Part (a)

The Alter Rebbe wrote this letter of condolence to his chassidim 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 chassidim 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.

מה שכתב ליושבי ארצנו הקדושה, תבנה ותכונן במהרה בימינו, אמן

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

לנחמם בכפליים לתושיה

to console them with redoubled support2

על פטירת הרב הגאון המפורסם, איש אלקים קדוש, נר ישראל, עמוד הימין, פטיש החזק, מורנו הרב ר׳ מנחם מענדל, נשמתו עדן

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!).

* * *

אהוביי אחיי ורעיי אשר כנפשי כו׳

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

Likkutei Haggahot on 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 Midrash:5 “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,6 “he called her by his own name”; while “and so forth” indicates a love even greater — a bond with the ultimate soul-level of Yechidah.

ה׳ עליהם, יחיו חיים עד העולם

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

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 Chassidut, it is intended “to be mamshich the makkif into the pnimi.”)

וצאצאיהם אתם, זרע אמת

and your children with you, the seed of truth;

ברוכי ה׳ המה, מעתה ועד עולם

may you be blessed by G‑d for evermore.

אחרי דרישת שלומם, כמשפט לאוהבי שמו

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

באתי לדבר על לב נדכאים, הנאנחים והנאנקים, ולנחמם בכפליים לתושיה

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

אשר שמעה אזני, ותבן לה

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

על מאמר רז״ל, דשבק חיים לכל חי

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

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:

כי צדיק באמונתו יחיה

For10 “a tzaddik lives by his faith,”

וביראת ה׳ לחיים

and by11 “the awe of G‑d [which leads] to life,”

וברשפי אש שלהבת אהבתו מחיים

and by12 the flashing and fiery sparks of his love [for G‑d, that is even greater] than life,

לכל בהן חיי רוחו [ונשמתו] כל ימי חלדו

investing in them — in his faith and awe and love — the life of his Ruach [13V.L.: and, moreover, of his Neshamah] throughout his life.

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.

ויהי בהעלות ה׳ רוחו

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

ונשמתו אליו יאסוף

and gathers up his soul unto Himself14

ויעלה בעילוי אחר עילוי, עד רום המעלות

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

שבק חיי רוחו

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

פעולתו אשר עבד בה לפנים בישראל

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,

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׳—

פעולת צדיק לחיים

“the labor of a tzaddik for life,”15

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 —

לכל חי, היא נפש כל חי

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

הקשורה בנפשו בחבלי עבותות אהבה רבה ואהבת עולם, בל תמוט לנצח

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

אשר מי האיש החפץ חיים, לדבקה בה׳ חיים

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

בעבודתו תדבק נפשו

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

והיתה צרורה בצרור החיים את ה׳

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

בחיי רוח אפינו

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

אשר אמרנו: בצלו נחיה בגוים

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

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.

אשר שבק לנו, בכל אחד ואחד

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

כפי בחינת התקשרותו באמת, ואהבתו אהבת אמת הטהורה, מקרב איש ולב עמוק

corresponding to the degree of his genuine alliance 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

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.

כי כמים הפנים וכו׳

For20 “as in water, face [answers to face, so is the heart of man to man]”: the individual’s love for the tzaddik reflects back to him, eliciting a love of the tzaddik for him,

ורוח אייתי רוח ואמשיך רוח

and21 “spirit rouses spirit and brings forth spirit” — the spirit of love that one has for the tzaddik draws down the Ruach, the superior spirit of the tzaddik.

ורוחו עומדת בקרבינו ממש

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

כי בראותו ילדיו, מעשה ידיו בקרבו, יקדישו שמו יתברך

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

אשר יתגדל ויתקדש, כאשר נלך בדרך ישרה אשר הורנו מדרכיו

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

ונלכה באורחותיו נצח סלה ועד

and we will walk in his ways forevermore.

With regard to the above sentence, the Rebbe notes that the Zohar (Part II, p. 215a; and Part III, end of Parshat 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”.

* * *

וזהו שכתוב בזהר הקדוש, דצדיקא דאתפטר אשתכח בכלהו עלמין יתיר מבחיוהי

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.”

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?

