Many of the letters that together constitute Iggeret Hakodesh were written in order to rouse Jewry to contribute generously to tzedakah in general and in particular for the Holy Land. More specifically, the Alter Rebbe strongly encouraged the support of Rabbi Mendele Horodoker and Rabbi Avraham Kalisker and their followers, who had settled there, through the Kollel Chabad Fund that he had founded.

In the present letter, the Alter Rebbe places singular emphasis on the merit of tzedakah for the Holy Land. Every year, he declares, it should be given with more vitality and in greater volume, thus echoing the rhythm of the annually renewed life-force that emanates from on High to the Holy Land, as he explains in this letter.

The Alter Rebbe begins here by stating that his purpose is “to arouse the old love and fondness for our Holy Land….” It would seem that “the old love” refers to the ardent enthusiasm which his Chasidim had originally felt for the fund when it was freshly founded and which had faded somewhat with the passage of years. It was this “old love” that the Alter Rebbe sought here to reawaken.

14 [This letter is written] to arouse the old love and fondness for the Holy Land,

יד לְעוֹרֵר אֶת הָאַהֲבָה הַיְשָׁנָה וְחִבַּת אֶרֶץ הַקּוֹדֶשׁ,

so that it burn like fiery flames from the inwardness of man and from the depths of his heart,

לִהְיוֹת בּוֹעֶרֶת כְּרִשְׁפֵּי אֵשׁ מִקֶּרֶב אִישׁ וְלֵב עָמוֹק,

as if this very day G‑d had set His spirit upon us, a spirit of generosity,

כְּאִלּוּ הַיּוֹם מַמָּשׁ נָתַן ה' רוּחוֹ עָלֵינוּ, רוּחַ נְדִיבָה,

so that people volunteer to consecrate themselves to G‑d with a full and generous hand,

בְּהִתְנַדֵּב עָם לְמַלֹּאות יָדָם לַה', בְּיָד מְלֵאָה וּרְחָבָה,

with one increase after another, from year to year,

בְּרִיבּוּי אַחַר רִיבּוּי, מִדֵּי שָׁנָה בְּשָׁנָה,

continually rising and excelling themselves,

הוֹלֵךְ וְעוֹלֶה לְמַעְלָה רֹאשׁ,

in keeping with the measure of [the level of Divinity called] kodesh ha’elyon (“supreme holiness”), another name for the attribute of chochmah,

כְּמִדַּת "קֹדֶשׁ הָעֶלְיוֹן"

which radiates to the Holy Land and is constantly renewed (qualitatively) and increased (quantitatively),

הַמֵּאִיר לְאֶרֶץ הַקּוֹדֶשׁ, הַמִּתְחַדֵּשׁ וּמִתְרַבֶּה תָּמִיד,

as it is written, “Forever are the eyes of the L-rd your G‑d upon it (i.e., upon the Land of Israel), from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.”1

כְּדִכְתִיב: "תָּמִיד עֵינֵי ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ בָּהּ, מֵרֵשִׁית הַשָּׁנָה וְעַד אַחֲרִית שָׁנָה";

As the Alter Rebbe will soon say, the term “eyes” alludes to the Divine attribute of chochmah, or kodesh ha’elyon, which irradiates the Land of Israel constantly, from the beginning of the year to its end.

In order to explain how we derive from this verse that the level of chochmah that radiates to the Holy Land is constantly renewed and increased, the Alter Rebbe first raises the following query:

Now, this phrase “to the end…” appears to be problematic,

דְּהַאי "וְעַד אַחֲרִית כוּ'" אֵינוֹ מוּבָן לִכְאוֹרָה,

for at the end of one year begins another year.

שֶׁהֲרֵי בְּאַחֲרִית שָׁנָה זוֹ מַתְחֶלֶת שָׁנָה שְׁנִיָּה,

Thus, it should surely have said [that the eyes of G‑d are upon the Land of Israel] “everlastingly.”

