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Tuesday, 28 Elul 5777 / September 19, 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, end of Epistle 18

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Iggeret HaKodesh, end of Epistle 18

והשנית היא אהבה ותאוה, שהנפש מתאוה ואוהבת וחפיצה לדבקה בה׳

The second [category] is a love and desire in which the soul desires, loves and wishes to cleave to G‑d,

לצרור בצרור החיים

“to be bound up in the bond of life.”1

וקרבת אלקים טוב לה מאד, ובו תחפוץ

The proximity to G‑d is very dear to her, and that is what she desires.

ורע לה מאד להתרחק ממנו יתברך, חס ושלום

It is most grievous unto her to become, heaven forfend, distanced from Him, blessed be He,

להיות מחיצה של ברזל מהחיצונים מפסקת, חס ושלום

by having an iron partition of the chitzonim, the forces of kelipah and unholiness, separate her [from Him], heaven forfend.

Thus, inherent in the soul’s love for G‑d is its anxious fear of being alienated from Him by a partition resulting from those things that are opposite His will.

Likkutei Levi Yitzchak, authored by the father of the Rebbe, explains that the four terms used above — “desires”, “loves”, “wishes” and “cleaves” — refer respectively to the soul-levels within the Four Worlds: “desires” relates to the World of Asiyah, “loves” relates to the World of Yetzirah, and so on.

ואהבה זו היא מוסתרת בלב כלל ישראל, אפילו ברשעים

This love is latent in the heart of all Jews, even in the wicked, as explained at length in Part I, chs. 18 and 19,

וממנה באה להם החרטה

and from this [latent love] derives their remorse, as in the phrase,2 “The wicked are full of remorse.”

The Alter Rebbe now answers the following implied question: If they indeed possess this love, why then are they wicked?

אך מפני שהיא מוסתרת ונעלמה בבחינת גלות בגוף, הרי הקליפה יכולה לשלוט עליה

However, because it is latent and concealed, in a state of exile in the body, it is possible for the kelipah to dominate it;

וזהו רוח שטות המחטיא לאדם

and this is the “spirit of folly” which causes a man to sin.3

The “spirit of folly” cloaks this hidden love (ahavah mesuteret), so that one loses the sensitivity to realize that through sinning he is jeopardizing his attachment to G‑d.

ועל כן עבודת האדם לקונו היא להתחזק ולהתגבר על הקליפה, בכל מכל כל

Therefore a man’s service to his Maker consists of strengthening himself and prevailing over the kelipah in all its manifestations.

דהיינו: מתחלה, לגרשה מהגוף לגמרי

That is, first to expel it completely from the body, so that it has absolutely no dominion over him —

ממחשבה דבור ומעשה, שבמוח ולשון ורמ״ח אברים

[expelling it] from the [faculties of] thought, speech and action that are in the brain, the tongue, and the 248 organs.

Expelling the kelipah means ensuring that one’s brain will harbor no thoughts that are contrary to G‑d’s will; that one’s tongue will speak no evil words; that one’s 248 organs will commit no evil acts.

ואחר כך יוכל גם כן להוציא ממסגר אסיר, בחוזק יד

After that he will also be able to4 “bring out the captive from prison” with a strong hand.

Once one has vanquished the kelipah by steadfastly5 “turning away from evil” — not thinking, speaking or doing those things that are contrary to G‑d’s will — he is then able to uncover the love that is latent within him, so that it will permeate his positive thoughts, words and deeds. His mind will thus ponder upon G‑d’s greatness, and his heart will then actively feel a love for G‑d. In turn, this love will result in his enhanced fulfillment of the Torah and its mitzvot.

דהיינו: להיות חזק ואמיץ לבו בגבורים

That is, he will be strong,6 “and his heart courageous among the valiant,”

להיות האהבה המסותרת נגלית בגילוי רב, בכל כחות חלקי הנפש שבגוף

so that the hidden love will become abundantly revealed in all the powers of the soul’s components in his body;

דהיינו: העיקר, בשכל ובמחשבה שבמוח

i.e., mainly in the mind and in the [faculty of] thought in the brain,

The mind serves to reveal this love, which then manifests throughout the rest of the person’s organs.

שהשכל יחשב ויתבונן תמיד, כפי שכלו והשכלתו, בבורא יתברך

so that corresponding to its intellect and understanding the mind will constantly think and contemplate on the blessed Creator —

איך שהוא חיי החיים בכלל, וחיי נשמתו בפרט

how He is the Fountainhead of life in general, and of the life of his own soul in particular.

ועל כן יכסוף ויתאוה להיות דבוק בו וקרוב אליו כוסף טבעי

Consequently, he will yearn and desire to be attached to Him, and near to Him, with an innate yearning,

כבן הכוסף להיות תמיד אצל אביו, וכמו אש העולה למעלה תמיד בטבעה, למקורה

like that of a child who yearns to be constantly near his father, and like fire which by its very nature always rises upwards to its source, as explained in Part I, ch. 19.

