Part (ii)

The epistle that follows, beginning “The letters that are revealed,” is one of the epistles that was appended to the edition of the Tanya published in Vilna in the year 5660 (1900), these additions being noted by R. Asher of Nikolayev in his introductory declaration there.53

This relevance of this epistle to the previous one may be found in the following parallel: The previous epistle explains how only the netzach-hod-yesod-malchut (i.e., the lower sefirot) of the Emanator extend to the recipient. The conclusion of the present epistle likewise explains54 that only the hindmost aspect and externality of the netzach-hod-yesod of the higher realm enter the lower one.

The letters55 that are revealed to us exist in action, speech, and thought.

הָאוֹתִיּוֹת הַנִּגְלוֹת לָנוּ, הֵן בְּמַעֲשֶׂה דִּבּוּר וּמַחֲשָׁבָה.

Pertaining to the plane of action are the visual forms56 of the letters in the Assyrian script of the Torah scroll.57

דְּמַעֲשֶׂה – הֵן תְּמוּנַת הָאוֹתִיּוֹת שֶׁבִּכְתָב אֲשׁוּרִי שֶׁבְּסֵפֶר תּוֹרָה.

The very validity of the scroll depends on the scrupulous observance of the numerous detailed laws governing the writing of these twenty-two letters. As is explained in the Note to ch. 12 of Shaar Hayichud VehaEmunah, each letter reflects the flow of a unique life-force and spiritual energy: its distinct shape suggests the form taken by the flow of light and energy revealed in that letter.

The letters pertaining to speech are engraved in the breath and voice, which is divided into twenty-two parts, one differing from the other with respect to their form,

וְאוֹתִיּוֹת הַדִּבּוּר – נֶחְקָקוֹת בְּהֶבֶל וְקוֹל, הַמִּתְחַלֵּק לְכ"ב חֲלָקִים שׁוֹנִים זֶה מִזֶּה בְּצוּרָתָן,

i.e., the enunciation and utterance of the twenty-two letters in any language,58

שֶׁהִיא הֲבָרַת וּמִבְטָא הַכ"ב אוֹתִיּוֹת בְּכָל לָשׁוֹן,

for there is no difference between the Holy Tongue and the other languages with respect to the nature of the letters’ enunciation, only with respect to their combinations.59

כִּי אֵין הֶפְרֵשׁ בֵּין לְשׁוֹן הַקֹּדֶשׁ וּבֵין שְׁאָר לְשׁוֹנוֹת בְּמַהוּת הֲבָרַת הָאוֹתִיּוֹת, כִּי אִם בְּצֵירוּפָן.

The letters of thought are—again, in any language that a person may think in—the words and letters of that language and its letters,

וְאוֹתִיּוֹת הַמַּחֲשָׁבָה הֵן – גַּם כֵּן בְּכָל לָשׁוֹן שֶׁאָדָם מְחַשֵּׁב – תֵּיבוֹת וְאוֹתִיּוֹת הַלָּשׁוֹן,

which number twenty-two only.

שֶׁהֵן כ"ב לְבַד.

Now in thought, there are three kinds of letters,

רַק שֶׁבְּמַחֲשָׁבָה, יֵשׁ בָּהּ ג' מִינֵי בְּחִינוֹת אוֹתִיּוֹת.

for when one sees the visual forms of the letters in the Torah scroll, they are pictured in his thought.

שֶׁהֲרֵי כְּשֶׁרוֹאֶה בְּסֵפֶר תּוֹרָה תְּמוּנַת הָאוֹתִיּוֹת – הֵן מִצְטַיְּירוֹת בְּמַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ,

This is called the “action in thought,” i.e., the manner in which thought envisions the letters of actual handwritten script. In terms of the spiritual Worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah, “action in thought” relates to the lowest World—Asiyah, the World of Action.

וְזֶה נִקְרָא בְּחִינַת "עֲשִׂיָּה שֶׁבְּמַחֲשָׁבָה";

Likewise, when one hears the letters of speech, they become inscribed in his thought, and he meditates upon them.

וְכֵן כַּאֲשֶׁר שׁוֹמֵעַ אוֹתִיּוֹת הַדִּבּוּר הֵן נִרְשָׁמוֹת בְּמַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ וּמְהַרְהֵר בָּהֶן,

This is called the “speech in thought,” i.e., thinking about the letters of speech, and it relates to Yetzirah.

וְזֶה נִקְרָא בְּחִינַת "דִּבּוּר שֶׁבְּמַחֲשָׁבָה" וּבְחִינַת "יְצִירָה";

The letters of thought alone, without any meditation on the letters of speech, are called the “thought in thought” and relate to Beriah.

וְאוֹתִיּוֹת הַמַּחֲשָׁבָה לְבַדָּהּ בְּלִי הִרְהוּר אוֹתִיּוֹת הַדִּבּוּר נִקְרָאוֹת "מַחֲשָׁבָה שֶׁבְּמַחֲשָׁבָה", בְּחִינַת "בְּרִיאָה".

In general terms, thought, speech, and action correspond to Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah, respectively. More particularly, “action in thought” corresponds to “Asiyah within Beriah,” “speech in thought” to “Yetzirah within Beriah,” and “thought in thought” to “Beriah within Beriah.

Now, the letters of actual speech come into being and receive their life-force from those very same letters that are in thought.

וְהִנֵּה, אוֹתִיּוֹת הַדִּבּוּר מַמָּשׁ, הֵן מִתְהַוּוֹת וּמְקַבְּלוֹת חַיּוּתָן מֵאוֹתִיּוֹת אֵלּוּ עַצְמָן שֶׁבְּמַחֲשָׁבָה.

Though sometimes a person may speak [of one thing] while thinking of another,

וְאַף שֶׁלִּפְעָמִים מְדַבֵּר אָדָם וּמְהַרְהֵר בְּדָבָר אַחֵר –

This would tend to indicate that the letters of speech do not receive their life-force from the letters of thought.

in such an instance, he can speak only such words and combinations that he has already spoken previously and that were in his thought a great many times.

הֲרֵי אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְדַבֵּר, כִּי אִם אוֹתָן דִּבּוּרִים וְצֵירוּפִים שֶׁכְּבָר דִּבְּרָם וְהָיוּ בְּמַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ פְּעָמִים רַבּוֹת מְאֹד,

Thus, in those words and combinations, there remains the vestige of the thought that entered into them many times, and this serves as the life-force of the letters of his speech.

וְנִשְׁאַר בְּדִיבּוּרִים וְצֵירוּפִים אֵלּוּ הָרְשִׁימוּ מֵהַמַּחֲשָׁבָה שֶׁנִּכְנְסָה בָּהֶם פְּעָמִים רַבּוֹת.

And this, in terms of the sefirot, is the hindmost aspect and the externality of the netzach-hod-yesod of the visage of the higher realm that enters into the lower one, serving it as the intellective faculty of mochin (lit., “brains”) and life-force, as is known.

וְזֶהוּ בְּחִינַת אֲחוֹרַיִים וְחִיצוֹנִיּוּת נֶצַח־הוֹד־יְסוֹד מִפַּרְצוּף הָעֶלְיוֹן שֶׁנִּכְנַס בַּתַּחְתּוֹן, לִהְיוֹת לוֹ בְּחִינַת מוֹחִין וְחַיּוּת, כַּנּוֹדָע: