Chinuch Katan

(Introduction to Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah)

The heading written by the Alter Rebbe reads as follows:

ליקוטי אמרים, חלק שני הנקרא בשם חינוך קטן מלוקט מפי ספרים ומפי סופרים קדושי עליון נ״ע מיוסד על פרשה ראשונה של קריאת שמע

Likutei Amarim (“A Compilation of Teachings”) Part Two [whose introduction hereunder is] entitled1 Chinuch Katan (“The Education of the Child”)

Compiled from sacred books and from teachers of heavenly saintliness, whose souls are in Eden;

This mention of his sources echoes the words of the Alter Rebbe in the title page to Part One of Tanya. The Previous Rebbe, the Rebbe Rayatz, of blessed memory, notes in one of his talks that “books” here traditionally refers to the works of the Maharal and the Shelah, and “teachers”, to the Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid of Mezritch.

based on the first paragraph2 of the Recitation of the Shema:3

This first paragraph contains both the verse beginning4 Shema Yisrael and the sentence beginning5 Baruch shem. As explained in the Zohar,6 these quotations refer respectively to yichuda ila‘ah (the higher level of perception of G‑d’s Unity) and yichuda tata’ah (the lower level of perception of G‑d’s Unity). It is around this theme that Part Two of Tanya revolves.

* * *

חנוך לנער על פי דרכו, גם כי יזקין לא יסור ממנה

7“Educate the child according to his way: even as he grows old he will not depart from it.”

הנה מדכתיב: על פי דרכו, משמע שאינה דרך האמת לאמיתו

Since the verse writes “according to his way,” this implies that it is not the path of perfect truth, but merely a path to be followed by the child;

ואם כן מאי מעליותא שגם כי יזקין לא יסור ממנה

hence of what merit is it that “even as he grows old he will not depart from it”?

Indeed, it would seem that the very opposite should be the case: when the child matures he should forsake his childish path in favor of the path of truth. What possible merit could there be in not departing from it?

אך הנה מודעת זאת כי שרשי עבודת ה׳ ויסודותיה הן דחילו ורחימו

Now it is well known that the awe (lit., “fear”) and the love of G‑d are the roots and foundations8 of divine service.

The performance of Torah and mitzvot in thought, speech and deed is rooted in and founded upon one’s love and fear of G‑d. The awe of G‑d enables the Jew to properly observe the prohibitive commandments, while the love of Him makes it possible for the Jew to perform the positive commandments with inner feeling,9 as the Alter Rebbe now goes on to explain.

היראה שרש ויסוד לסור מרע

Awe is the root and fundament of [what constrains one to]10 “refrain from evil,” ensuring that one will not transgress the prohibitive commandments,11

והאהבה לועשה טוב, וקיום כל מצוות עשה דאורייתא ודרבנן

and the love of G‑d [is the root and fundament] of [what motivates one to]12 “do good,” and to observe all the positive commandments of the Torah and the Sages,

כמו שיתבאר במקומן

as will be explained in their proper place.

“As will be explained in their proper place” refers to chs. 4 and 41 in the first part of Tanya. This reference, as the Rebbe points out, corroborates the tradition handed down by chassidim that the Alter Rebbe originally intended to reverse the current order, with this second part of Tanya appearing first, as Part I, and the fifty-three chapters of the first part becoming Part II.

ומצות החינוך היא גם כן במצוות עשה, כמו שכתוב באורח חיים, סימן שמ״ג

(13The commandment of educating [a child] includes also [training in the performance of] positive precepts, as is stated in Orach Chayim, Section 343.)

Since a child is to be educated to observe both prohibitive and positive commandments, it follows that his love of G‑d, as the root and fundament of all positive commands,14 must be such that it serves as the springboard for all the positive commandments that are performed as a result of education. We must therefore say that there exists an inferior and transient degree of love that serves as the root and foundation for those mitzvot that are performed as a result of education, a degree of love distinct from the superior level that motivates an adult. Nevertheless, as shall soon be explained, this lower level of love, too — a love which is “according to the child’s way” — possesses certain permanent qualities that make it desirable that “even as he grows old he will not (and indeed should not) depart from it.”

והנה באהבה כתיב, בסוף פרשת עקב: אשר אנכי מצוה אתכם לעשותה, לאהבה את ה׳ וגו׳

Concerning the love [of G‑d] it is written at the end of the portion Eikev,15 “...which I command you to do — to love G‑d...”