דהיינו שגם בזה העולם המעשה

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

היום לעשותם

“this day — to do them,”24

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,”

אשתכח יתיר

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

כי המעשה גדול גדל והולך, גידולי גידולין

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

מן אור זרוע לצדיק בשדה אשר ברכו ה׳

from the26 “light implanted for the righteous” in27 “the field which G‑d has blessed,” i.e., in the Garden of Eden.

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 Z"a 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.

המאיר לארץ וחוצות

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

וגם אנחנו אלה פה היום, כולנו חיים בדרכיו

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

דרך הקדש יקרא לה

“the holy way shall it be called.”28

זאת בעבודת ה׳, במילי דשמיא

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.

ובמילי דעלמא, בפירוש אתמר בזוהר הקדוש, דצדיקיא מגינין על עלמא, ובמיתתהון יתיר מבחייהון

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;

ואלמלא צלותא דצדיקיא בההוא עלמא, לא אתקיים עלמא רגעא חדא

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

וכל הקרוב קרוב אל משכן ה׳ בחייו, קודם לברכה

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.

Part (b)

ביאור על הנ״ל

An Elucidation of the Above

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

* * *

איתא בזהר הקדוש, דצדיקא דאתפטר, אשתכח בכלהו עלמין יתיר מבחיוהי כו׳

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...”

וצריך להבין

Now this needs to be understood:

תינח בעולמות עליונים, אשתכח יתיר בעלותו שמה

For, granted that he is to be found increasingly in the upper worlds when he ascends there [following his passing];

אבל בעולם הזה, איך אשתכח יתיר

but how is he found more in this world?

ויש לומר על דרך מה שקבלתי על מאמר חז״ל, דשבק חיים לכל חי

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.”

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.

כנודע, שחיי הצדיק אינם חיים בשרים, כי אם חיים רוחניים, שהם אמונה ויראה ואהבה

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

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”.

כי באמונה כתיב: וצדיק באמונתו יחיה

Thus of faith it is written,31 “And a tzaddik lives by his faith.”

וביראה כתיב: יראת ה׳ לחיים

Of awe it is written,32 “The awe of G‑d [leads] to life.”

ובאהבה כתיב: רודף צדקה וחסד, ימצא חיים

And of love it is written,33 “He who pursues tzedakah and Chesed, will find life,”

וחסד הוא אהבה

and Chesed signifies love, for love is its core.

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”.

ושלש מדות אלו הם בכל עולם ועולם, עד רום המעלות

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

הכל לפי ערך בחינת מעלות העולמות

all proportionate to the levels of the worlds,

זה על זה, בדרך עילה ועלול, כנודע

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

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

והנה, בהיות הצדיק חי על פני האדמה, היו שלש מדות אלו בתוך כלי ולבוש שלהם

Now, while the tzaddik was alive on earth, these three attributes were contained in their vessel and garment

בבחינת מקום גשמי, שהיא בחינת נפש הקשורה בגופו

on the plane of physical space, this being the aspect of the Nefesh which is bound to his body.

וכל תלמידיו אינם מקבלים רק הארת מדות אלו, וזיון

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

המאיר חוץ לכלי זה, על ידי דבוריו ומחשבותיו הקדושים

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

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

ולכן אמרו רז״ל, שאין אדם עומד על דעת רבו וכו׳

That is why our Sages, of blessed memory, said34 that “one cannot plumb the depth of his master’s teachings [until the passage of forty years].”

אבל לאחר פטירתו, לפי שמתפרדים בחינת הנפש שנשארה בקבר מבחינת הרוח שבגן עדן, שהן שלש מדות הללו

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,

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.

לפיכך יכול כל הקרוב אליו לקבל חלק מבחינת רוחו שבגן עדן

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,

הואיל ואינה בתוך כלי, ולא בבחינת מקום גשמי

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.

כנודע מאמר רז״ל על יעקב אבינו, עליו השלום, שנכנס עמו גן עדן

For, as is known, our Sages,35 of blessed memory, said of our father Jacob, peace be to him, that “the Garden of Eden entered with him” when he came to be blessed by his father Isaac.

