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Wednesday, 24 Tishrei 5777 / October 26, 2016
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 24

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Iggeret HaKodesh, end of Epistle 24

ועל כן קבעו חז״ל בתפלה: כאלו עומד לפני המלך

For this reason our Sages, of blessed memory, ordained that with prayer one should [conduct himself]1 “as if he is standing before the king.”

Now if he is standing before the King of kings, why do our Sages say “as if”? This means:

על כל פנים יהיה מראה בעצמו כאלו עומד כו׳ לעין כל רואה בעיני בשר אל מעשיו ודיבוריו

At least he should make himself appear as if he is standing [before the king] in the sight of all who look with physical eyes at his actions and words,

אף שאין לו מחשבה לכסיל

even though a fool has no thought — although he does not have even an intellectual realization that while standing in prayer he truly is standing before the King.

ועל זה הענין נתקן כל התפלות, למתבונן בהם היטב

It was concerning this matter — the realization that one is standing before the King at the time that He appointed to reveal His glory to those who seek Him — that all the prayers were instituted,2 [as is evident] to whoever meditates deeply upon them.

ומי שאינו מראה כן, מתחייב בנפשו

But he that does not show this [realization] is guilty of a capital offense,

ועליו אמרו בזהר הקדוש, דאנהיג קלנא בתקונא עילאה, ואחזי פרודא, ולית ליה חולקא באלקא דישראל, רחמנא ליצלן

and of him it was said in the sacred Zohar3 that “he brings disgrace into the Supernal Order, and shows that he is separate [from holiness], and has no share in the G‑d of Israel,” heaven forfend.

על כן שליחותייהו דרז״ל קא עבידנא

Therefore, declares the Alter Rebbe, I am hereby acting as an agent of our Sages, of blessed memory,

לגזור גזירה שוה לכל נפש, שלא לשוח שיחה בטלה, משיתחיל השליח ציבור להתפלל התפלה, עד גמר קדיש בתרא, שחרית מנחה ערבית

to enact a decree4 to apply equally to everyone: No idle talk is to be spoken from the moment the Reader begins to recite the prayers until the end of the last Kaddish, at Shacharit, Minchah5 and Maariv.6

והעובר על זה בזדון, ישב על הארץ ויבקש משלושה אנשים שיתירו לו נידוי שלמעלה

And he who disobeys intentionally shall sit on the ground and beg of three people to release him from the supernal excommunication that results from disobeying a Rabbinic decree.

ושב ורפא לו, ולא חל עליו שום נידוי למפרע כל עיקר

“He should repent, resolving to change his ways, and he will be healed,”7 and retroactively, no excommunication whatever will have applied to him.

כי מתחלתו לא חל כי אם על המורדים והפושעים, שאינם חוששים כלל לבקש כפרה מן השמים ומן הבריות, על העון פלילי הזה

For from the very outset it applied only to those who rebel and are willfully sinful, and who do not care at all to seek atonement (as they ought) from heaven and from man for this grievous sin.

וגם דוקא כשמדברים בזדון, בשאט נפש

Also, [this excommunication applies] only when people speak deliberately and brazenly,

ולא על השוכח, או שנזרקו מפיו כמה תיבות בלא מתכוין, שאינו צריך התרה כלל

but not to a person who forgets, or unwittingly uttered a few words, for he does not require a release [from the excommunication] at all.

ובוחן לבות וכליות אלקים צדיק

“And G‑d Who is righteous examines the heart and the kidneys”:8 He probes a man’s inner integrity, and is able to discern a deliberate offense from an unwitting one.

הטיבה ה׳ לטובים, ולישרים בלבותם

The Alter Rebbe concludes with a prayer:9 “Be benevolent, O G‑d, unto the good,” i.e., to those who refrain utterly from idle speech, “and unto those who are upright in their hearts”; i.e., also to those whose hearts meant well, but from whose lips a few words inadvertently escaped.

Berachot 33a.
Note of the Rebbe: “The singular form of the verb נתקן [i.e., the Hebrew original of ‘instituted’] should be checked against other [earlier] editions.”
I, 131b.
See Semak, conclusion of sec. 11.
Minchah has been listed here before Maariv, in accordance with the Table of Glosses and Emendations compiled by the Rebbe.
Note of the Rebbe: “It could be suggested that [Minchah was originally listed last] in order to show that the Alter Rebbe’s message applies to Shacharit and Arvit, and (even) to Minchah. That is to say, that even with regard to Minchah — which is a prayer that comes as a continuation of Shacharit (for which reason the Shema need not be recited again) — the same stringency applies, with regard to speaking during prayers. (This is the case even though it is obvious that there are interruptions between the Shema of Shacharit, which is also connected to Minchah, and the Minchah prayer itself.)”
Yeshayahu 6:10.
Tehillim 7:10.
Ibid. 125:4.

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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