Part (a)

The Alter Rebbe wrote this letter of condolence to his Chasidim in 1788 after the passing of his colleague and mentor, the saintly R. Mendele of Vitebsk (or Horodok), who had settled in the Holy Land in 1777. It concludes by rousing them to the mitzvah of tzedakah in general and particularly of maintaining the family of R. Mendel.

The Alter Rebbe is here addressing Chasidim who in the past had benefited from their connection with the tzaddik both through his advice and blessings on material matters and through his guidance in matters of the spirit. He comforts them, therefore, with the teaching of the Zohar that a tzaddik is to be found in this world after his passing to a greater extent than while he was physically alive. His disciples are thus able to receive his guidance in their Torah study and Divine service to an even greater degree than before. Materially, too, the tzaddik protects this world after his passing even more effectively than he did during his lifetime.

This letter was written [by the Alter Rebbe] to the [Chasidic] inhabitants of the Holy Land (may it speedily be rebuilt and reestablished in our own days, Amen),1

מַה שֶּׁכָּתַב לְיוֹשְׁבֵי אֶרֶץ הַקֹּדֶשׁ תִּבָּנֶה וְתִכּוֹנֵן בִּמְהֵרָה בְיָמֵינוּ אָמֵן

to console them with redoubled support2

לְנַחֲמָם בְּכִפְלַיִים לְתוּשִׁיָּה,

over the passing of the celebrated rabbi and Gaon, holy man of G‑d,3 “lamp of Israel, pillar of the right hand, mighty hammer,”4 our mentor R. Menachem Mendel (may his soul rest in Eden).

עַל פְּטִירַת הָרַב הַגָּאוֹן הַמְפוּרְסָם אִישׁ אֱלֹקִים קָדוֹשׁ, נֵר יִשְׂרָאֵל, עַמּוּד הַיְמָנִי פַּטִּישׁ הֶחָזָק, מוֹרֵנוּ הָרַב וְרַבֵּנוּ רַבִּי מְנַחֵם מֶענְדְּל נִשְׁמָתוֹ עֵדֶן.

My beloved, my brethren and friends, who are [as dear] and so forth [to me] as my soul.

אֲהוּבַיי אַחַיי וְרֵעַיי אֲשֶׁר כְּנַפְשִׁי כוּ',

Likkutei Haggahot on the Tanya likens the opening three terms of address to the three Scriptural terms of endearment successively addressed by a king to his beloved daughter in the parable cited by the Midrash5: “My beloved” recalls the paternal love expressed by the phrase “my daughter”; “my brethren” recalls the fraternal love expressed by the phrase “my sister”; and “my friends” recalls the filial love expressed by the phrase “my mother.” The further phrase “as my soul” indicates the love that one has for his own life, as in the phrase of the Zohar, “he called her by his own name,”6 while “and so forth” indicates a love even greater—a bond with the ultimate soul-level of yechidah.

May [the Name of] G‑d be upon you,7 and may you live forever,

ה' עֲלֵיהֶם יִחְיוּ חַיִּים עַד הָעוֹלָם,

According to the above interpretation of Likkutei Haggahot, the Alter Rebbe’s blessing that “the Name of G‑d be upon you” is intended to elicit a transcendent mode of Divine benevolence while the blessing “may you live forever” is intended to draw down this transcendent benevolence so that it can be internalized within its finite recipients. (Or, in the terms of Chasidut, it is intended “to be mamshich the makif into the pnimi.”)

and your children with you, the seed of truth;

וְצֶאֱצָאֵיהֶם אִתָּם זֶרַע אֱמֶת

may you be blessed by G‑d for evermore.

בְּרוּכֵי ה' הֵמָּה מֵעַתָּה וְעַד עוֹלָם.

Having first duly inquired after the welfare of those who love [G‑d’s] Name,

אַחֲרֵי דְּרִישַׁת שְׁלוֹמָם כְּמִשְׁפָּט לְאוֹהֲבֵי שְׁמוֹ,

I have come to speak to the heart of the smitten, who are sighing and groaning over the passing of R. Mendele, and to console you with redoubled support

בָּאתִי לְדַבֵּר עַל לֵב נִדְכָּאִים הַנֶּאֱנָחִים וְהַנֶּאֱנָקִים, וּלְנַחֲמָם בְּכִפְלַיִים לְתוּשִׁיָּה,

with what my ear has heard from others and with what I have understood myself,8

אֲשֶׁר שָׁמְעָה אָזְנִי וַתָּבֶן לָהּ,

regarding the idiom used by our Sages9 to signify the passing of a tzaddik, “He has left life for all the living.”

עַל מַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה "דְּשָׁבַק חַיִּים לְכָל חַי" –

If this simply means that others have remained alive after his passing, what are we to make of the expression “left life”? Did he leave them life? Surely, the life they are living is their own.

