Part (b)

The following letter was placed here by the compilers of Iggeret Hakodesh—“after the first editions (see list) had been published,” as the Rebbe points out—as an addendum to Epistle 22, Part (a).

The connection, however, is not immediately apparent. Perhaps it lies in the opening passage of Part (a), the passage which does not appear in this collection,36 in which the Alter Rebbe laments that questions on material affairs occupy too much of his time—for this theme also figures in the letter before us.

My beloved, my brethren and friends:

אֲהוּבַיי, אַחַיי וְרֵעַיי!

In these terms, the Alter Rebbe addresses his Chasidim.

Due to the immensity of my preoccupations37 which38 “all together surround me” and “encircle me like water”—“all day and all night, never holding their peace,39

מִגּוֹדֶל טִרְדָּתִי אֲשֶׁר "הִקִּיפוּ עָלַי יַחַד" וְ"סַבּוּנִי כַמַּיִם, כָּל הַיּוֹם וְכָל הַלַּיְלָה תָּמִיד לֹא יֶחֱשׁוּ",

I am unable to unload the burden40 of writing down all that is in my heart.

לֹא אוּכַל מַלֵּט מַשָּׂא לֵאמֹר עִם הַסֵּפֶר כָּל אֲשֶׁר בִּלְבָבִי.

Briefly, however, I come as one who reminds and “repeats earlier subjects”41 in general,

אַך בִּקְצָרָה בָּאתִי, כְּמַזְכִּיר וּמַחֲזִיר עַל הָרִאשׁוֹנוֹת בִּכְלָל,

in particular to “those of the people who offer themselves willingly [in prayer],”42 beyond the customary measure—

וּבִפְרָט אֶל הַמִּתְנַדְּבִים בָּעָם,

that they should stand [steadfast] in [their Divine] service, i.e., prayer, which the Sages call “service of the heart,”43 a form of Divine service which works in the heart and on the heart,

לַעֲמוֹד עַל הָעֲבוֹדָה זוֹ תְּפִלָּה,

[and pray] with a loud voice,44

בְּקוֹל רָם,

strengthening themselves vigorously, with all their might and power, against any internal or external obstacle,

לְהִתְחַזֵּק מְאֹד בְּכָל עוֹז וְתַעֲצוּמוֹת נֶגֶד כָּל מוֹנֵעַ מִבַּיִת וּמִחוּץ,

with a “strong hand,” plainly and simply.

בְּיָד חֲזָקָה כְּמַשְׁמָעוֹ,

This [service] relates to “the will of those who fear Him”45; this transcends the wisdom and understanding with which G-d imbued them so that they will know and do all that He commanded, with intelligence and discernment.

שֶׁהוּא "רְצוֹן יְרֵיאָיו", אֲשֶׁר לְמַעְלָה מִן הַחָכְמָה וְהַתְּבוּנָה אֲשֶׁר נָתַן ה' בָּהֵמָּה לָדַעַת לַעֲשׂוֹת אֶת כָּל אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה ה' בְּהַשְׂכֵּל וָדַעַת.

Wisdom and understanding are gifts from G-d; as we say in the daily prayers, “It is You Who graciously bestows discernment upon man….”46 As to the superior faculty of will, however, it is left to the initiative of every G-d-fearing Jew to arouse this within himself by accepting the yoke of heaven.

[There should be] but a simple will, uncompounded by the particular form or limitations that characterize an intellectually generated will and a spirit of voluntary self-dedication,

רַק רָצוֹן פָּשׁוּט וְ"רוּחַ נְדִיבָה",

in every man whose heart prompts him to serve “a whole service,”47 [intending only] to cause gratification to his Maker.

בְּכָל אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר יִדְּבֶנּוּ לִבּוֹ לַעֲבוֹד עֲבוֹדָה תַמָּה, לַעֲשׂוֹת נַחַת רוּחַ לְיוֹצְרוֹ.

Of this [superrational degree of will] it is written, “For this is a stiff-necked people, and You should pardon”48i.e., because they are a “stiff-necked people.”49 This obstinate and superrational will of theirs warrants their being pardoned—

וְעַל זֶה נֶאֱמַר: "כִּי עַם קְשֵׁה עוֹרֶף הוּא, וְסָלַחְתָּ".

for pardon, too, transcends wisdom.

כִּי הַסְּלִיחָה הִיא גַם כֵּן לְמַעְלָה מִן הַחָכְמָה.

Just as a mortal’s will flies free, untrammeled by his intellect, so, too, Above: the Divine source of pardon transcends supernal wisdom.

Thus, [it is written], “they asked Wisdom [what should be the lot of the soul that sins].”50 The attribute of Wisdom ruled that a sinning soul must be judged and punished; it did not allow for repentance and pardon.

