Monday, October 17, 2005

LESSONS IN TANYA: Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Due to holiday observance, the Yom Tov edition of Lessons In Tanya is sent on Monday. Chag Sameach!

Tishrei 15, 5766 * October 18, 2005


Today's Lesson:

Iggeret HaKodesh
(Middle of Epistle Twenty-Two)

This is analogous to a compassionate, wise and righteous father who hits his son.

Surely a wise son should not turn his back to escape and find himself help, or even an intercessor to his father, who is compassionate, righteous and kind.

[The previous Rebbe once remarked (20) that when the Alter Rebbe first speaks of the father who punishes, he does not use the term "chassid".

(He uses it only later, in the context of the intercessor, where the word "chassid" is translated as "kind.")

The reason, says the Rebbe, is that a father who smites his child may indeed be compassionate, righteous and wise - but he is not a chassid, for a chassid does not hit!

In any event, we see that if the child is truly wise he will not flee from punishment.]

Rather, he will look straight at his father, face to face, bearing his smacks lovingly for his lifelong benefit.

[To transpose this to the analogue: Every Jew ought to look straight at his Father, "face to Face."]

Now in the Divine realm, the concept of "Face" is the willingness and desire with which our Father in heaven bestows upon His children all the good of the worlds - [the physical and the spiritual worlds] - as well as life for the soul and body; [all of this He bestows] out of love and willingness, out of inner desire and delight, through the Torah of Life, which is His blessed Will, that He gave unto us.

[The present passage is based on the body language that typically accompanies a gift.

As explained earlier in Tanya (chapter 22), one gives a gift to a good friend face to face: the giver's eyes rest on the face of the recipient.

Through his very stance the giver thus expresses the fact that his gift stems from his "face" (panim) and inner most core (pnimiyut).

When, however, one gives something to an enemy, he averts his face.

This simply gives outward expression to his real aversion: the gift is not prompted by any inner desire, but by some external factor.

In our context, then, G-d's loving willingness in showering us with His gifts is described by the metaphor of "Face".]

As we recite [in the Amidah], (21) "For in the light of Your Face, You have given us...the Torah of Life...," with which [and through which] to carry out His will.

And of this it is written, (22) "For in the light of the King's Face there is life, and His will...."

To the heathens, however, He grants the life of their bodies (23) without willingness, pleasure and delight.

For this reason they are referred to as elohim acherim "[other gods]", for they draw [their life-force] from achorayim [the "hinderside" of Divinity.

To continue the above metaphor: The Divine "reluctance" to grant life-force to the heathens - i.e., the so-called external level of Divine desire - is here described by a term that is the opposite of the "Face", which expressed G-d's innermost will.]

It is likewise with man: willingness and pleasurable desire, [i.e., man's innermost desires], relate to the "face".

[Thus, turning to G-d "face to Face" means that a man accepts willingly and with inner desire whatever is apportioned to him from the Supernal Face, from G-d's innermost desire.

In our context, this refers to a willing acceptance of G-d's admonishments as expressed in physical suffering.]

If one does not accept [this suffering] with love and willingness, it is as if he turns his neck and back [on G-d], heaven forfend.

The suggested advice to enable one to accept [it] with love, is G-d's counsel through the mouth of our Sages, of blessed memory (24) - "to examine one's conduct."

[The Gemara says that "if one sees afflictions befalling him, he should examine his deeds" and repent.]

He will find sins that require scouring by means of suffering.

He will then clearly see G-d's great love towards him which "upsets the natural order of [Divine] conduct," as in the simile of a great and awesome king who, out of his immense (25) love for his only son, personally washes off the filth from him.

As it is written, (26) "When G-d will wash off the filth from the daughters of Zion... with a spirit of justice (27) ..." (28)

[When one becomes aware of G-d's great love for him, a love that is expressed by scouring him with the cleansing agent of suffering]:

Then, (29) "as in water face reflects face."

[The verse goes on to say, " is the heart of man to man."

And the same is true of the heart of mortal man to Supernal Man]:

There will be an arousal of love in the heart of everyone who perceives and understands the preciousness of the nature of G-d's love for the nether beings, [for those who find themselves in this world, the lowest of all worlds].

This [Divine love] is dearer and better than all the [kinds of] life of all the worlds, [both spiritual and matrial]; before as it is written, (30) "How precious is Your lovingkindness (Chesed)...."

[It is likewise written,] (31) "For Your Chesed is better than life...." [The motivating nucleus of Chesed is love.

Thus it is written, (32) "I have loved you with an everlasting love, and have therefore drawn down Chesed upon you."]

For Chesed, which is a manifestation of love, is the Fountainhead of life that is present in all the worlds; as it is said [in the Amidah], (33) "He sustains life through Chesed."

[Chesed and love are thus the sustaining life-force of all living beings.]

And then, [i.e., when one realizes G-d's great love for him that finds expression in afflictions, and when this in turn arouses a love within him so that he will better receive G-d's love, then]: G-d, too, will grant goodness, [of a kind that the naked eye can clearly and palpably perceive as good], and make His Face [the innermost dimension of Divinity] shine towards him (34) with a manifest love, which had earlier been garbed and hidden in a manifest rebuke.

[The overt admonition that stems from G-d's hidden love will then be transformed into a revealed love], and the expressions of Divine severity [the gevurot] will be sweetened at their source, and thereby these expressions of Divine severity will become nullified forevermore.

[Within their source these expressions of Divine severity are ultimately benevolent; as they descend to the world below they become manifest in the form of suffering. The gevurot, then, will be sweetened at their source.]


20. Sefer HaSichot 5704, p. 15.
21. Siddur Tehillat HaShem, p. 60, et al.
22. Mishlei 16:15.
23. Note of the Rebbe: "This requires further examination, for
seemingly this also applies to the life-force of their souls.
See Tanya, chapter 22, and end of chapter 3."
24. Berachot 5a.
25. Note of the Rebbe: "A point awaiting clarification:
In the analogue the Alter Rebbe writes `great' (a qualitative
term?) while in the analogy he writes `immense' (a quantitative
26. Yeshayahu 4:4. The Hebrew text in the printed version has been
corrected in accordance with the Table of Glosses and Emendations.
27. Note of the Rebbe: "Cf. Shaar HaKollel on the Yehi Ratzon
recited at the burning of chametz."
28. See Rashi on the verse.
29. Cf. Mishlei 27:19.
30. Tehillim 36:8.
31. Ibid. 63:4.
32. Yirmeyahu 31:2.
33. Siddur Tehillat HaShem, p. 51, et al.
34. Cf. Bamidbar 6:25.


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