וצריך להבין איך שייך לשון עשיה גבי אהבה שבלב

It is necessary to understand how an expression of “doing” can be applied to love, which is [an emotion] in the heart.

The Alter Rebbe now proceeds to resolve this seeming anomaly. (First, however, he describes the superior degree of love that cannot be created: one can merely provide the conditions for its revelation.) As to the above anomaly, he now explains that there exists a manner of love that is indeed created — by meditating upon those concepts that arouse it. An active verb such as “doing” suits this manner of love, since it is experienced as a result of one’s own doing.

אך הענין הוא, דיש שני מיני אהבת ה׳

The explanation, however, is that there are two kinds of love of G‑d:

האחת היא כלות הנפש בטבעה אל בוראה

One is the natural, yearning love of the soul to its Creator.

Since this love is intrinsic to the soul, which is “truly a part of G‑d above,” this love need not — and indeed cannot — be created at all. It merely needs to be revealed. But how can such a passionate yearning become revealed in one’s corporeal, fleshly heart?

כאשר תתגבר נפש השכלית על החומר, ותשפילהו ותכניעהו תחתיה

When the rational soul prevails over the grossness [of the body] and subdues and subjugates it,

Here the Divinely-appointed task of the G‑dly soul comes to the fore: to rectify the animal soul and refine the body by means of the rational soul’s comprehension of G‑dliness. For the G‑dly soul’s own intellect and comprehension are too lofty to affect the body. The rational soul, however, embodies man’s natural quality of intellect and as such is close to the physical body. The rational soul comprehends G‑dliness in such a manner that it is able to cause Form to master Matter — to overmaster the body and harness its corporeality. When it actually does so:

אזי תתלהב ותתלהט בשלהבת העולה מאליה

then [the soul] will flare and blaze with a flame that ascends of its own accord,

It will be aflame not with a love created through contemplation, but with a natural love whose revelation was barred by the grossness of the body. Now, with the mastery and refinement of the body, the soul’s innate love for G‑d can at last be revealed.

ותגל ותשמח בה׳ עושה, ותתענג על ה׳ תענוג נפלא

and [the soul] will rejoice and exult both inwardly and outwardly in G‑d its Maker, and will delight in Him with wondrous bliss.

In this instance the delight is part of the love and the divine service itself, rather than a reward for the divine service, as is sometimes the case.

והזוכים למעלת אהבה רבה זו, הם הנקראים צדיקים

It is those who merit the [joyous] state of this great love who are called tzaddikim,

כדכתיב: שמחו צדיקים בה׳

as it is written,16 “Rejoice in G‑d, you tzaddikim.

To serve G‑d with delight of this order is the privilege of tzaddikim alone. For though the above-described love emanates from the G‑dly soul which is possessed by every single Jew, for which reason one would expect everyone to be able to feel it, it is nevertheless not experienced by all. The reason for this — as the Alter Rebbe goes on to explain — is that one’s physical grossness impedes its revelation. And clearing this hurdle demands prodigious effort.

אך לא כל אדם זוכה לזה

Yet not everyone is privileged to attain this state of love which characterizes tzaddikim,

כי לזה צריך זיכוך החומר במאד מאד, וגם תורה ומעשים טובים הרבה

for it requires an intense refinement of one’s physical grossness, and in addition a great deal of Torah study and good deeds,

לזכות לנשמה עליונה

in order to merit a lofty [soul-level of] Neshamah,

This is the soul-level whose divine service is intellective; as the verse states,17 “The Divine Neshamah shall provide discernment.” Only this manner of divine service can subjugate and refine man’s gross corporeality so that he is able to delight in G‑d with wondrous bliss.

שלמעלה ממדרגת רוח ונפש

which is superior to the level of Ruach (the soul-level at which one’s divine service focusses on one’s emotional attributes) and Nefesh (the soul-level at which one fulfills the mitzvot out of an acceptance of the Heavenly Yoke),

כמו שכתוב בראשית חכמה, שער האהבה

as explained in Reishit Chochmah, Shaar HaAhavah.

There the author explains how the above level of love is specifically related to the soul-level of Neshamah.

In sum, it is clear that this love cannot be “created” by man. He can only enable it to be revealed within him by refining himself — but to such an extraordinary degree that it is not attainable by all.