כִּי "שָׁאֲלוּ לַחָכְמָה כוּ'",

So did Moses our Master, peace to him, invoke “measure for measure”51; and suffice this for the discerning.

וּמשֶׁה רַבֵּינוּ עָלָיו־הַשָּׁלוֹם בִּיקֵּשׁ מִדָּה כְּנֶגֶד מִדָּה, וְדַי לַמֵּבִין.

Moses pleaded that G-d grant forgiveness to the same extent that an individual repents with a simple will that transcends his understanding; he desired that man’s repentance elicit and call down to this world the Divine source of pardon which likewise transcends supernal wisdom.

Furthermore, I earnestly ask of my esteemed listeners,

וְעוֹד זֹאת אֶדְרוֹשׁ מִמַּעֲלַתְכֶם,

On the above matters between man and G-d, the Alter Rebbe referred to himself as merely “repeating reminders.”

Here, however, as he begins to speak of the relationship between man and man, he uses stronger terms.

not to cast aside my words, in which I have asked that every man be upright and walk with integrity, just as “G-d made man upright,”52

שֶׁלֹּא לְהַשְׁלִיךְ דְּבָרַי אַחֲרֵיכֶם, אֲשֶׁר עָרַכְתִּי שִׂיחַ, לִהְיוֹת כָּל אִישׁ יָשָׁר וְהוֹלֵךְ בְּתוּמּוֹ, כַּאֲשֶׁר "עָשָׂה הָאֱלֹקִים אֶת הָאָדָם יָשָׁר",

nor to seek “numerous calculations”53 regarding “the pretexts of man’s steps and a person’s thoughts and devices.”54

וְלֹא לְבַקֵּשׁ "חֶשְׁבּוֹנוֹת רַבִּים", מֵ"עֲלִילוֹת מִצְעֲדֵי גָבֶר וּמַחְשְׁבוֹת אָדָם וְתַחְבּוּלוֹתָיו".

It is not man’s task to weigh the motives of his fellow.

For that is the work of heaven and not an occupation for flesh and blood.

כִּי זוֹ, מְלֶאכֶת שָׁמַיִם הִיא וְלֹא מְלֶאכֶת בָּשָׂר וָדָם.

Rather, every one should believe with absolute faith in the precept of our Sages, of blessed memory: “And be humble of spirit before every man,”55 without exception,56

וּלְהַאֲמִין בֶּאֱמוּנָה שְׁלֵימָה בְּמִצְוַת חֲכָמֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: "וֶהֱוֵי שְׁפַל רוּחַ בִּפְנֵי כָל אָדָם" בִּכְלָל,

for it is a true statement and a correct proverb that every man becomes better through his fellow.

כִּי יַצִּיבָא מִלְּתָא וְתַקִּין פִּתְגָּמָא, שֶׁכָּל אֶחָד מְתוּקָּן מֵחֲבֵירוֹ.

Since every individual possesses specific qualities that others lack, the realization by disparate people that in essence they comprise one whole, enables them all to be complemented and perfected by each other.

The above form of address, “Furthermore, I earnestly ask of my exalted listeners…,” is expounded by Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak, sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, on the nonliteral level of derush. Noting that אֶדְרוֹשׁ מִמַּעֲלַתְכֶם can also be understood as speaking of “calling forth exalted qualities,” Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak once remarked:57 “This form of address does not mean that the Alter Rebbe was confining his appeal to an exclusive group of exalted individuals; after all, he was addressing this letter to his Chasidim at large. Rather, in using this phrase, he was implying an underlying plea: Call forth your exalted qualities!

With regard to the following pair of phrases, “not to cast aside my words, in which I have asked…,” Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak explains that the former phrase refers to the indirect and transcendent (makif) mode in which the Alter Rebbe influenced his Chasidim while the second phrase refers to his simultaneously direct and internalized (pnimi) mode of influence.

Finally, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak points out that the Alter Rebbe’s following affirmation that “every man [literally:] is better than his fellow” really means that one’s fellows enable one to become a better person; i.e., as translated above, “every man becomes better through his fellow.”

Thus, too, it is written, “All the men of Israel…associated together like one man.”58

וּכְתִיב: "כָּל [אִישׁ] יִשְׂרָאֵל כְּאִישׁ אֶחָד חֲבֵרִים",

Just as one man is composed of many limbs, and when they become separated, this affects the heart, for from it, there issues life,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁאִישׁ אֶחָד מְחוּבָּר מֵאֵבָרִים רַבִּים, וּבְהִפָּרְדָם נוֹגֵעַ בַּלֵּב, "כִּי מִמֶּנּוּ תּוֹצְאוֹת חַיִּים",

therefore, by our truly being all like one man, the service [of G-d] in the heart i.e., prayer will be firmly established.

