Question: How would you define Judaism in a nutshell?
The Rebbe: Judaism is not something abstract, detached from ordinary every activities. Judaism must concern the Jew twenty-four hours a day, in every environment and in every activity. The Jew proclaims, “G-d is One!” Not only did G-d create the world but He also constantly maintains it so that nothing happens by mere coincidence. His is the Divine systematic pattern of the universe into which every one of us fits so that we may accomplish our mission in life.
Q: What is the inter-relationship between Torah and the secular sciences?
The Rebbe: Everything in creation is included in the unity of G-d. One object of scientific discovery is to find unity in all matter, in all phases of life. To correlate electronics, chemistry, acoustics, physics, and mathematics. Einstein’s achievement was to unite energy with matter; the unification of electricity with gravity will be an even greater accomplishment. All spheres of knowledge are all one entity. The formulas of their unification already exist – they are merely awaiting discovery. But we can utilize the consequence of these formulas even now to strength our monotheistic belief, for the Talmud states, “Heder yedia ano meakve,” ignorance doesn’t preclude performing the precept.
Q: How do you explain “Oseh shalom uboray re-aw,” that G-d creates evil?
The Rebbe: Divine Unity is concealed in a mask of evil and temporary material pleasures. The mission of the human being is to lift this mask of the universe through “nisoyon,” by withstanding temptations. This is the special power of free choice: it is part of the Divine Pattern of the universe. For example, if one has the possibility to give charity, and this would be the right thing to do; he also has the choice of keeping the money in his pocket, the wrong thing. However, this possibility of error elevates the achievement of one’s purpose in life, and explains why there are so few tzadikim, for there is only one right road and many wrong ones.
Q: How can I overcome the feeling of apprehension when confronted with great responsibility?
The Rebbe: There is no need for despair or frustration. System and order are inherent in the universe; consequently, no one gets more responsibility than he can handle. This clear knowledge strengthens man’s ability to complete his tasks, as he knows that there is a solution for every problem that confronts him. He must endeavor to use all the emotional and intellectual powers that G-d has endowed him with, in order to arrive at the correct solution. This is part of G-d’s perfection – that He has given every Jew the potential to fulfill every precept that is incumbent upon him.
Q: How can G-d direct the universe according to a definite pattern without contradicting man’s freedom of choice?
The Rebbe: Although G-d directs the universe in a systematic, compatible fashion, there is no contradiction to free will. For example, let us say that by some miraculous power a fortune-teller can accurately predict far into the future. He is only seeing what will be done by someone of his own volition. The fortune-teller’s foreknowledge does not influence the other’s freedom of choice. This freedom is the basis for reward and punishment. So that there be no chaos and confusion in the world-system, the Almighty has a prescribed plan wherein man may choose between many possibilities, but only one is the right way.
Q: What can be the relationship of science and religion?
The Rebbe: The latest scientific discoveries have shown that all the molecules in the universe fit into a definite united pattern. Wherever you observe order and system you must assume that there is some force or power maintaining this system. No one is perfect. Each day we must strive to improve ourselves little by little so that we ultimately achieve our mission in life.