The Alter Rebbe will explain below that the idiom means quite literally that the tzaddik left something of his own life to others. For the true core of a tzaddik’s life is not fleshly; rather, it comprises the spiritual qualities of faith, awe, and love of G‑d. When a tzaddik departs from this world, he leaves over his faith, fear, and love to all those who are bound to him so that they will be able to receive even more than they received from him while he lived his physical life together with them. All three qualities are alluded to as “life” in the verses enumerated below:

For “a tzaddik lives by his faith,”10

כִּי "צַדִּיק בֶּאֱמוּנָתוֹ יִחְיֶה",

and by “the awe of G‑d [which leads] to life,”11

וּבְ"יִרְאַת ה' לְחַיִּים",

and by the flashing and fiery sparks12 of his love [for G‑d, that is even greater] than life,

וּבְרִשְׁפֵי אֵשׁ שַׁלְהֶבֶת אַהֲבָתוֹ מֵחַיִּים,

investing in them—in his faith and awe and love—the life of his ruach [13and, moreover, of his neshamah] throughout his life.

לְכָל בָּהֶן חַיֵּי רוּחוֹ [נוסח אחר: וְנִשְׁמָתוֹ] כָּל יְמֵי חֶלְדּוֹ,

As the Alter Rebbe will soon say, disciples receive their influence from the soul-level of the tzaddik, which is called ruach. In addition, as explained in Likkutei Haggahot, those disciples who are also [as close as] children receive their influence from the higher soul-level called neshamah.

When, at the time of his passing, G‑d elevates his ruach

וַיְהִי בְּהַעֲלוֹת ה' רוּחוֹ,

and gathers up his soul unto Himself14

וְנִשְׁמָתוֹ אֵלָיו יֶאֱסוֹף,

and he ascends from one elevation to the next, to the very highest of levels,

וְיַעֲלֶה בְּעִילּוּי אַחַר עִילּוּי עַד רוּם הַמַּעֲלוֹת –

he [then] leaves over the life of his ruach,

שָׁבַק חַיֵּי רוּחוֹ,

the deeds in which he has formerly labored with Israel, i.e., the faith, fear, and love which he drew down to them from his ruach,

"פְּעוּלָּתוֹ אֲשֶׁר עָבַד בָּהּ" לְפָנִים בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל,

On a less literal level, the Hebrew word lefanim (here translated “formerly”) can also be understood to mean “to the inwardness”; i.e., the tzaddik infused and integrated this faith, fear, and love into the innermost core of his disciples, this being—

“the labor of a tzaddik for life,”15

פְּעוּלַּת צַדִּיק לְחַיִּים

Or, less literally, “a tzaddik’s labor for the living,” to provide them with life. At any rate, at the time of his passing, the tzaddik bequeaths the fruit of his lifelong labors—

to every living being, that is, to the soul of every living being who lives a life of Torah and mitzvot,

לְכָל חַי, הִיא נֶפֶשׁ כָּל חַי

who is bound to his soul by the thick ropes of a magnanimous love, and an eternal love, that will not be moved forever.

הַקְּשׁוּרָה בְּנַפְשׁוֹ בְּחַבְלֵי עֲבוֹתוֹת אַהֲבָה רַבָּה וְאַהֲבַת עוֹלָם, בַּל תִּמּוֹט לָנֶצַח,

For any man who eagerly desires life16 [and who seeks] to cleave to the living G‑d,

אֲשֶׁר "מִי הָאִישׁ הֶחָפֵץ חַיִּים", לְדָבְקָה בַּה' חַיִּים –

through his service (i.e., through the Divine service of the tzaddik), his soul will cleave

בַּעֲבוֹדָתוֹ תִּדְבַּק נַפְשׁוֹ,

and will be bound up in the bond of life with G‑d,17

וְהָיְתָה צְרוּרָה בִּצְרוֹר הַחַיִּים אֶת ה',

in the life of the ruach (literally, the life-giving “breath”) of our nostrils,

בְּחַיֵּי רוּחַ אַפֵּינוּ

of which we have said, “In its [protective] shadow we shall live among the nations.”18

אֲשֶׁר אָמַרְנוּ בְּצִלּוֹ נִחְיֶה בַגּוֹיִם,

This alludes to the chayah of the tzaddik, the soul-level which is even loftier than the soul-level called neshamah, and which infuses the followers of the tzaddik with a transcendent mode of life-force which enables them to withstand challenges from non-Jewish (i.e., unholy) sources.

[This] he left unto us, in each and every individual,

אֲשֶׁר שָׁבַק לָנוּ, בְּכָל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד

corresponding to the degree of his genuine bond with the tzaddik and his true and pure love of him, from the innermost core of man and from the depths of his heart.19

כְּפִי בְּחִינַת הִתְקַשְּׁרוּתוֹ בֶּאֱמֶת, וְאַהֲבָתוֹ אַהֲבַת אֱמֶת הַטְּהוֹרָה, "מִקֶּרֶב אִישׁ וְלֵב עָמוֹק",

To the extent of each individual’s bond with the tzaddik, so does the tzaddik share with him his ruach and his faith, fear, and love of G‑d.

