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Friday, 7 Cheshvan 5778 / October 27, 2017
Chabad Chassidus is an all-embracing world outlook and way of life which sees the Jew's central purpose as a unifying link between the Creator and His world. Written by the Alter Rebbe, the founder of Chabad, Tanya is the central text of Chabad Chassidus. It shows the reader a path to realizing their purpose and developing a deeper relationship with G-d. Choose from one of the two formats available: through Lessons in Tanya - a profound and clear explanation of the Alter Rebbe's writings, or through an audio class.

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Iggeret HaKodesh, middle of Epistle 26

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Iggeret HaKodesh, middle of Epistle 26

The above refers to the Sefirah of Malchut of Atzilut only so long as it remains on its home ground, so to speak, i.e., in the World of Atzilut. Likewise, the above refers to the Torah laws only so long as they are in their pristine state, i.e, at the sublime level of Malchut of Atzilut.

However, as the laws become vested within lower realms, they can become subject to a measure of concealment. Likewise, as the Sefirah of Malchut of Atzilut becomes vested in lower Worlds, it too is subject to this state of concealment. It is then called the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, because it is vested within kelipat nogah. This vestiture takes place for the sake of one of the ultimate spiritual tasks of man — beirurim, i.e., sifting and refining the physicality of this world, in order to elevate the divine sparks from the evil which encumbers them.

This is what the Alter Rebbe now goes on to explain.

ומה שאמר האריז״ל שהמשניות הן במלכות דיצירה

As to the statement of R. Isaac Luria, of blessed memory, that the Mishnayot relate to [the Sefirah of] Malchut in [the World of] Yetzirah, whereas we have just quoted the Zohar to the effect that the Mishnayot relate to the Sefirah of Malchut in the World of Atzilut,

רצונו לומר: לבוש מלכות דיצירה שנתלבשה בה מלכות דאצילות

he referred to the garment of Malchut of Yetzirah in which Malchut of Atzilut is vested; only after Malchut of Atzilut descends to the World of Yetzirah and is vested there, can it be said that Mishnayot relate to Yetzirah.

ומלכות דיצירה נקרא שפחה לגבי מלכות דאצילות

And Malchut of Yetzirah is referred to as a handmaiden (shifchah), relative to Malchut of Atzilut, which is vested in it.

This answers an earlier question. The Alter Rebbe had quoted the Talmud Yerushalmi (ch. 1 of Berachot) to the effect that R. Shimon bar Yochai maintains that for the Reading of Shema one interrupts the study of Scripture, though not of Mishnah, which is loftier than Scripture. This was contradicted by statements of R. Shimon bar Yochai himself in Ra’aya Mehemna, to the effect that Mishnah is referred to as the handmaiden while Scripture is referred to as the king.

According to the above, however, there is no contradiction. So long as Mishnah is in its primary and fundamental state, it belongs to the level of Malchut of Atzilut; it is referred to as a handmaiden only after it is vested within Malchut of Yetzirah. This difference between the way something exists in its essential state and the way it exists as it is vested in a lower state of being, applies to Scripture as well, as will soon be explained.

ומלכות דבריאה נקרא אמה

By contrast, Malchut of Beriah (which is a lower World) is referred to as a maid (amah), denoting a level superior to the level of shifchah.

ותדע ממה שאמר האריז״ל, דמקרא, דהיינו תורה שבכתב, הוא בעשיה

Proof of this — that there is a significant difference between the way something exists in its essential state (be’etzem) and the way it exists as it is vested (behitlabshut) in a lower level — may be gained from the statement of R. Isaac Luria, of blessed memory, that Scripture, i.e., the Written Torah, is in Asiyah,

והרי מפורש בזהר ובכתבי האריז״ל, מקומות אין מספר, שהיא תפארת, שהוא זעיר אנפין דאצילות

even though it is explicit in innumerable places in the Zohar and the writings of R. Isaac Luria, of blessed memory, that it is [the Sefirah of] Tiferet, which is the Z’eir Anpin of Atzilut.

As such it is even higher than Malchut of Atzilut; how, then, can it be said that Scripture is in Asiyah?

אלא, שמתלבשת בעשיה

Rather, this means that it vests itself in Asiyah.

וכן הוא בהדיא בספר הכוונות, שמקרא ומשנה ותלמוד וקבלה, כולם באצילות

Thus it is taught explicitly in Sefer HaKavanot — that Scripture, Mishnah, Talmud and Kabbalah are all in Atzilut,

אלא שמקרא מתלבש עד עשיה

except that Scripture vests itself as far [“down”] as Asiyah,

The Written Torah hinges on its letters, which are inscribed with tangible ink on tangible parchment, and hence related to Asiyah, the “World of Action.”

ומשנה עד היצירה

and Mishnah [vests itself only] as far [“down”] as Yetzirah,

The Mishnah consists mainly of laws, such as those determining ritual validity or invalidity. These two states ultimately derive from the corresponding middot of Chesed and Gevurah, the Divine “emotive attributes” of benevolence and severity. Hence these laws are vested in the World of Yetzirah, for1 “the six [emotive] Sefirot ‘nest’ in Yetzirah.”

ותלמוד בבריאה

and Talmud is vested as far [“down”] as Beriah.

The Talmud elucidates the laws. It thus relates to Beriah, the “World of Comprehension,” which is illumined by Binah (“understanding”), for2 “the Supernal Mother (i.e., Binah) ‘nests’ in the [World of the] Throne,” i.e., in Beriah.3

* * *

Tikkunei Zohar, Tikkun 7; cf. Tanya, ch. 39.
Tikkunei Zohar, Tikkun 7; cf. Tanya, ch. 39.
Note of the Rebbe: “See also the Note in Tanya, ch. 40.”

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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"I will make your descendents like the dust of the earth" (Genesis 13:17). As the dust of the earth is everywhere, so, too, will the people of Israel be scattered from one end of the world to the other. As dust is treaded upon by all, so, too, will Israel be treaded upon by all. As dust erodes all metals while it itself lasts forever, so is it with Israel: all nations disintegrate, while they persist.
  –Midrash Rabbah
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