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Tanya for Monday, 26 Tishrei, 5775 - October 20, 2014

Tanya
As Divided for a Leap Year

Tanya for 26 Tishrei

25 Tishrei, 5775 - October 19, 201427 Tishrei, 5775 - October 21, 2014


[14] (And that is the meaning of the statement, "For G-d told him at that very moment [when Shimi was speaking these words], `Curse David!' [I.e., G-d did so by providing Shimi at that time with life and the power of speech].

And who shall say to him, [`Why did you do so?'"

[In the Table of Glosses and Emendations (Luach He'arot VeTikkunim) which is appended to standard editions of the Tanya, the Rebbe Shlita notes that the words "to him" (lo) seem to be unnecessary, inasmuch as the above-quoted verse simply states, without this addition, "And who shall say, `Why did you do so?'"

It has been suggested, that the Rebbe Shlita notes, that these words merely "seem" superfluous, rather than stating outright that they are, because at this point the Alter Rebbe is actually referring to another verse: [15] "For the word of a king rules, and who shall say to Him, `What are You doing?'"

However, rather than adopt this labored assumption, that the Alter Rebbe suddenly changes direction and interpolates one word from another verse, it appears more reasonable to say that the words "to Him" are not intended as a quotation. Rather, since some commentators hold that the conclusion of our verse ("And who shall say to him...") refers to Shimi, the Alter Rebbe here makes it clear that it in fact speaks of G-d.

I.e., having first related that G-d "told" Shimi what to do, the verse ends by asking, "Who can possibly say to Him, `Why did You do so?']"

The teaching of the Baal Shem Tov, of blessed memo-ry, on the verse, [16] "Forever, O G-d, Your word stands firm in the heavens," is well known:

[As mentioned above in Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah, chapter 1, the Baal Shem Tov expanded and disseminated the following concept that appears in Midrash Tehillim]:

The combinations of the letters with which the heavens were created, i.e., the creative utterance, [17] "Let there be a firmament...," stand and remain vested in the heavens forever, to animate and sustain them.

[As the Alter Rebbe explained in greater detail in Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah, chs. 1 and 2, this is also the case with regard to all created beings].

This differs from the view of the philosophers who deny the individual Providence [of the Creator over each and every one of His creations].

Using their false analogy, they liken the work of G-d, the Maker of heaven and earth, to the work of man and his devices.

For when a metal-smith has completed a vessel, [it] no longer needs the hands of the smith; though his hands are removed from it, it remains intact by itself.

[Some philosophers apply this model to the creation of heaven and earth, and imagine that once G-d created them they need Him no more, G-d forbid. These thinkers thus deny hashgacha pratit, individually-directed Divine Providence - the Creator's constant and ongoing contact with His created beings].

But their eyes are bedaubed so that they cannot see the great difference between man's work and schemes, which is [the production of] something out of some-thing (yesh miyesh), where he merely changes the form and the appearance.

[The shapeless piece of silver that a craftsman transforms into a vessel (a) already existed, and (b) was innately malleable.

The craftsman has thus innovated nothing, and the vessel once shaped will therefore not be dependent on him.

The philosophers, however, do not see the difference between this], and the creation of heaven and earth, which is creatio ex nihilo (yesh me'ayin), [creating something out of nothing.

As the Alter Rebbe will soon point out, something brought into existence out of nothing cannot continue to exist unless the power that creates it remains constantly vested within it].

This - [the creation of heaven and earth ex nihilo] - is an [even] greater wonder than, for example, the splitting of the Red Sea, which G-d drove back [18] "by a strong east wind all that night,... and the waters were divided," [and stood upright like a wall].

If the wind had ceased even for a moment, the waters would again have flowed downward, as is their way and nature, and they would not have stood upright like a wall, even though this characteristic of water - [to flow downward] - is also created and innovated ex nihilo.

[In the corresponding passage in Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah, the Alter Rebbe adds the words "without a doubt."

As the Rebbe Shlita explains, not only the water itself, but also its characteristic of fluidity, was created ex nihilo.

Thus, when the wind caused the water to stand like a stone wall, this fluid nature had only to be replaced by the capability of a solid, so that it could stand erect.

Nevertheless, since this quality is uncharacteristic of water, this innovation had to be constantly and continuously brought about by the power that first made it possible.

(Indeed, were the wind to cease, the water would have reverted to its former self.) Thus, even when a yesh is merely changed into another yesh, the activating f orce must be constantly present.

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to show how the property of fluidity is not intrinsic to water, but must be created within it.

