Monday, October 17, 2005

LESSONS IN TANYA: Wednesday, October 19, 2005


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

Tishrei 16, 5766 * October 19, 2005


Today's Lesson:

Iggeret HaKodesh
(Conclusion of Epistle Twenty-Two)

Part (b)

[The following letter was placed here by the compilers of Iggeret HaKodesh, as an addendum to Epistle XXII, Part (a). (As the Rebbe points out, this was "after the first editions had been published.")

The connection, however, is not immediately apparent.

Perhaps it lies in the opening passage of Part (a), the passage which does not appear in this collection, (1) in which the Alter Rebbe laments that questions on material affairs occupy too much of his time - for this theme also figures in the letter before us.]

My beloved, my brethren and friends: [In these terms the Alter Rebbe addresses his chassidim.]

Due to the immensity of my preoccupations (2) which (3) "all together surround me" and "encircle me like water" - "all day and all night, never holding their peace," (4) I am unable to unload the burden (5) of writing down all that is in my heart.

Briefly, however, I come as one who reminds and (6) "repeats earlier subjects" in general, in particular to (7) "those of the people who offer themselves willingly [in prayer," beyond the customary measure], that they should stand [steadfast] in [their divine] service, i.e., prayer, [which the Sages call (8) "service of the heart," a form of divine service which works in the heart and on the heart, and pray] with a loud voice, (9) strengthening themselves vigorously, with all their might and power, against any internal or external obstacle, with a "strong hand," plainly and simply.

This [service] relates to (10) "the will of those who fear Him"; this transcends the wisdom and understanding with which G-d imbued them so that they will know and do all that He commanded, with intelligence and discernment.

[Wisdom and understanding are gifts from G-d; as we say in the daily prayers, (11) "It is You Who graciously bestows discernment upon man...."

As to the superior faculty of will, however, it is left to the initiative of every G-d fearing Jew to arouse this within himself by accepting the yoke of heaven.]

[There should be] but a simple will, [uncompounded by the particular form or limitations that characterize an intellectually-generated will], and a spirit of voluntary self-dedication, in every man whose heart prompts him to serve (12) "a whole service," [intending only] to cause gratification to his Maker.

Of this [superrational degree of will] it is written, (13) "For this is a stiff-necked people, and You should pardon" - [i.e., because they are a "stiff-necked people." (14)

This obstinate and superrational will of theirs warrants their being pardoned], - for pardon, too, transcends wisdom.

[Just as a mortal's will flies free, untrammeled by his intellect, so too, Above: the divine source of pardon transcends Supernal Wisdom.]

Thus [it is written], (15) "they asked Wisdom [what should be the lot of the soul that sins]."

[The attribute of Wisdom ruled that a sinning soul must be judged and punished; it did not allow for repentance and pardon.]

So too Moses our Master, peace to him, invoked (16) "measure for measure"; and suffice this for the discerning.

[Moses pleaded that G-d grant forgiveness to the same extent that an individual repents with a simple will that transcends his understanding; he desired that man's repentance elicit and call down to this world the divine source of pardon which likewise transcends Supernal Wisdom.]


1. It appears in full in Igrot Kodesh (Letters) of the Alter Rebbe
(Kehot, N.Y., 1987), p. 53.
2. Note of the Rebbe: "The early editions should be
scanned, because from the continuation of this sentence one
would expect the plural form (in the Hebrew words)."
3. Note of the Rebbe: "[The two quoted phrases are] a
paraphrase of Tehillim 88:18 - in inverse order, as with
several of the expressions that follow."
4. Cf. Yeshayahu 62:6.
5. Hebrew text corrected according to Luach HaTikkun. The metaphor
is borrowed from Yeshayahu 46:2; see Rashi there.
6. Cf. Keritot 8a.
7. Shoftim 5:9; on the connection with prayer see Rashi there.
8. Taanit 2a.
9. The Shemoneh Esreh, of course, is always recited in a whisper,
except on the Days of Awe; see Alter Rebbe's Shulchan Aruch
10. Tehillim 145:19.
11. Siddur Tehillat HaShem, p. 53.
12. Cf. Yoma 24a.
13. Shmot 34:9.
14. Note of the Rebbe: "From this we understand that their
`stiff-neckedness' is a positive trait."
15. Talmud Yerushalmi, Makkot 2:6.
16. Devarim Rabbah 11:9.


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