וכן כתוב בספר עשרה מאמרות, שאויר גן עדן מתפשט סביב כל אדם

Likewise it is stated in Asarah Maamarot36 that the atmosphere of the Garden of Eden envelops every individual,

ונרשמים באויר זה, כל מחשבותיו ודבוריו הטובים בתורה ועבודת ה׳

and in this atmosphere are recorded all his good thoughts and utterances of Torah and divine worship;

(וכן להיפך, חס ושלום, נרשמים באויר המתפשט מגיהנם סביב כל אדם)

(37and likewise to the contrary, heaven forfend: [negative thoughts and utterances] are recorded in the atmosphere from Gehenna which envelops every individual [when he engages in them].

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.

הלכך נקל מאד לתלמידיו לקבל חלקם מבחינת רוח רבם העצמיות, שהם אמונתו ויראתו ואהבתו אשר עבד בהם את ה׳

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,

ולא זיוום בלבד המאיר חוץ לכלי

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.

לפי שבחינת רוחו העצמית מתעלה, בעילוי אחר עילוי

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,

להכלל בבחינת נשמתו שבגן עדן העליון, שבעולמות העליונים

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

ונודע שכל דבר שבקדושה אינו נעקר לגמרי מכל וכל ממקומו ומדרגתו הראשונה, וגם לאחר שנתעלה למעלה למעלה

Now it is known38 that no holy entity is ever totally and utterly uprooted from its original place and level, even after it has reached the highest point.

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.

ובחינה זו הראשונה, שנשארה למטה בגן עדן התחתון, במקומו ומדרגתו הראשונה

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,

היא המתפשטת בתלמידיו

which extends itself among his disciples,

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.

כל אחד לפי בחינת התקשרותו וקרבתו אליו, בחייו ובמותו, באהבה רבה

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.

כי המשכת כל רוחניות אינה אלא על ידי אהבה רבה

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

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

כמו שכתוב בזהר הקדוש, דרוח דרעותא דלבא אמשיך רוח מלעילא

Thus it is stated in the sacred Zohar39 that the spirit (Ruach) of the inner heart’s desire, elicits a spirit from above —

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

רק אם יכון לקראת אלקיו, בהכנה רבה ויגיעה עצומה

but only if he will prepare himself towards his G‑d40 with a great preparation and intense effort,

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

לקבל שלש מדות הללו כדרך שהורהו רבו, וכמאמר רז״ל: יגעת ומצאת, תאמין

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,41 “If you have labored and [claim to have] found, believe it.”

As explained by the Rebbe Rayatz,42 “Only if he will prepare himself towards 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 the Rebbe Rayatz 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.

The Rebbe Rayatz 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.

* * *

והנה יש עוד בחינת הארה לתלמידיו

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

רק שאינה מתלבשת בתוך מוחם ממש, כראשונה

However, it does not vest itself truly in their minds43 — 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,

רק מאירה עליהם מלמעלה

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

והיא מעליית רוחו ונשמתו למקור חוצבו

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

דהיינו, לחקל תפוחין קדישין

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.

ועל ידי זה נעשה שם יחוד

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

על ידי העלאת מיין נוקבין, מכל מעשיו ותורתו ועבודתו אשר עבד כל ימי חייו

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.

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.

ונזרעו בחקל תפוחין קדישין, אורות עליונים מאד

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

לעומת תחתונים, אשר הם תורתו ועבודתו

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

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

והארת אורות עליונים אלו מאירה על כל תלמידיו, שנעשו עובדי ה׳ על ידי תורתו

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

והארה זו, שעליהם מלמעלה, מכנסת בלבם הרהורי תשובה ומעשים טובים

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.

וכל המעשים טובים הנולדים מהארה זו, שמאירה מאורות הזרועים בשדה הנ״ל, נקרא גידולי גידולין

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

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.

והארה זו היא בהעלם והסתר גדול, כמו שמש המאיר לכוכבים מתחת לארץ

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

כדאיתא בזהר על משה רבינו, עליו השלום

Thus it is stated in the Zohar44 in reference to Moses our Master, peace be unto him,

שאחר פטירתו מתפשטת הארתו, בכל דרא ודרא, לששים רבוא נשמות

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

כמו שמש המאיר מתחת לארץ, לששים רבוא כוכבים

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

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.


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 chassid 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 his lifetime; 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 radiation of Moshe Rabbeinu continues after his passing to illuminate generation after generation.