וְאִם כֵּן הֲוָה־לֵיהּ־לְמֵימַר "לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד"?

However, this matter will be understood by considering the verse, “G‑d by chochmah established the earth.”2

אַךְ הָעִנְיָן יוּבַן, עַל פִּי מַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב: "ה' בְּחָכְמָה יָסַד אָרֶץ",

That is, the foundation of Eretz Ha’elyonah (lit., “the Higher Earth” or “the Higher Land”; i.e., the heavenly model of the terrestrial Holy Land), which is the mode of [creative Divine influence, which is immanent and therefore called] memalei kol almin (lit., “filling all worlds”),

שֶׁיְּסוֹד הָ"אָרֶץ הָעֶלְיוֹנָה" – הִיא בְּחִינַת "מְמַלֵּא כָּל עָלְמִין",

This refers to the sefirah of malchut of the World of Atzilut, called “land,” for it is the last and (so to speak) lowest of the supernal sefirot, and it vests itself in created worlds and beings so as to vitalize them.

and [likewise the foundation] of the nether [land], which is [the Land of Israel which is known as] Eretz Chefetz (“the land of [G‑d’s] desire”), which truly corresponds to it[s heavenly counterpart], viz., Eretz Ha’elyonah,

וְהַתַּחְתּוֹנָה – הִיא "אֶרֶץ חֵפֶץ" הַמְכֻוֶּונֶת כְּנֶגְדָּהּ מַמָּשׁ

and is called by its name, Eretz Hachaim (“the land of life”)—

וְנִקְרֵאת עַל שְׁמָהּ "אֶרֶץ הַחַיִּים",

[the foundation, then, of the higher and the lower lands] issues from the downward flow and radiance from the supreme chochmah, which is the source of supernal life;

הִנֵּה הוּא נִמְשָׁךְ מֵהַמְשָׁכַת וְהֶאָרַת חָכְמָה עִילָּאָה, מְקוֹר הַחַיִּים הָעֶלְיוֹנִים,

as it is written, “Chochmah animates those who possess it….”3

כְּדִכְתִיב: "הַחָכְמָה תְּחַיֶּה בְעָלֶיהָ וְכוּ'".

“G‑d by chochmah established the earth” thus means that the sefirah of chochmah diffuses its creative light upon Eretz Ha’elyonah (“the Higher Land,” i.e., malchut of Atzilut) as well as upon its terrestrial counterpart, the Land of Israel.

This radiance and efflux from supreme chochmah, that irradiates the “land” at both these levels, is renewed annually by a truly new light,

וְהֶאָרָה וְהַמְשָׁכָה זוֹ הִיא מִתְחַדֶּשֶׁת בְּאוֹר חָדָשׁ מַמָּשׁ בְּכָל שָׁנָה וְשָׁנָה,

for G‑d (blessed be He) and His chochmah are one, in an absolute unity,

כִּי הוּא יִתְבָּרֵךְ וְחָכְמָתוֹ אֶחָד בְּתַכְלִית הַיִּחוּד,

which is called “the [infinite] Ein Sof-light,”

וְנִקְרָא בְּשֵׁם "אוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא",

because there is no limit nor end to the quality and greatness of the light and vitality that issues forth from Him and from His chochmah,

שֶׁאֵין סוֹף וְאֵין קֵץ לְמַעֲלַת וּגְדוּלַּת הָאוֹר וְהַחַיּוּת הַנִּמְשָׁךְ מִמֶּנּוּ יִתְבָּרֵךְ וּמֵחָכְמָתוֹ,

in elevation upon elevation, to no end or limit, to the peak of the loftiest levels.

בְּעִילּוּי אַחַר עִילּוּי, עַד אֵין קֵץ וְתַכְלִית, לְרוּם הַמַּעֲלוֹת לְמַעְלָה מַעְלָה.