Certain characteristics do not need to be created separately from a particular being, for they are intrinsic to all created beings; for example, all created beings occupy space.

Water, however, need not necessarily flow.

Other created beings exist quite happily without this property, and when water exists as a solid (as ice) it too possesses the quality of rigidity. The quality of fluidity is thus not intrinsic to water.

This is what the Alter Rebbe now goes on to say]:

For a wall of stone stands erect by itself, without [the assistance of] any wind, but the nature of water is not so.

[As stated above, the property of fluidity was something that G-d created within the already existing entity of water.

Though the wind had only to change one yesh to another, replacing the property of fluidity by the property of solidity, this is stil l considered a wondrous event. And in order for this to have been accomplished, the activating force - in this case, the wind - had to be working constantly.

How much more will this be the case, the Alter Rebbe will soon conclude, with regard to creating a yesh out of utter nothingness.

And indeed, the Divine Source responsible for the innovation of the entire universe out of nothing, must be consistently vested within it, in order to enable it to endure and not revert to nothingness.

Such a corollary should have been imperative even according to the philosophers. They thus err on two grounds - in their above - mentioned reliance on a misleading analogy, and in their failure to realize that the activating force must constantly be invested within the created being.

Thus, to resume the above argument, if for the miraculous splitting of the Red Sea that only involved the changing of one yesh to another, the continuous action of G-d was necessary].

How much more so, with respect to the creation of an existent being out of nothing, for this transcends nature, and is far more wondrous than the splitting of the Red Sea;

Surely if the creative power that creates an existent being out of nothing were (heaven forfend) to be withdrawn from a created being, that being would revert to utter naught and non-existence.

Rather, [18a] the activating force of the Creator, [which initially brings every created being into existence], must continu-ously be present within the thing created, to give it life and continued existence.

This [19] [force] is the "word of G-d" and the "breath of His mouth," that are to be found in the Ten Utterances by which the universe was created.

[The Ten Utterances are the source of the "letters of speech" by means of which all of creation is brought into existence.

Moreover, as explained in the first chapter of Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah, even those created beings which are not specifically mentioned in the Ten Utterances, likewise derive their vitality from the Ten Utterances by means of various combinations, substitutions and transpositions of these letters.

And even as regards this physical earth and its inorganic component, their life-force and continued existence is the "word of G-d" that is to be found in the Ten Utterances that is vested in them, maintaining them as inorganic matter and as substantiality ex nihilo, so that they will not revert to the absolute naught and nothingness they had been [prior to their creation.

Earth [20] possesses a potential (ko'ach hatzomeiach) that enables vegetation to grow. In the case of created beings that are part of the vegetative realm, growth thus visibly testifies to the presence of an activating force. Created beings that are part of the inanimate or inorganic realm that is represented in the earth, demonstrate no signs of life at all, not even growth].

And this is the meaning of the statement of R. Isaac Luria, of blessed memory, [21] that there is a kind of soul and spiritual life-force even in inorganic matter such as stones and dust and water, [entities that display no signs of life.

This "soul" and spiritual life-force is the "word of G-d," the potent Divine speech that continuously creates all beings; i.e., the Shechinah].

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) Parentheses are in the original.

  2. (Back to text) Kohelet 8:4.

  3. (Back to text) Tehillim 119:89.

  4. (Back to text) Bereishit 1:6.

  5. (Back to text) Shmot 14:21.

    1. (Back to text) Cf. Kuzari III, 11.

  6. (Back to text) The Heb. "zeh" has been emended to "zu", according to the Table of Corrections (Luach HaTikkun) compiled by the Rebbe Shlita.

  7. (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita: "It seems that the above comment understands eretz to mean `earth' [in the sense of soil or dust], (as in the verse, `Let the soil bring forth...'). To me, however, it appears that eretz here is intended as a contrast to `heavens' in the above-quoted phrase, `[Your word, O G-d, stands firm in the] heavens,' and likewise in contrast to `the upper and lower worlds' [in the corresponding passage] (in ch. 1 of Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah; see there).

    [The Alter Rebbe's text should thus be translated, `And even as regards this physical world....'] The distinction drawn in the above comment between [those categories of created beings which have] the power of growth [and those which have not], etc., is thus not necessary.

    Moreover, [the Alter Rebbe] immediately goes on to speak explicitly of `inorganic matter such as stones and dust....'"

  8. (Back to text) Etz Chayim, Shaar 39, ch. 3; see also Shaar 50.



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