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This letter comments on a discourse (in Tzavaat HaRivash, sec. 120 in the Kehot editions) in which the Baal Shem Tov explains that though all things emanate from G‑d through His attributes of love and awe, these attributes can find themselves in a state of exile.

The Baal Shem Tov goes on to say that in the same way, a worshiper who finds that his endeavors to concentrate are being disturbed by someone speaking should consider: “Why did G‑d bring me here, where this talker is disturbing my prayers? After all, everything is Providential.”

Indeed it is, explains the Baal Shem Tov: this man’s talk is a spark of the radiance of the Shechinah that has descended and now “abides” in his mouth, in order that the worshiper should exert himself so strenuously that he will be able to ignore the disturbance. (The verb used in the above-quoted version of the teaching is “abides” — שרתה; as the Alter Rebbe will soon explain, the proper term is “vested” — נתלבשה.)

Especially so, the text there goes on to say, if the person speaking is a heathen or a child, then the realization that the Shechinah has (as it were) contracted itself to such a degree should surely bring the worshiper to ever-increasing fervor.

It would seem that the opponents of Chassidism seized upon this statement of the Baal Shem Tov: they could not understand how one could possibly say that the Shechinah “abided” (or even was “vested”) within a heathen.

The Alter Rebbe explains this in the present letter, beginning with the teaching of the Sages that “Whoever is in a rage resembles an idolater.” A Jew, he explains, must know that everything comes from G‑d. When someone strikes him or angers him with words, he should remind himself that at that very moment, a glimmer of the Divine Presence — which provides life to all creatures and to this individual as well — has vested itself within that person.

The Alter Rebbe goes on to prove this from King David’s response when Shimi ben Geira cursed him. King David said: “For G‑d told him, ‘Curse!’” Although we do not find it explicitly stated that G‑d told Shimi to curse David, still, since G‑d’s spirit animated Shimi at the moment that he cursed David, thus providing him with the strength to do so, David considered this as if “G‑d told him to curse.” Indeed, as the Alter Rebbe goes on to explain, a glimmer or irradiation of the Shechinah vests itself even in kelipot.

Throughout this discussion the Alter Rebbe does not actually quote the Baal Shem Tov’s teaching nor the above objection to it. The reason for the latter omission may perhaps be understood in light of the fact that the Alter Rebbe was prepared for mesirut nefesh, literally risking his life, not to be sundered from any teaching or even the slightest gesture of the Baal Shem Tov, even if it would only appear to be so in the eyes of the beholder.1

It is thus reasonable to assume that here as well, the Alter Rebbe chose not to even mention an objection raised against a teaching of the Baal Shem Tov; he merely clarifies the concepts involved, and the objection falls away as a matter of course.

להבין אמרי בינה

“To comprehend the words of understanding,” i.e., the words of Torah,2

מה שכתוב בספר הנקרא צוואת ריב״ש

stated in the book called Tzavaat Rivash3 (“The Testament of the Baal Shem Tov),”

הגם שבאמת אינה צוואתו כלל, ולא ציוה כלל לפני פטירתו

though in fact it is not at all4 his will or testament, and he did not ordain anything before his passing;

רק הם לקוטי אמרותיו הטהורות

they (i.e., the teachings in this book) are merely gleanings of his pure sayings

The adjective (“pure”) recalls the phrase in the morning blessings, טהורה היא, that describes the pristine purity of a soul before it descends from the World of Atzilut; likewise the verse,5 כעצם השמים לטוהר (“as pure as the very heavens”).

שלקטו לקוטי בתר לקוטי

that were gathered as6 “compilations after compilations,”

ולא ידעו לכוין הלשון על מתכונתו

and [the compilers] did not know how to phrase his teachings exactly.

For the Baal Shem Tov used to speak in Yiddish, and the teachings in Tzavaat HaRivash are recorded in Hebrew.

אך המכוון הוא אמת לאמיתו

The connotation, however, of the teachings is absolutely true.

The Alter Rebbe now begins to explain the statement in Tzavaat HaRivash, sec. 120.

והוא בהקדים מאמר רז״ל: כל הכועס, כאילו עובד עבודת כוכבים ומזלות

And this [will be understood] by first considering the teaching of our Sages, of blessed memory:7 “Whoever is in a rage resembles an idolater.”

והטעם מובן ליודעי בינה

The reason [for this] is clear to those who8 “know un-derstanding,”

לפי שבעת כעסו, נסתלקה ממנו האמונה

because at the time of his anger, faith in G‑d and in His individual Divine Providence has left him.

כי אילו היה מאמין שמאת ה׳ היתה זאת לו, לא היה בכעס כלל

For were he to believe that what happened to him was G‑d’s doing, he would not be angry at all.

ואף שבן אדם, שהוא בעל בחירה, מקללו או מכהו או מזיק ממונו

True, it is a person possessed of free choice that is cursing him, or striking him, or causing damage to his property,

ומתחייב בדיני אדם ובדיני שמים על רוע בחירתו

and [therefore] guilty according to the laws of man and the laws of heaven for his evil choice.

The perpetrator for his part cannot plead innocence on the grounds that he is merely an instrument in the hands of Divine Providence.

אף על פי כן, על הניזק כבר נגזר מן השמים

Nevertheless, as regards the person harmed, this [incident] was already decreed in heaven,

והרבה שלוחים למקום

and9 “G‑d has many agents” through whom He can act.

Hence, even if the offending party had chosen otherwise, the incident would have befallen the victim in any case.

This discussion recalls the teaching of the Mechilta cited by Rashi on the verse,10 והאלקים אנה לידו — “and G‑d caused it to happen to him.” For to such a case the Mechilta applies the verse,11 “From evildoers there emerges evil.” This means that though it was decreed from above that someone should sustain an injury, G‑d brings it about that a particular person should inflict it.

That context, however, speaks of an unwitting injury. In the case of a potentially willful offender, if instead of choosing freely to act in an evil manner he chose to do otherwise, the event would still have occurred, for “G‑d has many agents,” as quoted above.

At any rate, it is thus clear that the victim has no cause to be angry with the offender, for the true cause of the offense was not him, but a heavenly decree.

The Alter Rebbe now takes this one step further: Not only does the heavenly decree give the offender an undefined potential to do harm, but moreover, the particular thought to do it and the power to do it, all come about from G‑d. (At the same time, since man has freedom of choice, he can of course choose to reject such a thought and refrain from doing such a deed.)

Anger thus remains unjustifiable. For the offended party is not angry that the other party made an evil choice; what angers him is the damage done to him. His anger thus results from his lack of belief that the true cause for his mishap is not a particular individual’s evil choice, but a heavenly decree.

ולא עוד

And not only this, that a heavenly decree gave permission in principle and made it possible that he suffer injury,

אלא אפילו בשעה זו ממש, שמכהו או מקללו

but even at that very moment at which [the offender] strikes or curses him,

מתלבש בו כח ה׳ ורוח פיו יתברך, המחייהו ומקיימו

there is vested in him (in the offender) a force from G‑d and the breath of His mouth, which animates and sustains him;

וכמו שכתוב: כי ה׳ אמר לו, קלל

as it is written:12 “For G‑d told him, ‘Curse!’”

