“How abundant is Your goodness which You have hidden away for those who fear You, [which You have wrought for those who trust in You before man].”1

"מָה רַב טוּבְךָ אֲשֶׁר צָפַנְתָּ לִירֵאֶיךָ וְגוֹ'".

Now, the first part of the verse states that the reward is “hidden away,” while its conclusion implies that it is revealed to the sight of man.

The Alter Rebbe will now explain that corresponding to these two forms of reward, the Jew’s spiritual service (that leads to the reward) likewise assumes two forms: there is both a concealed and a revealed form of Divine service.

Among those who serve G‑d by fulfilling the Torah and its mitzvot, there are two distinct kinds and levels,

הִנֵּה, בִּכְלַל עוֹבְדֵי ה' יֵשׁ ב' בְּחִינוֹת וּמַדְרֵגוֹת חֲלוּקוֹת

depending on the root of their souls above, in the categories of the “right” (chesed) and the “left” (gevurah).

מִצַּד שׁוֹרֶשׁ נִשְׁמָתָם לְמַעְלָה, מִבְּחִינַת יָמִין וּשְׂמֹאל.

In terms of the effect of the soul’s root, this means that the “left” is characterized by contraction and concealment in one’s Divine service.

דְּהַיְינוּ, שֶׁבְּחִינַת שְׂמֹאל הִיא מִדַּת הַצִּמְצוּם וְהַהֶסְתֵּר בַּעֲבוֹדַת ה',

Thus, with regard to this manner of service, it is written, “…and to walk covertly [with the L-rd your G‑d]”2;

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "וְהַצְנֵעַ לֶכֶת כוּ'"

[and in another verse we find], “in secret places weeps [my soul]…”3;

"בַּמִּסְתָּרִים תִּבְכֶּה כוּ'",

[and, in the words of our Sages], “Whoever engages in the study of the Torah in secret….”4

"כָּל הָעוֹסֵק בַּתּוֹרָה בַּסֵּתֶר כוּ'".

The three abovementioned quotations refer to the three general modes of Divine service: With regard to mitzvot—“to walk covertly”; regarding prayer—“my soul weeps”; and with regard to Torah—“engages in the study of the Torah in secret.” All the above approaches to Divine service result from one of the traits that characterizes gevurah, viz., concealment. The Alter Rebbe now goes on to speak of the other dominant trait that characterizes the attribute of gevurah, viz., contraction.

From this attribute derives also the element of contraction and limitation in the service of G‑d,

וְהִנֵּה, מִמִּדָּה זוֹ נִמְשְׁכָה גַם כֵּן בְּחִינַת הַצִּמְצוּם וְהַגְּבוּל בַּעֲבוֹדַת ה',

for example, having one’s disbursements to charity adjudged according to one’s means,5

כְּמוֹ בִּצְדָקָה לִהְיוֹת נִידּוֹן בְּהֶשֵּׂג יָד,

and [setting one’s limits in the spirit of the teaching], “He who gives lavishly should not expend more than one-fifth.”6

וְ"הַמְבַזְבֵּז – אַל יְבַזְבֵּז יוֹתֵר מֵחוֹמֶשׁ",

Likewise, as regards the study of the Torah and the other commandments, such a person is satisfied if he discharges his definite duty which the Torah explicitly obligates him to do,

וּכְהַאי גַּוְנָא בְּתַלְמוּד תּוֹרָה וּשְׁאָרֵי מִצְוֹת, דַּי לוֹ שֶׁיּוֹצֵא יְדֵי חוֹבָתוֹ מֵחִיּוּב מְפוֹרָשׁ שֶׁחִיְּיבַתּוּ הַתּוֹרָה בְּפֵירוּשׁ

such as to set aside certain times [for Torah study].

לִקְבּוֹעַ עִתִּים כוּ'.

Thus, the soul’s root in the supernal “left,” in the attribute of gevurah, will lead one to act in a manner consistent with its character trait of limitation: so that he will give only as much tzedakah, study only as much Torah, and perform the mitzvot only to the degree that he is obligated.

