The following is a freely-translated excerpt from a letter the Rebbe wrote in the summer of 1963 to a leading American Rabbi:
…Every generation has its particular quality, unique to its time.
In our generation, particularly in the last few years, we are witnessing a spiritual awakening, which is being called—though those who have called it so are unaware of the true significance of the term they have coined—“a return to roots.” Regardless of how it is being currently understood, the quest to “return to roots” is, in essence, the soul’s quest for teshuvah, for reunion with its source in G-d.
We are seeing this awakening primarily among the youth, who experience everything with a greater depth and a greater intensity. Young people also have no fear of changing their lifestyle, as long as they are convinced that they are being given the truth, without compromise and equivocation.
This is particularly the case with the youth of our country. In other countries, there is a double hurdle to be overcome: first one must uproot the false ideologies that have become ingrained in certain circles also among the younger generation, and only afterward is it possible to implant the proper ideas in their minds. This is not the case in this country, where the youth is virgin soil, if only they are given the truth in its purity. We have witnessed in actuality that those who are not intimidated and present the truth without equivocation, have been met with a true response among the youth.
I don’t want to be critical, but I am forced to note that, to our great misfortune, this awakening has not been utilized, thus far, by those who purport to be the leaders and spiritual guides of their communities, certainly not to the extent that it could have been utilized.
Our sages have taught that “The deed is the primary thing.” It therefore goes without saying that the purpose of my writing all this is not for the sake of discussion, but in the hope that you and your colleagues will launch a broad and spirited effort to encourage this awakening and—most importantly—to have it translate into concrete changes in the day-to-day life of all those to whom this call can reach.
This is a matter of spiritual life and death. So one is obliged to do all that is in one’s power, even if one sees but a small chance at success.
May the Almighty grant that our efforts should reveal and awaken the inner core of the soul within each of our brethren, which is ever faithful to G-d and is always desirous to fulfill His will. When we will each do all that is dependent upon us, with the confidence that we are acting as emissaries of the Almighty—and sound our call with words coming from the heart, which are guaranteed to enter the heart and have their desired effect—we are certain to succeed…
Adapted from the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe by Yanki Tauber.
. Ethics of the Fathers 1:17.
. Cf. Mishneh Torah, Laws of Divorce 2:20.
. Igrot Kodesh, vol. XXII, pp. 472-473.