והיכן אמר לשמעי

Now where did He say so to Shimi? Where do we find it written that G‑d told him to curse David?

אלא שמחשבה זו, שנפלה לשמעי בלבו ומוחו, ירדה מאת ה׳

But this thought that occurred in Shimi’s heart and mind to curse David, descended from G‑d, Who was thus responsible for such a thought entering Shimi’s mind;

ורוח פיו, המחיה כל צבאם

and13 “the breath of His mouth, [which animates] all the hosts [of heaven],”

החיה רוחו של שמעי, בשעה שדיבר דברים אלו לדוד

animated the spirit of Shimi at the time he spoke those words to David.

כי אילו נסתלק רוח פיו יתברך רגע אחד מרוחו של שמעי, לא יכול לדבר מאומה

For if the breath of G‑d’s mouth had departed from the spirit of Shimi for a single moment, he could not have spoken at all.

* * *

וזהו כי ה׳ אמר לו בעת ההיא ממש: קלל את דוד

(14And that is the meaning of the statement, “For G‑d told him (at that very moment when Shimi was speaking these words), ‘Curse David!’

I.e., G‑d did so by providing Shimi at that time with life and the power of speech.

ומי יאמר לו וגו׳

And who shall say to him, [‘Why did you do so?’]”

In the Table of Glosses and Emendations (Luach He’arot VeTikkunim) which is appended to standard editions of the Tanya, the Rebbe notes that the words “to him” (לו) seem to be unnecessary, inasmuch as the above-quoted verse simply states, without this addition, “And who shall say, ‘Why did you do so?’”

It has been suggested that the Rebbe notes that these words merely “seem” superfluous, rather than stating outright that they are, because at this point the Alter Rebbe is actually referring to another verse:15 “For the word of a king rules, and who shall say to Him, ‘What are You doing?’”

However, rather than adopt this labored assumption, that the Alter Rebbe suddenly changes direction and interpolates one word from another verse, it appears more reasonable to say that the words “to Him” are not intended as a quotation. Rather, since some commentators hold that the conclusion of our verse (“And who shall say to him...”) refers to Shimi, the Alter Rebbe here makes it clear that it in fact speaks of G‑d. I.e., having first related that G‑d “told” Shimi what to do, the verse ends by asking, “Who can possibly say to Him, ‘Why did You do so?’”

וכנודע מה שאמר הבעל שם טוב ז״ל על פסוק: לעולם, ה׳, דברך נצב בשמים

The teaching of the Baal Shem Tov, of blessed memory, on the verse,16 “Forever, O G‑d, Your word stands firm in the heavens,” is well known:

As mentioned above in Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah, ch. 1, the Baal Shem Tov expanded and disseminated the following concept that appears in Midrash Tehillim:

שצירוף אותיות שנבראו בהן השמים, שהוא מאמר יהי רקיע כו׳

The combinations of the letters with which the heavens were created, i.e., the creative utterance,17 “Let there be a firmament...,”

הן נצבות ועומדות מלובשות בשמים לעולם, להחיותם ולקיימם

stand and remain vested in the heavens forever, to animate and sustain them.

As the Alter Rebbe explained in greater detail in Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah, chs. 1 and 2, this is also the case with regard to all created beings.

ולא כהפלוסופים שכופרים בהשגחה פרטית

This differs from the view of the philosophers who deny the individual Providence of the Creator over each and every one of His creations.

ומדמין בדמיונם הכוזב את מעשה ה׳, עושה שמים וארץ, למעשה אנוש ותחבולותיו

Using their false analogy, they liken the work of G‑d, the Maker of heaven and earth, to the work of man and his devices.

כי כאשר יצא לצורף כלי, שוב אין הכלי צריך לידי הצורף

For when a metal-smith has completed a vessel, [it] no longer needs the hands of the smith;

שאף שידיו מסולקות הימנו, הוא קיים מעצמו

though his hands are removed from it, it remains intact by itself.

Some philosophers apply this model to the creation of heaven and earth, and imagine that once G‑d created them they need Him no more, G‑d forbid. These thinkers thus deny hashgachah pratit, individually-directed Divine Providence — the Creator’s constant and ongoing contact with His created beings.

וטח מראות עיניהם ההבדל הגדול שבין מעשה אנוש ותחבולותיו

But their eyes are bedaubed so that they cannot see the great difference between man’s work and schemes,

שהוא יש מיש

which is [the production of] something out of something (yesh miyesh),

רק שמשנה הצורה והתמונה

where he merely changes the form and the appearance,

The shapeless piece of silver that a craftsman transforms into a vessel (a) already existed, and (b) was innately malleable. The craftsman has thus innovated nothing, and the vessel once shaped will therefore not be dependent on him.

The philosophers, however, do not see the difference between this,

למעשה שמים וארץ, שהוא יש מאין

and the creation of heaven and earth, which is creatio ex nihilo (yesh me’ayin), creating something out of nothing.

As the Alter Rebbe will soon point out, something brought into existence out of nothing cannot continue to exist unless the power that creates it remains constantly vested within it.

והוא פלא גדול יותר מקריעת ים סוף, על דרך משל

This — the creation of heaven and earth ex nihilo is an [even] greater wonder than, for example, the splitting of the Red Sea,

אשר הוליך ה׳ ברוח קדים עזה כל הלילה, ויבקעו המים

which G‑d drove back18 “by a strong east wind all that night,... and the waters were divided,” and stood upright like a wall.

ואילו פסק הרוח כרגע, היו המים חוזרים וניגרים במורד, כדרכם וטבעם, ולא קמו כחומה

If the wind had ceased even for a moment, the waters would again have flowed downward, as is their way and nature, and they would not have stood upright like a wall,

In the corresponding passage in Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah, the Alter Rebbe adds the words “without a doubt.”

אף שטבע זה במים, הוא גם כן נברא ומחודש יש מאין

even though this characteristic of water — to flow downward — is also created and innovated ex nihilo.

As the Rebbe explains, not only the water itself, but also its characteristic of fluidity, was created ex nihilo.

Thus, when the wind caused the water to stand like a stone wall, this fluid nature had only to be replaced by the capability of a solid, so that it could stand erect. Nevertheless, since this quality is uncharacteristic of water, this innovation had to be constantly and continuously brought about by the power that first made it possible. (Indeed, were the wind to cease, the water would have reverted to its former self.) Thus, even when a yesh is merely changed into another yesh, the activating force must be constantly present.

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to show how the property of fluidity is not intrinsic to water, but must be created within it.

Certain characteristics do not need to be created separately from a particular being, for they are intrinsic to all created beings; for example, all created beings occupy space. Water, however, need not necessarily flow. Other created beings exist quite happily without this property, and when water exists as a solid (as ice) it too possesses the quality of rigidity. The quality of fluidity is thus not intrinsic to water.

This is what the Alter Rebbe now goes on to say:

שהרי חומת אבנים נצבת מעצמה, בלי רוח, רק שטבע המים אינו כן

For a wall of stone stands erect by itself, without [the assistance of] any wind, but the nature of water is not so.