From it derives also the teaching of our Sages, of blessed memory,7 “Cast awe upon the pupils….”8

וּמִמֶּנָּה נִמְשָׁךְ גַּם כֵּן מַה שֶּׁאָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: "זְרוֹק מָרָה בַּתַּלְמִידִים כוּ'".

By contrast, the characteristic of the “right” is the attribute of chesed and expansiveness—serving G‑d

אַךְ בְּחִינַת יָמִין, הִיא מִדַּת הַחֶסֶד וְהַהִתְפַּשְּׁטוּת בַּעֲבוֹדַת ה',

with amplitude, without any contraction or concealment whatsoever,

בְּהִתְרַחֲבוּת בְּלִי צִמְצוּם וְהֶסְתֵּר כְּלָל,

as it is written, “And I will walk about expansively…,”9

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "וְאֶתְהַלְּכָה בָרְחָבָה כוּ'",

and without any contraction or limitation whatsoever. I.e., with such an individual, not only the approach to Divine service but also its execution is characterized by a broad sweep.

וְגַם בְּלִי צִמְצוּם וּגְבוּל כְּלָל,

There is no restraint to the spirit of his generosity, whether it be with respect to charity, the study of the Torah, or other commandments.

וְאֵין מַעֲצוֹר לְרוּחַ נִדְבָתוֹ, בֵּין בִּצְדָקָה וּבֵין בְּתַלְמוּד תּוֹרָה וּשְׁאָרֵי מִצְוֹת,

He is not satisfied with merely discharging his obligation but [continues] “to the extent of never [saying] ‘Enough!’…”10

וְלֹא דַי לוֹ לָצֵאת יְדֵי חוֹבָתוֹ בִּלְבַד, אֶלָּא עַד בְּלִי דַי כוּ':

These, then, are the two types of Divine service that result from the soul’s being rooted either in the “right” or the “left.”

Now, every Jew needs to comprise both these traits: a Jew whose soul derives from chesed must also incorporate the thrust of gevurah, and vice versa,

וְהִנֵּה, כָּל אִישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל צָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת כָּלוּל מִב' בְּחִינוֹת אֵלּוּ,

for “There is no thing that has not its place.”11

וְ"אֵין לְךָ דָבָר שֶׁאֵין לוֹ מָקוֹם".

Both chesed and gevurah are essential to one’s service; at times, he must use one attribute, at times—the other.

Thus, we find various matters that exemplify the leniencies of Beit Shammai and the stringencies of Beit Hillel.12

וְלָכֵן מָצִינוּ כַּמָּה דְבָרִים מִקּוּלֵּי בֵּית שַׁמַּאי וּמֵחוּמְרֵי בֵּית הִלֵּל,

This comes to teach us that even Beit Shammai, whose soul was rooted in the supernal “left”13 (which is why they always decided stringently as regards all the prohibitions of the Torah,

לְלַמְּדֵנוּ, שֶׁאַף בֵּית שַׁמַּאי שֶׁשֹּׁרֶשׁ נִשְׁמָתָם מִבְּחִינַת שְׂמֹאל הָעֶלְיוֹן, וְלָכֵן הָיוּ דָנִין לְהַחֲמִיר תָּמִיד בְּכָל אִיסּוּרֵי הַתּוֹרָה,

For stringencies stem from gevurah, inasmuch as they prevent an object from being used and thereby elevated.

whereas Beit Hillel, who derived from the supernal “right,” would find arguments for leniency in order to render permissible the things prohibited by Beit Shammai,

וּבֵית הִלֵּל שֶׁהָיוּ מִבְּחִינַת יָמִין הָעֶלְיוֹן, הָיוּ מְלַמְּדִין זְכוּת לְהָקֵל וּלְהַתִּיר אִיסּוּרֵי בֵּית שַׁמַּאי,

so that these should become released from their prohibitive bonds and be able to ascend),

שֶׁיִּהְיוּ מוּתָּרִים מֵאִיסּוּרָם וְיוּכְלוּ לַעֲלוֹת לְמַעְלָה,

The word אָסוּר means “bound” (i.e., to the sitra achara) and hence “prohibited.” Its opposite (מוּתָּר) means “released” and hence “permitted.” Declaring an object permissible thus unfetters it from the bonds of the sitra achara, thereby allowing it to ascend, as explained in the Tanya, Part I, ch. 7.

nevertheless, in numerous matters, [even] Beit Shammai were lenient.