For “as in water, face [answers to face, so is the heart of man to man]”20: the individual’s love for the tzaddik reflects back to him, eliciting a love of the tzaddik for him,

כִּי "כַּמַּיִם הַפָּנִים וְכוּ'",

and “spirit rouses spirit and brings forth spirit”21the spirit of love that one has for the tzaddik draws down the ruach, the superior spirit of the tzaddik.

וְ"רוּחַ אַיְיתִי רוּחַ וְאַמְשִׁיךְ רוּחַ",

For his ruach remains truly in our midst, within those of us who are bound to him,

וְרוּחוֹ עוֹמֶדֶת בְּקִרְבֵּינוּ מַמָּשׁ,

when he sees his children, i.e., his disciples,22 who embody the work of his hands, sanctifying [G‑d’s] blessed Name.

כִּי בִּרְאוֹתוֹ יְלָדָיו מַעֲשֵׂה יָדָיו בְּקִרְבּוֹ יַקְדִּישׁוּ שְׁמוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ,

For [His Name] is magnified and sanctified when we walk in a straight path, in one of his paths that he has shown us,

אֲשֶׁר יִתְגַּדֵּל וְיִתְקַדֵּשׁ, כַּאֲשֶׁר נֵלֵךְ בְּדֶרֶךְ יְשָׁרָה אֲשֶׁר הוֹרָנוּ מִדְּרָכָיו,

and we will walk in his ways forevermore.

וְנֵלְכָה בְּאוֹרְחוֹתָיו נֶצַח סֶלָה וָעֶד.

With regard to the above sentence, the Rebbe notes that the Zohar (Part II, p. 215a, and Part III, end of Parashat Kedoshim) distinguishes between a “path” (derech) and a “way” (orach). “Path” signifies a well-trodden track which the tzaddik has cleared for common use while “way” suggests a trail that is presently being blazed according to the spiritual needs of the individual’s Divine service. The Rebbe refers the reader to Likkutei Torah, Shir Hashirim (12b).

The reason that the Alter Rebbe characterizes the tzaddik’s life as consisting of faith, fear, and love is that (as explained in the very first epistle in this series) faith is the underpinning, the “loins” that support the entire body of a man’s Divine service, and this finds expression in his fear and love of G‑d, his “arms.”

This, then, is the meaning of the statement in the sacred Zohar,23 that “When a tzaddik departs, he is to be found in all the worlds more than during his lifetime.”

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּזּוֹהַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ דְּ"צַדִּיקָא דְּאִתְפַּטַּר אִשְׁתַּכַּח בְּכֻלְּהוּ עָלְמִין יַתִּיר מִבְּחַיּוֹהִי",

Surely, this should only apply to the higher worlds. How can this be true of this world? How is he to be found here to a greater extent than while he was alive?

That is, even in this world of action, in the mundane world of which it is written,

דְּהַיְינוּ, שֶׁגַּם בְּזֶה הָעוֹלַם הַמַּעֲשֶׂה –

“this day—to do them,”24

"הַיּוֹם לַעֲשׂוֹתָם" –

As the Gemara states,25Today is the time to do them; tomorrow is the time to receive their reward.” Man’s primary task in this world is the actual fulfillment of the commandments while the receipt of rewards or anything akin to rewards belongs to “tomorrow,” to the World to Come.

In any event, even in this “world of action,”

[the departed tzaddik] is found more [than during his lifetime],

אִשְׁתַּכַּח יַתִּיר:

because the action of his disciples continues to produce successive generations of offshoots,

כִּי הַמַּעֲשֶׂה (גָּדוֹל) [גָּדֵל] וְהוֹלֵךְ, גִּידּוּלֵי גִידּוּלִין,

from the “light implanted for the righteous”26 in “the field which G‑d has blessed,”27 i.e., in the Garden of Eden.

מִן "אוֹר זָרוּעַ לַצַּדִּיק" בַּ"שָּׂדֶה אֲשֶׁר בֵּרְכוֹ ה'",

As will soon be explained, this refers to the illumination that is drawn down into the sefirah of malchut in the World of Atzilut, which is known as “the field which G‑d has blessed.” The Torah and mitzvot of the tzaddik draw down into the sefirah of malchut an additional flow of Divine energy from the six higher sefirot (collectively known as za of Atzilut). This current arouses within his disciples thoughts of repentance and good deeds, which the Alter Rebbe calls “successive generations of offshoots”—harvests of the second generation.

[This light] radiates to the earth and to the outside places, i.e., to the Holy Land and outside the Holy Land,

הַמֵּאִיר לָאָרֶץ וְחוּצוֹת,

and also to us, those who are here this day, all of us who live in his ways,

וְגַם אֲנַחְנוּ אֵלֶּה פֹה הַיּוֹם כּוּלָּנוּ חַיִּים בִּדְרָכָיו –

“the holy way shall it be called.”28

"דֶּרֶךְ הַקֹּדֶשׁ יִקָּרֵא לָהּ".

The above, regarding the increased presence of the departed tzaddik, relates to the service of G‑d, to heavenly i.e., spiritual matters; in these areas, his disciples can now receive even more guidance and benefit from him than they did during his lifetime.

זֹאת בַּעֲבוֹדַת ה' בְּמִילֵּי דִשְׁמַיָּא,

As for mundane matters, i.e., the flow of material blessings which tzaddikim draw down to this world, it is stated explicitly in the sacred Zohar29 that the tzaddikim shield the world, and after their death even more than during their life;

וּבְמִילֵּי דְעָלְמָא – בְּפֵירוּשׁ אִתְּמַר בַּזּוֹהַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ, דְּ"צַדִּיקַיָּיא מְגִינִּין עַל עָלְמָא וּבְמִיתַתְהוֹן יַתִּיר מִבְּחַיֵּיהוֹן,

moreover, were it not for the prayer of the tzaddikim in the other world, this world would not endure a single moment.

וְאִלְמָלֵא צְלוֹתָא דְצַדִּיקַיָּיא בְּהַהוּא עָלְמָא – לָא אִתְקַיֵּם עָלְמָא רִגְעָא חֲדָא".

And whoever is closer to the habitation of G‑d30 [through being close to the tzaddik] during his lifetime has precedence to the blessing that comes from and through the tzaddik.

וְכָל הַקָּרוֹב קָרוֹב אֶל מִשְׁכַּן ה' בְּחַיָּיו קוֹדֵם לִבְרָכָה:

Part (b)

An Elucidation of the Above

ביאור על הנזכר לעיל

The Alter Rebbe now provides a deeper understanding of the above letter.

It is stated in the sacred Zohar that “When a tzaddik departs, he is to be found in all the worlds more than during his lifetime….”

אִיתָא בַּזּוֹהַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ, דְּ"צַדִּיקָא דְּאִתְפַּטַּר אִשְׁתַּכַּח בְּכֻלְּהוּ עָלְמִין יַתִּיר מִבְּחַיּוֹהִי כוּ'".

Now, this needs to be understood:

וְצָרִיךְ לְהָבִין,

For, granted that he is to be found increasingly in the upper worlds when he ascends there [following his passing], but now is he found more in this world?

תֵּינַח בְּעוֹלָמוֹת עֶלְיוֹנִים – אִשְׁתַּכַּח יַתִּיר בַּעֲלוֹתוֹ שָׁמָּה, אֲבָל בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה אֵיךְ אִשְׁתַּכַּח יַתִּיר?

This may be explained along the lines of [a teaching] which I received concerning the idiom of our Sages, of blessed memory, that [a departed tzaddik] “has left life to all the living.”

וְיֵשׁ לוֹמַר, עַל דֶּרֶךְ מַה שֶּׁקִּבַּלְתִי עַל מַאֲמַר חֲכָמֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה "דְּשָׁבַק חַיִּים לְכָל חַי",

As mentioned above, the expression is problematic: surely, he has not left anyone life which was not their own. The Alter Rebbe will now explain in what sense it may truly be said that the departed tzaddik left his surviving disciples something of his own life.

As is known, the life of a tzaddik is not a fleshly life but a spiritual life, consisting of faith, awe, and love.

כַּנּוֹדָע, שֶׁחַיֵּי הַצַּדִּיק אֵינָם חַיִּים בְּשָׂרִים כִּי אִם חַיִּים רוּחַנִיִּים, שֶׁהֵם אֱמוּנָה וְיִרְאָה וְאַהֲבָה,

These he possesses not only for himself but transmits to his disciples as well.

In Scripture, we find that faith, awe, and love are each termed “life.”

Thus, of faith it is written, “And a tzaddik lives by his faith.”10

כִּי בֶּאֱמוּנָה כְּתִיב: "וְצַדִּיק בֶּאֱמוּנָתוֹ יִחְיֶה",

Of awe it is written, “The awe of G‑d [leads] to life.”11

וּבְיִרְאָה כְּתִיב: "וְיִרְאַת ה' לְחַיִּים",

And of love it is written, “He who pursues tzedakah and chesed will find life,”31

וּבְאַהֲבָה כְּתִיב: "רוֹדֵף צְדָקָה וָחֶסֶד יִמְצָא חַיִּים",

and chesed signifies love, for love is its core.

וְחֶסֶד הוּא אַהֲבָה.

