WRITING TO THE REBBE IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR DOING WHAT THE REBBE SAID
October 31, 2017
Beis Moshiach in #1091, Chassidic Customs, Igrot Kodesh

By Rabbi Sholom Yaakov Chazan

In Shevat 5748, the Rebbe delivered some sichos in which he established the rules about writing to him. He said that medical questions should be asked of an expert doctor, and even betterto a doctor-friend, and in special cases, to consult with two top doctors.

Some years later, the doctors thought there was a complication in my wife’s pregnancy. They recommended a certain medical procedure. Since we were used to asking the Rebbe before doing things like this, I wrote in and asked one of the secretaries to give the letter to the Rebbe. I said it was an urgent medical question. The secretary told me that he was very sorry but the Rebbe told him not to give him medical questions, as he had said in the sicha.

I thought this was the approach of that particular secretary so I tried my luck with another secretary with whom I had a better relationship. To my surprise, his response was the same, i.e., that the Rebbe said to consult with a top doctor or a doctor-friend. Of course, after listening to the Rebbe and consulting with doctors, you could write to the Rebbe about what the doctors said and ask for his bracha.

I wrote a new letter in which I informed the Rebbe about the doctors’ recommendation to do a medical procedure and asked for a bracha.

THE REBBE’S DIRECTIVES ARE ETERNAL

Today too, when we write to the Rebbe and we open to an answer in the Igros Kodesh, it is important to remember that the Rebbe’s horaos are eternal and do not change. Therefore, as in the past, writing to the Rebbe cannot be a substitute for following explicit horaos and guidance that the Rebbe gave (in the sicha of 21 Adar 5748, Hisvaaduyos vol. 2 p. 429) which are:

“Regarding questions in avodas Hashem, Torah and mitzvos, ask a rav moreh horaa (or a beis din) in your town, including also the instruction of the Mishna, ‘assai lecha rav.’”

“Regarding questions about parnasa and the like, ‘counsel with many advisors,’ consult with knowledgeable friends.”

“Regarding medical questions, ‘and guard etc. your souls,’ conduct yourself in such a way that you won’t get sick to begin with, including, when necessary, doing as an expert doctor says … and even better, a doctor-friend, and in special cases, ‘counsel with many advisors,’ two top doctors, and where there is a difference of opinion, as the majority says to do.”   

Obviously, after doing as the Rebbe instructs and consulting with a doctor expert/friend, someone knowledgeable etc. - then you can write to the Rebbe that you did as instructed and are now asking for a bracha. There is no question that doing as the Rebbe said is one of the proper vessels for receiving the Rebbe’s bracha.

As the Rebbe himself said in the sicha where he set those guidelines, “Regarding requests for a bracha, pidyonos, etc. - we are repeating and informing once again that in these matters there is the ‘chazaka’ [i.e., established norm] that they will continue with Hashem’s help to fulfill the requests etc.”

ASKING ABOUT OTHER MATTERS

In addition, since these are answers in the Igros Kodesh, it is proper to note another guideline the Rebbe emphasized, that asking by opening a holy book is only when, “you want to clarify how to act in optional matters (in those things about which there is no instruction in the Torah to do things a certain way) (Shabbos Parshas BaMidbar 5749, Hisvaaduyos vol. 3 p. 224), or put another way, “An important point needs to be clarified: searching for signs in Torah about how to act is only for those things where there is room for doubt etc., and more generally, in optional matters … in which there is a need to seek a ‘sign’ ‘in heaven’ (Torah) about how to conduct ‘your deeds.’ But in a matter in which you know for a certainty that you need to act according to Torah, an actual matter pertaining to Heaven, there is no need to seek signs etc. and obviously one should not postpone something because of some sign etc.” (Shabbos Parshas Noach 5749, Hisvaaduyos vol. 1 p. 310).

Along with the Rebbe’s request of Chassidim that they write detailed reports about their Chabad work, the Rebbe asked that they not write letters about trivial matters: “There are those who think that priority should be given to writing me letters and the more the better, without it mattering who is writing, what his position is, and what he is writing about, etc. … Therefore, it is necessary to clarify that before writing a letter to think yet again whether this letter is necessary or it’s a waste of time, both of the writer and the recipient” (27 Cheshvan 5749, Hisvaaduyos vol. 1 p. 263).

CONSULTING WITH A MASHPIA

Since sometimes one can draw various conclusions from the Rebbe’s answers, it is proper not to rely only on oneself, but to show it to a mashpia, a rav posek halachos, a friend, etc. as the Rebbe said to do in these sichos and in the sicha of 2 Adar 5748, or as the Alter Rebbe himself concludes his introduction to Tanya:

“He whose mind is too limited to understand how to derive advice from these pamphlets, let him discuss his problem with the foremost scholars of his town and they will enlighten him. Of [these scholars] I request that they not lay their hand upon their mouth, [i.e., not to keep silent when asked for advice, for fear of appearing to be proud in their knowledge], to conduct themselves with false modesty and humility. It is well known how bitter is the punishment of one who ‘withholds food’ [i.e. withholds Torah knowledge from him who seeks it], and also how great is the reward [for one who provides that knowledge], as per the saying of the Sages on the verse ‘Hashem enlightens the eyes of them both.’ For Hashem will shine His face upon them, with the life giving light of the face of the King.”

Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (http://beismoshiachmagazine.org/).
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