Thursday, November 03, 2005

LESSONS IN TANYA: Friday, November 4, 2005


Cheshvan 2, 5766 * November 4, 2005


Today's Lesson:

Iggeret HaKodesh
(Middle of Epistle Twenty-Five)

After these words and this truth, which are manifest and known to all, let us return to the original subject, concerning anger - where a person [who is angry] is likened to an idolater. (7)

This is so only with regard to mundane matters, for (45) "everything is in the hands of heaven except for the fear of heaven."

[Since everything is in G-d's hands there is no reason to become angry. However, with regard to matters involving the "fear of heaven," anger does have a place].

Hence with respect to heavenly matters, to (46) "ward [a fellow Jew] from [transgressing] a prohibition," the reason stated does not apply, [for these matters are not in G-d's hands but in man's].

As it is written, (47) "And Moses was angry."

This was because G-d caused him to encounter this mitzvah of "warding [a fellow Jew] from [transgressing] a prohibition," in order to make him meritorious.

[Thus, this situation is obviously quite different from being angry at someone because of harm or offense].

But this applies only when one is able to prevent [transgression] by his wrath and anger against his fellow-man; [in such a case he is permitted to become angry, as did Moses].

However, when he is unable to change the situation, as in the case of the gentile who talks and disturbs him while he is praying, [the question] then [arises]: What is this that G-d has done to him, [that a gentile should disrupt his prayers]?

This is so only in order that he prevail and strengthen himself ever more in his prayers, from the depths of his heart, and with such intense concentration that he will not hear the gentile's talk. However, for such a level one needs a great and intense arousal.

And the counsel suggested to attain such an arousal, derives from this very subject.

One should consider and meditate on the concept of the descent of the Shechinah, as it were - how (48) "it descended in wondrous fashion," to have a spark of its radiance invested [within the kelipot].

It is generally in a state of exile among the kelipot, in order to animate them.

And now, a spark of its radiation vests itself in a particular state of exile, in the speech of this gentile who utters words that disturb one's divine service, i.e., one's devout concentration during prayer.

And, as explained above, (39) "[G-d created] this opposite that," [each element of the holy "side" of the universe having its unholy counterpart in the "other side," the sitra achra].

Thus the Supernal speech vests itself in the nether speech, and so on.

[I.e., Supernal speech vests itself in a lower degree of speech, ultimately descending through a self-screening chain of descent until it provides life-force even for the kelipot].

This indeed is the meaning of the verse, (42) "That man rules over man, to his detriment," [which was explained above in terms of the temporary dominion of the "evil man" (of kelipah) over the "sacred man" (the holy "side" of the universe).

When this gentile utilizes the spark which is exiled within himself to hinder a Jew who is trying to pray, the kelipot are manifestly ruling over the holy "side" of the universe.

The forces of holiness, however, can thereby be invigorated and vitalized, when the worshiper reacts by upgrading his concentration.

This he will be prompted to do when he meditates on the above- described descent of the Shechinah into exile. And from this exile he will seek to liberate it.

In the words of the Alter Rebbe]:

That is to say, that through this [meditation], the individual is aroused to pray with greater devotion, from the depth of his heart, until he will not hear [the gentile's] words.

[The above explains the statement of the Baal Shem Tov in Tzavaat HaRivash, that the Shechinah vests itself in this gentile. For everything in this world houses a spark of holiness, and within this gentile the spark is present in a state of exile, for the reason explained above].

As for the compiler [of Tzavaat HaRivash] using the word shartah, [meaning that the Shechinah "dwelt" or "abided" within this gentile], he was unable to focus on the precise term.

For the Baal Shem Tov, of blessed memory, used to deliver Torah teachings in Yiddish, not in the Holy Tongue.

[The compiler, translating these discourses into Hebrew, transmitted their content, not their precise terminology. And in this case he erred].

He really meant to say, nitlabshah "[became vested", for shartah "dwelt" or "abided" implies that the Shechinah was revealed, whereas [nitlabshah] means [that the Shechinah was vested] in a state of exile.

This [distinction] explains [the emphasis in Tzavaat HaRivash], "And especially if he is a gentile...,"

[Were we to be speaking of a manifest indwelling of the Shechinah, how could it be said that the Divine Presence resides to a greater extent within this gentile who is disturbing a Jew at prayer, than within the worshiper? Rather, we are speaking of a self-obscuring investiture of the Shechinah within the gentile] for then it is so much more in exile.

There is no need to wonder at a spark of the radiance of the Shechinah being referred to [in Tzavaat HaRivash] as Shechinah.

For we find that even a created angel, [which is not a spark of the Shechinah], is referred to by G-d's Name in Parshat VaYeira, [in the verse, (49) "And he said, `Lord, do not pass by your servant]," according to the commentary of R. Moses Nachmanides [the Ramban].

And as it is likewise written, (50) "And [Hagar] called the name of G-d Who spoke to her...," [where we are explicitly told that we are speaking of an angel]; and many more [passages] like this.


45. Berachot 33b.
46. Shabbat 40b.
47. Bamidbar 31:14.
48. Cf. Eichah 1:9.
49. Bereishit 18:3.
50. Ibid. 16:13.



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