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 chassidim 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.

לעורר את האהבה הישנה וחבת ארץ הקודש

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

להיות בוערת כרשפי אש מקרב איש ולב עמוק

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

כאלו היום ממש נתן ה׳ רוחו עלינו, רוח נדיבה

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

בהתנדב עם למלאות ידם לה׳, ביד מלאה ורחבה

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

בריבוי אחר ריבוי, מדי שנה בשנה

with one increase after another, from year to year,

הולך ועולה למעלה ראש

continually rising and excelling themselves,

כמדת קדש העליון

in keeping with the measure of [the level of Divinity called] Kodesh HaElyon (“Supreme Holiness”), another name for the attribute of Chochmah,

המאיר לארץ הקודש, המתחדש ומתרבה תמיד

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

כדכתיב: תמיד עיני ה׳ אלקיך בה, מרשית השנה ועד אחרית שנה

as it is written,1 “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.”

As the Alter Rebbe will soon say, the term “eyes” alludes to the Divine attribute of Chochmah, or Kodesh HaElyon, 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:

דהאי ועד אחרית גו׳ אינו מובן לכאורה

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

שהרי באחרית שנה זו, מתחלת שנה שניה

for at the end of one year begins another year.

ואם כן, הוה ליה למימר: לעולם ועד

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

אך הענין יובן על פי מה שכתוב: ה׳ בחכמה יסד ארץ

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

שיסוד הארץ העליונה, היא בחינת ממלא כל עלמין

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

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.

והתחתונה, היא ארץ חפץ, המכוונת כנגדה ממש

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 HaElyonah,

ונקראת על שמה: ארץ החיים

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

הנה הוא נמשך מהמשכת והארת חכמה עילאה, מקור החיים העליונים

[the foundation, then, of the higher and the lower lands] issues from the downward flow and radiation from the Supreme Chochmah which is the source of Supernal life;

כדכתיב: החכמה תחיה בעליה וגו׳

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

“G‑d by Chochmah established the earth” thus means, that the Sefirah of Chochmah diffuses its creative light upon Eretz HaElyonah (“the Higher Land,” i.e., Malchut of Atzilut), as well as upon its terrestial counterpart, the Land of Israel.

והארה והמשכה זו, היא מתחדשת באור חדש ממש בכל שנה ושנה

This radiation and efflux from Supreme Chochmah, that irradiates the “land” at both these levels, is renewed annually by a truly new light.

כי הוא יתברך וחכמתו אחד בתכלית היחוד

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

ונקרא בשם אור אין סוף ברוך הוא

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

שאין סוף ואין קץ למעלת וגדולת האור והחיות הנמשך ממנו יתברך ומחכמתו

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,

בעילוי אחר עילוי, עד אין קץ ותכלית, לרום המעלות למעלה מעלה

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

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.

ובכל שנה ושנה יורד ומאיר מחכמה עילאה אור חדש ומחודש שלא היה מאיר עדיין מעולם, לארץ העליונה

And every year there descends and radiates a new and renewed light which has never yet shone, from the Supreme Chochmah4 to the Eretz HaElyonah.

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, and then a new light issues from Chochmah and irradiates the Eretz HaElyonah.

כי אור כל שנה ושנה מסתלק לשרשו בכל ערב ראש השנה

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

כשהחדש מתכסה בו

“when the moon is covered.”

Rosh HaShanah is known as5 “the holiday when the new moon is covered,” 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.

ואחר כך, על ידי תקיעת שופר והתפלות, נמשך אור חדש עליון

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

מבחינה עליונה יותר שבמדריגת חכמה עילאה

[a light] of a yet higher rank in the sphere of the Supreme Chochmah,

להאיר לארץ עליונה ולדרים עליה

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

הם כל העולמות, העליונים והתחתונים, המקבלים חיותם ממנה

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

דהיינו, מן האור אין סוף ברוך הוא וחכמתו המלובש בה

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”;

כדכתיב: כי עמך מקור חיים, באורך נראה אור

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

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).

דהיינו אור המאיר מחכמה עילאה, מקור החיים

This refers to the light that radiates from Supreme Chochmah, the source of life.

וכנודע ליודעי חן, שבכל ראש השנה היא הנסירה, ומקבלת מוחין חדשים, עליונים יותר כו׳

(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.)

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 terrestial echo of Supernal Man, i.e., the bracket of Sefirot known collectively as Za (ז״א, acronym for זעיר אנפין) 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.

ובפרטי פרטיות, כן הוא בכל יום ויום

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

נמשכים מוחין עליונים יותר בכל תפלת השחר

More sublime Mochin are elicited by every morning-prayer,

ואינן מוחין הראשונים שנסתלקו אחר התפלה, רק גבוהין יותר

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

ודרך כלל, בכללות העולם בשית אלפי שנין, כן הוא בכל ראש השנה וראש השנה

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.

וזהו שכתוב: תמיד עיני ה׳ אלקיך בה

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

שהעינים הם כינוים להמשכת והארת אור החכמה

for “eyes” is an epithet for the efflux and radiation of the light of Chochmah,

שלכן נקראו חכמים: עיני העדה

for which reason sages are referred to as10 “the eyes of the congregation,” for they are illumined by the light of Chochmah which is known by the epithet “eyes”.

ואוירא דארץ ישראל מחכים

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

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

והארה והמשכה זו, אף שהיא תמידית

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

אף על פי כן אינה בבחינה ומדריגה אחת לבדה מימי עולם

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

אלא שבכל שנה ושנה הוא אור חדש עליון

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

כי האור שנתחדש והאיר בראש השנה זה, מסתלק בערב ראש השנה הבאה, לשרשו

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.

וזהו שכתוב: מרשית השנה ועד אחרית שנה לבדה

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.

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.

ולכן כתיב: מרשית, חסר א׳

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

רומז על הסתלקות האור

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

שמסתלק בליל ראש השנה

which withdraws on the night of Rosh HaShanah

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,

עד אחר התקיעות

until after the sounding of the Shofar,

שיורד אור חדש, עליון יותר, שלא היה מאיר עדיין מימי עולם

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

והוא מתלבש ומסתתר בארץ החיים שלמעלה ושלמטה

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

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

להחיות את כל העולמות כל משך שנה זו

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

אך גילויו מההסתר הזה

Its manifestation, however,

For the light became concealed in the Eretz HaChayim above and below, so that its further descent and the revelation of its creative life-force to the world and to all its created beings:

תלוי במעשה התחתונים, וזכותם ותשובתם בעשרת ימי תשובה

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

ודי למבין

This will suffice for the initiated.

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.