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Tanya for Shabbos, 12 Sivan, 5778 - May 26, 2018

Tanya
As Divided for a Regular Year

Tanya for 12 Sivan

11 Sivan, 5778 - May 25, 201813 Sivan, 5778 - May 27, 2018


Chapter Four

Since the Divine activating force responsible for the existence of created things must continuously be present within them, they are completely nullified in their source.

This means, as the Alter Rebbe explained in the previous chapter, that in reality they do not "exist".

Why, then, do we nevertheless perceive created beings as enjoying a tangible "existence"? - Only because we are unable to see or comprehend the Divine utterance that is contained within each created thing and that calls it into being.

The Alter Rebbe illustrated this by considering the sun's rays.

When they are not within their source, the sun, but diffused throughout the expanse of the universe, they are perceived as having independent existence.

However, when they are contained with in the sun-globe they clearly have no such "existence" at all.

The following question therefore arose: Since created beings, unlike the sun's rays, must constantly have their source within them, why do we not actually see how they are completely nullified in their source?

In order to answer this question the Alter Rebbe wrote that a certain preface would be necessary - and hence this, the fourth chapter, now elaborates on G-d's capacity for tzimtzum, or contraction].

It is written, [1] "For a sun and a shield is Havayah Elokim."

[Just as the sun gives forth illumination, so too does the Four-Letter Divine Name Havayah provide us with spiritual illumination.

Likewise, just as the sun's shield protects us from the intensity of its rays, so too does G-d shield us with the Divine Name Elokim].

"Shield" refers specifically to [that shield which is] a covering for the sun, to protect creatures so that they should be able to bear it [i.e., the sun's heat].

As our Sages, of blessed memory, have said, [2] "In time to come [i.e., in the Messianic Era], the Holy One, blessed be He, will take out the sun from its sheath; the wicked will be punished by it ...." [as they will be unable to bear the intensity of the sun. The passage goes on to say that the righteous will not only be able to tolerate it: they will actually be healed by it].

Now, just as the covering shields the sun, [protecting creatures from the intensity of its rays so that benefit may be derived from it], so does the Name Elokim shield the Name Havayah, blessed be He, [enabling the created universe to absorb the Divine illumination that emanates from it.

Our opening verse - "For a sun and a shield is Havayah Elokim" - thus means that the Name Havayah illumines like the sun, while the Name Elokim screens its illumination, like the sheath of the sun, enabling its light to be received].

The meaning of the Name Havayah is "that which brings everything into existence ex nihilo."

[The Rebbe Shlita notes: "This refers to the [last three letters hei, vav and hei of this Name, which form the word hoveh, the root of the verb which means `[to bring into] being.']"

The letter yud, [prefixed to the stem hoveh], modifies the verb, indicating that the action is present and continuous, as Rashi comments on the verse, [3] "In this manner was Job (Iyov) accustomed to do (ya'aseh) all the days."

['Just as here the prefix of the letter yud indicates an ongoing process, so too does the initial yud of the Name Havayah indicate that G-d creates everything ex nihilo, continuously].

This [action] is the life-force which flows at every single instant into all things created, from "that which proceeds from the mouth of G-d" and "His breath," and brings them into existence ex nihilo at every moment.

For the fact that they were created during the Six Days of Creation is not sufficient for their continued existence, as explained above; [they must continuously be recreated.

It is the "sun" of Havayah whose illumination continuously brings creation into being.

However, were this illumination to be revealed within created beings, they would be aware of their complete nullification within their source, and we would not see before us created beings. For as explained earlier, when the activating force is perceived the created being is "non-existent".

This is why the "shield" of Elokim is necessary - in order to conceal from created beings the Divine illumination of Havayah that is within them, and that is responsible for their existence. Only then can they perceive themselves as existing independently of their life-force. And this perception in turn makes it possible for created beings to consider and feel themselves to be tangibly existing, as shall soon be explained].

In the enumeration of the praises of the Holy One, blessed be He, it is written, [4] HaGadol ("the Great"), HaGibor ("the Mighty"), and so on.

"HaGadol" refers to the attribute of Chesed ("kindness") and to the spreading forth of the life-force into all the worlds and created things, without end or limit, so that they shall be created ex nihilo and exist through gratuitous kindness, [for G-d maintains all creatures, whether they are worthy of His kindness or not].

[The attribute of Chesed] is called Gedulah ("greatness") for it derives from the greatness of the Holy One, blessed be He, from Himself in all His glory, for [5] "G-d is great ... and His greatness is unsearchable," [inasmuch as it is infinite], and therefore, He also causes life-force and existence ex nihilo to issue forth for an unlimited number of worlds and creatures, for [6] "it is the nature of the benevolent to do good."

[G-d's benevolence thus dictates that there be an infinite number of worlds and creatures who will benefit from His beneficence].

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) Tehillim 84:12.

  2. (Back to text) See Nedarim 8b.

  3. (Back to text) Iyov 1:5; cf. Rashi on Bereishit 24:45, Shmot 15:1.

  4. (Back to text) Liturgy, Amidah prayer; cf. Yoma 69b.

  5. (Back to text) Tehillim 145:3.

  6. (Back to text) R. Zvi Hirsch Ashkenazi, Chacham Zvi (Responsa), Sec. 18; R. Yosef Irgas, Shomer Emunim, 2:14, quoting kabbalistic sources.



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