Friday, December 16, 2005

LESSONS IN TANYA: Shabbat, December 17, 2005


Due to Shabbat observance, the Shabbat edition of Lessons In Tanya is sent on Friday. Shabbat Shalom!

Kislev 16, 5766 * December 17, 2005


Today's Lesson:

Kuntres Acharon
Essay Seven

[Tzedakah, as we shall presently appreciate, sensitizes the Jew who practises it so that the superrational degree of Chochmah in his Neshamah is able to light up the innermost recesses of his heart.

As mentioned in the introduction to Kuntres Acharon, the Rebbe observes that this is one of several Essays that would appear to belong more logically in Iggeret HaKodesh.

The Rebbe also notes that the subjects discussed in this essay are elaborated upon in Likkutei Torah, beginning of Parshat Re'eh, and in the maamar beginning Amar R. Yehoshua ben Levi, BeChol Yom..., which the Previous Rebbe delivered in 5688 (1928).]

It is written, "...and charity like a mighty river" (1) (Amos, end of ch. 5). (2)

[The verse begins by saying that justice should become manifest like water that gushes into revelation from the hidden depths of the earth; it goes on to say that tzedakah ("charity") should likewise reveal and maintain its intensity like the surging current of a mighty river (Heb.: Nachal Eitan).]

The meaning in spiritual terms is, that [tzedakah] resembles a mighty river which issues from the state of Eitan.

["River" suggests a downward flow, in this case emanating from Chochmah, which is termed Eitan.

For this word, as is known, (3) has three meanings:

"toughness", (4) and
"antiquity". (5)

All three meanings relate to the soul's element of Chochmah, and are reflected in the tripartite written form of the letter yud (commonly representing Chochmah), which comprises the basic point of the letter and its upper and lower tips.

This level of Eitan (Chochmah) flows down into the intellectually expansive "river" called Binah.]

In this state it is known [in Kabbalistic terms as] (6) "the point in its chamber," and as (7) "two comrades [who are inseparable]."

This phrase can refer either:
(a) as above, to the seminal point of Chochmah being drawn into the
broad chamber of Binah, or
(b) to the essential self-nullification of the soul that derives
spontaneously from Chochmah (which transcends the loving self-
nullification that is consciously produced by the meditation
exercised by Binah) being drawn into the innermost point of
the heart - the "chamber" for the issue from Chochmah.

The continued existence of all creation depends upon the constant union in Atzilut of the Supernal Sefirot of Chochmah and Binah.]

The letters that spell the [Hebrew] word Eitan [each] indicate the future tense.

[At a deeper level, this term thus hints at future revelation: in the Time to Come there will be a revelation of the spiritual degree called Eitan.]

This means, (8) "I am destined to reveal myself"; [that which is presently in a state of concealment is destined to become manifest in the Time to Come]; as it is written, (9) "Behold, My servant will prosper..." - [i.e., in the future].

This means that at that time - [with the arrival of Mashi-ach, about whom the verse states "My servant will prosper"] - the [infinite] Ein Sof light and the Divine Unity will be revealed within the innermost point of one's heart, by the calling forth of the "mighty river," which is a radiance of the Supernal Wisdom that will illuminate the inwardness of the heart, so that one will be nullified utterly in the Divine Unity, from the depths of one's heart, after it has been cleared of the [obscuring] orlah of physical lusts, and so on.

[When the metaphorical orlah (lit., `foreskin') will then be removed (as in the verse, (10) "And you shall excise the orlah of your heart," and likewise, (11) "The L-rd your G-d will circumcise your heart"), nothing will hide the innermost core of the heart.

It will then be possible for the heart to experience the utter self-nullification of the Neshamah to G-d, that derives from the revelation of Chochmah in the soul.

This essential soul-level reflects all three above-mentioned connotations of Eitan - the resolute "vigor" of the soul's essence, its unswerving "toughness", and the hoary "antiquity" of this bequest to the Jewish people from the Patriarchs of old.]

At present as well, during the exile of this folk, (12) counsel is offered [herewith] as to how to bring a glimmer of the illumination of the light of G-d from the state of eitan into the innermost point of the heart, as in the Time to Come.

This is [attained] by arousing the abounding Divine mercies for the G-dly spark within one's soul.

For in truth, so long as a man does not merit the revelation of the light of G-d from the state of Eitan in the innermost core of his heart, so that he becomes nullified in the Divine unity, until the very expiry of the soul, then the spark within his soul is indeed to be pitied.

For that spark is drawn from the state of the Supernal Wisdom itself, and when it cannot illuminate from its own state - from the state of Chochmah that is utterly nullified to G-d - into the innermost core of the heart, which is the proper place for the revelation of this illumination, then it is really and truly in exile.

[For what is exile if not the shackling of one's gifts?]

Through the plentiful Supernal mercies, however, [that are drawn down upon the soul], it goes out of exile and imprisonment, and illuminates the innermost core of the heart with this great love, as is known from the verse, (13) "For...Jacob who redeemed Abraham," as expounded in Likkutei Amarim, chapter 45.

