In the forty-four years of his leadership, the Rebbe delivered
thousands of talks, totaling tens of thousands of hours. One
might therefore think that much of his teachings still awaits
publication. In actuality, the very opposite is true: over
the years, virtually every word that passed his lips has been
meticulously recorded by his disciples. In addition, hundreds
of talks have been edited, annotated, translated and adapted
in a great variety of publications and other media. In all,
more than two hundred volumes of his talks have been published
to date. Thus, a hitherto unpublished talk of the Rebbes
is a rare find. One such treasure was recently discovered
in the Rebbes library.
In the summer of 1953, a group of six Worcester women made
the seven-hour (in those pre-interstate days) trip to New
York to meet with the Rebbe. The Rebbe received them in his
study, and addressed them briefly. One of the participants
was a nurse, and this most likely prompted the Rebbes
use of her profession as an analogy and demonstration of the
idea he conveyed to them in his talk.
The Rebbe spoke in Yiddish, but he asked Mrs. Rochele Fogelman,
who headed the group, to make an English transcript of his
remarks. Mrs. Fogelman did so, and sent her only copy of the
transcript to the Rebbe. Nearly forty-three years later, the
transcript was discovered in the Rebbes library. The
Rebbe had added the month and year Tammuz 5713
(June-July 1953) at the top of the page, and the words transcript
of talk to the women from Worcester, but had otherwise
made no notes or corrections. What follows is a lightly-edited
version of this transcript.
The Torah places much emphasis on the responsibility of one
Jew for the spiritual welfare of his or her fellows. A Jew
is charged to foster in his fellow Jews a closeness to Torah,
and to impart to them a love for yiddishkeit so that
they should eagerly and cheerfully abide by its precepts and
While this task is incumbent upon both men and women, it
is the woman who possesses the greater capacityand thus
carries the greater share of the responsibilityto achieve
it. Generally speaking, there are two methods that might be
employed when seeking to influence human behavior: stern rebuke,
or gentle, kindly words. The way of Torah is the way of shalom,
peace, and kiruv, drawing close; G-d is good, and it
is His desire that those who do His work apply themselves
with kindness and love. Because the woman has been blessed
with an innately tender and sympathetic nature, her character
is akin to and expressive of the Torah ideal of compassionate
kiruv; thus, she possesses a greater capacity to influence
her fellow Jews to perfect their behavior in accordance with
the way of Torah.
The human being possesses both a body and a soul. The Jew
sees the body and the soul as interrelated, indeed bound together.
Thus, by examining the way things are regarding a physical
phenomenon, we gain insight into its spiritual counterpart.
When a person is ill, he consults a doctor. The doctor, who
understands the physical workings of the body, diagnoses the
nature of the illness and prescribes treatment. If the case
warrants, hospital care is recommended. But the organization
of the hospital is such that, whereas the doctor prescribes
the treatment, the nurse is the one who usually administers
it. Regarding this, it may be noted that nursing is predominantly
a woman's professiona fact readily discernible in hospitals,
where, with only rare exceptions, the nurses are women. This
reflects the fact that women are inherently suited to nursing.
With their natural tenderness and patience, they can sweeten
a bitter-tasting medicine and make a most difficult medical
procedure more tolerable.
The same is true regarding the care of the soul. If a Jew
suffers from a deficiency in his spiritual health, it becomes
necessary to treat him so that he may be cured. To procure
a remedy for his spiritual ills, one must consult the authority
that, like the doctor who is the expert for the bodys
needs, knows and understands the needs of the soul. For the
Jew, these needs are embodied by the Torah and its mitzvot.
But the expert who diagnoses and prescribes the treatment
is not necessarily the one who is best suited to administer
it. Thus we come to the role of the spiritual nursean
individual with the compassion, sensitivity and patience that
the task requires.
As is the case regarding physical medicine, the woman has
been blessed with a character that makes her optimally suited
to serve as a spiritual nurseone who draws
ones fellow Jews closer to Torah with kindness, benevolence,
gentleness and love. A woman's strength is such that she can
prevail upon others to fulfill the mitzvotincluding
those mitzvot that might, on the surface, seem difficult or
bitter-tasting with willing acceptance and
A womans first responsibility is to the spiritual care
of her family. But, as the Baal Shem Tov would say, all Jews
are brothers and sisters. Thus, her nursing efforts
should extend beyond the confines of her immediate family
to encompass any and all of her fellow Jews.
May you and your families have a healthy, happy summer. May
you have happy Jewish, Chassidic homes, such that they may
stand out as an example thereof. Turn Worcester into a Chassidic
city, so that from Chicago to Philadelphia to Pittsburgh all
will have heard of, and point to, Worcester as an example
of a Chassidic city.
May you realize much nachas from your children: Jewish
nachas, nachas that you readily perceive and
Please extend my regards to your husbands.