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Shabbat, 8 Cheshvan 5778 / October 28, 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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Daily Tanya

Iggeret HaKodesh, middle of Epistle 26

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Iggeret HaKodesh, middle of Epistle 26

והנה, כשהמלכות דאצילות מתלבשת בקליפת נוגה, כדי לברר הניצוצות שנפלו בחטא אדם הראשון

Now, when Malchut of Atzilut is vested in kelipat nogah in order to extract and refine the sparks that fell with the sin of Adam,

וגם הרפ״ח ניצוצין שנפלו בשבירת הכלים

as well as the 288 sparks that fell with the “breaking of the vessels,”

The concept of shevirat hakelim (the primordial “breaking of the vessels”) and the elevation of the 288 sparks of holiness hidden in the material world is explained at length elsewhere in the literature of Chassidut.

אזי גם המלכות דאצילות נקראת בשם עץ הדעת טוב ורע, לגבי זעיר אנפין דאצילות

Malchut of Atzilut, too, is then referred to as the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, relative to Z’eir Anpin of Atzilut

שאינו יורד שם, ונקרא עץ חיים

which does not descend there and which is referred to as the Tree of Life.

והנה התלבשות המלכות בקליפת נוגה, הוא סוד גלות השכינה

And the investiture of [the Sefirah of] Malchut in kelipat nogah is the Kabbalistic principle of the exile of the Shechinah,

אשר שלט האדם באדם כו׳

whereby1 “man rules over man, to his detriment.”

In Epistle 25 (above), the Alter Rebbe quotes the exposition of this verse in Sefer HaGilgulim. During the time of exile, the “evil man” (of kelipah) rules over the “sacred man” (i.e., the holy “side” of the universe). At this time, the Divine Presence is in a state of exile within the universe. However, this temporary dominion of evil is “to his [ultimate] detriment,” for its underlying intent is that the sparks of holiness that are embedded within evil, be extracted and elevated.

* * *

The Alter Rebbe will now answer another question which he himself had posed earlier.

The Ra’aya Mehemna had stated that so long as the bipolar influence of the Tree of Knowledge of [both] Good and Evil is dominant in the world, Torah scholars (who are likened to the Shabbat and festivals) are supported only by their unlettered (“weekday”) brethren, whose food is sometimes pure but sometimes not. This is why the scholars engage in the study of the correspondingly bipolar laws of issur vs. hetter (ritual prohibition vs. permission), and the like.

Concerning this statement the Alter Rebbe asked above: Even though the Sages in Second Temple times tilled their own fields and vineyards, did they not mainly study the very same laws of issur and hetter, and the like?

In reply, the Alter Rebbe now explains the meaning of this passage from Ra’aya Mehemna.

During the present era of exile, when the world is dominated by the influence of the Tree of Knowledge of [both] Good and Evil, the Divine Presence grants life-force to the chitzonim. These negative forces belong to the ambivalent realm of kelipat nogah, which veils the holy potential embedded in the material things of this world. (Torah scholars are nourished only by the distilled essence of the Divinely-endowed life-force.)

In order to extract and refine the sparks of holiness hidden in this material world during this era of exile, scholars study the laws of prohibition and permission, and the like. Through painstaking debate and deliberation, they isolate and salvage that which is permitted from that which is prohibited, and that which is pure from that which is impure. Ultimately, their Torah study removes the Divinely-imposed veil, so that a clear adjudication of the law results.

This is what the Alter Rebbe now goes on to say:

וזהו שכתוב ברעיא מהימנא: ובזמנא דאילנא דטוב ורע שלטא כו׳, אינון כו׳

And this is the meaning of the statement in Ra’aya Mehemna: “While the Tree of Good and Evil dominates [the world],... these [Sages, who are likened to the Sabbaths and festivals, have nothing except what is given to them by those who are called ‘unsanctified ones,’...].”

דהיינו: בזמן גלות השכינה, שמשפעת לחיצונים שהם בקליפת נוגה, שהערב רב יונקים משם

This means that at the time of the exile of the Shechinah — which grants life-force to the chitzonim that belong in the realm of kelipat nogah, from which the “mixed multitude” derive their life-force,2

ומתמציתו ניזונין תלמידי חכמים בגלות

and from whose distilled essence the Torah scholars are nourished during the exile, —

ואז, עיקר עבודת האדם, ועיקר עסק התורה והמצות, הוא לברר הניצוצות, כנודע מהאריז״ל

at this time the main spiritual task of man, and the main purpose of being engaged in Torah and the commandments, is to disencumber and elevate the sparks, as is known from the teachings of R. Isaac Luria, of blessed memory.

לכן, עיקר ענין הלימוד הוא בעיון ופלפול הלכה, באיסור והיתר, טומאה וטהרה

For this reason, study chiefly involves deliberation and argumentation on the laws of issur and hetter, impurity and purity,

לברר המותר והטהור מהאסור והטמא, על ידי עיון ופלפול הלכה, בחכמה בינה ודעת

in order to disencumber the permitted and the pure from the forbidden and the impure by means of deliberation and argumentation on the law — with wisdom, understanding and knowledge, with all the three intellective faculties of the soul that clarify the law.

כנודע, דאורייתא מחכמה נפקת, ובחכמה דייקא אתברירו

For as is known,3 the Torah derives from Chochmah. Hence, [the sparks of holiness hidden in a legal question] can be extracted and elevated only through Chochmah.4

והיינו חכמה עילאה דאצילות, המלובשת במלכות דאצילות

Specifically: the Supernal Chochmah of Atzilut which is vested in Malchut of Atzilut

סוד תורה שבעל פה

this being the Kabbalistic principle of the Oral Torah

(בסוד אבא יסד ברתא)

(5according to the Kabbalistic principle by which6 “the ‘father’ (i.e., Chochmah of Atzilut) begat (lit., ‘founded’) the ‘daughter’ (i.e., Malchut of Atzilut)”) —

המלובשת במלכות דיצירה

which, in turn, is vested in Malchut of Yetzirah.

[סוד] המשניות (וברייתות המלובשות בקליפת נוגה, שכנגד עולם היצירה

[7This accords with the Kabbalistic principle of] the Mishnayot (8and the Beraitot that are vested in the kelipat nogah, which corresponds to the World of Yetzirah;

ששם מתחיל בחינת הדעת [נ"א הרע] שבנוגה)

for there begins the Knowledge [of Good and Evil] [9or: “[for there begins] the evil”] which is inherent in nogah), for the kelipat nogah in the World of Yetzirah is equally good and evil.

[נוסח אחר: והברייתות המלובשות בקליפת נוגה שכנגד עולם העשיה, ששם מתחיל בחינת הרע שבנוגה]

[10A variant reading: “and the Beraitot that are vested in the kelipat nogah which corresponds to the World of Asiyah, from where there begins the evil of nogah”], for the kelipat nogah of Asiyah is mostly evil and minimally good.

כנודע מהאריז״ל

The above is known from the teachings of R. Isaac Luria, of blessed memory.

* * *

Footnotes
1.
Kohelet 8:9.
2.
In the original, eirev-rav; cf. Shmot 12:38. Likkutei Haggahot LeSefer HaTanya emends our text to “nations of the world.”
3.
Zohar II, 85a; et al.
4.
Ibid., 254b.
5.
These parentheses are in the original text.
6.
Zohar III, 248a.
7.
These brackets are in the original text.
8.
These parentheses are in the original text.
9.
These brackets are in the original text.
10.
These brackets are in the original text.


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
"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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