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Sunday, 9 Nissan 5775 / March 29, 2015
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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.

Daily Tanya

Daily Tanya

Likutei Amarim, middle of Chapter 39

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Likutei Amarim, middle of Chapter 39

Having explained that Beriah is the abode of souls that served G‑d with intellectual love and fear, and Yetzirah — of souls that served Him with natural love and fear, the Alter Rebbe will now discuss the divine service of those souls whose abode is the World of Atzilut. The quality of their divine service, he explains, surpasses even that of intellectual love and fear. This is the level of those tzaddikim who become veritable “chariots” for G‑d: they have no will save His Will, and their every act testifies to their utter self-nullification before Him.

ועולם האצילות, שהוא למעלה מהשכל וההשגה וההבנה לשכל נברא

The World of Atzilut is beyond the intelligence, grasp and understanding of a created being’s intellect. Even a spiritual being in the World of Beriah is after all a created being, and Atzilut is beyond its grasp as well.

כי חכמתו ובינתו ודעתו של אין סוף ברוך הוא מיוחדות שם בו בתכלית היחוד

For the Chochmah, Binah and Daat of the Ein Sof are united with Him there (in Atzilut) in perfect unity,

ביחוד עצום ונפלא, ביתר שאת ויתר עז לאין קץ מבעולם הבריאה

in a profound and wonderful unity infinitely superior to that [unity] found in Beriah.

כי שם ירדו להאיר בבחינת צמצום

For there they descended to illuminate [only] to a restricted (“contracted”) degree. The ChaBaD of Atzilut (referred to here as “ChaBaD of Ein Sof”) radiate in Beriah only after their light is “contracted”,

כדי שיוכלו שכלים נבראים לקבל מהן חב״ד, לידע את ה׳ ולהבין ולהשיג איזו השגה באור אין סוף ברוך הוא

so as to enable the intellect of created beings (namely, the angels and souls of Beriah) to receive ChaBaD — wisdom, understanding and knowledge — from [these Sefirot of Atzilut], so that they might know G‑d, and so that they might grasp and comprehend something of the Ein Sof-light,

כפי כח שכלים הנבראים, שהם בעלי גבול ותכלית

to the extent that the intellect of finite, limited, created beings is capable of understanding.

שלא יתבטלו במציאותם ולא יהיו בגדר נבראים כלל, רק יחזרו למקורם ושרשם, שהוא בחינת אלקות ממש

To achieve this purpose a “contraction” of ChaBaD of Atzilut was necessary, lest they (the created beings of Beriah) dissolve out of existence and lest they furthermore cease altogether to exist as created beings, reverting instead to their source and root, namely G‑dliness itself.

Were the ChaBaD of Atzilut to shine forth in Beriah without being “contracted”, allowing the creatures of Beriah to grasp G‑dliness as it radiates in the Sefirot of Atzilut, these creatures would be overwhelmed by the G‑dly illumination beyond their capacity to absorb, and would dissolve out of existence.

Hence, the Alter Rebbe will now continue, it is only the G‑dliness in a “contracted” ChaBaD that creatures of Beriah can grasp and absorb (and even then, only to the extent of their limited capacity); the light of ChaBaD in its pristine state, as in Atzilut, is beyond them.

והנה צמצום זה היא סבת ההארה שמאירות שם חב״ד של אין סוף ברוך הוא לנשמות אלו בעולם הבריאה

This contraction (which ChaBaD of Atzilut undergo in order to radiate in Beriah) thus causes the souls in the World of Beriah to be illuminated by a glow of ChaBaD of Ein Sof (i.e., ChaBaD of Atzilut); it is this contraction that enables them to have some perception of the Ein Sof-light.

מה שאין כן באצילות, שאינם בבחינת צמצום כל כך, אי אפשר לשכלים נבראים לקבל מהן

The created intellectual beings [of Beriah] cannot, however, apprehend ChaBaD as they are (i.e., in all their undimmed intensity) in the World of Atzilut, where the ChaBaD are not contracted to such a great degree as in Beriah.

“To such a great degree” — for the very fact of their being Sefirot (i.e., individual, defined categories) indicates that ChaBaD are merely contracted, limited manifestations of the undefinable Ein Sof; the degree of contraction, however, is much less than that of Beriah, and therefore the creatures of Beriah cannot receive intellectual illumination from ChaBaD of Atzilut.

