וכמו אב רחמן חכם וצדיק, המכה את בנו, שאין לבן חכם להפוך עורף לנוס למצוא לו עזרה, או אפילו מליץ יושר לפני אביו הרחמן והצדיק וחסיד

This is analogous to a compassionate, wise and righteous father who hits his son. Surely a wise son should not turn his back to escape and find himself help, or even an intercessor to his father, who is compassionate, righteous and kind (chassid).

The Rebbe Rayatz once remarked1 that when the Alter Rebbe first speaks of the father who punishes, he does not use the term “chassid”. (He uses it only later, in the context of the intercessor.) The reason, says the Rebbe, is that a father who smites his child may indeed be compassionate, righteous and wise — but he is not a chassid, for a chassid does not hit!

In any event, we see that if the child is truly wise he will not flee from punishment.

רק להיות ישר יחזו פנימו עם אביו, פנים בפנים, לסבול הכאותיו באהבה, לטוב לו כל הימים

Rather, he will look straight at his father, face to face, bearing his smacks lovingly for his lifelong benefit.

To transpose this to the analogue: Every Jew ought to look straight at his Father, “face to Face.”

והנה למעלה, בחינת פנים

Now in the Divine realm, the concept of “Face”

הוא הרצון והחשק אשר אבינו שבשמים משפיע לבניו כל טוב עולמים וחיי נפש וגוף

is the willingness and desire with which our Father in heaven bestows upon His children all the good of the worlds — the physical and the spiritual worlds — as well as life for the soul and body;

באהבה ורצון, חשיקה וחפיצה, על ידי תורת חיים, שהיא רצונו יתברך, אשר נתן לנו

[all of this He bestows] out of love and willingness, out of inner desire and delight, through the Torah of Life, which is His blessed Will, that He gave unto us.

The present passage is based on the body language that typically accompanies a gift.

As explained earlier in Tanya (ch.22), one gives a gift to a good friend face to face: the giver’s eyes rest on the face of the recipient. Through his very stance the giver thus expresses the fact that his gift stems from his “face” (panim) and innermost core (pnimiyut). When, however, one gives something to an enemy, he averts his face. This simply gives outward expression to his real aversion: the gift is not prompted by any inner desire, but by some external factor.

In our context, then, G‑d’s loving willingness in showering us with His gifts is described by the metaphor of “Face”.

כמו שנאמר: כי באור פניך נתת לנו תורת חיים כו׳

As we recite in the Amidah,2 “For in the light of Your Face, You have given us...the Torah of Life...,”

לעשות בה רצונו

with which (and through which) to carry out His will.

ועל זה נאמר: באור פני מלך חיים ורצונו כו׳

And of this it is written,3 “For in the light of the King’s Face there is life, and His will....”

מה שאין כן לעובדי גילולים, משפיע חיי גופם שלא ברצון וחשיקה וחפיצה

To the heathens, however, He grants the life of their bodies4 without willingness, pleasure and delight.

לכך נקראים אלהים אחרים, שיונקים מבחינת אחוריים

For this reason they are referred to as elohim acherim (“other gods”), for they draw [their life-force] from achorayim (the “hinderside” of Divinity).

To continue the above metaphor: The Divine “reluctance” to grant life-force to the heathens — i.e., the so-called external level of Divine desire — is here described by a term that is the opposite of the “Face”, which expressed G‑d’s innermost will.

וכך הוא באדם: הרצון והחשק הוא בחינת פנים

It is likewise with man: willingness and pleasurable desire, i.e., man’s innermost desires, relate to the “face”.

Thus, turning to G‑d “face to Face” means that a man accepts willingly and with inner desire whatever is apportioned to him from the Supernal Face, from G‑d’s innermost desire. In our context, this refers to a willing acceptance of G‑d’s admon-ishments as expressed in physical suffering.

ואם אינו מקבל באהבה ורצון, כאלו הופך עורף ואחור, חס ושלום

If one does not accept [this suffering] with love and willingness, it is as if he turns his neck and back [on G‑d], heaven forfend.

ועצה היעוצה לקבל באהבה, היא עצת ה׳ בפי חז״ל: לפשפש במעשיו

The suggested advice to enable one to accept [it] with love, is G‑d’s counsel through the mouth of our Sages, of blessed memory5 — “to examine one’s conduct.”

The Gemara says that “if one sees afflictions befalling him, he should examine his deeds” and repent.

וימצא לו עונות הצריכין מירוק יסורים, ויראה לעין גודל אהבתו אליו, המקלקלת השורה

He will find sins that require scouring by means of suffering. He will then clearly see G‑d’s great love towards him which “upsets the natural order of [Divine] conduct,”

כמשל מלך גדול ונורא, הרוחץ בכבודו ובעצמו צואת בנו יחידו מרוב אהבתו

as in the simile of a great and awesome king who, out of his immense6 love for his only son, personally washes off the filth from him.

כמו שכתוב: אם רחץ ה׳ את צואת בנות ציון כו׳ ברוח משפט כו׳

As it is written,7 “When G‑d will wash off the filth from the daughters of Zion... with a spirit of justice8...”9

When one becomes aware of G‑d’s great love for him, a love that is expressed by scouring him with the cleansing agent of suffering:

וכמים הפנים אל פנים

Then,10 “as in water face reflects face,”

The verse goes on to say, “...so is the heart of man to man.” And the same is true of the heart of mortal man to Supernal Man:

תתעורר האהבה בלב כל משכיל ומבין יקר מהות אהבת ה׳ אל התחתונים

there will be an arousal of love in the heart of everyone who perceives and understands the preciousness of the nature of G‑d’s love for the nether beings, for those who find themselves in this world, the lowest of all worlds.

אשר היא יקרה וטובה מכל חיי העולמים כולם

This [Divine love] is dearer and better than all the [kinds of] life of all the worlds, both spiritual and material;

כמו שכתוב: מה יקר חסדך וכו׳

as it is written,11 “How precious is Your lovingkindness (Chesed)....”

כי טוב חסדך מחיים כו׳

[It is likewise written,12] “For Your Chesed is better than life....”

The motivating nucleus of Chesed is love. Thus it is written,13 “I have loved you with an everlasting love, and have therefore drawn down Chesed upon you.”

כי החסד, שהוא בחינת אהבה

For Chesed, which is a manifestation of love,

הוא חיי החיים שבכל העולמות, כמו שנאמר: מכלכל חיים בחסד

is the Fountainhead of life that is present in all the worlds; as it is said in the Amidah,14 “He sustains life through Chesed.”

Chesed and love are thus the sustaining life-force of all living beings.

ואז

And then, i.e., when one realizes G‑d’s great love for him that finds expression in afflictions, and when this in turn arouses a love within him so that he will better receive G‑d’s love, then:

גם ה׳ יתן הטוב

G‑d, too, will grant goodness, of a kind that the naked eye can clearly and palpably perceive as good,

ויאר פניו אליו

and make His Face (the innermost dimension of Divinity) shine towards him15

בבחינת אהבה מגולה, אשר היתה תחלה מלובשת ומוסתרת בתוכחת מגולה

with a manifest love, which had earlier been garbed and hidden in a manifest rebuke,

The overt admonition that stems from G‑d’s hidden love will then be transformed into a revealed love.

ויתמתקו הגבורות בשרשן

and the expressions of Divine severity (the gevurot) will be sweetened at their source,

Within their source these expressions of Divine severity are ultimately benevolent; as they descend to the world below they become manifest in the form of suffering. The gevurot, then, will be sweetened at their source,

ויתבטלו הדינין, נצח סלה ועד

and thereby these expressions of Divine severity will become nullified forevermore.