[The Midrash (14) teaches that Abraham was saved in the future merit of Jacob, who was destined to descend from him.

In spiritual terms: (15) When Abraham's characteristic attribute, kindness and love, remains latent within a Jew, it is revealed and redeemed by Jacob's characteristic attribute - mercy.

Since we are speaking here of Supernal Mercy, there must first be a sufficiently vigorous "arousal from below" that will cause it to descend to this lowly world.

The required arousal initiated from below must therefore spring from the palpable realities of this lowly world.

In plain words, as the Alter Rebbe will now conclude, this is the practice of tzedakah.]

It is known (16) that an arousal from above is specifically dependent on an arousal from below, meaning [that the abundant mercies from above are secured] by an arousal of great mercies in the hearts of "the compassionate...and the kindly," [as Jews are characterized in the Gemara, (17) so that they bestow physical gifts of gold and silver, and the like.

Thus the effect of tzedakah is actually the effect of the "mighty river" [Nachal Eitan].

[For the "arousal from below" expressed by the practice of tzedakah draws forth the loving self-nullification of the vigorous essence (the "eitan") of the soul, so that it becomes revealed - through the "river" of Binah - within the innermost core of man's heart.

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to write that oneÕs tzedakah should be given unstintingly, without regard for limitations.

Just as a person in jeopardy spends without limit in order to save his life, so, too, should one hold one's own G-dly soul in high regard, and give tzedakah boundlessly.]

All know the verse, (18) "Skin for skin," (19) [i.e., a person will protect one limb at the expense of another], "but all that a man possesses he will give for his soul" - [he will give away everything in order to save his life. The Alter Rebbe adds a word to the quoted verse, so that it ends], "...for his G-dly soul."

[One should be willing to forego everything for the sake of his G-dly soul], in order to illumine it with the light of life - the Infinite One, blessed be He. (20)


1. Parentheses are in the original text.
2. Verse 24.
3. Sefer HaMaamarim 5703, p. 71ff.
4. Sotah 9:5.
5. See I Kings 8:2 and Targum there.
6. Cf. Zohar I, 20a.
7. Zohar III, 4a.
8. See Likkutei Torah, Parshat ReÕeh 18d.
9. Yeshayahu 52:13.
10. Devarim 10:16.
11. Ibid. 30:6.
12. Ovadiah 1:20. The phrase may alternatively be translated as
"this valley."
13. Yeshayahu 29:22. Note of the Rebbe: "The verse states beit
Yaakov (`the house of Jacob'). However, Sanhedrin (19b) and
Bereishit Rabbah (63:2) explain plainly that it is `Jacob who
redeemed Abraham.'
The phrase is likewise cited in many ot her sources. Indeed, this
too is the meaning in the continuation of this very verse (quoted
in Sanhedrin, loc. cit., and elsewhere): `Now will Jacob not be
14. See Bereishit Rabbah, loc. cit.
15. Note of the Rebbe: "Cf. Tanya, ch. 45."
16. Zohar I, 88a, et al.
17. Yevamot 79a.
18. Iyov 2:4.
19. Note of the Rebbe: "At the end of Epistle XVI in Iggeret
HaKodesh, this verse is quoted [in its entirety] as well.
This is not the case at the end of Epistle X [which quotes only
the conclusion of the verse, `but all that a man possesses he will
give for his soul'], and so too in many other places.
Evidently, since the opening phrase (`skin for skin') signifies a
limited degree of tzedakah (as in the plain meaning of the verse),
this phrase is quoted only when the Alter Rebbe speaks (also) of
this degree of tzedakah."
20. The conclusion of this letter appears in Igrot Kodesh (Letters)
of the Alter Rebbe (Kehot, N.Y., 5740), p. 95.


Featured on

Seasons - A Chanukah Thought

A photo essay by Tzvi Freeman

When it's dark, light a candle...

Watch this inspiring presentation:


© Copyright
Kehot Publication Society
770 Eastern Parkway / Brooklyn, New York 11213
(718) 774-4000 / FAX (718) 774-2718

Brought to you by

To listen to an audio version of today's lesson, please click one of the following links:


To view this lesson online with Hebrew text and formatting plus many features, please visit:

For more daily Torah study, please visit:


** Enjoyed this email? Please help us continue sharing the
study of Torah and Jewish traditions:

Dedicate or sponsor an email to mark your special occasion!
Please click here:

Please click here to make a donation to

** To subscribe to more email lists please click here:

** To be removed from this email list please click here:,13,261645,0,217
If you would just like your email suspended and resumed at a later
date, please let us know here:

** You are subscribed as: If your e-mail address is changing
please send us your new email address here:

Part of the Chabad Online Network

A division of Chabad Lubavitch Media Center
770 Eastern Parkway * Brooklyn, NY * 11213


No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails