Friday, December 02, 2005

LESSONS IN TANYA: Shabbat, December 3, 2005


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

Kislev 2, 5766 * December 3, 2005


Today's Lesson:

Kuntres Acharon
(Middle of Essay Four)

Now, in one source (10) it is written (11) that the 248 positive commandments are [rooted] in the Five Attributes of Kindness [of Za of Atzilut, for every positive command serves as a vessel to receive an expression of the kindly attributes and a calling forth of Divinity], and the 365 prohibitions are [rooted] in the Five Attributes of Severity [of Za of Atzilut.

The Gevurot (the attributes of severity) reflect a Divine thrust to self-contraction and limitation.

The prohibitory commands thus derive from them, since the intent of these commands is to withhold the efflux of holiness from kelipot.]

Elsewhere it is written (12) that there are 613 paths [i.e., the 613 mitzvot] that derive from one path..., which is the Lavnunit..., [the benevolent pristine "whiteness" of the Supernal Keter.

This level includes no element of severity at all.

As the Zohar states there, "There is no `left' in Atik" - i.e., there is no element of Gevurah in the internal level of Keter; there is only Chesed.

We thus seem to have a compound contradiction:

We have just stated here that the 248 positive commandments stem from the vessels of the Ten Sefirot of Za; the Zohar states that the 248 positive commandments stem from the Five Chasadim (attributes of kindness) of Za while the 365 prohibitory commandments stem from the Five Gevurot (attributes of severity) of Za; and the Zohar states elsewhere that the commandments derive from the Lavnunit of the Supernal Keter, where attributes of severity do not exist at all.]

The explanation is:

All the mitzvot are designed to rec-tify the 248 organs of Za, by drawing the [infinite] Ein Sof-light into the [Divine] Intellect as incorporated within the Five Attributes of Kindness and Five Attrib- utes of Severity.

[In mortal man, too, by way of analogy, one's intellectual decisions are commonly swayed by a natural leaning to kindness or severity.

Since the purpose of mitzvot is to "repair" the 248 organs of Za, it is true to say that mitzvot are rooted in the vessels of the Sefirot that constitute Za.

Since the repair is accomplished through drawing the infinite light into the Divine Intellect that is housed in the Five Attributes of Kindness and the Five Attributes of Severity, it is also sometimes said that the mitzvot themselves are rooted in the Five Attributes of Kindness and the Five Attributes of Severity.]

The source of the [Divine] Intellect is the Lavnunit [of Keter], which is the supreme delight and desire to draw the light below into the 248 organs of Za, [for relative to Keter, Za is deemed "below".

Thus the Zohar also says elsewhere that the commandments are rooted in the level of Supernal Keter called Lavnunit, where there are no attributes of severity whatever, for this is the source of mitzvot as they exist in the supreme delight and desire of Keter.]

The light drawn forth divides into 613 individual streams according to the respective levels of the mitzvot.

For instance, through charity and kindly deeds the [infinite] Ein Sof- light is drawn into the external aspect of the vessel of the Attribute of Kindness of Za,

[Since "Chesed is of the right side" of Za, a kindly act of charity in this world below draws down the infinite light into the corresponding "right side" above - into the Attribute of Kindness of Za.

Just as this "arousal from below" sprang from kindness, so too the reciprocal "arousal from above" comes as a direct and similar response, drawing down the infinite light into the Chesed of Za.]

While through observing mitzvot that are in the order of severity, [the infinite light is drawn] into the external aspect of Severity [of Za], with mercy....

The path and passage of the issuing light [that is drawn into the external vessels of Za] is through the internal aspect of the vessels and their Intellects, which are, [in terms of a Jew's service], awe and love, either intellectually generated or innate.

[Whereas the former is an expression of intellect, the latter is an expression of the spiritual emotions.]

These [attributes] correspond, [in terms of the Supernal Sefirot], to the "major" or "minor" [Divine] Intellect.

[The "minor [Divine] Intellect" corresponds to man's innate love and fear of G-d, while the "major [Divine] Intellect" corresponds to the love and fear of G-d that are born of meditation.

This is the reason for Moses' fervent plea to fulfill the active mitzvot that are contingent on the Land, (13) [i.e., that can be fulfilled only in the Holy Land].

For these [practical mitzvot] are the ultimate purpose of the Hishtalshelut, [the chainlike stages of progressive self-screening whereby the Divine light descends from level to level until ultimately this corporeal world is created] -

To call forth the [infinite] Ein Sof-light, in order to refine the vessels of Za of Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah, in which are located the 288 sparks.

[And this purification is effected] exclusively through Torah study and mitzvot requiring action, in Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah.

[Since this is the purpose of all of creation, and the mitzvot can be fully performed only in the Holy Land, Moses fervently desired to enter it so that he would be able to perform them in the most complete manner possible.

From all the above we understand why the extraction and refinement of sparks is primarily accomplished through prayer, even though the study of Torah is loftier than prayer.

For prayer involves the elevation of the sparks of Tohu to their most supreme source there, and from there even higher to the Ein Sof.

As the Alter Rebbe will soon explain, this is so specifically in contemporary times because the loftier souls of earlier generations could accomplish this speedily, merely by reciting the Shema with its introductory blessings and selections from the Verses of Praise.

In our days, however, when such lofty souls are not to be found, the task of beirur must come about through prayer.


10. Note of the Rebbe: "See Or HaTorah by the Tzemach Tzedek on
Bereishit, Vol. III, p. 471, et al."
11. See Etz Chayim, Shaar Kitzur ABiYA, ch. 4.
12. Note of the Rebbe: "Zohar III, 129a."
13. Sotah 14a.


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