והשנית היא אהבה שכל אדם יוכל להגיע אליה, כשיתבונן היטב בעומקא דלבא

The second [level] is a love which every man can attain when he meditates earnestly, so that its echo resounds in the depths of his heart,

בדברים המעוררים את האהבה לה׳ בלב כל ישראל

on matters that arouse the love of G‑d in the heart of every Jew,

הן דרך כלל: כי הוא חיינו ממש, וכאשר האדם אוהב את נפשו וחייו, כן יאהב את ה׳, כאשר יתבונן וישים אל לבו כי ה׳ הוא נפשו האמיתית וחייו ממש

whether [he meditates] in a general way — how He is our very life,18 and just as one loves his soul and his life, so will he love G‑d when he meditates and reflects in his heart that G‑d is his true soul and actual life,

כמו שכתוב בזהר על פסוק: נפשי אויתיך וגו׳

as the Zohar19 comments on the verse,20 “[You are] my soul: I desire you,”

The Zohar explains that since G‑d is the Jew’s soul and thus his true life, the Jew loves and desires Him.21

והן דרך פרט, כשיבין וישכיל בגדולתו של מלך מלכי המלכים, הקב״ה, דרך פרטית

or whether [he meditates] in a particular way,22 when he will understand and comprehend in detail the greatness of the King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He,

For example, he may reflect on the manner in which G‑d fills all worlds and encompasses all worlds, and on how all creatures are as naught before Him.

כאשר יוכל שאת בשכלו, ומה שלמעלה משכלו

to the extent that his intellect can grasp, and even beyond.

These two phrases refer respectively to concepts that are within the reach of “positive knowledge,” and to truths that lie beyond it and are perceptible only through “negative knowledge”; i.e., though one may not understand such a thing itself, he may understand how it is not subject to the restrictions of a lesser order.

In terms of comprehending G‑dliness this means to say, that one will at least understand that those levels of G‑dliness that are beyond the range of his intellect are not subject to the limitations inherent within created and emanated worlds and beings. This “negative knowledge” — in the Alter Rebbe’s words, “even beyond” — is also considered to be a quasi state of comprehension.

ואחר כך יתבונן באהבת ה׳ הגדולה ונפלאה אלינו

Then, following his meditation “in a particular way,” he will contemplate G‑d’s great and wondrous love to us, a love that led Him*—

לירד למצרים, ערות הארץ, להוציא נשמותינו מכור הברזל, שהוא הסטרא אחרא, רחמנא לצלן

to descend even to Egypt, the23 “obscenity of the earth,” to bring our souls out of the24 “iron crucible” into which the Jewish people had then descended, which is the sitra achra (may the All-Merciful spare us),

לקרבנו אליו ולדבקנו בשמו ממש, והוא ושמו אחד

to bring us close to Him and to bind us to His very Name — and He and His Name are One, so that by being bound to His Name we were bound to G‑d Himself;

דהיינו: שרוממנו מתכלית השפלות והטומאה לתכלית הקדושה, וגדולתו יתברך שאין לה קץ ותכלית

that is to say, He elevated us from the nadir of degradation and defilement to the acme of holiness and to His infinite and boundless greatness.25

When one has meditated in detail upon G‑d’s greatness and His tremendous love for the Jewish people:

אזי כמים הפנים לפנים

Then,26 “As in water, face reflects face, [so does the heart of man to man,]”

Just as one person’s love for another awakens a loving response in the other’s heart, so, too, our contemplation of the ways in which G‑d has manifested His love towards us will inspire within us a love for Him,

תתעורר האהבה בלב כל משכיל ומתבונן בענין זה בעומקא דלבא

and love will be aroused in the heart of everyone who contemplates and meditates upon this matter in the depths of his heart,

לאהוב את ה׳ אהבה עזה, ולדבקה בו בלב ונפש, כמו שיתבאר במקומה באריכות

to love G‑d with an intense love and to cleave unto Him, heart and soul, as will be explained at length in its place.27

* * *

והנה ענין אהבה זו רצה משה רבנו עליו השלום ליטע בלב כל ישראל, בפרשה: ועתה ישראל וגו׳

It is this love — this latter manner of love, which may be generated by contemplation — that Moses, our teacher, peace unto him, wished to implant in the heart of every Jew, in the passage,28 “And now, Israel,...”

