Elevating Our Environment
Excerpts from a free translation of a letter from the Rebbe
18th of Elul, 5738-1978
...It has often been pointed out that man's mission in life includes also "elevating" the environment in which he lives, in accordance with the Divine intent in the entire Creation and in all its particulars, by infusing holiness and G-dliness into all the aspects of the physical world within his reach -- in the so-called "Four Kingdoms" -- domeim, tzome'ach, chai and medaber (inorganic matter, vegetable, animal, and man).
Significantly, this finds expression in the special mitzvot which are connected with the beginning of the year, by way of introduction to the entire year -- in the festivals of the month of Tishrei:
The mitzva of the sukka, the Jew's house of dwelling during the seven days of Sukkot, where the walls of the Sukka represent the "inorganic kingdom";
The mitzva of the "four kinds" -- etrog, lulav, myrtle and willow -- which come from the "vegetable kingdom";
The mitzva of shofar on Rosh Hashana, the shofar being a horn of an animal;
And all of these things (by virtue of being Divine commandments, mitzvot) are elevated through the medaber, the "speaking" (human) being -- the person carrying out the said (and all other) mitzvot, whereby he elevates also himself and mankind -- Both in the realm of doing as well as that of not doing -- the latter is represented in the mitzva of the fast on the Holy Day, the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur.
Thus, through infusing holiness into all four kingdoms of the physical world and making them into "vessels" (and instruments) of G-dliness in carrying out G-d's command -- a Jew elevates them to their true perfection.
It also follows that just as in regard to his personal perfection, which is expected to rise in harmony with his rising state, so also in regard to the four kingdoms he is expected (and given the ability) to raise, from time to time, the state of perfection to which he elevates them (as explained above) -- both quantitatively and qualitatively -- in the manner of doing the mitzvot (where there can be grades of performance, such as acceptable post facto; good to begin with; according to unanimous opinion; with hiddur, etc.) and their inner content.
Taking into account the assurance that G-d does not require of a human being anything beyond his capacity, it is certain that, notwithstanding the fact that only a few days remain until the conclusion of the year, everyone, man or woman, can achieve utmost perfection in all the aforesaid endeavors, according to the expression of our Sages of blessed memory -- "by one `turn,' in one instant," since the person so resolved receives aid from G-d, the absolute Ein Sof (Infinite), for Whom there are no limitations.
May G-d grant that the efforts to achieve utmost perfection in the outgoing year and the good resolutions to achieve perfection in all the abovementioned matters each day of the coming year, should bring down upon everyone G-d's blessings in all needs, material and spiritual, also in complete measure -- "Out of His full, open, holy, and ample Hand."
And -- very soon indeed -- the complete blessing given to all the Jewish people and to each individual, "And (G-d's) Sukka -- the Holy Temple -- will be in Shalem" -- the city complete with goodness and holiness, Jerusalem, at the true and complete Redemption through our Righteous Moshiach.