which, I believe, has received some attention in pertinent literature. I am not familiar with the details of this problem, but I believe it has to do with the ability of bacteria to develop immunity to antibiotics, as has been established in the case of penicillin, etc. Hence it is very possible that methods of infection control which are effective elsewhere may lose their effectiveness because of continuous and consistent application in hospitals, or because the hospital environment has produced certain strains in certain bacteria which has given them a measure of immunity in that specific environment.

I do not know whether the omission of this aspect from your project is due to the circumstance that a three months' study period would not be sufficient to include an investigation into this area, since, undoubtedly, it would entail the problem of distinguishing "immunized" from "non-immunized" bacteria, etc., as well as the problems of changing methods of sterilization and infection control, and clinical observation; etc. Or, simply, because this question is outside your present work. Yet, it seems to me that this is a question of practical importance and should be well within your field of interest.

As in all matters, where the physical reflects the spiritual, there is a didactic relevance in the above mentioned subject, reflected in Jewish ethics and in Jewish law. The point is dealt with conspicuously in the Tanya [The book of Basic Chabad teaching], and is related to the Talmudic saying that a person studying the same subject 101 times attains an excellence quite out of proportion over the person who studies only 100 times. At first glance this is puzzling. However, the author of the Tanya explains it by reason of the fact that it was customary in those days to review a subject 100 times; hence it was no special accomplishment, in the other hand, the one who did it 101 times went beyond the habit and accustomed practice, resulting in an extraordinary accomplishment both quantitatively and qualitatively. Indeed the author of the Tanya goes on to define the latter "the servant of G-d" and the other "praised is His servant" (Chapter 15). To translate it into terms of "infection control, the person who develops good habits becomes immune to the evil inclination but by the same token he does not merit reward, since no effort is required here. Similarly in regard to transgressions, as explained in “The Letter of Repentance”, where the difference between committing and transgression a second time and a third time is a difference in kind and not merely in degree. This should be discussed at greater length, but not here [for more on this subject click here and here, editor].

For comments or additions please e-mail us
© All rights reserved to
Lubavitch Archives