Monday, October 10, 2005

LESSONS IN TANYA: Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Tishrei 8, 5766 * October 11, 2005


Today's Lesson:

Iggeret HaKodesh
(Middle of Epistle Twenty)

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to say that when the radiation descends in the third manner, it is manifest only in creatures of the lowest order, those deriving from the Element of Earth, this Element being lower than the other Elements of Fire, Air and Water. And it is mainly within the physical earth that the Divine power of creating yesh from ayin is revealed. This power derives from the essence of the Ein Sof- light; it is primarily found in the encompassing light, and is revealed through the Kav, the inner light.

This becomes apparent in the ability of the earth to make things grow: the physical growth of vegetative matter from the spiritual power of growth found in the earth is a clear demonstration of yesh resulting from ayin. Furthermore, the earth reveals this power constantly: it constantly produces vegetation as yesh from ayin. In this it differs from all living things that were created during the Six Days of Creation. Unlike all living things which, once created, simply reproduce, the earth consistently continues to reveal its creative power of yesh from ayin.

Thus, though the radiation within the earth is merely a "radiation of a radiation of a radiation," it nevertheless demonstrates G-d's creative power - because it comprises both the encompassing light, and the light of the Kav which activates the power of the encompassing light to create and animate created beings.

The Alter Rebbe also explains that the distinctive power described above was revealed specifically within the earth, because Earth is the lowest Element of all. For, as explained above, it is specifically at the lowliest level of creation that the "rebounding light" manifests the essence of the original illumination with superior intensity.

Furthermore, in addition to all that was mentioned above, (49) the radiation of the radiation of the radiation, [which descends into a created being utterly concealed, being then neither the mahut nor the metziut of Divinity, and nevertheless containing both the inner illumination of the Kav and the encompassing light,] and all the above, [i.e., the manner in which both these levels of illumination ultimately radiate within created beings], demonstrates its power and ability, [inasmuch as it is a G-dly radiation descending from Malchut of Atzilut], in the Element of the physical Earth in an immense manifestation surpassing [that of] the elements [viz., Fire, Air and Water] that transcend it, and even the heavenly hosts.

For they do not have it in their power and ability to constantly bring forth something from nothing (yesh me-ayin), like the Element of Earth that constantly makes something (yesh) sprout from nothing (ayin), namely the herbs and trees [that constantly grow from the earth's vegetative power. Even those plants that result from sowing and planting are produced in a manner that resembles yesh me-ayin, for the seed or seedling disintegrates, and serves merely to arouse the vegetative power.]

(50) (As for the mazal, the individual angel of destiny, "that strikes [each herb] and says, `Grow!'" - [Our Sages teach that (51) "There is no blade of grass below that does not have a mazal above that strikes it and says to it, `Grow!'" Would it not seem, then, that in addition to the earth's vegetative power there is another factor in growth?]

This takes place [only] after the plant has already sprouted. [Once the plant exists as a created entity, it merely has to grow taller, the tree has to produce fruit with a certain taste, and so on - and these stages relate to the mazal.]

The mazal does not tell it to sprout ex-nihilo into substantiality, but only to grow from being small to being large, or to bear fruit of its own particular species.

[In Or HaTorah, (52) the Tzemach Tzedek explains that the mazal sends forth an arousal to the power of growth that is found within the grass or tree, causing it to grow. The basic cause of growth, however, lies in the above-mentioned vegetative power. Elsewhere, (53) the Tzemach Tzedek explains that the above-quoted "smiting" means that the mazal illumines the particular tree or grass with which it is connected, causing it to be drawn to its source and hence to grow ever larger.] For before it sprouts, to whom would the individual mazal of each particular herb ordain all its details?)

[The above-mentioned plants of the earth grow, then,] from the vegetative property within it, which is insubstantial and spiritual, while they are physical. [What we have here, then, is yesh from ayin, which, as explained above, derives from the essence of the Ein Sof and finds expression in the Element of Earth. Why specifically there?]

This is so only because the "feet" of Adam Kadmon culminate at the lowest level of Asiyah; [The "feet" i.e., the last and lowliest levels of Adam Kadmon, the Primordial Thought that encompasses all the levels of creation, concludes in the lowest degrees of the nethermost world, the World of Asiyah, and specifically, in the lowly Element of Earth within it.]