אַף־עַל־פִּי־כֵן, בְּכַמָּה דְבָרִים הָיוּ בֵּית שַׁמַּאי מְקִילִּין,

[This is so] because of the inclusiveness of their soul’s root, which is compounded of the “right” (chesed) as well.

מִפְּנֵי הִתְכַּלְלוּת שֹׁרֶשׁ נִשְׁמָתָם שֶׁהוּא כָּלוּל גַּם מִיָּמִין.

And, likewise, the root of Beit Hillel’s soul was also compounded of the “left” (gevurah),

וְכֵן שׁוֹרֶשׁ נִשְׁמַת בֵּית הִלֵּל כָּלוּל גַּם מִשְּׂמֹאל,

for, as is known of the mode and the attributes14 (i.e., the manner) of supernal holiness,

כַּיָּדוּעַ דֶּרֶךְ וּמִדּוֹת קֹדֶשׁ הָעֶלְיוֹן,

“there is no cleavage or division there,”15 heaven forfend;

דְּ"לֵית תַּמָן קִיצּוּץ וּפֵירוּד" חַס וְשָׁלוֹם,

rather, all the traits that derive from supernal holiness incorporate each Other—chesed incorporates an aspect of gevurah; gevurah of chesed; and so on.

וְכָל הַמִּדּוֹת כְּלוּלוֹת זוֹ מִזּוֹ,

They are therefore in union with each other, as is known to those who study the Kabbalah (lit., “the scholars of the Hidden Wisdom”).

וְלָכֵן הֵם מְיוּחָדוֹת זוֹ בָּזוֹ, כַּיָּדוּעַ לְיוֹדְעֵי חֵן;

Although chesed and gevurah are opposites, nonetheless, since they are also compounded of each other, they are able to work together.

Thus, it is written of Abraham, who personifies the attribute of chesed and love, “Now I know that you stand in awe of G‑d,”16

וּכְדִכְתִיב בְּאַבְרָהָם, שֶׁהוּא מִדַּת הַחֶסֶד וְהָאַהֲבָה: "עַתָּה יָדַעְתִּי כִּי יְרֵא אֱלֹהִים אַתָּה",

for he had garbed himself in the attribute of gevurah, which was not of his essence, “And bound Isaac his son…and took the knife [to slaughter his son].”17

עַל־יְדֵי שֶׁלָּבַשׁ מִדַּת הַגְּבוּרָה, "וַיַּעֲקוֹד אֶת יִצְחָק בְּנוֹ . . וַיִּקַּח אֶת הַמַּאֲכֶלֶת כוּ'".

We thus see that Abraham, who is the very embodiment of chesed, was able to respond as the occasion demanded with even this expression of severity, the very epitome of the attribute of gevurah.

As for Scripture characterizing him as “Abraham who loved Me,”18 and [in another verse characterizing Isaac as] “the Dread of Isaac,”19 thereby indicating that Abraham’s service was an expression of chesed and Isaac’s service an expression of gevurah, which would seem to contradict the earlier statement that Abraham also revealed the attribute of gevurah,

וּמַה שֶּׁאָמַר הַכָּתוּב: "אַבְרָהָם אוֹהֲבִי" וּ"פַחַד יִצְחָק",

this difference and distinction exists [only] on the scale of manifestation and concealment.

הִנֵּה הַהֶפְרֵשׁ וְהַהֶבְדֵּל הַזֶּה הוּא בִּבְחִינַת גִּילּוּי וְהֶעְלֵם,

In Isaac’s mode of Divine service, the fear is manifest while the love is hidden in a state of concealment and hiding.

שֶׁבְּמִדַּת יִצְחָק – הַפַּחַד הוּא בִּבְחִינַת גִּילּוּי וְהָאַהֲבָה מְסוּתֶּרֶת בִּבְחִינַת הֶעְלֵם וְהֶסְתֵּר,

The opposite is the case with the trait of our father Abraham, peace be to him—chesed was manifest, and gevurah was concealed.

וְהַהֵיפֶךְ – בְּמִדַּת אַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ עָלָיו־הַשָּׁלוֹם.

And this is the meaning of what was said by King David, peace be to him, who was20 of the attribute of gevurah, “How abundant is Your goodness [which You have hidden away for those who fear You].”

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁאָמַר דָּוִד הַמֶּלֶךְ עָלָיו־הַשָּׁלוֹם: "מָה רַב טוּבְךָ וְגוֹ'".

That is to say that the attribute of goodness and chesed, which is in a state of concealment and hiding within those whose soul-root derives from the “left,” i.e., from gevurah,

כְּלוֹמַר, שֶׁמִּדַּת הַטּוֹב וְהַחֶסֶד אֲשֶׁר הִיא בִּבְחִינַת הֶעְלֵם וְהֶסְתֵּר אֵצֶל כָּל מִי שֶׁשּׁוֹרֶשׁ נִשְׁמָתוֹ מִבְּחִינַת שְׂמֹאל,

and who are referred to as “those who fear You,”

הַנִּקְרָא בְּשֵׁם "יְרֵאֶיךָ",

resembling the [abovementioned] trait of Beit Shammai—

כְּמִדַּת בֵּית שַׁמַּאי,

though this is a concealed and hidden goodness, beneath a dominant surface of gevurah,

הִנֵּה אַף שֶׁהוּא טוֹב הַגָּנוּז וְצָפוּן,

it is nevertheless truly as abundant and immense as the attribute of gedulah21 and chesed, which is of the “right.”

אַף־עַל־פִּי־כֵן, הוּא רַב וְגָדוֹל מְאֹד כְּמוֹ מִדַּת הַגְּדוּלָּה וְהַחֶסֶד מַמָּשׁ שֶׁמִּבְּחִינַת יָמִין,

Although the element of chesed within those described as “those that fear You” is concealed, for their soul-root derives essentially from gevurah, it is latent within them just as abundantly as it is found within those who are essentially of the “right.”

Moreover, both [degrees of chesed]—that which is dominant in the souls deriving from the “right” as well as that incorporated in the souls deriving from the “left”—are manifest without limit, measure, or dimension.

וּשְׁתֵּיהֶן הֵן מִבְּחִינַת גִּילּוּי בְּלִי גְבוּל וּמִדָּה וְשִׁיעוּר.

And this is the meaning of the phrase, “How abundant is Your goodness”;

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁכָּתוּב "מָה רַב טוּבְךָ",

i.e., [it applies in both cases] without limit and measure;

כְּלוֹמַר בְּלִי גְבוּל וּמִדָּה,

whether it be the goodness “which You have hidden away for those who fear You” or that which “You have wrought for those who trust in You,”

בֵּין הַטּוֹב "אֲשֶׁר צָפַנְתָּ לִירֵאֶיךָ", וּבֵין אֲשֶׁר "פָּעַלְתָּ לַחוֹסִים בָּךְ",

referring to the trusting ones who derive from the “right,”

שֶׁהֵם בַּעֲלֵי הַבִּטָּחוֹן שֶׁמִּבְּחִינַת יָמִין,

A person trusts his beloved friend to act in his best interests. In the same way, those whose souls stem from the “right” and who serve G‑d with chesed and love place their trust in Him.

and whose kindness and goodness are also in a state of manifestation and expansiveness before [the sight of] man,

וְחַסְדָּם וְטוּבָם, הוּא גַם כֵּן בִּבְחִינַת גִּילּוּי וְהִתְפַּשְּׁטוּת – "נֶגֶד בְּנֵי אָדָם",

and by no means in a state of contraction and concealment.

וְלֹא בִּבְחִינַת צִמְצוּם וְהֶסְתֵּר כְּלָל.