Since the life-giving light that issues from supreme chochmah is infinite, it follows that whatever the intensity of the light drawn down in the previous year, it is still possible that a greater degree of light be drawn down in the new year.

And every year there descends and radiates a new and renewed light which has never yet shone, from the supreme chochmah4 to the Eretz Ha’elyonah.

וּבְכָל שָׁנָה וְשָׁנָה יוֹרֵד וּמֵאִיר מֵחָכְמָה עִילָּאָה אוֹר חָדָשׁ וּמְחוּדָּשׁ, שֶׁלֹּא הָיָה מֵאִיר עֲדַיִין מֵעוֹלָם לָאָרֶץ הָעֶלְיוֹנָה,

The light that reaches down to this level is here described as “new and renewed,” for in the first instance, a new light radiates into chochmah from the Ein Sof that transcends it, then a new light issues from chochmah and irradiates the Eretz Ha’elyonah.

For the light of every year withdraws to its source in the essence of the Ein Sof on the eve of every Rosh Hashanah,

כִּי אוֹר כָּל שָׁנָה וְשָׁנָה מִסְתַּלֵּק לְשָׁרְשׁוֹ בְּכָל עֶרֶב רֹאשׁ־הַשָּׁנָה

“when the moon is covered.”

כְּשֶׁ"הַחֹדֶשׁ מִתְכַּסֶּה בּוֹ",

Rosh Hashanah is known as “the holiday when the new moon is covered”5 and is not seen. In a spiritual context, this means that the sefirah of malchut (represented in the Kabbalah by the moon), the light that animates the worlds and created beings, is concealed and withdraws to its source.

Afterward, by means of the sounding of the Shofar and by means of the prayers, a new and superior light is elicited,

וְאַחַר כָּךְ, עַל־יְדֵי תְּקִיעַת שׁוֹפָר וְהַתְּפִלּוֹת, נִמְשָׁךְ אוֹר חָדָשׁ עֶלְיוֹן

[a light] of a yet higher rank in the sphere of the supreme chochmah,

מִבְּחִינָה עֶלְיוֹנָה יוֹתֵר שֶׁבְּמַדְרֵגַת חָכְמָה עִילָּאָה,

to radiate to the Eretz elyonah and those who dwell upon it,

לְהָאִיר לָאָרֶץ עֶלְיוֹנָה וְלַדָּרִים עָלֶיהָ,

i.e., to all the higher and lower worlds that receive their vitality from it,

הֵם כָּל הָעוֹלָמוֹת הָעֶלְיוֹנִים וְהַתַּחְתּוֹנִים הַמְקַבְּלִים חַיּוּתָם מִמֶּנָּה,

i.e., from the [infinite] Ein Sof-light, and from [G‑d’s] chochmah, which is vested in it, i.e., in “the Higher Land,”

דְּהַיְינוּ, מִן הָאוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא וְחָכְמָתוֹ הַמְלוּבָּשׁ בָּהּ,

as it is written, “For with You is the source of life; in Your light shall we see light.”6

כְּדִכְתִיב: "כִּי עִמְּךָ מְקוֹר חַיִּים, בְּאוֹרְךָ נִרְאֶה אוֹר",

supreme chochmah, which is the source of life, is “with You,” i.e., nullified and unified with the Ein Sof; “in Your light” (i.e., in the light that radiates from chochmah to “the Higher Land”), “we shall see light” (i.e., the light that descends from “the Higher Land” and illumines all the created beings which receive their vitality from it).

This refers to the light that radiates from supreme chochmah, the source of life.

דְּהַיְינוּ, אוֹר הַמֵּאִיר מֵחָכְמָה עִילָּאָה מְקוֹר הַחַיִּים

(7And, as is known to the scholars of the Hidden Wisdom, i.e., the Kabbalists, every Rosh Hashanah, the nesirah takes place, and [the sefirah of malchut] receives new, more sublime mochin, and so on.)

