Pirsum Rishon: In honor of the upcoming holiday of Pesach we present letters of the Rebbe to the American Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) in honor of the holiday of Pesach, and the response of the JDC to the Rebbe * The Rebbe’s Letters
The Rebbe’s Letter to Dr. Joseph J. Schwartz, Chairman of the JDC:
Nissan 10, 5710
March 28, 1950
Dr. Joseph J. Schwartz
Chairman, European Executive Council,
American Joint Distribution Committee,
Dear Dr. Schwartz:
With the approach of Pesach, the festival of our Liberation, I send you my best wishes for a kosher and joyous Pesach.
In our generation, Galuth and “Exodus” have both been a bitter reality. No one is more familiar than you with the appalling circumstances of the present day Galuth and Exodus of our Jewish brethren.
It has been your Providential privilege to help alleviate the pain and suffering of hundreds of thousands of our brethren. I know with what high esteem my late father-in-law, the revered Lubavitcher Rabbi of sainted memory, regarded your work in this field, for he considered you a real friend with foresight and understanding for both the material and spiritual needs of our brethren. I am sure that his prayerful wishes and blessings to you, in your public work as well as in your personal life, will continue to stand you in good stead.
With kindest personal regards and best wishes,
Very sincerely yours,
Rabbi Mendel Schneerson
On April 10, 1950 [23 Nissan 5710] Dr. Joseph J. Schwartz responded to the Rebbe:
My dear Rabbi Schneerson:
I want to thank you very much for your kind letter of March 28th in which you express best wishes for the Passover Holidays.
I had the great privilege of knowing your late father-in-law, the sainted Lubavitcher Rabbi, and had the deepest respect and regard not only for his personality but for the wonderful and inspiring work which he performed. His Interest in things affecting the Jewish people was universal and was not confined to any single country or to any single group. The community of Israel scattered throughout the world was his sphere of interest and to this community he gave his great heart and mind and his unbounded energy. It was a privilege for me to have been associated with him even at this distance. It is my hope that the same pleasant associations that prevailed between the Lubavitcher group and ourselves during the life of your father-in-law will continue in the future.
With kindest regards and best wishes,
The Rebbe’s letter to Mr. Moses Beckleman, Director-General of the JDC:
By the Grace of G-d
Nissan 13th, 5712
Brooklyn 13, N.Y.
My dear Mr. Beckelman:
The forthcoming festival of Pesach gives me the pleasant opportunity to send you my greetings and best wishes for a kosher and happy Pesach.
Rabbi Benjamin Gorodetzky, who recently came back for a brief visit, reported to me fully on the matters of our mutual interest. On his return he will convey to you my personal regards. In the meantime, however, I want to take this opportunity to assure you of my sincere appreciation of your cooperation, which I trust will go from strength to strength.
I trust the enclosed Pesach Message will be of interest to you.
With personal regards and best wishes to you and yours,
Attached to this letter was the English Michtav Kloli from the Rebbe in honor of Pesach 5712, dated Rosh Chodesh Nissan 5712 (the Hebrew was printed in Igros Kodesh Vol. 5 page 277ff):
To My Brethren Everywhere
G-d bless you all,
The festival of Passover is approaching.
Everything in this world, on reflection, can serve us as useful instruction in our daily behavior, either in our relationship to G-d, or to fellow man, or both.
The Torah, “Torath Chayim”, as the name implies (“Instruction In Life”), and its Mitzvoth, are particularly a source of instruction in good living. Still more so are our festivals, since their purpose is not only to inspire us during the period of celebration, but their influence is to be felt in our daily life all year round. First and foremost among them is the festival of Passover.
The remembrance of the Departure from Egypt is one of the main pillars of our Torah and faith. The event of the Exodus has been singled out for remembrance every day of the year, and on the night of Passover it is, of course, the very center of our attention.
Of the numerous lessons which this event has for us, I want to mention here but one point, a point which is significantly related to both the beginning and the end of the festival.
The first festive ceremony, after dark, is the “Seder”. It begins with one of its basic features - the fulfillment of the precept, “Thou shalt relate it to thy son.” The Seder ceremony contains changes and deviations from our customs and practices, with a view to rousing the interest of the children and make them participate in the service. Moreover, our duty to the children is not confined to the wise ones, but for “the wise, the wicked, the simple and the one who knows not what to ask”. All of them must be gathered to the Seder, and each one must be instructed according to his intelligence and understanding.
The concluding event of the story of Passover is the miraculous Crossing of the Red Sea, when so great was G-d’s revelation, that every one of the people of Israel could point a finger and exclaim, “This is my G-d and I will glorify Him”. The sons and daughters who were born at the height of the enslavement and oppression were those who recognized G-d first.
The end of the festival is ‘rooted’ in its beginning.
We must make every possible effort to find the ways and means (even at the sacrifice of personal habits and customs) to rouse the young generation and bring all Jewish boys and girls without exception – “the wise, wicked, simple and the one who knows not what to ask” – to Torah and Mitzvoth. Then we can confidently look to the Redemption and be sure that “With our youths and our aged shall we go, (together) with our sons and daughters.”
Like that generation in Egypt, this generation, too, was born and bred in the most tragic period of our history. And as in those days of old, when G-d miraculously saved the children that might later receive the Torah, so will He also save our generation that the Torah may not be forgotten. He will save the remnants of our children also from those who rise up to destroy them, G-d forbid, through a distorted education which “calls evil - good, and good - evil, and considers darkness - light, and light - darkness. Despising the Torah of G-d.” G-d will save us and them from their hands, that this generation be the generation of the Redemption, “not by might and not by power, but by the spirit of G-d”, and every one, boy and girl, man and woman, will recognize G-d, “pointing a finger and saying, Behold our G-d, to whom we hoped to save us; this is the G-d to whom we hope; we shall rejoice and be glad in His salvation.”
With the blessing of a kosher and happy Pesach
After Pesach, on April 18 1952 [23 Nissan 5712] Mr. Beckelman responded:
Dear Rabbi Schneerson:
Thank you very much for your kind Passover greetings. I, too, hope that it will be possible for us to continue to cooperate with the work of your organization in the interests of our common cause.
With all best wishes,