As stated above, the property of fluidity was something that G‑d created within the already existing entity of water. Though the wind had only to change one yesh to another, replacing the property of fluidity by the property of solidity, this is still considered a wondrous event. And in order for this to have been accomplished, the activating force — in this case, the wind — had to be working constantly.

How much more will this be the case, the Alter Rebbe will soon conclude, with regard to creating a yesh out of utter nothingness. And indeed, the Divine Source responsible for the innovation of the entire universe out of nothing, must be consistently vested within it, in order to enable it to endure and not revert to nothingness. Such a corollary should have been imperative even according to the philosophers. They thus err on two grounds — in their above-mentioned reliance on a misleading analogy, and in their failure to realize that the activating force must constantly be invested within the created being.

Thus, to resume the above argument, if for the miraculous splitting of the Red Sea that only involved the changing of one yesh to another, the continuous action of G‑d was necessary, —

וכל שכן וקל וחומר בבריאת יש מאין, שהוא למעלה מן הטבע, והפלא ופלא יותר מקריעת ים סוף

How much more so, with respect to the creation of an existent being out of nothing, for this transcends nature, and is far more wondrous than the splitting of the Red Sea;

על אחת כמה וכמה שבהסתלקות חס ושלום כח הבורא יש מאין מן הנברא, ישוב הנברא לאין ואפס ממש

surely if the creative power that creates an existent being out of nothing were (heaven forfend) to be withdrawn from a created being, that being would revert to utter naught and non-existence.

אלא צריך להיות כח הפועל בנפעל תמיד, להחיותו ולקיימו

Rather,19 the activating force of the Creator, which initially brings every created being into existence, must continuously be present within the thing created, to give it life and continued existence.

ובחינה זו היא דבר ה׳ ורוח פיו שבעשרה מאמרות, שבהן נברא העולם

This20 [force] is the “word of G‑d” and the “breath of His mouth,” that are to be found in the Ten Utterances by which the universe was created.

The Ten Utterances are the source of the “letters of speech” by means of which all of creation is brought into existence. Moreover, as explained in the first chapter of Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah, even those created beings which are not specifically mentioned in the Ten Utterances, likewise derive their vitality from the Ten Utterances by means of various combinations, substitutions and transpositions of these letters.

ואפילו ארץ הלזו הגשמית, ובחינת דומם שבה

And even as regards this physical earth and its inorganic component,

Earth21 possesses a potential (ko’ach hatzomeiach) that enables vegetation to grow. In the case of created beings that are part of the vegetative realm, growth thus visibly testifies to the presence of an activating force. Created beings that are part of the inanimate or inorganic realm that is represented in the earth, demonstrate no signs of life at all, not even growth.

חיותן וקיומן הוא דבר ה׳ מעשרה מאמרות, המלובש בהן ומקיימן, להיות דומם ויש מאין

their life-force and continued existence is the “word of G‑d” that is to be found in the Ten Utterances that is vested in them, maintaining them as inorganic matter and as substantiality ex nihilo,

ולא יחזרו לאין ואפס ממש, כשהיו

so that they will not revert to the absolute naught and nothingness they had been prior to their creation.

וזהו שאמר האריז״ל, שגם בדומם כאבנים ועפר ומים, יש בהם בחינת נפש וחיות רוחניית

And this is the meaning of the statement of R. Isaac Luria, of blessed memory,22 that there is a kind of soul and spiritual life-force even in inorganic matter such as stones and dust and water, entities that display no signs of life.

This “soul” and spiritual life-force is the “word of G‑d,” the potent Divine speech that continuously creates all beings; i.e., the Shechinah.

והנה נודע ליודעי חכמה נסתרה

Now it is known to those familiar with the “Hidden Wisdom”23 (i.e., the Kabbalah)

כי דבר ה׳ נקרא בשם שכינה בלשון חז״ל, ואימא תתאה ומטרוניתא בלשון הזהר

that the “word of G‑d” is referred to as the Shechinah, in the terminology of the [Talmudic and Midrashic] Sages, of blessed memory, and as Imma Tataah (the “nether mother”) and Matrunita (the “Queen”) in the terminology of the Zohar,

ובפרט בריש פרשת וארא

especially at the beginning of Parshat Va’eira, where an analogy is drawn to G‑d’s speech from a princess,

לפי ששוכן ומתלבש בנבראים, להחיותם

because [the “word of G‑d”] dwells and vests itself in created beings, to give them life.

The word Shechinah (שכינה) derives from the root שכן — “to dwell.” The titles of “mother” and “queen” relate to their functions of caring for the lives of their children and subjects, respectively.

ובלשון המקובלים, נקרא בשם מלכות, על שם: דבר מלך שלטון, כי המלך מנהיג מלכותו בדיבורו, ועוד טעמים אחרים ידועים ליודעי חכמה נסתרה

In the terminology of the Kabbalists, [the “word of G‑d”] is called Malchut, for24 “the word of a king rules” — a king rules his kingdom through his speech; and also for other reasons known to those familiar with the “Hidden Wisdom” (i.e., the Kabbalah).

ומודעת זאת, כי יש בחינת ומדריגת מלכות דאצילות ובחינת מלכות דבריאה וכו׳

Now it is known that there is a rank and level of [the Sefirah of] Malchut of [the World of] Atzilut, and a rank of [the Sefirah of] Malchut of [the World of] Beriah, and so on. There are thus many degrees of “G‑d’s speech.”

ופירוש מלכות דאצילות, הוא דבר ה׳ המחיה ומהוה נשמות הגדולות, שהן מבחינת אצילות

Malchut of Atzilut means the “word of G‑d” which animates and brings into being the great souls that are of the rank of Atzilut,

כמו נשמת אדם הראשון, שנאמר בו: ויפח באפיו נשמת חיים כו׳, וכמו נשמות האבות והנביאים, וכיוצא בהן

such as the soul of Adam, of whom it is said,25 “And He blew into his nostrils the soul of life...” (i.e., a soul from the level of Atzilut); and such as the souls of the patriarchs and the prophets and the like

שהיו מרכבה לה׳ ממש, ובטלים ממש במציאות אליו

(26who were truly a “chariot” unto G‑d27 and in a state of total self-abnegation in relation to Him;

כמאמר רז״ל: שכינה מדברת מתוך גרונו של משה

as our Sages, of blessed memory, said,28 “The Shechinah speaks from the throat of Moses”;

Moses’ own personality was so translucent — he had so nullified himself to G‑d — that when he prophesied he did not relay what G‑d told him to say; rather, the Shechinah itself spoke directly through his mouth.

וכן כל הנביאים ובעלי רוח הקודש, היה קול ודבור העליון מתלבש בקולם ודבורם ממש, כמו שכתב האריז״ל

and likewise with all the prophets and those possessed of the Holy Spirit: the Supernal voice and speech vested itself in their actual voice and speech, as R. Isaac Luria, of blessed memory, wrote).

