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Tanya

Tanya

Igeret HaTeshuva , beginning of Chapter 10

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Igeret HaTeshuva , beginning of Chapter 10

The theme of the previous chapter was teshuvah ila'ah and how it finds expression in the “cleaving of spirit to Spirit” — through Torah study, tzedakah and acts of lovingkindness.

והנה תשובה עילאה זו, דאתדבקותא דרוחא ברוחא על ידי תורה וגמילות חסדים

This higher level of teshuvah, the cleaving of spirit to Spirit through the study of Torah and the performance of acts of kindness,

היא בבחינת המשכה מלמעלה למטה

is a matter of eliciting from Above.

Neither Torah study nor acts of lovingkindness elevate a person solely as a result of his own initiative and Divine service. Rather, he is aided from Above to reach an infinitely higher level than he would have attained alone.

להיות דבר ה' ממש בפיו

So that the word of G‑d shall actually be in one's mouth,

this too is a Divine gift.

וכמו שכתוב: ואשים דברי בפיך

As Scripture states,1 “I have placed My words in your mouth.”

Torah study thus accomplishes much more than what man could attain on its own.

Similarly,2

וימינו תחבקני, בגמילות חסדים

“His right hand embraces me,” through man's acts of kindness,

דחסד דרועא ימינא וכו'

for3 “kindness is the [Supernal] right arm….”

With every act of lovingkindness one draws down Divine benevolence: one is embraced by a far loftier level of holiness than he could possibly aspire to by dint of his own spiritual service.

אבל אדם התחתון צריך לילך ממדרגה למדרגה ממטה למעלה

But mortal man must ascend from stage to stage

היא בחינת תשובה עילאה ואתדבקות רוחא ברוחא בכוונת הלב בתפלה

towards this higher level of teshuvah and this “cleaving of spirit to Spirit” through the heart's devoted worship,

ובפרט בקריאת שמע וברכותיה

particularly during Shema and its blessings,

כדי לומר ואהבת וגו' בכל לבבך ובכל נפשך וגו' באמת לאמיתו

so that he might in perfect truth say during the recitation of the Shema,4 “You shall love [the L-rd your G‑d] with all your heart and with all your soul…..”

וכן: והיו הדברים האלה וגו' ודברת בם וגו'

Likewise:5 “These words [which I command you today] shall be [upon your heart]….. And you shall speak of them…..”

All the above verses speak of the study of Torah.6

להיות דבר ה' בפיו באמת

The word of G‑d must truly be in his mouth, [which is the case when one's mouth serves as a vessel for G‑d's word]7

ואין אמת וכו'

and “there is no truth [but Torah].”8

וכן לקיים כל המצות

He must also perform all the mitzvot,

כמו שכתוב: אשר קדשנו במצותיו

as it is written,9 “He has sanctified us with His commandments.”

כמו הרי את מקודשת לי

This [sanctification] has the same sense as in the phrase,10 “You are sanctified unto me” — i.e., separate from all others and wholly sanctified unto G‑d through the performance of His commandments.

היא בחינת קדש העליון

This is the level of Kodesh HaElyon (“Supernal Holiness”), which one draws upon himself through the performance of the mitzvot.

לשון פרישות והבדלה

“Kodesh” translated “holiness” connotes something apart, or transcendent,

שאינו יכול להתלבש תוך עלמין

that cannot be contained within the created worlds, permeating each of them with Divine life-force commensurate with its particular capacity,

משום דכולא קמיה כלא חשיב

since11 “everything is considered as naught before Him.”

Relative to this transcendent level, the differing levels of spirituality of the various created beings are of no consequence.

אלא בבחינת סובב כל עלמין

Rather, this is a level [of holiness] that transcends [lit., “encompasses”] all worlds, and hence affects them all equally from afar, so to speak;

הוא רצון העליון ברוך הוא וכו'

this is [the level of] the Supreme Will, and so on, which is drawn down into this world through the performance of mitzvot,

כמו שכתוב: בלקוטי אמרים פרק מ"ו

as discussed in the first part of Tanya, Likutei Amarim, chapter 46.

וגם אחר התפלה אומרים: אליך ה' נפשי אשא

After prayer as well, we say,12 “To You, O G‑d, I lift my soul,” referring to the initiative of the worshiper below in raising his soul upward to its Source,

דהיינו לאתדבקא רוחא ברוחא כל היום וכו'

so that through the performance of mitzvot spirit will cleave to Spirit throughout the day…..

וכל זה: על ידי ההתבוננות בגדולת אין סוף ברוך הוא

All this is brought about through meditation on the grandeur of the Infinite One,

בהעמקת הדעת בשתים לפניה ובפסוקי דזמרה, כנודע

concentrating the mind deeply during the two blessings preceding Shema and during the preparatory hymns of praise known as pesukei dezimrah, as is known.

Meditating in this fashion gives birth to a love for G‑d, which is translated into the study of the Torah and the performance of mitzvot. This form of Divine service is teshuvah ila'ah that takes the direction called milmata lemala; it works its way upward from the initiative taken by the enterprising worshiper who elevates himself by his own bootstraps.

FOOTNOTES
1. Yeshayahu 51:16.
2. Shir HaShirim 2:6.
3. Introduction to Tikkunei Zohar.
4. Devarim 6:5.
5. Ibid. 6:6-7.
6. Note of the Rebbe: “`For Scripture speaks [here] of the study of the Torah' (Berachot 13b). See [Tanya,] Part I, end of chapter 49.”
7. Tanna devei Eliyahu Zuta, ch. 21.
8. Note of the Rebbe: “See [Tanya,] conclusion of ch. 37.”
9. From the blessing recited before the performance of certain mitzvot.
10. Kiddushin 5b; from the betrothal ceremony.
11. Zohar I, 11b.
12. Tehillim 25:1.


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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