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Tanya

Iggeret HaKodesh, middle of Epistle 7

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Iggeret HaKodesh, middle of Epistle 7

והנה הארה זו, אף שלמעלה היא מאירה ומתפשטת בבחינת בלי גבול ותכלית

Now although above, in the lofty worlds of infinitude, this illumination radiates and extends itself in unlimited and infinite fashion,

להחיות עולמות נעלמים לאין קץ ותכלית

to animate worlds that are infinitely concealed,

I.e., there are infinite kinds of worlds, each of which is of infinite degree,

כמו שכתוב באדרא רבא

as is written in the Idra Rabba,1

אף על פי כן, ברדתה למטה על ידי צמצומים רבים

nevertheless, as [this radiation] descends by means of numerous contractions,

להחיות הנבראים והיצורים והנעשים

to animate the beings that have been created, formed and made,

In their Hebrew original, these three verbs allude respectively to the beings that inhabit the Worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah. Accordingly, we understand that previously reference was being made to the World of Atzilut and to those infinite worlds that are “higher” than Atzilut.

היא נחלקת דרך כלל למספר תרי״ג, כנגד תרי״ג מצות התורה

it is divided primarily into 613 [rays], corresponding to the 613 commandments of the Torah.

שהן הן תרי״ג מיני המשכות הארה זו, מאור אין סוף ברוך הוא

These [commandments] are in fact 613 kinds of conduits which transmit this radiation from the [infinite] Ein Sof-light,

להאיר לנשמת האדם, הכלולה מרמ״ח אברים ושס״ה גידים

[whose function is] to illumine man’s soul, which comprises 248 “organs” and 365 “sinews”, totalling 613 elements.

אשר בעבורה עיקר תכלית ירידת והמשכת הארה זו למטה

For it was mainly for the sake of [man’s soul] that this radiation was caused to flow down below

לכל הנבראים והיצורים והנעשים

to all those beings which have been created, formed and made, their respective locations in the Worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah being “below” the loftier worlds of infinite degree,

שתכלית כולן הוא האדם, כנודע

since the ultimate purpose of all these [beings], as is known, is man.

Thus, G‑d’s Being is indeed utterly uncompounded, so that there cannot possibly be any division into “parts”. Nevertheless, with regard to the radiation that descends below, (whose main purpose is that it permeate the Jewish soul,) the concept of “parts” does apply.

The above-mentioned rays are the 613 basic “parts” into which the radiance is diffused. More specifically, as the Alter Rebbe now goes on to say, each of these general “parts” subdivides into an infinite number of smaller “parts”.

והנה מספר זה הוא בדרך כלל

Now this number — i.e., the above division of the Divine radiance into 613 “parts”, corresponding to the 613 command-ments — is the primary, basic division.

אבל בדרך פרט, הנה כל מצוה ומצוה מתחלקת לפרטים רבים לאין קץ ותכלית

More specifically, however, every single commandment subdivides into infinite details.

והן הן גופי הלכות פרטיות שבכל מצוה, שאין להם מספר

These are the essentials of the detailed rulings of every commandment, which are without number,

כמו שכתוב: ששים המה מלכות, הן ס׳ מסכתות כו׳

as it is written,2 “Sixty are the queens,” which [as our Sages3 comment] alludes to the sixty tractates....

ועלמות אין מספר, הן ההלכות כו׳

[The same verse continues:] “...and maidens without number,” which [as our Sages comment] alludes to the innumerable rulings of the individual laws,

שהן המשכת רצון העליון כו׳

for they are a downward flow from the Supreme Will..., which is infinite.

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to say that just as the soul is made up of 248 “organs” and 365 “sinews” so that it may absorb the luminosity of the 613 general radiations, so, too, are souls further divisible, so that they may absorb the infinite degrees of the more differentiated radiations.

וכן הוא ממש בנשמת האדם

It is precisely so with man’s soul, which has the means to absorb the innumerable details of the downward flow of Divine radiance.

כי הנה כל הנשמות שבעולם היו כלולות באדם הראשון

For all the souls in the world were comprised in Adam.4

ודרך כלל היתה נשמתו נחלקת למספר תרי״ג: רמ״ח אברים ושס״ה גידים

Basically, his soul was divisible into 613 elements, con-sisting of 248 “organs” and 365 “sinews”.

אך דרך פרט נחלקת לניצוצות אין מספר

More specifically, however, his soul was divisible into innumerable sparks,

שהן נשמות כל ישראל מימות האבות והשבטים, עד ביאת המשיח ועד בכלל

which are the souls of all of Israel from the days of the Patriarchs and the [founders of the Twelve] Tribes, up to and including the time of the coming of Mashiach,

שיקוים אז מה שכתוב: והיה מספר בני ישראל כחול הים, אשר לא ימד ולא יספר מרוב

when [the promise of] Scripture will be fulfilled: “And the number of the Children of Israel will be like the sand of the sea, that cannot be measured nor counted,”5 “because of its great quantity.”6

We understand from the above that Adam’s soul (which comprised the innumerable sparks of individual souls) was capable of receiving the infinitely numerous detailed emanations from the radiance of the Supreme Will, which ultimately animates all of the individual Jewish souls.

* * *

FOOTNOTES
1. Zohar III, 127b ff.
2. Shir HaShirim 6:8.
3. Cf. Shir HaShirim Rabbah 6:9.
4. See Bereishit Rabbah 40:2.
5. Hoshea 2:1.
6. Note of the Rebbe: “The conclusion of this quotation is drawn from another verse” [viz., Bereishit 16:10].


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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