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Monday, 29 Adar 5777 / March 27, 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

Likutei Amarim, middle of Chapter 37

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Likutei Amarim, middle of Chapter 37

ואף על פי כן אמרו רז״ל: לא המדרש עיקר אלא המעשה

Nevertheless, notwithstanding the superior level of unity with G‑dliness attained only by Torah, our Sages have said:1 “The essential thing is not study, but deed.”

והיום לעשותם כתיב, ומבטלין תלמוד תורה לקיום מצוה מעשיית, כשאי אפשר לעשותה על ידי אחרים

It is also written:2 “This day, i.e., during our life in this world, the all-important thing is to do them” (the mitzvot). And the Halachah rules that one must interrupt Torah study to perform a mitzvah of action when it cannot be fulfilled by others.

משום כי זה כל האדם, ותכלית בריאתו וירידתו לעולם הזה

For “this (the active performance of mitzvot) is man’s entire purpose,” the purpose for which he was created and for which [his soul] descended to this world,

להיות לו יתברך דירה בתחתונים דוקא, לאהפכא חשוכא לנהורא

so that G‑d may have an abode precisely in the lowest realms, to turn the darkness of this world into light of holiness,

וימלא כבוד ה׳ את כל הארץ הגשמית דייקא, וראו כל בשר יחדיו, כנ״ל

so that G‑d’s glory fill specifically the entire physical world, and “all flesh will behold [G‑dliness] together,” as was discussed above (ch. 36).

Thus, the goal of making this world an abode for G‑d is achieved primarily through mitzvot of action. Therefore, when presented with the opportunity of performing a mitzvah that others cannot fulfill, one must fulfill this mitzvah even at the cost of interrrupting his Torah studies, so that G‑d’s desire for “an abode in the lower realms” be realized.

If, however, the mitzvah that clashes with one’s Torah study can be fulfilled by others, the choice is no longer between respecting or ignoring G‑d’s desire for “an abode...” — whether he suspends his Torah study to perform the mitzvah, or continues his studies and leaves the mitzvah to others, this objective will be realized regardless. The choice is now between studying Torah and actively performing a mitzvah; and here Torah study prevails because of the superior level of unity that it effects between the Torah student’s soul and G‑d.

In the Alter Rebbe’s words:

מה שאין כן כשאפשר לעשותה על ידי אחרים, אין מבטלין תלמוד תורה, אף שכל התורה אינה אלא פירוש המצות מעשיות

On the other hand, if [the mitzvah] can be performed by others, one does not interrupt Torah study to perform it, even though the whole Torah is, after all, only an explanation of the mitzvot of action.

והיינו משום שהיא בחינת חב״ד של אין סוף ברוך הוא, ובעסקו בה ממשיך עליו אור אין סוף ברוך הוא ביתר שאת והארה גדולה לאין קץ מהארה והמשכה על ידי פקודין, שהן אברים דמלכא

This is because the Torah is the level of ChaBaD of the blessed Ein Sof, and hence, when one is engaged in [studying] it he draws upon himself an infinitely greater illumination of the blessed Ein Sof-light — greater both in its illuminative power and in its higher quality — than the illumination and influence that one draws upon his soul through mitzvot, which are [merely] “organs” of the King.

What emerges from this discussion is that the effect of mitzvot consists primarily of the elevation of one’s body and the physical world in general; the effect of Torah study on the other hand is to unite the soul with G‑d. Accordingly, the Alter Rebbe explains the following Talmudic statement:

וזה שאמר רב ששת: חדאי נפשאי, לך קראי, לך תנאי

This is what Rav Sheshet meant when he said,3 “Rejoice, my soul! For you do I study Scripture; for you do I study Mishnah,

For the soul, the unity with G‑d attained through Torah (Scripture and Mishnah) is greater than that attained through mitzvot; he therefore addressed these words to it: “For your sake I learn....”

כמו שנתבאר במקום אחר באריכות

as the superiority of the soul’s unity with G‑d through Torah is explained elsewhere at length.4

Avot 1:17.
Devarim 7:11.
Pesachim 68b.
The Rebbe notes: “Possibly this alludes to the discourse in Torah Or, beginning of Parshat Mishpatim.

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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