בפסוק: הן לה׳ אלקיך השמים וגו׳

in the verse that speaks of G‑d’s greatness, “Behold, the heavens belong to G‑d, your L‑rd...” and likewise in the following verses that speak of G‑d’s love for His people:

רק באבותיך חשק וגו׳, ומלתם וגו׳, בשבעים נפש וגו׳

“Only in your fathers did He delight... You shall circumcise.... With seventy souls [did your forefathers descend to Egypt, and now He has made you as numerous as the stars of heaven].”

All the above inevitably leads to the first verse in the following chapter, namely:

ואהבת וגו׳

29“You shall love [the L‑rd your G‑d...].”

ולכן סיים דבריו על אהבה זו: אשר אנכי מצוה אתכם לעשותה

Hence [Moshe Rabbeinu] concluded his words in the later verse quoted above concerning this love,30 “... which I command you to do,”

Here, then, is the answer to the above query as to how it is possible to “do” or to create the spiritual emotion of love:

שהיא אהבה עשויה בלב, על ידי הבינה והדעת בדברים המעוררים את האהבה

for this is a love that is produced in the heart through the understanding and self-involving knowledge of matters that inspire love.

But if the verse is in fact referring to the kind of love that is created through contemplation, should it not first command one to contemplate? Indeed so, the Alter Rebbe now goes on to say:

ועל זה צוה כבר תחלה: והיו הדברים האלה אשר אנכי מצוך היום על לבבך

And this he had commanded previously, in the first paragraph of Shema:31 “And these words, which I command you this day, shall be upon your heart,”

כדי שעל ידי זה תבא לאהבה את ה׳, כדאיתא בספרי על פסוק זה

so that through this [meditation] you will come to love G‑d, as is stated in the Sifri on this verse.32

והנה על אהבה זו השנית, שייך לשון מצוה וצווי

An expression of command (“which I command you to do — to love”) can thus be applied to this second type of intellectually-generated love,

It might seem that to command a person to experience love would be either fruitless or superfluous. Not so, however, with regard to the kind of love that is born of contemplation. Here, one can indeed be given a command:

דהיינו: לשום לבו ודעתו בדברים המעוררים את האהבה

namely, to focus one’s heart and mind on matters that arouse love.

אבל באהבה ראשונה, שהיא שלהבת העולה מאליה, לא שייך לשון צווי ומצוה כלל

But an expression of command is not at all applicable to the first kind of love, which is a flame that ascends of its own accord.

ולא עוד, אלא שהיא מתן שכרם של צדיקים, לטעום מעין עולם הבא בעולם הזה

Furthermore, it is the reward of the tzaddikim, to savor a foretaste of the World to Come in this world.

In the World to Come the righteous bask in the rays of the Divine Presence: they delight in their perception of G‑dliness. And it is this delight that tzaddikim enjoy in this world when they serve G‑d with love.

שעליה נאמר: עבודת מתנה אתן את כהונתכם, כמו שיתבאר במקומה

Concerning this [level of love] it is written,33 “I have granted [you] your priesthood as a Divine service which is a gift,” as will be explained in its proper place, namely, where the Divinely-bestowed gift of ahavah betaanugim is discussed.

* * *

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to explain what special quality lies in the lesser manner of service of “educating the child according to his way,” so that “even when he grows [spiritually] older he will not depart from it.” It is true that the lower level of love, that which is engendered by meditation, is a stage in one’s educational preparation, so to speak. Compared with the loftier level of essential and constant love that is revealed only within tzaddikim, it is a child’s service, within the reach of all. Yet there is something in it that must be retained even when one has graduated to the “adult” manner of love of G‑d.

For it is possible that the superior kind of love will not always be manifest even when one is on the level of a tzaddik. Particularly so, since his mandatory advances from level to level demand that before reaching a higher rung he must first release his hold of the previous rung; otherwise, it will encumber his ascent.

When the tzaddik is bereft of his own level of love, he then nourishes his divine service with a resource that harks back to his spiritual childhood — with a love born of meditation, the lower level of love in which he was schooled before he attained the state of tzaddik.

אך הנה ידוע ליודעים טעמא דקרא, מאי דכתיב: כי שבע יפול צדיק וקם

Now, those who are familiar with the esoteric meaning of Scripture know the meaning of the verse,34 “For a tzaddik may fall seven times, and yet rises again.”

Even a tzaddik can (as it were) fall from his level and then regain his stature. There thus exists a certain interval of time during which he does not maintain his higher level of love for G‑d.

