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Wednesday, 21 Tishrei 5778 / October 11, 2017
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Daily Tanya

Iggeret HaKodesh, middle of Epistle 23

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Iggeret HaKodesh, middle of Epistle 23

כי קביעת שכר הוא שמאיר ה׳ לנפש תדרשנו באור תורתו, שהוא מעטה לבושו ממש

For the allotment of a reward is what takes place when G‑d irradiates1 “the soul that seeks Him” with the light of His Torah, which is truly the covering in which G‑d garbs Himself.

Through this garment, i.e., through the Torah, G‑d irradiates the soul of the Jew who seeks Him. This search for Him can take place either during the service of prayer that precedes one’s study of Torah, or during one’s actual study. As explained at the conclusion of ch. 37 of Tanya, the Talmudic phrase קורא בתורה can mean not only “reading (i.e., studying) the Torah,” but also “calling [G‑d] through the Torah.” In this sense, when one studies Torah one resembles a child who calls his father, asking him to come and be with him.

ולכן נקראת התורה אור, שנאמר: עוטה אור כשלמה

For this reason the Torah is called “light”, as it is written,2 “He garbs Himself in light, as with a garment.”3

This verse refers to the degree of illumination (diffused by the Torah) which, like a garment, is finite.

Likewise, the faculties of the soul are inherently limited, both quantitatively and qualitatively. Since the light that emanates to the soul must be integrated within its faculties, this illumination itself must also be limited. In the words of the Alter Rebbe:

והנפש היא בעלת גבול ותכלית בכל כחותיה

Now the soul is limited and finite in all its faculties.

לכן גם אור ה׳ המאיר בה הוא גבולי, מצומצם, ומתלבש בתוכה

Therefore, the light of G‑d that radiates in it is also limited and contracted, and vests itself within it.

ועל כן יתפעל לב מבקשי ה׳ בשעת התפלה וכיוצא בה

This is why the hearts of those who seek G‑d are ecstatically aroused at the time of prayer and the like.

כי בו ישמח לבם, ויגיל אף גילת ורנן

For their hearts rejoice in Him and exult4 “even with exultation and song,”

ותתענג נפשם בנועם ה׳ על ה׳ ואורו

and their souls delight in the pleasantness of G‑d5 and His light

בהגלותו ממעטה לבושו, שהיא התורה

as it becomes revealed through the covering in which [G‑d] garbs Himself, which is the Torah;

ויצא כברק חצו

“and His arrow comes forth like lightning”:6 from this garment, this illumination initially emanates to the soul with all the vigor of a lightning bolt.7

וזו היא קביעת שכר התורה, הקבועה תמיד בנפש עמלה בה

This is the allotment of the reward for the [study of] Torah, which is always fixed in the soul that labors in it.

Being fixed within the soul constantly, this reward is received by the soul not only in the World to Come — when the soul is enabled to apprehend rewards that are not to be obtained in this world8 — but in this world as well. And since this kind of reward consists of a finite degree of illumination, it can be received by the soul even as the soul finds itself within the body.

This is why it is written that a reward awaits even one individual who studies Torah.

אבל ההשראה

Indwelling, however, i.e., that degree of indwelling of which it is written that “the Shechinah dwells among them,”

היא הארה עצומה מאור ה׳, המאיר בה בלי גבול ותכלית

is an intense radiation from the light of G‑d, that radiates in it — within the soul itself, and not within its inherently limited faculties — without limit or end.

ואינו יכול להתלבש בנפש גבולית, כי אם מקיף עליה מלמעלה, מראשה ועד רגלה

It cannot become vested (i.e., integrated and internalized) within a finite soul, but encompasses it from above, like a transcendent (makkif) light, “from its head to its foot,” so that all the levels and faculties of the soul, from the highest to the lowest, are surrounded by this infinite Divine light.

כמו שאמרו חז״ל: אכל בי עשרה שכינתא שריא, כלומר: עליהם, מלמעלה

As our Sages, of blessed memory, taught,9 “The Shechinah hovers over every gathering of ten Jews” — over them, from above.

Just as the Shechinah hovers over all Jews in an encompassing manner even when they are not studying Torah, so, too, even with regard to the indwelling of the Shechinah that is brought about by congregational Torah study: this illumination of the soul, being infinite, must be primarily transcendent.

