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Tuesday, 27 Iyar 5777 / May 23, 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.

Daily Tanya

Daily Tanya

Likutei Amarim, middle of Chapter 52

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Likutei Amarim, middle of Chapter 52

אבל השכינה עצמה, שהיא ראשית הגילוי ועיקרו, מה שאין סוף ברוך הוא מאיר לעולמות בבחינת גילוי, והיא מקור כל המשכות החיות שבכל העולמות

But as for the Shechinah itself, namely, the origin and core of the manifestation whereby the blessed Ein Sof illumines the Worlds in a revealed form and which is the source of all streams of vitality in the Worlds,

שכל החיות שבהם אינו רק אור המתפשט ממנה כאור המתפשט מהשמש

(1their entire vitality being no more than the light which is diffused from it like the light radiated from the sun), —

אי אפשר לעולמות לסבול ולקבל אור שכינתה, שתשכון ותתלבש בתוכם ממש, בלא לבוש המעלים ומסתיר אורה מהם

concerning the Shechinah itself, the source of all vitality for the worlds: the worlds cannot endure or receive the light of this Shechinah, that it might actually dwell and enclothe itself in them, without a “garment” to screen and conceal its light from them,

שלא יתבטלו במציאות לגמרי במקורם, כביטול אור השמש במקורו בגוף השמש, שאין נראה שם אור זה, רק עצם גוף השמש בלבד

so that they may not become entirely nullified and lose their identity within their source, just as the light of the sun is nullified in its source, namely, in the sun itself — where this light cannot be seen, but only the integral mass of the sun itself.

So, too, since the Shechinah is the source of vitality of the whole of creation, all of which receives but a ray of the Shechinah, then if the Shechinah itself — the actual source — would be manifest, all created beings would be nullified in that source. Their situation would be exactly similar to the sun’s rays as they are found within the orb of the sun, where they are completely nullified.

In order for the Shechinah to dwell within the Worlds and their creatures, there must therefore be a “garment” which serves to conceal its light. Only then can creation receive the Shechinah and not be nullified out of existence.

But what manner of “garment” can possibly conceal the Shechinah and yet itself not be affected by it, so that it, too, will not become nullified? Since the Shechinah is the source of all creation, it is of course the source of the concealing “garment” too.

In other words: If the Shechinah is manifest in the “garment”, i.e., if the garment is enveloped by its source, then it follows that it should be nullified out of existence, just as the sun’s rays cease to exist within the body of the sun. In effect, this would make the “garment” cease serving as a “garment” to conceal the Shechinah.

The Alter Rebbe anticipates this question by stating that the “garment” is G‑d’s Will and wisdom, which are enclothed in Torah and the mitzvot. Since this “garment” belongs to a plane even higher than (the source of the world’s vitality known as) the Shechinah, it is not nullified by it.

However, asks the Rebbe, according to this explanation the question becomes even stronger: If creation cannot receive the light of the Shechinah, then surely it cannot receive the light of the “garment” which is even higher than the Shechinah.

This, the Rebbe says, is answered by the Alter Rebbe when he says, “only that it has descended by means of obscuring gradations.” This means to say: Since G‑d’s Will and wisdom as found in Torah and the mitzvot “descended” in the gradations of the Worlds, being able to clothe themselves even in material things, they therefore can serve as a “garment” to conceal the light of the Shechinah.

We now understand why the “garment” itself is not nullified by the light of the Shechinah, as well as how created beings can receive this “garment” within themselves, for it is none other than G‑d’s Will and wisdom which He enclothed in Torah and the mitzvot — as shall presently be explained.

ומהו הלבוש שיוכל להסתירה ולהלבישה ולא יתבטל במציאות באורה, הוא רצונו יתברך וחכמתו וכו׳ המלובשים בתורה ומצותיה, הנגלית לנו ולבנינו

But what is this “garment” which is able to conceal and clothe it (the Shechinah) yet will not itself be completely nullified within its light? — This is His blessed Will and wisdom, and so forth (“and so forth” referring to the levels of Binah and Daat which are part of “intelligence” Above, as mentioned earlier), which are clothed in the Torah and its mitzvot that are revealed to us and our children,

Why are G‑d’s Will and wisdom and so forth able to act as a concealing “garment” for the light of the Shechinah without themselves being nullified by it?

דאורייתא מחכמה נפקת, היא חכמה עילאה, דלעילא לעילא מעלמא דאתגליא

for “the Torah issues from wisdom,” namely Chochmah Ila‘ah (“Supernal Wisdom,” which is the level of Chochmah of Atzilut), that is immeasurably higher than the world of manifestation (which is the Shechinah),

As mentioned earlier, Shechinah refers to the initial stage of revelation, for which reason it is called the “world of manifestation.” Since Chochmah Ila‘ah is entirely beyond the pale of revelation it is therefore immeasurably higher than the Shechinah.

דאיהו חכים ולא בחכמה ידיעה וכו׳

for “He is wise,” with the wisdom of Chochmah of Atzilut, “but not with a knowable wisdom,” and so forth.

וכמו שנתבאר לעיל, שאור אין סוף ברוך הוא מלובש ומיוחד בחכמה עילאה, והוא יתברך וחכמתו אחד

And as has previously been explained, the [infinite] light of the blessed Ein Sof is clothed in and united with the Supernal Wisdom — and He and His wisdom are One.

Thus, Chochmah as well as the other levels of Divine “intelligence” (such as Binah and Daat) are far superior to the level of the light of the Shechinah. They are therefore able to serve as a “garment” concealing the Shechinah, without being nullified by its light. But how can Divine “intelligence” serve as a “garment”, and how can created beings accept this garment when it is in fact loftier than the Shechinah itself? The Alter Rebbe now answers this question.

רק שירדה בסתר המדרגות ממדריגה למדריגה בהשתלשלות העולמות, עד שנתלבשה בדברים גשמיים, שהן תרי״ג מצות התורה

— Only this is because it (Supernal Wisdom and the Torah2) has descended by means of obscuring gradations, from a higher grade to a lower grade, with the descent of the Worlds, until it (the Torah) has clothed itself in material things, namely, the 613 commandments of the Torah.

Parentheses are in the original text.
The Rebbe notes: “Possibly this alludes only to Torah. See above, ch. 4, where exactly the same expression is used. See also beginning of ch. 53: ‘The Supernal Wisdom of Atzilut, which is the totality of the Torah.’ — This matter requires further investigation.”

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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