וכל מה שיתמיד לחשוב בשכלו כוסף זה, ככה יתגבר ויתפשט כוסף זה גם בפיו ובכל אבריו

And the more he continues to set his mind on this yearning, the more will this yearning become correspondingly stronger, and will also extend to his mouth and to all his organs,

לעסוק בתורה ומצות, לדבקה בהם בה׳ ממש

so that he will occupy himself with the Torah and the commandments in order to really cleave thereby to G‑d,

דאורייתא וקודשא בריך הוא כולא חד

for7 “The Torah and the Holy One, blessed be He, are entirely One.”

This love will thus affect his brain, mouth and other bodily organs, motivating them to study Torah and perform the commandments with a greater degree of love.

ועל כוסף זה, שבגילוי רב, כתיב: צמאה נפשי וגו׳

Of this greatly manifest yearning, i.e., of this love, it is written,8 “My soul thirsts [for G‑d],”

כאדם הצמא למים, ואין לו תענוג עדיין כלל

like a person who thirsts for water and does not yet have any pleasure [from it].

This level of love for G‑d is likened to a state of thirst. At this stage the individual seeking to cleave to G‑d does not experience any delight, for he has yet to cleave to Him: all he feels is the pangs of thirst. In the previously-described level of love, ahavah betaanugim, the individual has already quenched his thirst, so to speak: his love for G‑d has been realized and he is now actively cleaving to Him.

וגם על כוסף זה ואהבה זו המוסתרת בנו, אנו מעתירים לה׳ להיות בעזרנו, להוציאה ממסגר

Also9 concerning this yearning and this love concealed within us we pray to G‑d, to help us bring it out from imprisonment,

It is indeed true that this lesser degree of love is attainable by man and need not be granted as a gift from Above; it is already possessed by every Jew and he need but reveal it through his spiritual service. Nevertheless we beseech G‑d that He help us reveal this love and liberate it from its concealment.

ושיהיה הלב מלא ממנה לבדה

so that the heart be filled with it alone,

ולא תכנס צרתה בביתה, שהיא תאות עולם הזה

so that its “rival-wife,” i.e., mundane desires, will not enter its house, i.e., our hearts.

רק שתהיה היא עקרת הבית, למשול בצרתה ולגרשה החוצה, ממחשבה דיבור ומעשה, על כל פנים

Rather, this [yearning and love] should be the sole mistress of the house, to rule over her “rival-wife” and to expel her at least from one’s thought, speech and action.

הגם שלא יוכל לשלחה לגמרי מלבו

Though one cannot expel her altogether from one’s heart, so that it should harbor no foreign desires at all,

For we are speaking here of the love possessed by the Beinoni, an individual who is unable to banish foreign desires from his heart; he is only able to ensure that they find no expression in his thought, his speech or his actions, as explained in Tanya, Part I, ch. 12.

על כל פנים תהיה היא מוסתרת, בבחינת גלות ועבדות לעקרת הבית, גברתה

she should at least be hidden, in a state of exile and servitude to the mistress of the house, i.e., to the love for G‑d,

להשתמש בה לדברים הכרחים לה, לבד, כאכילה ושתיה

who will make use of her for her own essentials only, such as eating and drinking,

If the G‑dly soul is to remain within the body and thereby be able to fulfill the requirements of the Torah and its mitzvot, the individual must eat and drink. He should therefore use the animal soul’s natural desire for physical things expressly for the spiritual purposes of the G‑dly soul. Thus, for example, his food and drink are intended to provide him with strength so that he will be able to study the Torah, engage in divine service, and the like.

כדכתיב: בכל דרכיך דעהו

as it is written,10 “Know Him in all your ways.”

Your ways” clearly speaks of man’s corporeal activities. Yet even in these we are commanded to “know Him” — to bind oneself to G‑d through these physical actions, by utilizing them for the purposes designated by Him, in order thereby to “know Him.”11

I Shmuel 25:29.
Shevet Mussar, sec. 25.
Sotah 3a.
Yeshayahu 42:7.
Cf. Tehillim 34:15.
Amos 2:16.
See Zohar I, 24a; II, 60a.
Tehillim 42:3.
Note of the Rebbe: “This [passage on the need for prayer in arousing the second level of love] had to be added here, [to the above passage on the role of meditation], in view of the statement in Epistle 4 that this [level of love] is revealed not by meditation but [only] by prayer and tzedakah. [The fact that both prayer and metitation are mentioned here makes it clear that the two epistles are not divergent but complementary.] In addition, it is thus apparent that tzedakah also plays a role in this manner of service.”
Mishlei 3:6. Note of the Rebbe: “Cf. the ruling in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, sec. 231, at length.”
Note of the Rebbe: “It still remains to be understood what, exactly, is the connection [of the foregoing] with the opening verse, ‘How beautiful and how pleasant....’ This could be clarified in the light of the discussion in Torat Chayim, which explains why there is wonderment at [this kind of] beauty and pleasantness. (This wonderment is expressed in the exclamation, ‘How beautiful and how pleasant...!’) Accordingly it is understood that ahavah betaanugim is as defined in the above letter. (The same is true of the latent love, for which reason its beauty and pleasantness do not arouse wonderment.)”

Translated from Yiddish by Rabbi Levy Wineberg and Rabbi Sholom B. Wineberg. Edited by Uri Kaploun.
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