כמו שכתוב: ויהי נועם ה׳ אלקינו עלינו, ומעשה ידינו כוננה עלינו

Thus it is written,10 “May the pleasantness of the L‑rd our G‑d be upon us; establish upon us the work of our hands”;

כלומר: כי נועם ה׳ אשר הופיע במעשה ידינו, בעסק התורה והמצות

i.e., [we ask] that the pleasantness of G‑d which has appeared through the work of our hands, in [our] involvement in the Torah and the commandments11

דאורייתא וקודשא בריך הוא כולא חד

for12 “the Torah and the Holy One, blessed be He, are entirely one” —

יתכונן וישרה עלינו מלמעלה

become established and rest upon us from above, in an encompassing manner,

להיותו בלי גבול ותכלית, ואינו מתלבש בנפשנו ושכלנו

for it is without limit and end, and does not become vested within our [finite] soul and intellect.

ועל כן אין אנו משיגים בשכלנו הנעימות והעריבות מנועם ה׳ וזיו השכינה בלי גבול ותכלית

This is why we do not apprehend with our intellect the delightfulness and sweetness of “the pleasantness of G‑d,” and the unlimited splendor of the Shechinah,

אשר מתכונן ושורה עלינו במעשה ידינו בתורה ומצות ברבים דוקא

that is established and rests upon us through the work of our hands, in [our] joint study of the Torah and [our] joint fulfillment of the commandments.

An infinite order of illumination is elicited only by collective Torah study and performance of mitzvot.

ועל זה אמרו רז״ל: שכר מצוה בהאי עלמא ליכא

And of this our Sages, of blessed memory, said,13 “In this world there is no reward for the [performance of the] commandments.”

Since this world is finite, it cannot be a receptor for the infinite revelation of Divine radiance that is called forth by the performance of the mitzvot.

כי אי אפשר לעולם להשיגו, כי אם בהתפשטות הנפש מהגוף

For it is impossible for the world to attain it (i.e., the reward of infinite light) except when the soul is divested from the body and unencumbered by it;

ואף גם זאת, על דרך החסד, כמו שכתוב: ולך ה׳ חסד, כי אתה תשלם לאיש כמעשהו

and even then, [the soul is able to receive this light only] by way of grace; as it is written,14 “Kindness, O G‑d, is Yours, for You render to every man according to his work.”15 I.e., granting every man an infinite degree of illumination according to his work in Torah and mitzvot is an act of kindness on G‑d’s part.

וכמו שאמרו רז״ל: שהקב״ה נותן כח בצדיקים כו׳

Thus our Sages, of blessed memory, taught16 that the Holy One, blessed be He, gives the righteous the capacity [to receive their reward in the World to Come].

Even then this gift is needed, for even after the soul divests itself of its body it is finite, while the reward that it receives is infinite.

מה שאין כן במלאכים

This is not so, however, with the angels,17 which are incapable of receiving an infinite degree of revelation;

כמו ששמעתי מרבותי, כי אילו נמצא מלאך אחד עומד במעמד עשרה מישראל ביחד, אף שאינם מדברים בדברי תורה

as I heard from my masters, viz., the Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid of Mezritch, that if one18 angel19 were to stand in the presence of a gathering of ten Jews, even if there were no words of Torah between them, yet still, since the Shechinah rests upon every gathering of ten Jews,

תפול עליו אימתה ופחד בלי גבול ותכלית, משכינתא דשריא עלייהו, עד שהיה מתבטל ממציאותו לגמרי

such a boundless and infinite terror and dread would then befall him on account of the Shechinah that abides over them, that he would become utterly nullified.

The sanctity of ten Jews congregating together, even if they are not engaged in Torah study, is so intense, than an angel would become utterly nullified when confronting the indwelling of the Shechinah that abides in the presence of ten Jews.20

In Sefer HaSichot 5704,21 the Rebbe Rayatz relates that when his father taught him this letter for the second time, and they came to the above theme of the superiority of souls over angels, he noted that “As I heard from my masters” refers to both the Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid of Mezritch; the phrase “I heard from my teacher” (in the gloss to ch. 35) refers to the Maggid of Mezritch.

The Rebbe Rashab went on to tell him that this theme is one of the laws that are studied in Gan Eden.

Then, having shared with him eight narratives regarding the laws studied in Gan Eden, he concluded: “And all this is discussed in Tanya in order to [encourage] the establishment of daily study groups in Ein Yaakov, concerning which the Alter Rebbe states that most of the secrets of the Torah are concealed in it, and that moreover it atones for man’s sins.