ומלכות דבריאה הוא דבר ה׳ המחיה ומהוה הנשמות והמלאכים שבעולם הבריאה

Malchut of Beriah is the “word of G‑d” which animates and brings into being the souls and angels in the World of Beriah,

שאין מעלתם כמעלת האצילות וכו׳

whose level is not like the level of Atzilut, and so on; i.e., Malchut of Yetzirah is the level of Divine speech that brings into being and animates the souls and angels in the World of Yetzirah.

ומלכות דעשיה הוא דבר ה׳ המחיה ומהוה את עולם הזה בכללו

And Malchut of Asiyah is the “word of G‑d” which animates and creates this world in its entirety,

עד יסוד העפר והמים אשר מתחת לארץ

up to and including the Element of Earth, and29 “the water that is below the earth.”

Now if the creation of all things derives from the Shechinah, from the revelation of Divine power, how do we account for those things that derive from kelipot, entities that “oppose” G‑dliness and holiness?

(אלא שבחוץ לארץ, החיות הוא על ידי התלבשות שרים החיצונים, הממונים על שבעים אומות)

(30However, outside the Land of Israel,31 the life-force is [bestowed] by [means of “the word of G‑d”] being invested within the extraneous patron-angels that are appointed over the seventy nations.

דהיינו, שיורד ניצוץ מדבר ה׳, הנקרא בשם מלכות דעשיה, ומאיר על השרים של מעלה, בבחינת מקיף מלמעלה

I.e., a [mere] spark from the “word of G‑d,” which is called Malchut of Asiyah, descends and radiates over the supernal patron-angels by encompassing them from above.

אך אינו מתלבש בהם ממש, אלא נמשך להם חיות מהארה זו, שמאיר עליהם מלמעלה בבחינת מקיף

I.e., it does not truly vest itself within them; rather, the life-force issues to them from this radiation which shines over them from above, in an encompassing manner.

ומהשרים נשפע חיות לאומות, ולבהמות חיות ועופות שבארצותיהם

And from the patron-angels, life-force issues to the nations, and to the cattle, beasts and fowl that are in their lands,

ולארץ הגשמית, ולשמים הגשמיים, שהם הגלגלים

and to the physical world, and the physical heavens, i.e., the spheres in which the stars orbit.32

(אלא ששמים וארץ ובהמות וחיות ועופות טהורים, נשפעים מקליפת נוגה

(33However, there are distinctions between the various categories of created beings: the heavens and the earth, and the cattle, beasts and fowl that are pure (i.e., kosher), are nurtured by kelipat nogah,

והטמאים ונפשות האומות, משאר קליפות)

whereas the impure [creatures] and the souls of the nations are [nurtured] by the other kelipot.)

Kelipat nogah represents a finely-balanced tension between potential good (which can also be misused) and potential evil (which can also be sublimated). The other three completely impure kelipot are entirely evil, as explained at length in Tanya, ch. 6.

והנה שמים וארץ וכל אשר בהם, בחוץ לארץ, כולם כלא ממש חשיבי, לגבי השרים שהם חיותם וקיומם

Now, outside the Land of Israel,34 the heavens and the earth and all they contain are all esteemed as truly nothing, in relation to the patron-angels which are [the conduits for] their life-force and continued existence.

והשרים כלא ממש חשיבי, לגבי החיות הנמשך להם מהניצוץ מדבר ה׳, המאיר עליהם מלמעלה

The patron-angels themselves are esteemed as truly nothing in relation to the life-force issuing to them from the spark of the “word of G‑d” which radiates over them from above, transcending them.

ואף על פי כן, החיות הנמשך לתוכם מהארה זו, הוא בבחינת גלות בתוכם

And even so, the life-force issuing to them from this radiation, is in a state of exile within them.

ולכן נקראים בשם אלקים אחרים, וקרו ליה: אלהא דאלהיא, שגם הם הן בבחינת אלקות

That is why they are called elohim acherim (“other gods”), while they call Him,35 “G‑d of the gods,” since they consider themselves as deities.

ולכן הגוים הנשפעים מהם, הם עובדי עבודה זרה ממש

Therefore, in view of their source, the nations which receive their life-force through [their patron-angels] are truly idolaters —

עד עת קץ, שיבולע המות והסטרא אחרא

[but only] until the time of the “end”, until the time of the imminent Redemption, when death and the sitra achra (i.e., the “other side,” the unholy aspect of the universe) will be swallowed up.

ואז אהפוך אל עמים כו׳, לקרוא כולם בשם ה׳

Of that time G‑d promises,36 “Then shall I make the nations [pure of speech] so that they will all call upon the Name of G‑d.”

The Alter Rebbe now returns to the theme of the Divine spark in exile:

ונקרא גם כן בשם גלות השכינה

This [sustenance of idolaters through the Divine spark] is also called “the exile of the Shechinah.”

מאחר שחיות זה, אשר בבחינת גלות בתוכם

For this life-force, which is in a state of exile within them, as previously explained,

הוא מהארה הנמשכת להם מהניצוץ מדבר ה׳, הנקרא בשם שכינה

stems from the radiation issuing to them from the spark of the “word of G‑d,” which is called Shechinah in the terminology of the Sages, as mentioned above.

According to the above, however, it would seem that this state of exile has existed since the creation of the world, with all its impure animals, etc. What do we mean, then, when we say that “the Shechinah was exiled”? This question is answered in the following parenthetical passage.

(וגלות זה נמשך מחטא עץ הדעת ואילך

(37And this exile, brought about by the fact that the kelipot derive their life-force from a spark of G‑d’s creative speech, stems from the sin of the Tree of Knowledge and onwards, for from that time kelipot were able to receive a degree of vitality that they did not have until that point.

והוא בחינת אחוריים לבד דקדושה

However, [they receive their vitality] only from the hindmost (i.e., from the lowest and most external) dimension of holiness.

אך כשגלו ישראל לבין האומות, ואחיזת ישראל ושרשם הוא בבחינת פנים העליונים

But when the Jewish people were exiled among the nations — and the Jewish people are attached and rooted in the Supernal Countenance (the panim, or pnimiyus, i.e., the innermost aspect of Divinity) —

הנה זו היא גלות שלימה

this became a total exile. For then the innermost aspect of Divinity was also drawn down to the patron-angels and the nations, as explained at length in Iggeret HaTeshuvah, ch. 6; see there.

ועל זה אמרו רז״ל: גלו לאדום, שכינה עמהם))

Of this our Sages, of blessed memory, said,38 “When [the Jewish people] were exiled to Edom, the Shechinah accompanied them.”))

* * *

והנה, אף כי ה׳ אחד ושמו אחד

Now, though39 “G‑d is one and His Name is one,”

דהיינו: דבורו ורוח פיו, המכונה בזהר הקדוש בשם שמו, הוא יחיד ומיוחד

i.e., [though] His speech and the “breath of His mouth,” which in the sacred Zohar40 is referred to as His Name, is singularly and uniquely one,

אף על פי כן ההארה והמשכת החיות הנמשכת מרוח פיו יתברך, מתחלקת לארבע מדרגות שונות, שהן ארבעה עולמות: אצילות, בריאה, יצירה, עשיה

nevertheless, the radiation and efflux of life-force which issues forth from His mouth, divides into four different levels. These are the Four Worlds — Atzilut, Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah.41

והשינוי הוא מחמת צמצומים ומסכים רבים

The difference is due to (42many) contractions and screens

לצמצם האור והחיות ולהסתירו, שלא יהא מאיר כל כך בעולם הבריאה כמו בעולם האצילות

that veil and obscure the light and the life-force, so that it will not radiate in the World of Beriah as much as in the World of Atzilut;

ובעולם היצירה הוא על ידי צמצומים ומסכים יותר וכו׳

and in the World of Yetzirah [the opaqueness is thickened] by means of further contractions and screens; and so on, i.e., how much more so in the World of Asiyah.

אבל אין שום שינוי, חס ושלום, בעצמות השכינה, שהיא דבר ה׳ ורוח פיו

Nevertheless, there is no change whatever, heaven forfend, in the essence of the Shechinah, which is the “word of G‑d” and the “breath of His mouth.”

וגם בבחינת ההארה והמשכת החיות

Also, as regards the radiation and efflux of life-force that issues from the “word of G‑d,”

הנה ההארה שבאצילות בוקעת המסך, ומתלבשת בבריאה, וכן מבריאה ליצירה, ומיצירה לעשיה

the radiation which is in [the World of] Atzilut pierces the screen and vests itself in [the World of] Beriah. Likewise from [the World of] Beriah to [the World of] Yetzirah, and from [the World of] Yetzirah to [the World of] Asiyah.

ולכן אור אין סוף ברוך הוא שבאצילות, הוא גם כן בעשיה, ובעולם הזה החומרי

Hence the [infinite] Ein Sof-light which is in [the World of] Atzilut is also present in [the World of] Asiyah, and [even] in this material world,

על ידי התלבשותו במלכות דבריאה, יצירה, עשיה, כמבואר הכל בכתבי האריז״ל

by being invested in the [Sefirah of] Malchut of [the Worlds of] Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah, as fully explained in the writings of R. Isaac Luria, of blessed memory.43

* * *

והנה נפש האדם, ידוע לכל שהיא כלולה מיו״ד ספירות: חכמה, בינה, דעת וכו׳

Now, it is known to all that the soul of man — the soul of the Jew — is compounded of the Ten Sefirot: Chochmah, Binah, Daat, and so on, as explained in Tanya, ch. 3.

ואף שכולן מרוח פיו יתברך, כדכתיב: ויפח באפיו כו׳

Though these [corresponding faculties of the soul] all derive from the breath of [G‑d’s] mouth, as it is written,44 “And He blew into his nostrils [the soul of life],”

The term “He blew” indicates that the divine soul derives from the innermost spirit and vitality of its Creator, as explained in Tanya, ch. 2, and Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah, ch. 5.

מכל מקום

nevertheless, each of these ten faculties of the soul is particularly connected with one of the ten Supernal Sefirot, as follows:

דרך פרט, חב״ד שבנפשו הן דוגמא לחב״ד שביו״ד ספירות

more specifically, the ChaBaD in one’s soul, one’s intellective faculties of Chochmah, Binah and Daat, are analogous to the [Divine intellective emanations of] ChaBaD in the Ten Sefirot.

המכונות בשם אבא ואמא

These are referred to as Abba and Imma.

In the Zohar, [the Sefirah of] Chochmah of [the World of] Atzilut is termed Abba (“father”), and [the Sefirah of] Binah of [the World of] Atzilut is termed Imma (“mother”), while [the Sefirah of] Daat is a combination of the two, as explained in the teachings of Chassidut.

ומדות אהבה ויראה וכו׳ שבנפשו, הן דוגמא למדות שביו״ד ספירות, הנקראות בשם זעיר אנפין

The [emotive] attributes in one’s soul of [the] love and fear [of G‑d], and so on, are analogous to the [first six] middot (or Divine emotive attributes) in the Ten Sefirot, which are [collectively] known as Z’eir Anpin (lit., “the Minor Visage”).

וכח הדבור שבנפשו, דוגמא לדבור העליון, הנקרא בשם מלכות ושכינה

And the faculty of speech in one’s soul is analogous to the Supernal Speech, which is known as [the Sefirah of] Malchut, or the Shechinah.

ולכן, כשמדבר דברי תורה, מעורר דבור העליון, ליחד השכינה

Hence, since a Jew’s speech is analogous to Supernal Speech, the Shechinah, when speaking words of Torah one arouses the Supernal Speech, the Sefirah of Malchut, thereby unifying the Shechinah, i.e., linking it to the preceding stages of emanation.

ומשום הכי קיימא לן, בקריאת שמע וברכת המזון ודברי תורה, דלא יצא בהרהור, בלא דבור

That is why it is established45 that for the Reading of Shema, for the Grace after Meals, and for [the study of] words of Torah, one has not discharged his duty by meditation without speech.

* * *

והנה זה לעומת זה

Now,46 “[G‑d created] this opposite that”:

Since the entire dynamic of the holy “side” of the universe has its counterpart in the “other side,” the sitra achra, the above-mentioned Ten Sefirot of holiness (and likewise the ten corresponding faculties of the G‑dly soul) each have their unholy counterpart:

יש עשרה כתרי דמסאבותא

there are47 “ten crowns of impurity.”

ומהן נמשכות נפשות האומות, גם כן כלולות מעשר בחינות אלו ממש

From these issue the souls of the nations, which are also comprised of the very same ten levels.

ומודעת זאת בארץ מה שכתוב בספר הגלגולים על פסוק: אשר שלט האדם באדם, לרע לו

The exposition of Sefer HaGilgulim48 on the verse,49 “That man rules over man, to his detriment,” is common knowledge:

שהוא סוד גלות השכינה בתוך הקליפות, להחיותם ולהשליטם עתה בזמן הגלות

it refers to the mystery of the exile of the Shechinah in the midst of the kelipot, in order to animate them and to empower them to rule in the present time of exile.

“Man rules over man” thus means that the “evil man” (of kelipah) rules over the “sacred man” (i.e., the holy “side” of the universe).

אבל הוא לרע לו וכו׳

However, this [temporary dominion of evil] is “to his [ultimate] detriment...,” for its underlying intent is that the sparks of holiness that are found within evil, be extracted and elevated.

ולכן האומות שולטין עתה על ישראל

This is why the nations presently dominate the Jewish people.50

להיות נפשות האומות מהקליפות, אשר השכינה מתלבשת בבחינת גלות בתוכם

For the souls of the nations [derive] from the kelipot, in which the Shechinah is vested in a state of exile, empowering them to rule.

והנה, אף שזה צריך ביאור רחב, איך ומה, מכל מקום האמת כן הוא

Though extensive exposition is required, as to how and what is the manner in which the Shechinah is invested in the exile of the kelipot, nevertheless, it is truly so.

אלא שאף על פי כן, אין הקליפות והאומות יונקים ומקבלים חיות אלא מהארה הנמשכת להם מבחינת אחוריים דקדושה

Despite this, the kelipot and the nations receive their nurture and life-force only from a reflection extended to them from the hindmost dimension of holiness,

כמאן דשדי בתר כתפיה

“in the manner of one who [unwillingly] throws [something] over his shoulder [to his enemy],” as explained in Tanya, ch. 22.

ואף גם זאת, על ידי צמצומים ומסכים רבים ועצומים, עד שנתלבשה הארה זו בחומריות עולם הזה

And even that is by way of numerous and intense contractions and screens, until this radiation becomes vested in the materiality of this world,

ומשפעת לאומות עושר וכבוד וכל תענוגים גשמיים

dispensing wealth and honor and all physical pleasures unto the nations.

מה שאין כן ישראל יונקים מבחינת פנים העליונים, כמו שכתוב: יאר ה׳ פניו אליך

Jews, however, elicit [their sustenance] from the Supernal Countenance (the panim, or pnimiyus, i.e., the innermost aspect of Divinity); as it is written,51 “May G‑d make His Countenance shine upon you,”

כל אחד ואחד לפי שרש נשמתו, עד רום המעלות

each according to the source of his soul, up to the most elevated of levels.

* * *

ואחר הדברים והאמת האלה, הגלוים וידועים לכל, נחזור לענין ראשון בענין הכעס, שהוא כעובד עבודה זרה

After these words and this truth, which are manifest and known to all, let us return to the original subject, concerning anger — where a person [who is angry] is likened to an idolater.52

והיינו במילי דעלמא, כי הכל בידי שמים חוץ מיראת שמים

This is so only with regard to mundane matters, for53 “everything is in the hands of heaven except for the fear of heaven.”

Since everything is in G‑d’s hands there is no reason to become angry. However, with regard to matters involving the “fear of heaven,” anger does have a place.

ולכן במילי דשמיא, לאפרושי מאיסורא, לא שייך האי טעמא דאמרן

Hence with respect to heavenly matters, to54 “ward [a fellow Jew] from [transgressing] a prohibition,” the reason stated does not apply, for these matters are not in G‑d’s hands but in man’s.

וכמו שכתוב: ויקצוף משה

As it is written,55 “And Moses was angry.”

והיינו, משום כי ה׳ הקרה לפניו מצוה זו, לאפרושי מאיסורא, כדי לזכותו

This was because G‑d caused him to encounter this mitzvah of “warding [a fellow Jew] from [transgressing] a prohibition,” in order to make him meritorious.

Thus, this situation is obviously quite different from being angry at someone because of harm or offense.

* * *

אך זהו כשיש בידו למחות בקצפו וכעסו על חבירו

But this applies only when one is able to prevent [transgression] by his wrath and anger against his fellow-man; in such a case he is permitted to become angry, as did Moses.

אבל כשאין בידו למחות, כגון נכרי המדבר ומבלבלו בתפלתו

However, when he is unable to change the situation, as in the case of the gentile who talks and disturbs him while he is praying,

אם כן, מה זאת עשה ה׳ לו

[the question] then [arises]: What is this that G‑d has done to him, that a gentile should disrupt his prayers?

אין זאת כי אם שיתגבר, ויתאמץ יותר בתפלתו, בעומק הלב ובכוונה גדולה כל כך

This is so only in order that he prevail and strengthen himself ever more in his prayers, from the depths of his heart, and with such intense concentration

עד שלא ישמע דבורי הנכרי

that he will not hear the gentile’s talk.

אך שלמדרגה זו, צריך התעוררות רבה ועצומה

However, for such a level one needs a great and intense arousal.

ועצה היעוצה להתעוררות זו, היא מענין זה עצמו

And the counsel suggested to attain such an arousal, derives from this very subject.

כשישים אל לבו ויתבונן ענין ירידת השכינה כביכול, ותרד פלאים להתלבש ניצוץ מהארתה

One should consider and meditate on the concept of the descent of the Shechinah, as it were — how56 “it descended in wondrous fashion,” to have a spark of its radiance invested [within the kelipot].

אשר היא בבחינת גלות בתוך הקליפות, דרך כלל, להחיותם

It is generally in a state of exile among the kelipot, in order to animate them.

ועתה הפעם, ניצוץ הארתה מתלבש בבחינת גלות דרך פרט

And now, a spark of its radiation vests itself in a particular state of exile,

בדבור נכרי זה, המדבר דברים המבלבלים עבודת ה׳, היא כוונת התפלה

in the speech of this gentile who utters words that disturb one’s divine service, i.e., one’s devout concentration during prayer.

וכמו שכתוב לעיל, כי זה לעומת זה וכו׳

And, as explained above,57 “[G‑d created] this opposite that,” each element of the holy “side” of the universe having its unholy counterpart in the “other side,” the sitra achra.

ודבור העליון מתלבש בדבור התחתון וכו׳

Thus the Supernal speech vests itself in the nether speech, and so on.

I.e., Supernal speech vests itself in a lower degree of speech, ultimately descending through a self-screening chain of descent until it provides life-force even for the kelipot.

וזהו ממש: אשר שלט האדם באדם, לרע לו

This indeed is the meaning of the verse,58 “That man rules over man, to his detriment,” which was explained above in terms of the temporary dominion of the “evil man” (of kelipah) over the “sacred man” (the holy “side” of the universe).

When this gentile utilizes the spark which is exiled within himself to hinder a Jew who is trying to pray, the kelipot are manifestly ruling over the holy “side” of the universe. The forces of holiness, however, can thereby be invigorated and vitalized, when the worshiper reacts by upgrading his concentration.

This he will be prompted to do when he meditates on the above-described descent of the Shechinah into exile. And from this exile he will seek to liberate it.

In the words of the Alter Rebbe:

דהיינו, שעל ידי זה מתעורר האדם להתפלל יותר בכוונה, מעומקא דלבא, עד שלא ישמע דיבוריו

That is to say, that through this [meditation], the individual is aroused to pray with greater devotion, from the depth of his heart, until he will not hear [the gentile’s] words.

The above explains the statement of the Baal Shem Tov in Tzavaat HaRivash, that the Shechinah vests itself in this gentile. For everything in this world houses a spark of holiness, and within this gentile the spark is present in a state of exile, for the reason explained above.

* * *

ומה שכתב המלקט: שרתה

As for the compiler [of Tzavaat HaRivash] using the word shartah, meaning that the Shechinah “dwelt” or “abided” within this gentile,

לא ידע לכוין הלשון בדקדוק

he was unable to focus on the precise term.

כי הבעל שם טוב, זכרונו לברכה, היה אומר דברי תורה בלשון אשכנז, ולא בלשון הקודש

For the Baal Shem Tov, of blessed memory, used to deliver Torah teachings in Yiddish, not in the Holy Tongue.

The compiler, translating these discourses into Hebrew, transmitted their content, not their precise terminology. And in this case he erred.

ורצה לומר: נתלבשה

He really meant to say, nitlabshah (“became vested”), for shartah (“dwelt” or “abided”) implies that the Shechinah was revealed,

והיינו, בבחינת גלות

whereas [nitlabshah] means [that the Shechinah was vested] in a state of exile.