And "below His feet," [i.e., below the lowest levels of Adam Kadmon,] radiates the [infinite] Ein Sof-light which encircles [i.e., transcends] all worlds; [At the very "place" at which there ceases the indwelling Divine illumination that permeates all the worlds, there begins the "encompassing" degree of Divine light that transcends all the worlds.] without any great interruption between them, except for the Iggulim of Adam Kadmon alone.

[The Primordial Thought of Adam Kadmon consists of two modes of illumination - Yosher (lit., "straightness", i.e., a permeating mode) and Iggulim (lit., "circles", i.e., a transcendent mode). Where the former mode ceases and there remains only the latter (which is not absolute infinity like the Ein-Sof light that transcends all worlds), there is found the absolutely infinite illumination of the Ein-Sof light that transcends all worlds equally.]

Also, the Kav of the Ein Sof-light, culminating at the end of the "feet" of Adam Kadmon, radiates from below upwards, in a mode of Or Chozer, a reflected light.

[As mentioned above, this is a light that rebounds upward with increased intensity from a surface which blocks its further downward progress. Hence, for example, the atmosphere closest to the earth's surface is warmer than the atmosphere in altitudes which are nearer to the sun. In the same way, when the beam of the Kav, whose function is to infuse the inner reaches of all created beings with Divine light, reaches the furthest stages of the Divine thought that encompasses all worlds and created beings, it bounces back with sharper impetus: it is now an Or Chozer.]

This is like the investment [of the Kav] in Arich Anpin, Abba and Imma, and Za and Nukva of Atzilut, which radiates as an Or Chozer from Malchut of Atzilut, and Malchut of Atzilut, [if the Sefirot are considered] from below upwards, is [thus] a category of Keter, [as mentioned earlier in this Epistle], and "their beginning is wedged in their end."

With regard to Malchut this means that the "beginning" of Keter which is loftier than Chochmah is to be found within Malchut. With regard to the Kav it means that the "beginning" of the Kav is wedged in the culmination of the "feet of Adam Kadmon" which ends in the nethermost levels of the World of Asiyah, in the Element of Earth.

Since the purpose of the Kav is to reveal Divinity, the Element of Earth best reveals that aspect of G-d's infinity which expresses itself in creating yesh from ayin, as the Alter Rebbe now concludes.]

It is likewise at the culmination of the Kav of the Ein Sof-light, culminating at the ending of the Yosher of the "feet" of Adam Kadmon: [I.e., when the "feet" of the lowest levels of Adam Kadmon descend into the interior of the various levels all the way down to the very lowest level, the Element of Earth at the lowest level of Asiyah,] - it [i.e., the Kav, then] radiates from below upwards, [from the glimmer of a glimmer of a glimmer that is found within the physical earth], to the category of the light of the Neshamah of the Malchut of the Malchut of Asiyah, which is actual Divinity;

[This light, the Or HaNeshamah, is in fact the lowest level of spirituality within Asiyah. For Asiyah is the lowest of the worlds; Malchut is the final Sefirah within Asiyah; and of the ten component Sefirot that comprise Malchut, "Malchut of Malchut" is the lowest. Nevertheless, since it is, after all, the "light of the Neshamah," it is actual Divinity, as the Alter Rebbe now goes on to say.]

[Which is actual Divinity], originating in the chitzoniyut [the exterior aspect] of the kelim of Malchut of Atzilut, [which, as said above, becomes the "light of the Neshamah of Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah." In this lowest level of "light of the Neshamah," that which is in Asiyah, there is found the illumination of the final degrees of Asiyah (i.e., that which in created beings is the final level), and this "enables" the Ein Sof to reveal its capacity for creating yesh from ayin as demonstrated in the above-described constant power of growth.]


49. Note of the Rebbe in his Glosses and Emendations: Both
the language and the intent [of the seemingly repetitious Hebrew
introductory phrases] invite attention.
50. Parentheses are in the original text.
51. Bereishit Rabbah 10:6.
52. On Bamidbar, p. 196.
53. Op. cit., p. 786.


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