Hence, when the term “life” is used to describe chesed, it applies to love as well. To sum up: Faith in G‑d, and the awe and love of Him, are thus all referred to as “life.”

Now, these three attributes are present in every world, up to the highest of levels,

וּשְׁלֹשָה מִדּוֹת אֵלּוּ הֵם בְּכָל עוֹלָם וְעוֹלָם עַד רוּם הַמַּעֲלוֹת,

all proportionate to the levels of the worlds,

הַכֹּל לְפִי עֵרֶךְ בְּחִינַת מַעֲלוֹת הָעוֹלָמוֹת

one higher than the other, by way of cause and effect, as is known.

זֶה עַל זֶה בְּדֶרֶךְ עִילָּה וְעָלוּל, כַּנּוֹדָע.

At any level, each world serves as an antecedent (a “cause”) to the lesser world (the “effect”) which it brings into being.

Now, while the tzaddik was alive on earth, these three attributes were contained in their vessel and garment on the plane of physical space, this being the aspect of the nefesh which is bound to his body.

וְהִנֵּה, בִּהְיוֹת הַצַּדִּיק חַי עַל פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה, הָיוּ שְׁלֹשָׁה מִדּוֹת אֵלּוּ בְּתוֹךְ כְּלִי וּלְבוּשׁ שֶׁלָּהֶם בִּבְחִינַת מָקוֹם גַּשְׁמִי, שֶׁהִיא בְּחִינַת נֶפֶשׁ הַקְּשׁוּרָה בְּגוּפוֹ,

During his lifetime, his disciples all receive only a reflection of these attributes and a ray from them

וְכָל תַּלְמִידָיו אֵינָם מְקַבְּלִים רַק הֶאָרַת מִדּוֹת אֵלּוּ וְזִיוָן,

that radiates beyond this vessel (i.e., the tzaddik’s body) by means of his holy utterances and thoughts.

הַמֵּאִיר חוּץ לִכְלִי זֶה עַל־יְדֵי דִּבּוּרָיו וּמַחְשְׁבוֹתָיו הַקְּדוֹשִׁים,

The tzaddik’s utterances and thoughts are able to reveal no more than a minor ray of his attributes.

That is why our Sages, of blessed memory, said that “one cannot plumb the depth of his master’s teachings [until the passage of forty years].”32

וְלָכֵן אָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה שֶׁאֵין אָדָם עוֹמֵד עַל דַּעַת רַבּוֹ וְכוּ'.

But after [the tzaddik’s] passing, since the nefesh—which remains in the grave—is separated from the ruach, which comprises these three attributes and [after his passing] is in the Garden of Eden,

אֲבָל לְאַחַר פְּטִירָתוֹ, לְפִי שֶׁמִּתְפָּרְדִים בְּחִינַת הַנֶּפֶשׁ שֶׁנִּשְׁאֲרָה בַּקֶּבֶר מִבְּחִינַת הָרוּחַ שֶׁבְּגַן עֵדֶן, שֶׁהֵן שָׁלֹשׁ מִדּוֹת הַלָּלוּ,

The three attributes, now unbounded by the body, are in the Garden of Eden, a spiritual space whose atmosphere surrounds every individual in this world, as the Alter Rebbe will presently explain.

whoever is close to him can receive a part of his ruach, which is in the Garden of Eden, i.e., an actual part of the very essence of these attributes as opposed to a mere reflection of them,

לְפִיכָךְ יָכוֹל כָּל הַקָּרוֹב אֵלָיו לְקַבֵּל חֵלֶק מִבְּחִינַת רוּחוֹ שֶׁבְּגַן עֵדֶן,

because [the ruach of the tzaddik] is [now] not within a vessel, nor on the plane of physical space, but in the Garden of Eden, which as will now be explained, is to be found within this world as well.

הוֹאִיל וְאֵינָהּ בְּתוֹךְ כְּלִי וְלֹא בִּבְחִינַת מָקוֹם גַּשְׁמִי,

For, as is known, our Sages, of blessed memory, said of our father Jacob, peace be to him, that “the Garden of Eden entered with him”33 when he came to be blessed by his father Isaac.

כַּנּוֹדָע מַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה עַל יַעֲקֹב אָבִינוּ עָלָיו־הַשָּׁלוֹם שֶׁנִּכְנַס עִמּוֹ גַּן עֵדֶן,

Likewise, it is stated in Asarah Maamarot34 that the atmosphere of the Garden of Eden envelops every individual,

וְכֵן כָּתַב בְּסֵפֶר עֲשָׂרָה מַאֲמָרוֹת, שֶׁאֲוִיר גַּן עֵדֶן מִתְפַּשֵּׁט סָבִיב כָּל אָדָם,

and in this atmosphere are recorded all his good thoughts and utterances of Torah and Divine worship,

וְנִרְשָׁמִים בַּאֲוִיר זֶה כָּל מַחְשְׁבוֹתָיו וְדִבּוּרָיו הַטּוֹבִים בַּתּוֹרָה וַעֲבוֹדַת ה'

(35and likewise to the contrary, heaven forfend: [negative thoughts and utterances] are recorded in the atmosphere from Gehinom, which envelops every individual [when he engages in them].