ולכן לית מחשבה דלהון תפיסא שם כלל

Therefore, their thought cannot grasp there at all, i.e., the thought and intellect of the created beings of Beriah can in no way grasp the light radiating in Atzilut.

לכן הוא מדור לצדיקים הגדולים

For this reason, [Atzilut] is the abode of the great tzaddikim,

שעבודתם היא למעלה מעלה אפילו מבחינת דחילו ורחימו הנמשכות מהבינה ודעת בגדולתו יתברך

whose service of G‑d is far superior even to fear and love derived from understanding and knowing His greatness,

כמו שעולם האצילות הוא למעלה מעלה מבחינת בינה ודעת לשכל נברא

just as Atzilut transcends by far the level of the understanding and knowledge of a created being’s intellect.

אלא עבודתם היתה בבחינת מרכבה ממש לאין סוף ברוך הוא

Their service is, rather, on the level of an actual “chariot” of the blessed Ein Sof,

וליבטל אליו במציאות, ולהכלל באורו יתברך, הם וכל אשר להם

nullifying their very existence before Him, and incorporating themselves, and all that they possess, within His light,

על ידי קיום התורה והמצות

through the observance of the Torah and the mitzvot.

על דרך שאמרו: האבות הן הן המרכבה, והיינו לפי שכל ימיהם היתה זאת עבודתם

Our Sages applied such a description to the Patriarchs, saying that1 “they themselves constituted the divine chariot,” for this was the Patriarchs‘ level of service, throughout their lives.

The Patriarchs were constantly in that state of self-nullification before G‑d denoted by the term “chariot”. Similarly, in the case of the tzaddikim spoken of here. Through their Torah and mitzvot, they effect the highest degree of self-nullification before G‑d in themselves and in all their affairs. The abode of their souls, therefore, is likewise in a World pervaded with this spirit of self-nullification, namely the World of Atzilut.

אך מי ששרש נשמתו קטן מהכיל עבודה תמה זו

But he whose soul’s root is of too limited a capacity for this perfect service on the level of a “chariot”,

ליבטל וליכלל באורו יתברך בעבודתו בקביעות

so that through his service of Torah and mitzvot he be constantly nullified before and absorbed in G‑d’s light,

רק לפרקים ועתים שהם עת רצון למעלה

[and he can therefore attain this state] only intermittently and [only] at times of divine favor on high,

וכמו בתפלת שמונה עשרה, שהיא באצילות

such as during the Shemoneh-Esreh prayer, which is at the level of Atzilut,

The four rungs in the ladder of prayer correspond to the four Worlds: The prayers preceding Baruch She‘amar correspond to Asiyah; the Psalms of Praise to Yetzirah; the Shema to Beriah, and the Shemoneh-Esreh is at the level of Atzilut.

ובפרט בהשתחוואות שבה, שכל השתחוואה היא בבחינת אצילות כמו שכתוב בפרי עץ חיים, בקבלת שבת

and especially when bowing in the four designated places in this prayer, for every such act of bowing represents the level of Atzilut (2as is written in Pri Etz Chayim, in the section dealing with the welcoming of the Sabbath),

כי היא ענין ביטול באורו יתברך, להיות חשיב קמיה כלא ממש

for it embodies the idea of self-nullification in G‑d’s light — to be accounted as absolutely naught before Him;

אזי גם כן עיקר קביעות נשמתו הוא בעולם הבריאה

In the case of he who can attain the level of a “chariot” only at such propitious times, then even at these times, the principal abode of his soul is in the World of Beriah (for we are dealing here with a soul associated with the World of Beriah),

רק לפרקים, בעת רצון, תעלה נשמתו לאצילות בבחינת מיין נוקבין, כידוע ליודעי ח״ן

(3and only occasionally, at a time of divine favor, will his soul rise to Atzilut as “feminine waters,” as is known to the initiates of Kabbalah).

FOOTNOTES
1. Bereishit Rabbah 47:6; Zohar I, 210b.
2. Parentheses are in the original text.
3. Parentheses 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.
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