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Tanya for Sunday, 7 Iyyar, 5775 - April 26, 2015

Tanya
As Divided for a Regular Year

Tanya for 7 Iyar

6 Iyyar, 5775 - April 25, 20158 Iyyar, 5775 - April 27, 2015


Chapter Forty-Five

[In the previous chapters the Alter Rebbe explained how a Jew can perform Torah and mitzvot "with his heart" - with a love and fear of G-d.

When a Jew is motivated by love and by a desire to cleave to the Al-mighty, his Torah and mitzvot will then surely be lishmah, i.e., with the most purely focused intentions.

This, in turn, will add vitality to his endeavors.

It is also possible, as explained in the previous chapter, that his love for G-d is such that he is motivated in his Torah and mitzvot by the desire to cause G-d gratification, just as a son strives to do all he possibly can for his father, so that his father may derive pleasure from his actions.

Love and fear of G-d stem from the two attributes of kindness (Chesed) and severity (Gevurah). [1]

The attribute of kindness and love is that exemplified by our forefather Abraham, who is described (Yeshayahu 41:8) as "Abraham who loves me." The attribute of severity and fear is that of our forefather Isaac; the Patriarch Jacob refers to the G-d of his father (Bereishit 31:42) as the "Fear of Isaac."

In the chapter that follows the Alter Rebbe describes yet another manner of attaining the level of lishmah, of performing Torah and mitzvot with the innermost feelings of one's soul.

This approach consists of utilizing the third of the primary spiritual emotions, namely, compassion - the attribute of Tiferet (lit., "beauty"), which is the distinctive characteristic of our forefather Jacob - as follows.

Before engaging in Torah and mitzvot a Jew should arouse in his mind the attribute of compassion for the divine spark of his soul.

For the soul had to descend from its source, from the most lofty of spiritual heights, to the nethermost level, in order to garb itself in a body whose life-force derives from kelipot, and is as distant as possible from G-d. This is all the more so if the individual caused the "Exile of the Shechinah" through improper thoughts, speech or deeds.

With this sense of spiritual compassion he should study Torah and perform mitzvot, for they enable the soul, with the Divine spark that animates it, to return to its source in the blessed Ein Sof].

There is yet another direct path open to man, namely, to occupy himself with Torah and mitzvot [that are] lishman [lit., "for their own sake", with the innermost feelings of heart and soul], through the attribute of our forefather Jacob, peace unto him, this being the attribute of mercy.

This is accomplished by first arousing in his mind [i.e., before his performance of Torah and mitzvot], great compassion before G-d, for the Divine spark which animates his [divine] soul that has descended from its source, the Life of life, the blessed Ein Sof, Who pervades all worlds [and animates them with a vitality which is enclothed in and compatible with the created beings] and encompasses all worlds [and animates them with a vitality that transcends created beings and affects them from without, as it were], and in comparison with Whom everything is accounted as nothing.

[This then, is the exalted level from which the soul has descended], and has been clothed [in the body which is called [2] "a serpent's skin."

[The body is referred to as a skin, since it serves as a garment to the soul, as the verse states (Iyov 10:11), "You have garbed me with skin and flesh." This is moreover the skin of a "snake", since the body in its unrefined state is loathesome, as explained in chapter 31. [3]

The Divine spark must enter into such a body], which is far removed from the light of the King's countenance, at the greatest possible distance, since this world is the nadir of the coarse kelipot, [i.e., this world is coarser that the coarsest of kelipot found in the spiritual worlds], etc.

[The Rebbe Shlita notes that this word (etc.) alludes to chapter 36, where the Alter Rebbe concludes that this world is "lowest in degree; there is none lower than it in terms of concealment of His light; [a world of] doubled and redoubled darkness, so much so that it is filled with kelipot and sitra achra, which actually oppose G-d."

Since the Divine spark of the soul is clothed in a body which is animated by the kelipat nogah of this world, it is removed at the farthest possible distance from G-d.

This descent in itself would suffice to arouse compassion for the Divine spark of the soul, even when the person has transgressed neither in action nor in speech nor even in thought].

And especially [will he feel great compassion for his soul] when he recalls all his actions and utterances and thoughts since the day he came into being, unworthy as they were, and the King [of the world is thereby] [4] "fettered by the tresses," [i.e.], [5] "by the impetuous thoughts of the brain"; [G-d is, so to speak, "fettered" by his impetuous thoughts], for [6] "Jacob - [an appellation for the Jewish people] - is the rope of His inheritance."

[The word chevel, usually translated as "lot" (i.e., a tract of land), is here interpreted by its alternative meaning of "rope".

When a rope has one end tied above, tugging at the lower end will draw down the upper end as well. The upper extremity of a Jew's soul is likewise bound to its source in the blessed Ein Sof, while at its lower extremity it is enclothed in the body.

When the lower extremity of the soul is dragged into spiritual exile through wrongful action, speech or thought, this has a corresponding effect upon the upper reaches of the soul which are bound Above], as in the above illustration of one pulling a rope, and so forth.

[The Rebbe Shlita notes that the phrase "and so forth" may allude to Iggeret HaTeshuvah, chapter 5, where this matter is explained at length].

This is the esoteric doctrine of the "Exile of the Shechinah."

[A Jew's sin causes his soul to be exiled within the domain of the kelipot. This in turn (so to speak) exiles the Shechinah, the source of his soul, too. Pondering this matter will awaken within a Jew a profound feeling of compassion for his soul and for its source. This compassion, as the Alter Rebbe will now point out, should be utilized in one's study of Torah and performance of mitzvot. This will elevate his soul, enabling it to reunite with its source, the blessed Ein Sof].

Concerning this [matter, that the pity is all the greater since even the soul's source is in exile], it is written: [7] "And let him return to G-d, and have mercy upon Him," arousing great compassion towards the Divine Name Who dwells among us, as it is written: [8] "Who dwells among them in the midst of their uncleanness."

[Even when Jews are (heaven forfend) in an unclean spiritual state, the Divine Name dwells among them.

This arousal of compassion towards the Divine Name is what is alluded to in the previous phrase: "And let him return to G-d," the stimulus for his repentance being one's "mercy upon Him," i.e., the Divine Name, the source of Jewish souls, inasmuch as Jews are part of the Divine Name].

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) "Love is internal and kindness is external. So, too, with regard to fear and severity [ - the former is internal; the latter, external] as explained in Iggeret HaKodesh, Epistle 15, p. 123a." (- Note of the Rebbe Shlita.)

  2. (Back to text) As mentioned earlier, in chapter 31, quoting the Zohar.

  3. (Back to text) We find in Etz Chayim that the body is called a "serpent's skin" because the three totally impure kelipot are referred to as a "snake". Kelipat nogah, from whence the body derives its life-force, is accordingly termed a "serpent's skin." The Rebbe Shlita says that it is illogical to suppose that this is the reason why the Alter Rebbe refers here to the body by this expression. For since here he is stressing the lowliness of the body, it would be inappropriate to refer only to the skin of the serpent and not to the serpent itself. The Rebbe therefore interprets "`serpent's skin'" as explained in the text.

  4. (Back to text) Shir HaShirim 7:6.

  5. (Back to text) Addenda to Tikkunei Zohar, Tikkun 6. (- Note of the Rebbe Shlita).

  6. (Back to text) Devarim 32:9.

  7. (Back to text) Yeshayahu 55:7.

  8. (Back to text) Vayikra 16:16.



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