וזהו: ובפרט אם הוא נכרי

This [distinction] explains [the emphasis in Tzavaat HaRivash], “And especially if he is a gentile...,”

Were we to be speaking of a manifest indwelling of the Shechinah, how could it be said that the Divine Presence resides to a greater extent within this gentile who is disturbing a Jew at prayer, than within the worshiper? Rather, we are speaking of a self-obscuring investiture of the Shechinah within the gentile,

שאז היא בחינת גלות ביותר

for then it is so much more in exile.

ואין לתמוה אם ניצוץ מהארת שכינה, נקרא בשם שכינה

There is no need to wonder at a spark of the radiance of the Shechinah being referred to (in Tzavaat HaRivash) as Shechinah.

דהא אשכחן שאפילו מלאך נברא נקרא בשם ה׳, בפרשת וירא, לפירוש הרמב״ן

For we find that even a created angel, which is not a spark of the Shechinah, is referred to by G‑d’s Name in Parshat VaYeira, in the verse,59 “And he said, ‘Lord, do not pass by your servant,” according to the commentary of R. Moses Nachmanides (the Ramban);

וכמו שכתוב: ותקרא שם ה׳ הדובר אליה וכו׳, וכהאי גוונא טובא

and as it is likewise written,60 “And [Hagar] called the name of G‑d Who spoke to her...,” where we are explicitly told that we are speaking of an angel; and many more [passages] like this.

* * *

וכמדומה לי שתפיסתם אינה מצד דקדוק הלשון

It would seem to me, says the Alter Rebbe, alluding to the opponents of Chassidism who had taken issue with the above-discussed passage from Tzavaat HaRivash, that their seizing [upon this passage] was not prompted by the particular term used (viz., “dwelling”),

אלא מעיקר ענין התלבשות השכינה בקליפות

but by the very notion that the Shechinah can be invested in the kelipot.

שאין להם אמונה במה שכתב האריז״ל בספר הגלגולים

For they do not believe what R. Isaac Luria, of blessed memory, wrote concerning this in Sefer HaGilgulim (ch. 2).

שאם ירצו לחלק בין קליפות הרוחניים, לעובדי גילולים גשמיים

Should they seek to distinguish between the spiritual kelipot and physical idolaters, contending that the AriZal is speaking only of the spiritual kelipot, as distinct from a corporeal heathen, —

אין לך גשמי כעפר הארץ

there is nothing more physical than the dust of the earth;

ואף על פי כן, מתלבשת בו מלכות דמלכות דעשיה, ובתוכה מלכות דיצירה כו׳, וכנ״ל

nevertheless, as is stated in the Kabbalah, [the Sefirah of] Malchut of Malchut of [the World of] Asiyah vests itself in it, and within that in turn is vested [the Sefirah of] Malchut of [the World of] Yetzirah, and so on, with [the Sefirah of] Malchut of [the World of] Beriah and [the Sefirah of] Malchut of [the World of] Atzilut, as mentioned above.

ואם משום טומאת נפשות הנכרי

And should it be [difficult for them to conceive that the Shechinah vests itself in the gentile] because of the impurity of the souls of the gentile, —

הרי נפשותיהם מזיווג זעיר אנפין ונוקבא דקליפות הרוחניים, כמו שכתוב בכתבי האריז״ל

the souls [of the gentiles] derive from the union of the masculine and feminine elements (zivug zu’n, the union of Z’eir Anpin and Malchut) of the spiritual kelipot, as stated in the writings of R. Isaac Luria, of blessed memory.

נמצא שהרוחניים מקור טומאתם

Thus, the sources of their impurity are the spiritual kelipot, in which all agree that the Shechinah can vest itself. Why not, then, in the souls of the gentiles?

אך באמת צריך ביאור רחב, איך הוא התלבשות זו

But in truth, the manner of this investiture — both in the spiritual and in the physical realm — requires extensive elucidation.

אבל לא עלינו תלונתם, כי על כתבי האריז״ל

In fact their complaint should not be addressed to us, the revealers of Chassidism — the Baal Shem Tov, the Maggid of Mezritch and the Alter Rebbe himself, but to the writings of R. Isaac Luria, of blessed memory, in which it is stated that the Shechinah does indeed vest itself within kelipot.

ואל יחשדני שומע שאני בעיני שהבנתי דברי האריז״ל, להפשיטן מגשמיותן

And let no listener suspect that I imagine that I have understood the words of R. Isaac Luria, of blessed memory, divesting them from their physical connotation,

כי לא באתי רק לפרש דברי הבעל שם טוב ז״ל ותלמידיו, על פי קבלת האריז״ל

for I have set out only to explain the words of the Baal Shem Tov, of blessed memory, and of his disciples, according to the Kabbalah of R. Isaac Luria, of blessed memory.

בשגם שענין זה

This is especially so, since this concept, G‑d’s presence in even the humblest of places,

אינו מחכמת הקבלה ומהנסתרות לה׳ אלקינו

is not a teaching of the Kabbalah, nor is it one of61 “the secrets [that] are unto the L‑rd our G‑d,”

כי אם מהנגלות לנו ולבנינו, להאמין אמונה שלימה במקרא מלא שדבר הכתוב: הלא את השמים ואת הארץ אני מלא, נאם ה׳

but rather one of62 “the things revealed unto us and unto our children” — to believe in perfect faith in the explicit statement of Scripture,63 “‘Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?’ says G‑d.”

שאין מקרא יוצא מידי פשוטו

And64 “Scripture does not depart from its plain meaning”: G‑d does indeed fill all space, both material and spiritual.

וגם היא אמונה פשוטה בסתם כללות ישראל, ומסורה בידם מאבותיהם הקדושים, שהלכו בתמימות עם ה׳

Moreover, it is a simple article of faith among Jews in general, handed down to them by their saintly ancestors, who walked artlessly with G‑d,

בלי לחקור בשכל אנושי ענין האלקות, אשר הוא למעלה מהשכל עד אין קץ, לידע איך הוא מלא כל הארץ

without searching the concept of Divinity by means of mortal intellect; for it is infinitely beyond the intellect to know (intellectually) how He fills the world.

רק שחדשים מקרוב באו, לחקור בחקירה זו

But new ones have recently come to rationally examine this question,

ואי אפשר לקרב להם אל השכל, אלא דוקא על פי הקדמות לקוחות מכתבי האריז״ל, מופשטות מגשמיותן

and it is impossible to bring it within reach of their reason except by means of premises borrowed from the writings of R. Isaac Luria, of blessed memory, divested from their physical connotation,

וכפי ששמעתי מרבותי, נשמותיהם עדן

and according to what I heard from my masters,the Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid of Mezritch, may their souls rest in Eden.

אך אי אפשר לבאר זה היטב במכתב, כי אם מפה לאזן שומעת, ליחידי סגולה ולשרידים אשר ה׳ קורא

However, it is impossible to explain this clearly in writing, only orally to an ear that hears [and understands], to uniquely qualified individuals, and to65 “the remnants whom G‑d calls,”

כדכתיב: ומבקשי ה׳ יבינו כל

as it is written,66 “And they who seek G‑d will understand all.”