(וְכֵן לְהֵיפֶךְ חַס וְשָׁלוֹם נִרְשָׁמִים בַּאֲוִיר הַמִּתְפַּשֵּׁט מִגֵּיהִנֹּם סָבִיב כָּל אָדָם).

To summarize: After the tzaddik’s passing, his power and his faith, his awe, and his love are not limited by his bodily vessel and by the physical world in general but are in the Garden of Eden, which is to be found in this world as well.

It is therefore very easy for his disciples to receive their part of the essential aspects of their master’s ruach, i.e., his faith, his awe, and his love with which he served G‑d,

הִלְכָּךְ, נָקֵל מְאֹד לְתַלְמִידָיו, לְקַבֵּל חֶלְקָם מִבְּחִינַת רוּחַ רַבָּם הָעַצְמִיִּית, שֶׁהֵם אֱמוּנָתוֹ וְיִרְאָתוֹ וְאַהֲבָתוֹ אֲשֶׁר עָבַד בָּהֶם אֶת ה',

and not merely a glimmer thereof which radiates beyond the vessel and which reached them through his thoughts and words when the tzaddik was still alive.

וְלֹא זִיוָום בִּלְבַד הַמֵּאִיר חוּץ לַכְּלִי,

For the essential aspect of his ruachhis essential faith, awe, and love that relate to himself and not to his disciples—is raised, elevation beyond elevation,

לְפִי שֶׁבְּחִינַת רוּחוֹ הָעַצְמִית מִתְעַלָּה בְּעִילּוּי אַחַר עִילּוּי,

to become absorbed in his neshamah, which is in the Higher Garden of Eden, in the supreme worlds.

לְהִכָּלֵל בִּבְחִינַת נִשְׁמָתוֹ שֶׁבְּגַן עֵדֶן הָעֶלְיוֹן שֶׁבָּעוֹלָמוֹת הָעֶלְיוֹנִים,

Now, it is known36 that no holy entity is ever totally and utterly uprooted from its original place and level, even after it has reached the highest point.

וְנוֹדָע, שֶׁכָּל דָּבָר שֶׁבִּקְדוּשָּׁה אֵינוֹ נֶעְקָר לְגַמְרֵי מִכֹּל וָכֹל מִמְּקוֹמוֹ וּמַדְרֵגָתוֹ הָרִאשׁוֹנָה, גַּם לְאַחַר שֶׁנִּתְעַלָּה לְמַעְלָה לְמַעְלָה.

Rather, some trace of it always remains in its original lowly location. Moreover, as noted above, the Lower Garden of Eden is to be found even in the lowly World of Asiyah.

Thus, it is this original aspect deriving from the ruach of the tzaddik, remaining below in the Lower Garden of Eden in its original place and level,

וּבְחִינָה זוֹ הָרִאשׁוֹנָה שֶׁנִּשְׁאֲרָה לְמַטָּה בְּגַן עֵדֶן הַתַּחְתּוֹן בִּמְקוֹמוֹ וּמַדְרֵגָתוֹ הָרִאשׁוֹנָה,

which extends itself among his disciples,

הִיא הַמִּתְפַּשֶּׁטֶת בְּתַלְמִידָיו,

For this aspect has detached itself from the essential aspect of the ruach of the tzaddik; its entire purpose is to be vested within his disciples.

each one according to the level of his bond and closeness to [the tzaddik], during his lifetime and after his passing, out of an abounding love,

כָּל אֶחָד כְּפִי בְּחִינַת הִתְקַשְּׁרוּתוֹ וְקִרְבָתוֹ אֵלָיו בְּחַיָּיו וּבְמוֹתוֹ בְּאַהֲבָה רַבָּה,

for anything spiritual is elicited only by means of an abounding love.

כִּי, הַמְשָׁכַת כָּל רוּחָנִיּוּת, אֵינָהּ אֶלָּא עַל־יְדֵי אַהֲבָה רַבָּה,

And when this degree of love is present, the three attributes of faith, fear, and love are then drawn down.