אִם כֵּן אֲנַחְנוּ הֱיוֹת כּוּלָּנוּ כְּאִישׁ אֶחָד מַמָּשׁ – תִּיכּוֹן הָעֲבוֹדָה בַּלֵּב,

To consider both this divisiveness and this harmony on the cosmic level, in terms of the relation of souls to the Divine Presence: The above sentence means59 that divisiveness among Jews affects, as it were, the Divine Presence, the “heart” of the Jewish people; conversely, since the task of prayer is to connect a soul with its source in the Divine Presence, cultivating one’s sense of unity with one’s fellows—which in turn connects all souls with the Shechinah—enhances the Divine service of prayer.

And from the affirmative [you may infer the negative].60

וּמִכְּלַל הֵן כוּ',

(The bracketed clause is euphemistically omitted in the Hebrew original and merely hinted at by “etc.”) I.e., when unity is lacking, the service of prayer is likewise imperfect.

That is why it is said, “To serve Him with one purpose”61 (literally, “with one part” or “with one shoulder”): only when all Jews fully unite in this way can it be said that they “serve Him.”

וְעַל כֵּן נֶאֱמַר: "וּלְעָבְדוֹ שְׁכֶם אֶחָד" דַּוְקָא.

The Alter Rebbe resumes his plea to his Chasidim: Therefore, my beloved and dear ones, I beg again and again that each of you exert himself with all his heart and soul to firmly implant in his heart a love for his fellow Jew,

וְעַל כֵּן אֲהוּבַיי יְדִידַיי, נָא וְנָא לִטְרוֹחַ בְּכָל לֵב וָנֶפֶשׁ לִתְקוֹעַ אַהֲבַת רֵעֵהוּ בְּלִבּוֹ,

and, in the words of Scripture, “let none of you consider in your heart what is evil for his fellow.”62

"וְאִישׁ אֶת רָעַת רֵעֵהוּ אַל תַּחְשְׁבוּ בִּלְבַבְכֶם" כְּתִיב,

Moreover, [such a consideration] should never arise in one’s heart [in the first place];

וְלֹא תַעֲלֶה עַל לֵב לְעוֹלָם,

and if it does arise, for even a person who has attained the rank of a beinoni cannot prevent a thought from presenting itself to his mind,

וְאִם תַּעֲלֶה –

one should push it away from his heart63 “as smoke is driven away,” as if it were an actual idolatrous thought.64

יֶהְדְּפֶנָּה מִלִּבּוֹ כְּהִנְדּוֹף עָשָׁן, וּכְמוֹ מַחֲשֶׁבֶת עֲבוֹדָה־זָרָה מַמָּשׁ.

For to speak evil [of another] is as grave as idolatry and incest and bloodshed.65

כִּי גְדוֹלָה לָשׁוֹן הָרָע כְּנֶגֶד עֲבוֹדָה־זָרָה וְגִילּוּי עֲרָיוֹת וּשְׁפִיכוּת דָּמִים.

And if this be so with speech, [then surely thinking evil about another is even worse,66]

וְאִם בְּדִבּוּר כָּךְ כוּ',

for all the wise of heart are aware of the greater impact [on the soul] of thought over speech,

וּכְבָר נוֹדָע לְכָל חֲכַם לֵב יִתְרוֹן הֶכְשֵׁר הַמַּחֲשָׁבָה עַל הַדִּבּוּר,

whether for the good or for the better.

הֵן לְטוֹב וְהֵן לְמוּטָב.

This really means, “whether for good or for bad.” Here, too, however, the Alter Rebbe uses a traditional euphemism (“for the better”), which could be understood to mean, “for that which needs to become better.67

Thought is a soul-garment that is more intimately involved with the soul than speech. For this reason, (a) good thoughts leave a deeper impression on oneself than good speech, and conversely, evil thoughts leave a deeper impression than evil speech; (b) thought is a constant, just as the soul itself is a constant, whereas with regard to speech,68 “There is a time to keep silence and a time to speak.”

May the good L-rd, Who blesses His people with peace, bestow peace and life upon you forever more,

וַה' הַטּוֹב הַמְבָרֵךְ אֶת עַמּוֹ בַּשָּׁלוֹם, יָשִׂים עֲלֵיכֶם שָׁלוֹם וְחַיִּים עַד הָעוֹלָם,

as is the wish of him who loves you deeply from heart and soul.

כְּנֶפֶשׁ אוֹהֵב נַפְשָׁם מִלֵּב וָנֶפֶשׁ: