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Iggeret HaKodesh, middle of Epistle 22

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Iggeret HaKodesh, middle of Epistle 22

Part (b)

The following letter was placed here by the compilers of Iggeret HaKodesh — “after the first editions (see list) had been published,” as the Rebbe points out — as an addendum to Epistle XXII, Part (a). The connection, however, is not immedi-ately apparent. Perhaps it lies in the opening passage of Part (a), the passage which does not appear in this collection,1 in which the Alter Rebbe laments that questions on material affairs occupy too much of his time — for this theme also figures in the letter before us.

אהוביי אחיי ורעיי

My beloved, my brethren and friends:

In these terms the Alter Rebbe addresses his chassidim.

מגודל טרדתי אשר הקיפו עלי יחד, וסבוני כמים כל היום וכל הלילה, תמיד לא יחשו

Due to the immensity of my preoccupations2 which3 “all together surround me” and “encircle me like water” — “all day and all night, never holding their peace,”4

לא אוכל מלט משא לאמר עם הספר כל אשר בלבבי

I am unable to unload the burden5 of writing down all that is in my heart.

אך בקצרה באתי כמזכיר ומחזיר על הראשונות בכלל

Briefly, however, I come as one who reminds and6 “repeats earlier subjects” in general,

ובפרט אל המתנדבים בעם

in particular to7 “those of the people who offer themselves willingly [in prayer],” beyond the customary measure, —

לעמוד על העבודה, זו תפלה

that they should stand [steadfast] in [their divine] service, i.e., prayer, which the Sages call8 “service of the heart,” a form of divine service which works in the heart and on the heart,

בקול רם

[and pray] with a loud voice,9

להתחזק מאד בכל עוז ותעצומות, נגד כל מונע מבית ומחוץ

strengthening themselves vigorously, with all their might and power, against any internal or external obstacle,

ביד חזקה, כמשמעו

with a “strong hand,” plainly and simply.

שהוא רצון יריאיו, אשר למעלה מן החכמה והתבונה אשר נתן ה׳ בהמה לדעת לעשות את כל אשר צוה ה׳ בהשכל ודעת

This [service] relates to10 “the will of those who fear Him”; this transcends the wisdom and understanding with which G‑d imbued them so that they will know and do all that He commanded, with intelligence and discernment.

Wisdom and understanding are gifts from G‑d; as we say in the daily prayers,11 “It is You Who graciously bestows discern-ment upon man....” As to the superior faculty of will, however, it is left to the initiative of every G‑d-fearing Jew to arouse this within himself by accepting the yoke of heaven.

רק רצון פשוט, ורוח נדיבה

[There should be] but a simple will, uncompounded by the particular form or limitations that characterize an intellectually-generated will, and a spirit of voluntary self-dedication,

בכל איש אשר ידבנו לבו לעבוד עבודה תמה, לעשות נחת רוח ליוצרו

in every man whose heart prompts him to serve12 “a whole service,” [intending only] to cause gratification to his Maker.

ועל זה נאמר: כי עם קשה עורף הוא, וסלחת

Of this [superrational degree of will] it is written,13 “For this is a stiff-necked people, and You should pardon” — i.e., because they are a “stiff-necked people.”14 This obstinate and superrational will of theirs warrants their being pardoned, —

כי הסליחה היא גם כן למעלה מן החכמה

for pardon, too, transcends wisdom.

Just as a mortal’s will flies free, untrammeled by his intellect, so too, Above: the divine source of pardon transcends Supernal Wisdom.

כי שאלו לחכמה כו׳

Thus [it is written],15 “they asked Wisdom [what should be the lot of the soul that sins].” The attribute of Wisdom ruled that a sinning soul must be judged and punished; it did not allow for repentance and pardon.

ומשה רבינו, עליו השלום, ביקש מדה כנגד מדה ודי למבין

So too Moses our Master, peace to him, invoked16 “measure for measure”; and suffice this for the discerning.

Moses pleaded that G‑d grant forgiveness to the same extent that an individual repents with a simple will that transcends his understanding; he desired that man’s repentance elicit and call down to this world the divine source of pardon which likewise transcends Supernal Wisdom.

* * *

Footnotes
1.
It appears in full in Igrot Kodesh (Letters) of the Alter Rebbe (Kehot, N.Y., 1987), p. 53.
2.
Note of the Rebbe: “The early editions should be scanned, because from the continuation of this sentence one would expect the plural form (טרדותי).”
3.
Note of the Rebbe: “[The two quoted phrases are] a paraphrase of Tehillim 88:18 — in inverse order, as with several of the expressions that follow.”
4.
Cf. Yeshayahu 62:6.
5.
Hebrew text corrected according to Luach HaTikkun. The metaphor is borrowed from Yeshayahu 46:2; see Rashi there.
6.
Cf. Keritot 8a.
7.
Shoftim 5:9; on the connection with prayer see Rashi there.
8.
Taanit 2a.
9.
The Shemoneh Esreh, of course, is always recited in a whisper, except on the Days of Awe; see Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch 101:2-3.
10.
Tehillim 145:19.
11.
Siddur Tehillat HaShem, p. 53.
12.
Cf. Yoma 24a.
13.
Shmot 34:9.
14.
Note of the Rebbe: “From this we understand that their ‘stiff-neckedness’ is a positive trait.”
15.
Talmud Yerushalmi, Makkot 2:6.
16.
Devarim Rabbah 11:9.


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.
לעילוי נשמת הרה"ח הרה"ת
ר' יוסף ב"ר זאב הלוי ע"ה וויינבערג
Daily Quote
It is told of the Chassidic master Rabbi Pinchas of Koritz that he toiled for truth for twenty one years: seven years he labored to banish falsehood from his heart, seven years to recognize the truth, and seven years to make the truth penetrate his heart
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