We can now understand why the verse begins by saying “hidden away for those who fear You” and concludes with the manifest state of “before man”: The verse is alluding to two forms of chesed—in its concealed state, as possessed by “those who fear You,” and in its revealed state, as possessed by “those who trust in You.”

(22The reason the verse says “for those who fear You,” which would seem to imply that the chesed from above is granted to them as a reward, rather than “in those who fear You,”

(וּמַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב "לִירֵאֶיךָ" וְלֹא "בִּירֵאֶיךָ",

is that whatever is in a state of concealment within any soul

הַיְינוּ מִשּׁוּם שֶׁכָּל מַה שֶּׁהוּא בִּבְחִינַת הֶעְלֵם בְּכָל נְשָׁמָה,

is not vested within the body—in the individual’s mind and heart, for they are incapable of receiving it.

הִנֵּה בְּחִינָה זוֹ אֵינָהּ מְלוּבֶּשֶׁת תּוֹךְ הַגּוּף בְּמוֹחוֹ וְלִבּוֹ,

Rather, it encompasses [the individual] from above, so to speak,

אֶלָּא הוּא בִּבְחִינַת מַקִּיף מִלְמַעְלָה,

and from there it radiates to his mind and heart at those times which require an arousal of the attribute in question,

וּמִשָּׁם הִיא מְאִירָה לְמוֹחוֹ וְלִבּוֹ לָעִתִּים הַצְּרִיכִים לְהִתְעוֹרְרוּת בְּחִינָה זוֹ,

so that it will be aroused and will illumine his mind and heart in order to result in actual deeds.)

שֶׁתִּתְעוֹרֵר וְתָאִיר לְמוֹחוֹ וְלִבּוֹ, כְּדֵי לָבֹא לִידֵי מַעֲשֶׂה בְּפוֹעַל מַמָּשׁ).

For example, a person whose charitable contributions are customarily limited will have revealed to him the concealed and infinite attribute of chesed, which will prompt him to give tzedakah unstintingly.

[King David] therefore said that whereas the “abundance of goodness” of the House of Israel, [both] that which is hidden and that which is manifest, is (so to speak) without limit and measure (relative to the category of their soul vested in the body),

וְאָמַר עַל כֵּן, אֲשֶׁר "רַב טוּב לְבֵית יִשְׂרָאֵל", הַצָּפוּן וְהַגָּלוּי, הוּא בִּבְחִינַת בְּלִי גְבוּל וּמִדָּה לְפִי עֵרֶךְ נַפְשׁוֹתָם הַמְלוּבֶּשֶׁת בַּגּוּף,

The kindness of a finite creature is by definition limited. However, it may be termed infinite in relation to the soul vested in the body.

therefore, “You, too, O G‑d, relate to them with the attribute of Your unlimited and infinitely great chesed, which is of the level known as gedulah, and which is called rav chesed”—the chesed of arich anpin that utterly transcends the lesser chesed of z’eyr anpin, from which the worlds evolve by means of the Seder Hishtalshelut.

לָכֵן, גַּם אַתָּה ה' תִּתְנַהֵג עִמָּהֶם בְּמִדַּת חַסְדְּךָ הַגָּדוֹל בְּלִי גְבוּל וְתַכְלִית, הַנִּקְרָא "רַב חֶסֶד".

“For there is chesed, and [then] there is [a far higher form of] chesed23:

דְּ"אִית חֶסֶד וְאִית חֶסֶד":

There is chesed olam (lit., chesed of the world”)—i.e., a worldlike (and hence finite) chesed,

אִית חֶסֶד עוֹלָם,

that has an opposite counterpart—the attribute of din, of severe justice, heaven forfend,

שֶׁיֵּשׁ כְּנֶגְדּוֹ וּלְעוּמָּתוֹ מִדַּת הַדִּין חַס וְשָׁלוֹם,

which would diminish and contract [G‑d’s] goodness.

לְמַעֵט וּלְצַמְצֵם חַסְדּוֹ וְטוּבוֹ.

