Tuesday, December 27, 2005

LESSONS IN TANYA: Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Dedicated in the merit of the complete recovery of Tzvi Meir Ben Sosha
Vita, who is looking for a kidney donor, please call (323) 634-7371
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Kislev 27, 5766 * December 28, 2005


Today's Lesson:

Likutei Amarim
Chapter Four

In addition [to its ten faculties - discussed in ch. 3], every divine soul [nefesh elokit] possesses three garments.

[The soul possesses three auxiliary powers, which are its instruments of expression. Like garments, they can be donned or shed at will. When the soul utilizes any of these three powers it is `clothed' in them; when it does not use them, it is `divested' of them.

Also, just as garments give expression to their wearer's beauty and importance, so, too, when the soul dons and utilizes these `garments', its intellect and emotion find expression.]

They [the garments] are: thought, speech and action [as they find expression] in the 613 commandments of the Torah.

[The Alter Rebbe now goes on to explain how the divine soul expresses itself through these three garments.]

For, when a person actively fulfills all the precepts which require physical action [e.g., when he dons the tefillin or fulfills the commandment of tzitzit, etc.], and with his power of speech he occupies himself in expounding all the 613 commandments and the laws governing their fulfillments, [i.e., the person's speech is immersed in the study of Torah which includes the exposition of the commandments.

For example, Tractate Berachot deals with the commandments and the laws of blessings; Tractate Shabbat deals with the commandments and laws of Shabbat observance, etc.], and with his power of thought he comprehends all that he is capable of understanding in the Pardes [i.e., the four levels] of Torah,

[The word Pardes, whose literal meaning is `orchard', is here used as an acronym of the four Hebrew words, Pshat, Remez, Derush and Sod, meaning, respectively: plain sense, intimation, homiletical exposition and esoteric meaning - the four levels of Scriptural interpretation.]

then all of his soul's 613 `organs' are clothed in the 613 commandments of the Torah.

[Just as the human body consists of 248 organs and 365 blood vessels, corresponding to the Torah's 248 positive commandments and 365 prohibitive commandments (613 in all), the soul similarly comprises 613 `organs' - the spiritual counterpart of the 613 bodily organs - each `organ' corresponding to a specific commandment.

When, through its three `garments' (thought, speech and action), the soul embraces all 613 commandments, then all 613 `organs' of the soul are enclothed in all 613 commandments - each `organ' of the soul in its related commandment.

(Note the Alter Rebbe's emphasis of the word `all' (`all the precepts which require physical action, `in expounding all the 613 commandments, `all that he is capable of understanding'). Should his `garments' fail to include all 613 commandments - were he to omit one specific commandment - then the corresponding `organ' of the soul will remain bereft of its mitzvah-`garment'.)

Thus we see, in a general sense, how fulfillment of all the commandments with one's thought, speech and action, `clothes' the entire soul in all 613 commandments of the Torah. The Alter Rebbe now goes on to specify which components of the soul are `clothed' by which particular garment.]

Specifically: the CHaBaD of his soul [i.e., his intellectual faculties] are clothed in the comprehension of the Torah, which he comprehends in [the four levels of] Pardes of the Torah, to the extent of his mental capacity and according to the supernal root of his soul.

[One's mental capacity determines how much he may understand; the root of his soul determines the area in Torah for which he will have the greatest aptitude. For example, one whose soul is related to the level of Pshat is more likely to comprehend the straightforward meaning of the words of Torah; a soul related to Remez will delve to the stratum of implied meaning underlying the words; and so on.

When the person comprehends Torah to the extent of his mental capacity then the CHaBaD components of his soul are clothed in the garment of thought of Torah, i.e., thought as it is related to Torah.]

And the middot, namely [the emotions of] fear and love [of the Al-mighty] together with their offshoots and ramifications, are clothed in the fulfillment of the commandments in deed and in word, [`in word'] meaning in the study of Torah, which is (1) `the equivalent of all the commandments.'

[The Alter Rebbe's previous statement, that in comprehending Torah the soul's faculty of intellect clothes itself in thought, requires no further elaboration; it goes without saying that the intellect can comprehend Torah only through the vehicle of thought.

His latter statement, however (that the middot are clothed in the fulfillment of the commandments in deed or in word), requires further amplification. What connection do the middot of fear and love have with action and speech? The seat of the emotions is in the heart; how do they come to clothe themselves in actions which are done with one's hand (in donning tefillin, for example), or in speech where one uses his mouth (such as in oral Torah study)?

In answer to this question, the Alter Rebbe explains that completeness in the performance of the commandments demands love and fear of G-d; one can bring to his fulfillment of the commandments the fullness generated by vitality and depth of feeling only when he is imbued with fear and love of the Al-mighty. In the Alter Rebbe's words]:

For love is the root of [a Jew's observance of] all the 248 positive commands; from it they issue forth, and without it they have no true substance.

For he who fulfills them in truth, is he who loves G-d's Name and who truly desires to cleave to Him.

Now, one cannot truly cleave to Him except through the fulfillment of the 248 positive commandments, [Thus, one's love of G-d and desire to cleave to Him dictate that he observe the commandments. Why is it possible to cleave to G-d only by fulfilling the commandments]? for they are the 248 (2) `organs of the King' [of G-d, King of the universe], as it were, as is explained elsewhere. (3)

[Just as each of the organs of a human being is a vessel for the particular soul power that clothes itself in it (e.g., the eye is a vessel fot the power of sight, the ear for hearing, and so on), so is each commandment a vessel for the specific aspect of G-d's Will (the `Supernal Will') which clothes itself in that particular commandment.

Each commandment expresses not only the Supernal Will that a specific act be carried out, but also the particulars of its observance. Thus it is understood that by performing the commandments one achieves unity with G-d, Whose Will they express.

It follows, then, that love of G-d clothes (or expresses) itself in one's performance of the 248 positive commandments; it is their root and life-force, which leads one to observe them with the totality of one's being. For when one loves G-d and desires to cleave to Him, he will perform His commandments as he would perform a task for a dear friend - with delight and zest, and with all of his being.]

Fear is the root of [one's observance of] the 365 prohibitive commands, for he [the G-d-fearing person] will fear to rebel against the Supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He [by acting in defiance of His Will; he will therefore refrain from any thing that G-d forbade. At this level, the word `fear' is taken in its simple sense - trepidation before the severity of G-d's command.]

Or a deeper [level of] fear - that he feels ashamed before G-d's greatness, so that he will not rebel against the [all-seeing] eyes of His glory by doing what is evil in His eyes, namely, any of the abominable things hated by G-d, which are the kelipot and sitra achra [the `other side' - that which is the opposite of holiness], which draw their nurture from man below [in this world] and have their hold in him [so that they be able to derive their nurture and life through him] through [his violation of] the 365 prohibitive commandments.

[When a person transgresses a prohibitive commandment, G-d forbid, he provides the kelipot with additional strength and vitality. Since kelipot and the sitra achra are entities which conceal G-dliness and holiness and are as such despised by G-d, the Jew therefore guards himself against transgressing. He is `ashamed' to transgress and give the kelipot strength and life. Thus, fear of G-d clothes itself in the observance of prohibitive commandments; for one's fear of G-d enables him to withstand temptation and refrain from transgression.

We now understand clearly how fear and love of G-d are related to the fulfillment of the commandments, and how the middot are the root and life-force in the performance of commandments in both action and speech.


1. Mishnah, Peah 1:1.
2. Tikkunei Zohar, Tikkun 30.
3. See further, ch. 23.


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