(וְכַנּוֹדָע לְיוֹדְעֵי חֵן, שֶׁבְּכָל רֹאשׁ־הַשָּׁנָה הִיא הַנְּסִירָה, וּמְקַבֶּלֶת מוֹחִין חֲדָשִׁים עֶלְיוֹנִים יוֹתֵר כוּ').

This is a Kabbalistic theme regarding the “rebuilding” of the sefirah of malchut that takes place every Rosh Hashanah. The paradigm of this sequence is the slumber that G‑d brought upon Adam8 on the day of his creation, which took place on the day of Rosh Hashanah, and the subsequent excision (nesirah) of the rib from which Eve was then formed.

The Kabbalah explains that Adam is a terrestrial echo of supernal man, i.e., the bracket of sefirot known collectively as za (acronym for z’eyr anpin) of the World of Atzilut. “Slumber” alludes to the withdrawal of the supernal intellectual attributes, or mochin, from za (just as man’s intellect withdraws during sleep). The new and more sublime mochin which are then drawn down into malchut are far superior to the mochin that malchut had previously received from za.

In a very specific way, this takes place every day.

וּבִפְרָטֵי פְּרָטִיּוּת, כֵּן הוּא בְּכָל יוֹם וָיוֹם,

More sublime mochin are elicited by every morning-prayer,

נִמְשָׁכִין מוֹחִין עֶלְיוֹנִים יוֹתֵר בְּכָל תְּפִלַּת הַשַּׁחַר,

which are not the original mochin that withdrew after the prayer [of the previous day] but more sublime ones.

וְאֵינָן מוֹחִין הָרִאשׁוֹנִים שֶׁנִּסְתַּלְּקוּ אַחַר הַתְּפִלָּה, רַק גְּבוֹהִין יוֹתֵר.

In general terms, with respect to the world as a whole—and not only with regard to the daily elicitation of new mochin during prayer as experienced by an individual man—during the six thousand years [of the world’s existence],9 this occurs every Rosh Hashanah.

וְדֶרֶךְ כְּלָל בִּכְלָלוּת הָעוֹלָם בְּ"שִׁית אַלְפֵי שְׁנִין", כֵּן הוּא בְּכָל רֹאשׁ־הַשָּׁנָה וְרֹאשׁ־הַשָּׁנָה.

And this is the meaning of the above-quoted verse, “Forever are the eyes of the L-rd your G‑d upon it,”

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁכָּתוּב "תָּמִיד עֵינֵי ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ בָּהּ",

for “eyes” is an epithet for the efflux and radiance of the light of chochmah,

שֶׁהָ"עֵינַיִם" הֵם כִּינּוּיִם לְהַמְשָׁכַת וְהֶאָרַת אוֹר הַחָכְמָה,

for which reason sages are referred to as “the eyes of the congregation,”10 for they are illumined by the light of chochmah which is known by the epithet “eyes.”

שֶׁלָּכֵן נִקְרְאוּ חֲכָמִים "עֵינֵי הָעֵדָה",

And [this, too, is the meaning of the teaching], “The atmosphere of the Land of Israel makes one wise”11for the Land of Israel, too, is illumined by chochmah.

וַ"אֲוִירָא דְאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל מַחְכִּים".

As was stated above, “Forever are the eyes of the L-rd your G‑d upon it” refers to a constant illumination by chochmah.

Now, this radiance and efflux, though it is continuous,

וְהֶאָרָה וְהַמְשָׁכָה זוֹ, אַף שֶׁהִיא תְּמִידִית,

nevertheless, it is not only on one and the same plane and level since the beginning of the world.

אַף־עַל־פִּי־כֵן אֵינָהּ בִּבְחִינָה וּמַדְרֵגָה אַחַת לְבַדָּהּ מִימֵי עוֹלָם,

Rather, every year, there is a new and superior light,

אֶלָּא שֶׁבְּכָל שָׁנָה וְשָׁנָה הוּא אוֹר חָדָשׁ עֶלְיוֹן,

because the light which was generated and which shone on this Rosh Hashanah withdraws to its source on the eve of the next Rosh Hashanah.

כִּי הָאוֹר שֶׁנִּתְחַדֵּשׁ וְהֵאִיר בְּרֹאשׁ־הַשָּׁנָה זֶה, הוּא מִסְתַּלֵּק בְּעֶרֶב רֹאשׁ־הַשָּׁנָה הַבָּאָה לְשָׁרְשׁוֹ.

This enables us to understand the verse that says that “the eyes of G‑d” are upon the Land “from the beginning of the year to the end of the year” only.

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁכָּתוּב "מֵרֵשִׁית הַשָּׁנָה וְעַד אַחֲרִית שָׁנָה" לְבַדָּהּ.

The verse does not state that they are there “everlastingly,” for the efflux that descends on Rosh Hashanah lasts only to the end of the year, at which time it withdraws and makes way for the descent of a new and more sublime light.

And that is why meireishit (“from the beginning”) is written without an alef:

וְלָכֵן כְּתִיב "מֵרֵשִׁית" חָסֵר א' –

it alludes to the withdrawal of the light, signified by the alef,12

רוֹמֵז עַל הִסְתַּלְּקוּת הָאוֹר

which withdraws on the night of Rosh Hashanah

שֶׁמִּסְתַּלֵּק בְּלֵיל רֹאשׁ־הַשָּׁנָה

At that time, the innermost element of the world’s vitality is in a state of withdrawal due to the “ascent of malchut”; i.e., the innermost core of malchut is then in a state of elevation and withdrawal,

until after the sounding of the Shofar,

עַד אַחַר הַתְּקִיעוֹת,

when there descends a new and more sublime light that has never yet shone since the beginning of the world.

שֶׁיּוֹרֵד אוֹר חָדָשׁ עֶלְיוֹן יוֹתֵר שֶׁלֹּא הָיָה מֵאִיר עֲדַיִין מִימֵי עוֹלָם אוֹר עֶלְיוֹן כָּזֶה,

It vests itself and conceals itself in the Eretz Hachaim, which is above—i.e., in malchut of Atzilut, the source of all worlds and created beings—and in the Eretz Hachaim, which is below, in the Land of Israel,

וְהוּא מִתְלַבֵּשׁ וּמִסְתַּתֵּר בְּ"אֶרֶץ הַחַיִּים" שֶׁלְּמַעְלָה וְשֶׁלְּמַטָּה,

For the light that animates this world first passes through the Holy Land, and from there, it is diffused throughout the world at large.

in order to animate all the worlds for the duration of that year.

לְהַחֲיוֹת אֶת כָּל הָעוֹלָמוֹת כָּל מֶשֶׁךְ שָׁנָה זוֹ.

Its manifestation, however,

אַךְ גִּילּוּיוֹ מֵהַהֶסְתֵּר הַזֶּה,

The light became concealed in the Eretz Hachaim above and below. The revelation of this light and the descent of a creative life-force to the world and all its created beings,

depends on the actions of those below and on their merits and penitence during the Ten Days of Penitence.

תָּלוּי בְּמַעֲשֵׂה הַתַּחְתּוֹנִים וּזְכוּתָם וּתְשׁוּבָתָם בַּעֲשֶׂרֶת יְמֵי תְשׁוּבָה,

This will suffice for the initiated.

וְדַי לַמֵּבִין:

In summary: The Divine light issuing from the sefirah of chochmah in the World of Atzilut that radiates within the Land of Israel throughout the year increases yearly both in quantity and in quality. Similarly, the tzedakah given for the Holy Land should be increased every year both quantitatively and qualitatively.

The conclusion of the above letter makes it clear that this mortal initiative makes an impact on the revelation of this light: the ever increasing revelation of the light that descends in a concealed form is dependent on the ever increasing contributions of tzedakah given for the Land of Israel.