This letter was addressed to Dr. Asher Hillman.

B”H, 10 Menachem Av, 5706

Greetings and blessings,

In the archives of HaKeriah VehaKedushah which were given to me — the publication of this journal ceased several months ago — I found your letter regarding “An explanation of [a concept in] one place in the Tanya.

In response:

a) In Tanya, the conclusion of ch. 32, the words “And King David did not say... as stated in the beginning of ch. 16 of [tractate] Shabbos” are found and are bracketed also in the first printing of Tanya (as found in the library of my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe Shlita).

b) The content of this chapter is that giving one’s soul primary importance and considering one’s body secondary leads to loving the entire Jewish people. For they are all called actual “brothers because of the source of their souls in the one G‑d.”

Based on that, [the Alter Rebbe] raises the question: How is it possible to hate another Jew with a consummate hatred, for [that Jew also] has a soul which is “an actual part of G‑d from Above”?1 He explains that this [hatred should be directed] only to “the heretics and non-believers” who “arouse resentment... between the Jews and their Father in Heaven.”2 [In that instance,] there is no place for such love, because these individuals do not have a portion in the G‑d of Israel,” i.e., they have been cut off from their source. Hence they are not fit to be called “brothers.” (See Tanya, Iggeres HaKodesh, sec. VII, and [Tanya, part 1,] ch. 24, and Iggeres HaTeshuvah, ch. 5.)

These individuals are not “one’s comrades in the Torah and its mitzvos.” Thus there is no commandment to hate them because of the evil within them — for what connection does he have to them? [Hence, for him to hate them] two conditions must be fulfilled, [namely]: a) A rationale why there is no motivation for love — i.e., they have no portion in the G‑d of Israel. b) A rationale for the hatred — “Those who hate You, O G‑d, do I hate.”3

Based on the above, several particulars can be clarified:

i) the fact that the [Alter] Rebbe adds mention of “heretics (apikorsim)” although the Talmud (Shabbos, loc. cit.) mentions only “non-believers (minnim).” [With regard to the difference between these two categories, see Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Teshuvah, ch. 3; Tur, Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah, sec. 158, Choshen Mishpat, sec. 425).] The rationale is that there is also a reason to hate the heretics. Indeed, for that reason they should be cast [into a pit] (Avodah Zarah 26b. [The latter passage] also mentions mosrim, those who inform upon Jews to gentile authorities. Nevertheless, the reason [they should be cast into a pit] is not because of the hatred we bear them, but because they are “pursuers.”4 With regard to them, it is not appropriate to say: “I hate them with a consummate hatred.”5)

ii) the fact that the [Alter] Rebbe did not mention those who are liable for kareis or death [for their sins], although they are also cut off from their spiritual source and hence, it is inappropriate to call them “brothers.”

iii) the fact that the [Alter] Rebbe adds the words “They have no portion in the G‑d of Israel.”

[It cannot be said]6 that in ch. 32 the [Alter] Rebbe is speaking only about apostates (converts out of the faith). Indeed, [these statements do not apply to] all apostates (see Responsum 163 in the collection of Rambam’s Responsa), but instead to the heretics and non-believers whose nature is explained by Rambam in Hilchos Teshuvah, loc. cit.

c) The intent of this chapter is to explain an additional advantage that arises from the meditation mentioned in the preceding chapter, i.e., [a consummate approach to] the mitzvah of ahavas Yisrael.7Nevertheless, to complete the explanation of the concept, [the Alter Rebbe] also explains the situations when this love is not relevant. Therefore [the latter point] is set off in brackets. See similar examples in ch. 1, “And if afterwards, [he repents...];8 at the conclusion of ch. 2, “And those who perform offenses and rebel [against the Torah scholars...];9 at the conclusion of ch. 5;10 et al.

* * *

In passing, it is worthy to note that this chapter11 contains an unusual expression: “And yet, if not, he does not forfeit....”12 Seemingly, it should have said: “Even if not, he does not forfeit....” [The use of such wording] is particularly distinct when one considers the simple wording and the lack of flowery language and Biblical references employed throughout Sefer Shel Beinonim, Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah, and Iggeres HaTeshuvah.13

It is possible to explain the difference between the two phrases as follows: “Even” implies an addition of a point of secondary importance to the preceding concept. “And yet” implies emphasis on the equation of two concepts. Similarly, with regard to the matter at hand, the [Alter] Rebbe desires to emphasize that our love [for our fellow Jew] must be two-dimensional: to draw him close to the Torah [but persist even] if [that goal] is not [achieved]. Hence, he uses the expression “And yet.” See our Sages’ (Bamidbar Rabbah 15:14) commentary to the verse (Daniel 3:18): “And yet, if [He does] not,” which they interpret to mean: “Whether [G‑d] will save or whether He will not save.”14 See also the mishnah at the conclusion of Sotah, ch. 5: “‘Were He to kill me’15.... This teaches that [Iyov] acted out of love.” [The implication is that] both [of the alternatives] were equal in his eyes.

With all good wishes and with regards to your family although I do not know them,

Rabbi Menachem Schneerson

The concepts explained in ch. 32 of Tanya are also explained in Derech Mitzvosecha of the Tzemach Tzedek, mitzvas ahavas Yisrael.

Seealso Tomer Devorah, ch. 2: “A person should habituate himself to introduce the love of other men into his heart, even the wicked. [He should love them] as if they were his brothers and even more so.

See also Shevet Mussar, ch. 7 (in the name of our Sages):

“‘There is no peace,’ G‑d told the wicked.”16 From this, we learn that the Holy One, blessed be He, loves the wicked.

And Sichos Kayitz 5700 states: “One must love an absolutely wicked man as one must love an absolutely righteous man.”