This letter was addressed to R. Yehudah Tzvi Fogelman, the shaliach in Worcester, Massachusetts.

B”H, 20 Menachem Av, 5708

Greetings and blessings,

In response to the question you were asked concerning the statement (in the maamar entitled Asarah Sheyoshvin, 5688) that G‑d’s name E‑l is the first of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy when the opinion of Tosafos (Rosh HaShanah 17b) — [see also] the note there — is that the first mention of G‑d’s name Havayah or the second mention of that name is identified with the first [of the Thirteen Attributes].

There are four approaches with regard to the beginning of the reckoning of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy (as noted in the gloss Korban Nasanel at the conclusion of the first chapter of Rosh HaShanah; see also [the commentary of] Rabbeinu Bachaye to Parshas Ki Sisa):

a) The first mention of the name Havayah (Pesikta Rabasi; [Midrash] Socher Tov [to Tehillim, ch.] 93; the sages of France as quoted by [R. David] Avudraham in [his gloss to] Neilah of a fast-day — it appears that this refers to the opinion of Rabbeinu Tam in Tosafos, loc. cit.;R. Avraham Ibn Ezra in his commentary to the Torah; Rosh, et al.)

b) The second mention of the name Havayah (Rabbeinu Nissim Gaon, as quoted in Tosafos, loc. cit.;a Gaon as quoted in the commentary of R. Avraham Ibn Ezra, loc. cit. — from the introduction to his commentary, it appears that the intent is R. Saadia Gaon;this is also apparent according to one of the interpretations in Sefer HaLikkutim of the AriZal, Parshas Ki Sisa).

c) [G‑d’s name] E‑l (Zohar III, 131b; Etz Chayim, Shaar Erech Anpin, ch. 11; Pri Etz Chayim, Shaar HaSelichos, ch. 4, Shaar HaKavannos, Derushei VaYaavor, Derush 3ff.; Mishnas Chassidim, Maseches Shearis HaAtzilus, ch. 10ff.; et al. Theinterpretation of Zohar I, p. 20a by Derech Emes that follows the first view stated above requires great clarification. Were I not hesitant, I would say that this statement was not made by R. Chayim Vital, for it runs contrary to the explanations in all the writings of the AriZal as mentioned above. It has already been stated that several notes from the text Imrei Binah were included in the text Derech Emes due to printers’ errors.)

d) [The term] Rachum (“Merciful One”) (Sefer Chassidim, sec. 250; the Maharal of Prague in Nesivos Olam; Nesiv HaTeshuvah, ch. 6. I have not merited, however, to understand the support he brings for his position from the Zohar III, loc. cit.,and from the Talmud. For on the contrary, those sources support the AriZal’s position.)

The accepted conclusion with regard to the Torah’s mystic secrets follows the Sages of the Kabbalah.1In particular, this applies since they saw the words of Tosafos and Rabbeinu Nissim Gaon and, nevertheless, decided [otherwise] as above.2

In his commentary to Sefer Chassidim, loc. cit., the Chida has already written: “Our teacher3 and Tosafos, in the first chapter of Rosh HaShanah,endeavored to enumerate the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy, because in their era the holy Zohar was not yet revealed. In that text4 and in the writings of our master, the AriZal, the enumeration and the mystic secrets of these attributes were revealed.5

According to the revealed teachings of Torah law, it is possible to explain [that the resolution] depends on the version [of the Talmudic passage] one favors. According to the version favored by Rifand Rosh, the statement of Rav Yehudah: “A covenant is established with the Thirteen Attributes...,” follows directly after the interpretation of the phrase Havayah Havayah. Therefore it is possible to say that [the mention of this name] is the beginning of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy. And there is a well-known connection between Rosh and the authors of the Tosafos among whom Rabbeinu Tam was one of the foremost. Similarly, there is a connection between Rifand the Geonim.6

In contrast, according to the widespread version of the Talmud which is [the tradition] we have received, the statement: “A covenant is established with the Thirteen Attributes...” is preceded by the words E‑l Rachum (see also the version of the Ein Yaakov). This is clear proof that the Thirteen Attributes begin with E‑l. This proof is cited by the Maharal, loc. cit., and the Turei Even as quoted by the Etz Yosef [to the Ein Yaakov].7 ([It is striking that] Dikdukei Sofrim does not cite the difference between these versions.)

Rosh questions: If the Thirteen Attributes are not counted according to Rabbeinu Tam’s approach, why has the custom spread that when the congregation recites the Thirteen Attributes out loud, they begin from [the repetition of G‑d name] Havayah Havayah?

The resolution can be understood based on the AriZal’s statement that the two times G‑d’s name Havayah are mentioned are the source for all the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy. This can be understood according to the [the explanations in] Chassidus as stated in the maamar entitled VeHayah BaYom HaHu Yitakah, sec. 4, in Likkutei Torah and in Torah Or, Parshas Mikeitz, in the conclusion of the explanation of the maamar entitled Ki Atah Neri. (According to that explanation, the statements of the Pesikta and the Midrash Socher Tov can be simply resolved according to the interpretation of the AriZal.)Or to explain by translating the words, the congregation asks “(Of You) Havayah, Havayah, (we request that You be) “a merciful G‑d....”

The additional question raised by Rosh there — that notzer chesed lealefim should be reckoned as one attribute — is already resolved by Tosafos, loc. cit.

Please acknowledge receipt of this letter. With wishes for everlasting good in all matters.

Rabbi Menachem Schneerson

Likkutei Amarim [from the Maggid of Mezritch], p. 17,8 [also speaks about] the two names Havayah. The text Kisvei Kodesh cites a statement of the Baal Shem Tov quoted in this teaching. It is printed in the text entitled Sefer Baal Shem Tov.