Thus, it is stated in the sacred Zohar37 that the spirit (ruach) of the inner heart’s desire elicits a spirit from above—

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּזּוֹהַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ דְּרוּחַ דִּרְעוּתָא דְלִבָּא אַמְשִׁיךְ רוּחַ מִלְּעֵילָא,

So, too, the disciple’s heartfelt love for his master draws down these three attributes—

but only if he will prepare himself toward his G‑d38 with a great preparation and intense effort,

רַק אִם יִכּוֹן לִקְרַאת אֱלֹהָיו בַּהֲכָנָה רַבָּה וִיגִיעָה עֲצוּמָה,

As explained by an unnamed elder Chasid quoted in Likkutei Haggahot, “great preparation” refers to the preparation of the soul; “intense effort” refers to the toil of the body.

so that he will receive these attributes in the way that his master taught him. [To paraphrase] the words of our Sages, of blessed memory, “If you have labored and [claim to have] found, believe it.”39

לְקַבֵּל שָׁלֹשׁ מִדּוֹת הַלָּלוּ, כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁהוֹרָהוּ רַבּוֹ, וּכְמַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: "יָגַעְתָּ וּמָצָאתָ – תַּאֲמִין".

As explained by Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak, sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe,40 “Only if he will prepare himself toward his G‑d with a great preparation and intense effort” means that every man’s task is to vest this faith, awe, and love within his physical everyday life in his observance of Torah and mitzvot.

It would also seem from the continuation of his explanation that the meaning of “If you have labored…, believe it” is that the individual then gains a great deal more than what he actually labored for, very much like an unexpected find. Through his toil, “successive generations of offshoots” are bound up with their source within the “essential aspect of [the master’s] ruach (i.e., his essential faith, awe, and love that relate to himself and not to his disciples) [which] is raised, elevation beyond elevation, to become absorbed in his neshamah, which is in the Higher Garden of Eden, in the supreme worlds.”

The disciples of the tzaddik thus benefit not only from his ruach insofar as it remained in the Lower Garden of Eden but also from his essential ruach that was incorporated within his neshamah that is found in the Higher Garden of Eden. Surely, this is a gain that far outstrips the individual’s effort.

This level of energy, as Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak concludes, is not integrated internally within his disciples but merely encompasses them in a transcendent manner. Nevertheless, it is so powerful that it enables even their “successive generations of offshoots” to produce unending generations of further offshoots.

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak also states there that by toiling in the path that was handed down by their master, disciples cause his spiritual life of faith, awe, and love to descend into the practicalities of their own Divine service, Torah study, and observance of the mitzvot. Through these labors, moreover, even the further disciples who are his “successive generations of offshoots” become connected with their source in the constantly ascending ruach and neshamah of the tzaddik, who is in the Higher Garden of Eden.

Now, there is another kind of illumination [from the tzaddik] to his disciples.

וְהִנֵּה, יֵשׁ עוֹד בְּחִינַת הֶאָרָה לְתַלְמִידָיו,

However, it does not vest itself truly in their minds41—as is the case with the first [kind of illumination] that derives from the ruach of the tzaddik, whereby his faith, fear, and love are intellectually integrated and internalized within his disciples,

רַק שֶׁאֵינָהּ מִתְלַבֶּשֶׁת בְּתוֹךְ מוֹחָם מַמָּשׁ כָּרִאשׁוֹנָה,

but radiates over them from above, encompassing and transcending them, for its very loftiness inhibits it from descending and being integrated within them.

רַק מְאִירָה עֲלֵיהֶם מִלְמַעְלָה,

It stems from the ascent of [the tzaddik’s] ruach and neshamah to the source from which it was hewn,

וְהִיא מֵעֲלִיַּית רוּחוֹ וְנִשְׁמָתוֹ לִמְקוֹר חוּצְבּוֹ,

that is, to Chakal Tapuchin Kaddishin (lit., “the orchard of the holy apples”), i.e., to the sefirah of malchut in the World of Atzilut, the Divine source of souls.

דְּהַיְינוּ לַ"חֲקַל תַּפּוּחִין קַדִּישִׁין",

This [ascent] effects a union there, between the spiritually feminine sefirah of malchut and the spiritually masculine levels of Divine efflux that transcend it,

וְעַל־יְדֵי זֶה נַעֲשֶׂה שָׁם יִחוּד,

by means of the elevation of mayin nukvin (lit., “feminine waters”; i.e., by means of the mortally initiated spiritual arousal) constituted by all of [the tzaddik’s] actions, his Torah, and the Divine service in which he engaged all the days of his life.

עַל־יְדֵי הַעֲלָאַת "מַיִּין נוּקְבִין" מִכָּל מַעֲשָׂיו וְתוֹרָתוֹ וַעֲבוֹדָתוֹ אֲשֶׁר עָבַד כָּל יְמֵי חַיָּיו,

For, as will be explained below in Epistle 28, all of man’s lifelong labors and attainments are revealed from their former state of concealment and shine forth at the time of his passing.

And in the Chakal Tapuchin Kaddishin, the soul’s source, are implanted exceedingly sublime lights,

וְנִזְרְעוּ בַּ"חֲקַל תַּפּוּחִין קַדִּישִׁין" אוֹרוֹת עֶלְיוֹנִים מְאֹד,

corresponding to and resulting from the nether [illuminations], which are [the tzaddik’s] teachings and worship.

לְעוּמַּת תַּחְתּוֹנִים, אֲשֶׁר הֵם תּוֹרָתוֹ וַעֲבוֹדָתוֹ.

His Divine service thus implants lofty illuminations above, which are revealed and descend below at the time of his passing.

The illumination of these supernal lights radiates over all his disciples, who became servants of G‑d through his teachings and worship.

וְהֶאָרַת אוֹרוֹת עֶלְיוֹנִים אֵלּוּ מְאִירָה עַל כָּל תַּלְמִידָיו, שֶׁנַּעֲשׂוּ עוֹבְדֵי ה' עַל־יְדֵי תּוֹרָתוֹ וַעֲבוֹדָתוֹ.

And this illumination, which [radiates] over them from above, despite this transcendence, is so powerful that it instills in their hearts thoughts of repentance and good deeds.

וְהֶאָרָה זוֹ שֶׁעֲלֵיהֶם מִלְמַעְלָה, מַכְנֶסֶת בְּלִבָּם הִרְהוּרֵי תְּשׁוּבָה וּמַעֲשִׂים טוֹבִים,

All the good deeds born of this illumination which radiates from the lights implanted in the abovementioned orchard are called “successive generations of offshoots.”

וְכָל הַמַּעֲשִׂים טוֹבִים הַנּוֹלָדִים מֵהֶאָרָה זוֹ שֶׁמְּאִירָה מֵאוֹרוֹת הַזְּרוּעִים בַּשָּׂדֶה הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל – נִקְרָא "גִּידּוּלֵי גִידּוּלִין".

Since the illuminations themselves grew directly out of the lights implanted by the tzaddik, the good deeds which these illuminations in turn inspire are its offshoots of the second generation.

This radiance is greatly hidden and concealed, just like the sun radiating to the stars from below the earth.

וְהֶאָרָה זוֹ הִיא בְּהֶעְלֵם וְהֶסְתֵּר גָּדוֹל, כְּמוֹ שֶׁמֶשׁ הַמֵּאִיר לַכּוֹכָבִים מִתַּחַת לָאָרֶץ,

Thus, it is stated in the Zohar42 in reference to Moses our Master, peace be unto him,

כִּדְאִיתָא בַּתִּיקּוּנִים עַל מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּינוּ עָלָיו־הַשָּׁלוֹם,

that after his passing, his radiance extends in every generation to the six hundred thousand souls, all other souls being sparks of these general souls, as explained in the Tanya, ch. 37,

שֶׁאַחַר פְּטִירָתוֹ מִתְפַּשֶּׁטֶת הֶאָרָתוֹ בְּכָל דָּרָא וְדָרָא לְשִׁשִּׁים רִבּוֹא נְשָׁמוֹת,

like the sun, which radiates to the six hundred thousand stars from below the earth.

כְּמוֹ שֶׁמֶשׁ הַמֵּאִיר מִתַּחַת לָאָרֶץ לְשִׁשִּׁים רִבּוֹא כּוֹכָבִים:

As with Moses, so, too, with the tzaddikim who are his successors: by means of his Torah and spiritual service, every tzaddik illumines successive generations of offshoots—his direct disciples and in turn their disciples, and so on—when they follow his teachings in matters of Torah and spiritual service.

Addendum

The Alter Rebbe spoke above of those who benefit from the gifts that a tzaddik continues to bequeath after his passing, from his ruach that remained in the Lower Garden of Eden. There he does not say “all his disciples” but only “among his disciples.” Moreover, he adds that the extent of the spiritual bequest received by each Chasid varies “according to the level of his bond and closeness to [the tzaddik], during his lifetime and after his passing, out of an abounding love.”

This is so because there, the Alter Rebbe is speaking of their receiving from him the sublime spiritual attributes of faith, awe, and love. Hence, since (as the Alter Rebbe concludes there) “anything spiritual is elicited only by means of an abounding love,” it follows that a bequest of such stature is drawn down only to those disciples whose bond to him was particularly close.

Here, however, at the close of the epistle, the Alter Rebbe speaks of the degree of illumination which radiates “over them from above,” encompassing and transcending them. This degree, which “instills in their hearts thoughts of repentance and good deeds,” radiates “over all his disciples,” upon all those who may be considered his disciples because they “became servants of G‑d through his Torah and worship.”

It could be argued that the former kind of benefaction, that which is dependent upon being bound with great love, refers specifically to those who were the tzaddik’s disciples during hislifetime; it is they who are close to him both “during his lifetime and after his passing.” By contrast, the kind of benefaction which is transcendent, as opposed to integrated within them, also applies to those who became the tzaddik’s disciples after his passing, in the sense that they drew closer to G‑d as a result of his teachings. These disciples are the successive generations of his offshoots in the same way that the radiance of Moses continues after his passing to illuminate generation after generation.