At that time, too, the Rebbe Rayatz writes,22 his father told him that chassidim of old used to include as part of their indispensable daily study sessions — in addition to Mishnayot, a page of Gemara, and Tanya — a passage of Ein Yaakov, and at least one law (of two paragraphs) in Kitzur Shulchan Aruch.23 If a paragraph was long, it was studied as one law, though usually one law is divided there into two paragraphs.

* * *

Footnotes
1.
Eichah 3:25.
3.
Note of the Rebbe: “The proof text usually cited is the verse (Mishlei 6:23), ‘For a mitzvah is a lamp and the Torah is light.’ Here, however, the Alter Rebbe seeks to show that the study of ‘the Torah [that] is light’ results in a Divine irradiation, for ‘the light of His Torah,’ like a garment, reveals many aspects of that which is clothed in it. (This is why [the Alter Rebbe writes above that ‘the Torah is simply] called light (אור),’ for this term shows — more than the term תורה אור — that [the light of the Torah] serves as a garment by which Gd is revealed.) See also the Tzemach Tzedek on the phrase Oteh or.”
4.
Yeshayahu 35:2.
5.
The variant reading literally means “over G‑d”; i.e., they delight in G‑d Himself.
6.
Zechariah 9:14.
7.
Note of the Rebbe: “See Iggeret HaKodesh, end of Epistle XV, [regarding the light that comes forth] from “the source [of the intellect, ... like ... a flash of lightning].’”
8.
Kiddushin 39b.
9.
Sanhedrin 39a.
10.
Tehillim 90:17.
11.
Note of the Rebbe: “The interpretation that the ‘work of our hands’ refers to the ‘study of the Torah’ and the ‘fulfillment of the commandments,’ requires further examination.”
12.
Zohar II, 90b; see also II, 60a, and III, 73a.
13.
Kiddushin 39b.
14.
Tehillim 62:13.
15.
Note of the Rebbe: “Seemingly, where is the kindness if He pays the individual according to his work? This question indicates that G‑d’s kindness lies in His enabling a [finite] mortal to receive [the infinite reward].”
16.
Sanhedrin 100b.
17.
Note of the Rebbe: “...for they were not granted this capacity.”
18.
Note of the Rebbe: “Further examination is required to understand the meaning [of ‘one angel’].”
19.
Note of the Rebbe: “This requires further examination, for angels elevate even congregational prayers. [How, then, is this possible if they become utterly nullified in the presence of ten Jews?]”
20.

Note of the Rebbe: “We must say that the reason why the ten Jews themselves do not become nullified, etc., nor terrorstricken, etc., is that [the Divine Presence] is not perceived even by their mazal. [I.e., it is not perceived even superconsciously, by the heavenly root of their souls.] (For if it were perceived, they would no doubt be in a state of trepidation, as in our Sages’ description [Megillah 3a] of Daniel’s friends.) Indeed, this [state of unawareness] must exist, for without it free choice would cease, as is to be understood from the disposition of Daniel’s friends.“

As to the benefit of the indwelling of the Shechinah: [i.e., if this is totally concealed from the Jew, what possible benefit does he derive from it?] — It grants him assistance, though concealed, in his spiritual service.”

21.
Pp. 97-98.
22.
P. 101.
23.
Note of the Rebbe: “This is most likely a typographical slip, for (1) even in later generations the study of Kitzur Shulchan Aruch was not widespread in Russia; (2) most paragraphs contain one law each; (3) it was first printed during the last years of the Tzemach Tzedek, outside of Russia; (4) the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch was published early in the leadership of the Mitteler Rebbe, and from that time onward regular sessions were surely set up for the study of its clearly delineated laws. What possible reason would there be to change this and replace it [by the study of Kitzur Shulchan Aruch]?


Translated from Yiddish by Rabbi Levy Wineberg and Rabbi Sholom B. Wineberg. Edited by Uri Kaploun.
Published and copyright by Kehot Publication Society, all rights reserved.
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Daily Quote
Our masters taught: There are three partners in man -- G-d, his father, and his mother. His father inseminates the white substance, out of which are formed the child's bones, sinews, and nails, the brain in his head, and the white of his eye. His mother inseminates the red substance, out of which are formed the child's skin, flesh, and hair, and the black of his eye. G-d implants in him spirit, soul, beauty of countenance, eyesight, the capacity to hear, the capacity to speak, and the capacity to walk, as well as knowledge, understanding, and intelligence. When man's time to depart from the world approaches, G-d takes away His part and leaves to the father and mother the parts contributed by them.
  –Talmud, Niddah 31a
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