ומכלל הן, אתה שומע כו׳

And67 “from the affirmative you may infer [the negative]” — that those who do not seek G‑d are incapable of perceiving the knowledge of Him as revealed in the inner dimension of the Torah, and particularly, in a truly comprehensible manner, in the teachings of Chassidism.

* * *

הנה אתם ראיתם פירוש מאמר אחד מספרים הידועים

You have now seen, writes the Alter Rebbe to the opponents of Chassidism, an explanation of a single passage from [its] well-known books,

לדוגמא ולאות כי גם כל המאמרים התמוהים, יש להם פירוש וביאור היטב ליודעי חכמה נסתרה

as a sample and token that likewise all the problematic passages about which objections have been raised have an explanation and meaningfulness for those familiar with the “Hidden Wisdom” (i.e., the Kabbalah).

אך לא יקוו מעלתם אלי לבאר להם הכל במכתב, כי היא מלאכה כבדה ומרובה, ואי אפשר בשום אופן

However, let my esteemed [readers] not hope that I will explain everything in writing, for that is a hard and extensive labor, and indeed, absolutely impossible.

רק אם תרצו, שלחו מכם אחד ומיוחד שבעדה

But if you so desire, send [here] from amongst you an outstandingly appropriate individual from your community,68

ופנים אל פנים אדבר בו, אם ירצה ה׳

and, G‑d willing, I will talk to him face to face.

וה׳ יהיה עם פי בהטיפי, ויהיו לרצון אמרי פי

And may G‑d be with my mouth as I speak, and69 “may the words of my mouth find favor.”

FOOTNOTES
1. HaTamim, Issue II, p. 56.
2. “Words of understanding” (Mishlei 1:2) has the same meaning as בינה in Shabbat 104a, which Rashi explains to mean “Torah”.
3. The abbreviation is an acronym of the Heb. for “Rabbi Yisrael Baal Shem.”
4. In the standard editions of Tanya the word כלל (“at all”) does not appear. It has been added in accordance with an emendation of the Tzemach Tzedek, quoted in Luach HaTikkun at the end of the Hebrew editions of Tanya.
5. Shmot 24:6.
6. Taanit 6b.
7. Zohar I, 27b; III, 179a; Rambam, Hilchot De’ot 2:3 in the name of the “earliest sages” (חכמים הראשונים); et al.
8. For an exposition of why the Alter Rebbe specifically uses the phrase “those who ‘know understanding,’” see Likkutei Levi Yitzchak on this passage.
9. Zohar III, 36b; cf. Taanit 18b.
10. Shmot 21:13.
11. I Shmuel 24:14.
12. II Shmuel 16:10.
13. Tehillim 33:6.
14. Parentheses are in the original.
15. Kohelet 8:4.
16. Tehillim 119:89.
17. Bereishit 1:6.
18. (18) Shmot 14:21.
19. ׳Cf. Kuzari III, 11.
20. The Heb. זה has been emended to זו, according to the Table of Corrections (Luach HaTikkun) compiled by the Rebbe.
21. Note of the Rebbe: “It seems that the above comment understands eretz to mean ‘earth’ [in the sense of soil or dust], (as in the verse, ‘Let the soil bring forth...’). To me, however, it appears that eretz here is intended as a contrast to ‘heavens’ in the above-quoted phrase, ‘[Your word, O G‑d, stands firm in the] heavens,’ and likewise in contrast to ‘the upper and lower worlds’ [in the corresponding passage] (in ch. 1 of Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah; see there). [The Alter Rebbe’s text should thus be translated, ‘And even as regards this physical world....’] The distinction drawn in the above comment between [those categories of created beings which have] the power of growth [and those which have not], etc., is thus not necessary. Moreover, [the Alter Rebbe] immediately goes on to speak explicitly of ‘inorganic matter such as stones and dust....’”
22. Etz Chayim, Shaar 39, ch. 3; see also Shaar 50.
23. The two Heb. words for “Hidden Wisdom” (חכמה נסתרה) are commonly abbreviated to their initials, and pronounced as chen.
24. Kohelet 8:4.
25. Bereishit 2:7.
26. Parentheses are in the original text.
27. Bereishit Rabbah, beginning of sec. 46; et al.
28. Cf. Zohar III, 234a; et al.
29. Cf. Shmot 20:4.
30. Parentheses are in the original text.
31. Following Luach HaTikkun, the standard (i.e., censored) printed text of Tanya has been emended in this edition from the phrase שבארצות העובדי גילולים (“in the lands of the heathens”) to the original phrase, שבחוץ לארץ (“outside the Land of Israel”). Likewise, in many places in the present letter, עובדי גילולים (“heathens”) has been corrected to אומות (“nations”).
32. See Rambam, Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah, ch. 3.
33. Parentheses are in the original text.
34. Following Luach HaTikkun, the standard (i.e., censored) printed text of Tanya has been emended in this edition from the phrase שבארצות העובדי גילולים (“in the lands of the heathens”) to the original phrase, שבחוץ לארץ (“outside the Land of Israel”). Likewise, in many places in the present letter, עובדי גילולים (“heathens”) has been corrected to אומות (“nations”).
35. Menachot 110a, and see Chiddushei Aggadot of the Maharsha there.
36. Zephaniah 3:9.
37. Parentheses are in the original text.
38. Megillah 29b (in the version of Ein Yaakov); Mechilta, Parshat Bo 12:41, et al.
39. Zechariah 14:9.
40. See Tikkunei Zohar, Tikkun XXII (66b).
41. In the original, the names of the Four Worlds (in descending order) are often telescoped into the acronym אבי״ע, pronounced ABiYA.
42. Parentheses are in the original text.
43. See Etz Chayim, Shaar 42, sec. 4; et al.
44. Bereishit 2:7.
45. See the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch 62:3 and 185:3; and his Hilchot Talmud Torah 2:12.
46. Kohelet 7:14.
47. Zohar III, 41b; et al.
48. Ch. 2.
49. Kohelet 8:9.
50. The text here (in Hebrew and English) reinstates the original version, which a czarist censor had tampered with so that it read, העובדי גילולים היו שולטין על ישראל — “the heathens used to dominate the Jewish people....” A few lines earlier, the word עתה (“in the present”) had likewise been deleted.
51. Bamidbar 6:25.
52. Zohar I, 27b; III, 179a; Rambam, Hilchot De’ot 2:3 in the name of the “earliest sages” (חכמים הראשונים); et al.
53. Berachot 33b.
54. Shabbat 40b.
55. Bamidbar 31:14.
56. Cf. Eichah 1:9.
57. Kohelet 7:14.
58. Kohelet 8:9.
59. Bereishit 18:3.
60. Ibid. 16:13.
61. Cf. Devarim 29:28.
62. Cf. Devarim 29:28.
63. Yirmeyahu 23:24.
64. Shabbat 63a.
65. Yoel 3:5.
66. Mishlei 28:5.
67. Cf. Sifri, Parshas Eikev 11:19.
68. Cf. Sanhedrin 13b.
69. Tehillim 19:15.
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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