Sunday, December 18, 2005

LESSONS IN TANYA: Monday, December 19, 2005


Kislev 18, 5766 * December 19, 2005


Today's Lesson:

Kuntres Acharon
Essay Nine (Conclusion of Tanya)

[It is written,] (1) "You shall surely reprove your comrade" - "even one hundred times," [add our Sages, (2) taking up the hint offered by the repetitive form of the Hebrew verb].

Therefore, [writes the Alter Rebbe], I cannot contain myself and cannot refrain from crying out yet again, in a voice betraying [pained] weakness. (3)

I plead with you out of deep compassion, have pity on your souls. Take care, be extremely vigilant, concerning the study of Torah and the service of the heart, which is prayer (4) with proper intent.

All should begin [the prayers] in unison, as one, word by word, not one person here and another elsewhere, one mute and the other idly chatting, may G-d protect us.

The main cause and instigator of [this] damage comes from those leading the services.

That office is abandoned to whoever wishes to stride forth and snatch the honor, (5) or because not even one desires it..., [so that ultimately the prayers are led by someone inappropriate to the task].

For this reason, this is the counsel offered, and a regulation established as law not to be violated further, G-d forbid.

That is, choose fixed individuals fit for this office [of leading the prayers], by lot or by consent of the majority of the worshipers.

[And who, indeed, is fit for this office?]

These shall be men who pray word by word, at a moderate pace, aloud, neither overly prolonging the prayers, nor racing intemperately, G-d forbid.

Theirs is the duty to lead the prayers, each on his day as determined.

He shall assemble close around him all those who pray audibly, at least, neither whispering nor rushing, G-d forbid.

This is amplified in age-old communal regulations in many towns.

I come now, [writes the Alter Rebbe], to renew them, to strengthen and invigorate them, never again to be weakened, G-d forbid.

[The following two words appear in Yiddish (7) in the Alter Rebbe's original manuscript: (6) (Gevald! Gevald!) - [an outcry of agonized consternation.)

How long will this be an obstacle for us? (8) [How long will we burdened by praying without proper intent?]

Have we not sufficient reproofs and troubles that have overtaken us? May G-d protect and console us with redoubled support, (9) and purify our hearts to serve Him in truth.

Strengthen and fortify your hearts, all who hope in G-d. (10)


Complete the study of the entire Talmud year after year, and in every community apportion the tractates by lot or by consent, [each individual choosing the tractate that he desires to study].

In a city with numerous synagogues, each congregation should complete [the Talmud]. And if a congregation is too small to implement this program, they should join forces with men of a larger one.

This statute - [that the entire Talmud be studied every year] - shall not be varied or violated.

In addition, each of the participants shall individually read the whole of the eightfold Psalm 119 every week. (11)

[The Previous Rebbe comments on the connection between completing the study of the Talmud and the recitation of Psalms as follows: (12)

"From here we see that the study of Gemara is complete only when it is accompanied by the recitation of Tehillim; and in order to recite Tehillim properly, one needs to study Gemara."]

Moreover, since, due to the frailty of our times, not everyone is capable of fasting as he ought, the counsel offered follows the declaration of our Sages, of blessed memory, (14) "Whoever observes Shabbat according to its law, is forgiven all his sins."

[In Iggeret HaTeshuvah (13) the Alter Rebbe cites the classical works of Mussar as to the number of fasts prescribed for each major sin, so that a penitent will be able to render himself as acceptable to G-d after his repentance as he was before sinning.

The term "according to its law" is used advisedly, [for the Shabbat cannot be properly observed without a knowledge of its laws].

It is therefore incumbent upon every individual to master the "great law" of Shabbat.

[The term "great law" echoes the expression in the Gemara (15) regarding checking one's clothes before sundown on Friday in order not to transgress a prohibition later.

The laws of Shabbat thus not only inform us of what is prohibited, but also of how to avoid transgression.]

Also, be most careful [on Shabbat] not to indulge in idle chatter, G-d forbid.

For, as is known to the initiates in the mystical wisdom [of Kabbalah], all the mitzvot comprise an internal and an external aspect - [the spirituality of the mitzvah, and the physical act which it requires].

The externality of the [mitzvah of] Shabbat is the cessation of physical activity, just as G-d ceased making the physical heaven and earth.

The internal dimension of Shabbat is one's intention in the Shabbat prayers and during one's Torah study, to cleave to the One G-d, as it is written, (16) "It is Shabbat to the L-rd your G-d."

[Underlying the cessation of labor on Shabbat is the concept of elevation.

When a person rests from his labor at any time, the energy that had been vested in it rises and returns to its source within the soul.

So, too, the cessation of labor and resting on Shabbat means that the soul, which during the week had been immersed in mundane activities, is uplifted "to the L-rd your G-d."]

This [internal level of the mitzvah of Shabbat] is the element of "remembering".

[The Shabbat comprises two elements, "remembering" (zachor) and "observing" (shamor), reflecting the two commandments, (17) "Remember the Shabbat day, to sanctify it," and (18) "Observe the Shabbat day, to sanctify it."

Elevating the soul on Shabbat through proper intent (kavanah) during prayer and Torah study, is an act of "remembering".]

The inner dimension of the element of "observing" is refraining from speech about material affairs, just as G-d ceased from the Ten Utterances through which the physical heaven and earth were created.

[The external aspect of "observing" is refraining from active labor; the internal aspect of "observing" is refraining and resting from speech about material affairs.]

For (19) "one opposite the other..." - [speaking about material affairs on Shabbat is the inverse of the rest and elevation that a Jew secures on Shabbat, through prayer and Torah study.


1. Vayikra 19:17.
2. Bava Metzia 31a.
3. Cf. Shmot 32:18.
4. Taanit 2a; Sifrei, commenting on Devarim 11:13.
5. Note of the Rebbe (in Likkutei Biurim, foot of p. 487):
"`To stride forth' - cf. the expression in the Responsa of the
Rashba 1:450 (quoted in Bet Yosef, Orach Chayim 53); `to snatch'
- cf. Chullin 133a [regarding the priestly dues], and Yalkut
Shimoni (quoted in Rashi) on Balak, sec. 769: `snatches Keriat
`Efrati - possibly the intent is to both explanations that the
Radak offers on this word (I Samuel 1:1): `person of distinguished
lineage,' and `one who shares in something sanctified.'"
6. Parentheses are in the original text.
7. See Likkutei Sichot, Vol. XXIII, p. 415.
8. Shmot 6:7.
9. Cf. Iyov 11:6.
10. Note of the Rebbe: "Cf. Tehillim 31:25."
11. Note of the Rebbe: "I have not observed that people make
a point of doing this."
Elsewhere the Rebbe adds: "It will be noted that in many
places it is customary to recite this Psalm on Shabbat after
Minchah (and this too was the custom of my revered father, of
blessed memory)."
12. Sefer HaSichot 5704, p. 48.
13. Chapter 3.
14. Shabbat 118b.
15. Ibid. 12a.
16. Shmot 20:10.
17. Ibid., verse 8.
18. Devarim 5:12.
19. Cf. Kohelet 7:14.


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