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Monday, 12 Tishrei 5778 / October 2, 2017
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Iggeret HaKodesh, end of Epistle 20

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Iggeret HaKodesh, end of Epistle 20

ומזה

And from this, from the earlier explanation of the paradox of Or Chozer, whereby it is specifically in the lowest levels of Asiyah that the light of Sovev Kol Almin and the light of the Kav rebound most intensely,

יובן היטב בענין סדר המדרגות: דומם, צומח, חי, מדבר

we can clearly understand the subject of the order of the levels [of created beings] — the inorganic, the vegetative, the animal, and the articulate being (i.e., man),

שהן בחינת עפר, מים, אש, רוח

which correspond to and are expressed within the composition of all created beings as the Elements of Earth, Water, Fire and Air.

שאף שהחי הוא למעלה מהצומח, והמדבר למעלה מהחי

For though the animal [level] is higher than the vegetative [level],1 and the articulate being is higher than the animal,

אף על פי כן, החי ניזון וחי מהצומח, והמדבר מקבל חיותו משניהם

nevertheless, the animal is nourished and lives by the vegetative, and the articulate being receives his vitality from them both,

וגם חכמה ודעת

and even wisdom and knowledge.

שאין התינוק יודע לקרות אבא ואמא, עד שיטעום טעם דגן כו׳

For, as the Gemara states,2 “A child does not know how to call ‘father’ and ‘mother’ until it has tasted grain.”

ועדיין לא אכילנא בישרא דתורא כו׳

[It is likewise written,]3 “I had not yet eaten the meat of oxen....”

This was the explanation which R. Nachman gave to Rava, as to why the previous evening he had been unable to give the better answer to his query that he had now given. Thus we see that the meat of a mere animal is able to stimulate the mind of man.

The key to this paradox, whereby the animal kingdom is nourished by the inferior vegetative kingdom, and man needs both of these inferior orders of creation, has been explained above:

כי הוא בחינת אור חוזר ממטה למעלה, מתחתית העשיה

For this is an instance of Or Chozer, the light that is reflected from the lower levels to the higher, from the lowest level of Asiyah,

שמתגלית שם ביתר עז, הארה דהארה כו׳

where there is an exceedingly strong manifestation of the radiation of the radiation, and so on, of the glimmer of a glimmer of a glimmer that is found within the physical earth,

מאור אין סוף, הסובב כל עלמין

from the [infinite] Ein Sof-light that encircles all worlds, i.e., from the degree of Sovev Kol Almin that transcends all worlds equally,

ומהקו אור אין סוף, שבסיום רגלי היושר דאדם קדמון

and from the Kav from the Ein Sof-light at the culmination of the “feet” of the Yosher of Adam Kadmonthe final level of the internalized illumination that is found in all worlds. This illumination shines there:

בבחינת אור חוזר, כנ״ל

in a mode of Or Chozer, as stated above.

***

ויובן היטב בזה, טוב טעם ודעת

This will enable one to gain a reasoned understanding

מה שהמלאכים עליונים שבמרכבה: פני שור ופני נשר

how it is that the Supernal angels of the Merkavah, the “Celestial Chariot,” namely, the “Face of the Oxen” and the “Face of the Eagle,”

נהנים מאד, וניזונים ומסתפקים

derive great enjoyment, and are nourished and content,

מרוח הבהמה והעוף, העולה אליהם מהקרבנות שעל גבי המזבח

from the spirit of the cattle and fowl that ascends to them from the sacrifices on the altar.

The phrase,4 את קרבני לחמי לאשי (“My sacrifice, the bread of My burnt offerings...”), may be understood on a non-literal level to mean that the sacrifices provide sustenance for G‑d’s “fires”, i.e., for the angels.

וכדקדוק לשון הזהר הקדוש: ואתהניין מיסודא ועיקרא דילהון

As the holy Zohar expresses it precisely,5 “They derive enjoyment from their element and essence”: the spiritual root (as opposed to the animal component) of the sacrifices is reflected back to its angelic source in a mode of Or Chozer.

***

ואחרי הדברים והאמת האלה, דעת לנבון נקל

Now, after these words and this truth, knowledge comes easily to the discerning,

להבין על ידי כל הנ״ל, גודל מעלת המצות מעשיות

to understand through all the above the sublime worth of the practical commandments, those performed with physical objects and with man’s physicality.

אשר הן תכלית ירידת הנשמות לעולם הזה הגשמי

For [these commandments] are the ultimate purpose for the descent of souls to this physical world,

כמו שכתוב: היום לעשותם

as it is written,6 “Today [is the time] to do them.”

I.e., specifically “today”, in this world of action, are we provided with the opportunity to perform mitzvot with physical objects whose creation came about from G‑d’s very essence, and which contain the concealed power of His very being. By performing mitzvot with these objects we release this concealed power.

ויפה שעה אחת בתשובה ומעשים טובים בעולם הזה, מכל חיי עולם הבא

[It is likewise written,]7 “Better one hour of repentance and good deeds in this world, than all the life of the World to Come.”

***

עד כאן מצאנו מכתב יד הקודש

At this point the first publishers of Iggeret HaKodesh wrote: Until here we found of his holy writing.

Footnotes
1.
Note of the Rebbe: “[It is superior] also with regard to its creation; ‘nevertheless [it] is nourished...[by the vegetative].’ (This enables us to understand why the Element of Earth is not mentioned here, for everything comes from the Earth. It may likewise be said that for this reason, even after having been created, [everything] depends on it and is nourished by it.)”
2.
Berachot 40a.
3.
Bava Kama 71a.
4.
Bamidbar 28:2.
5.
III, 341a.
6.
Devarim 7:11; Eruvin 22a.
7.
Avot 4:17.


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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