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Does Chasidism Shun the World?
By Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, The Lubavitcher Rebbe
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Toronto 19, Ont., Canada
Greeting and Blessing:
This is to acknowledge receipt of your letter.
It is surprising to me to note in your letter that it is your impression as though Chassidim do not participate in the outside world, etc. As a matter of fact, the reverse is true, for there is hardly any sphere or area in the world at large which Chassidim exclude from their interest. This attitude is the direct result of the emphasis in Chassidut on the true concept of Monotheism. The Chassidic concept of the Oneness of G-d goes much further than the generally accepted view that there is only One Deity and no more, but that there is only One G-d and nothing else1 . For, inasmuch as G-ds word (whereby he brought the world into existence) constantly and without interruption creates and vitalizes the whole Universe and every particular of it, and without this creative force, which is the true essence of every existing thing, nothing could exist, it follows that there is no true reality other than G-d, and there is actually nothing but G-dliness. Chassidus emphasizes that it is one of the central aspects of mans purpose in life to establish this truth and to spread it to the utmost extent of his influence. This is not merely an idea, but a way of life which is expressed in the daily life, and which permeates the whole inner being of the Chossid.
A corollary of this viewpoint is another fundamental principle in the teachings of Chassidut, namely that Divine Providence extends to each and every particular in the Creation, not only to each individual of the human race, but each particular in the realm of the animal world, the vegetable and even the mineral, as is well known to everyone who studies Chasidut2 .
Thus it is fundamental for the Chassidic philosophy and way of life not to exclude any part of the world from its sphere of interest.
As for your writing that you have not come across any names of Chassidim who participate in certain movements, such as civil rights, etc., this is also surprising, inasmuch as many have taken an active part in this and other constructive movements. Many more, however, among those who participate in such constructive movements do so while avoiding publicity and headlines in the press.