ובפרט שהאדם נקרא מהלך, ולא עומד

Especially so, since the conditions of spiritual service dictate that at given times he will not maintain his level, for man is called “mobile” and not “static”,

This phrase not only means that man is obliged to be ever reaching for ever greater heights; it means, moreover, that his newly-attained level is infinitely more elevated than his previous level.

When one is constantly on the same level, or even when one advances in finite stages from one comparable level to the next, there is no need to abandon one’s former level before establishing one’s foothold on the next; on the contrary, one’s former position may well help one to take the next step upward. When one is truly mobile, however, climbing from one level to an infinitely higher one, his previous level — which is finite compared to the level he is about to attain — actually hinders his progress. Indeed, if he aspires to mature to a more exalted spiritual mindset, he must first purge himself of his previous one.35

וצריך לילך ממדרגה למדרגה, ולא לעמוד במדרגה אחת לעולם

and must therefore advance from one level to another infinitely higher level, and not remain forever at one level.

For if his new level is merely within range of the first, he is essentially fixated at the same level.

ובין מדרגה למדרגה, טרם שיגיע למדרגה עליונה ממנה, הוא בבחינת נפילה ממדרגתו הראשונה

Between one level and the next, before he can reach the higher one, he is in a state of decline from his previous level, and thus he lacks the superior level of love in which he is accustomed to delight.

אך: כי יפול לא יוטל, כתיב

Yet, it is written,36 “Though he falls, he shall not be utterly cast down” from his spiritual service and from his love for G‑d.

ואינה נקראת נפילה אלא לגבי מדריגתו הראשונה, ולא לגבי שאר כל אדם, חס ושלום

This is considered a decline only relative to his former state, and not (G‑d forbid) relative to all other men; he is most assuredly loftier than those who have not attained the level of tzaddik,

שאף על פי כן הוא למעלה מכל האדם בעבודתו, כי נשאר בה בחינת רשימו ממדריגתו הראשונה

for notwithstanding his fall he still surpasses them in his divine service, inasmuch as it retains an impression of his former level.

אך עיקרה: מאהבה שנתחנך והורגל בה מנעוריו, בטרם שהגיע למדרגת צדיק

For the mainstay of his service while he is in this fallen state is the love of G‑d in which he had been educated and trained from his youth, before he attained the level of tzaddik, with its higher reaches in the love of G‑d.

Just as then his love of G‑d was born of contemplation, so too now, this lower level of love is the root of his divine service.

וזהו שכתוב: גם כי יזקין וגו׳

This, then, is what is meant by saying that “even as he grows old [he will not depart from it],” from the path of his youth.

Not “when he is old” but “as he grows old.” This implies an ongoing, lifelong climb from level to level. Yet even when he has risen to the dizziest heights of love for G‑d, he will yet have occasion to revert to the path of his youth — to the lower, more measured level of love that is born of meditation.

* * *

והנה ראשית הדברים המעוררים האהבה והיראה, ויסודן, היא האמונה הטהורה ונאמנה ביחודו ואחדותו, יתברך ויתעלה

First among the factors that arouse love and fear, and their foundation, is a pure and faithful belief in the Unity and Oneness of G‑d, may He be blessed and exalted. (“Oneness” here means that all of creation is united with G‑d and utterly nullified to Him.)

That is to say, pure faith in G‑d’s Unity is the starting-point and foundation of one’s meditation on yichuda ila‘ah (“higher-level Unity”) and yichuda tata’ah (“lower-level Unity”), and this meditation in turn leads to the love and fear of Him.

There are truths that transcend intellect and that can be perceived only through faith. At the same time, utilizing faith for something that can be comprehended is making use of the wrong faculty: intellect must grasp that which is within the reach of intellect, and faith must be used to apprehend that which transcends intellect. When within belief there is a mingling of the rational and the superrational — when truths that are accessible to comprehension are confused with things that defy comprehension — such belief is not “pure”, for pure belief deals only with that which transcends rationality. It is only when one utilizes his intellect to comprehend all that is subject to comprehension and his power of faith is then utilized solely for that which defies intellect, that such faith can then be deemed “pure faith.”

Since both categories are represented in the subject of G‑d’s Unity and Oneness, it becomes necessary to explain those aspects of the subject that are capable of being comprehended so that one’s faith will be “pure” — relating only to those matters that entirely transcend comprehension.