The superior form of chesed, however, which is called rav chesed,

אֲבָל חֶסֶד עֶלְיוֹן הַנִּקְרָא "רַב חֶסֶד",

does not have the attribute of din opposed to it to diminish and contract the abundance of [G‑d’s] benevolence from extending without limit or end.

אֵין כְּנֶגְדּוֹ מִדַּת הַדִּין לְמַעֵט וּלְצַמְצֵם רוֹב חַסְדּוֹ מִלְּהִתְפַּשֵּׁט בְּלִי גְבוּל וְתַכְלִית,

For it derives from the level of [Divinity called] sovev kol almin, which transcends (lit., “encompasses”) all worlds and limitations, and from [the level of Divinity called] Temira DeChol Temirin (lit., “that which is hidden [even] from all the hidden [worlds]),”

כִּי הוּא נִמְשָׁךְ מִבְּחִינַת "סוֹבֵב כָּל עָלְמִין" וּ"טְמִירָא דְכָל טְמִירִין",

which is called keter elyon (lit., “the supernal crown”), i.e., the utterly transcendent level of Divinity known as keter.

הַנִּקְרָא "כֶּתֶר עֶלְיוֹן".

This, then, is the meaning of the verse which follows our opening quotation and which continues to speak of “those who fear You” and “those who trust in You”: “Hide them in the concealment of Your innermost dimension…” (for, as explained above, פנים denotes both “countenance” and “inwardness”); “conceal them in a sukkah…” (i.e., in the sublime level of chesed which, deriving from the abovementioned level of keter, transcends the Seder Hishtalshelut and will encompass them like a sukkah).

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "תַּסְתִּירֵם בְּסֵתֶר פָּנֶיךָ וְגוֹ' תִּצְפְּנֵם בְּסוּכָּה וְגוֹ'":

Supplement by the Rebbe

The thrust of the above letter, which was delivered by an emissary who was to collect contributions for charity, is that even those who serve G‑d by means of their soul-root in the “left”—even if, like Beit Shammai, they are totally righteous individuals (who need not give tzedakah [for the sake of atonement]; cf. “for we are not complete,” as explained above in Iggeret Hakodesh, Epistle 10)—nevertheless, they too possess “an abundant and immense” degree of chesed. “At those times which require it,” moreover, “it results in actual deeds.”

This is explicit in the concluding passage of the letter which was not printed “by the rabbis, long may they live, sons of the illustrious author of blessed memory, whose soul is in Eden,” and which reads as follows:24

After the above words, from the depths of my soul I seek

ואחר הדברים האלה, נפשי בשאלתי

to arouse the [infinite] abundance of benevolence that is concealed in the heart of every individual in the Chasidic brotherhood,25

לעורר רב טוב הגנוז והצפון בלב כל אנשי שלומנו

[so that it be manifested] from concealment to revelation and be translated into action,

מן ההעלם אל הגילוי, לבא לידי מעשה

and so that you will all “fill your hands unto G‑d” by giving charity with a full and open hand

למלאות ידם לה', ביד מלאה ורחבה

through the trusted bearer of this message—and what is written [above] in the letter should suffice for the discerning.

על ידי ציר נאמן, מוסר כתב זה כו', ודי למבין כמו שכתוב באגרת

I am not spelling it out, for this is not necessary; the above will suffice.

ואין אני כותבו מחמת שלא נצרך, ודי למבין

These are the words of one who loves you with all his soul and who seeks your welfare with heartfelt and soulful longing.

הכל דברי אוהב נפשם, דורש שלומם מלב ונפש חפיצה

At this point, the Alter Rebbe signs:

Shneur Zalman, the son of my master, my father, my mentor and Rebbe, Rabbi Baruch

שניאור זלמן בן לאדוני אבי מורי ורבי הרב ר' ברוך

The Rebbe adds: “The above passage [which makes it clear that the foregoing teachings were intended to find practical expression in the giving of tzedakah] enables us to understand the relevance here of the first part of this letter, which otherwise should seemingly have begun with והנה כל איש ישראל—‘Now every Jew needs to comprise….’”26