Thursday, December 29, 2005

LESSONS IN TANYA: Friday, December 30, 2005


Kislev 29, 5766 * December 30, 2005


Today's Lesson:

Likutei Amarim
(Conclusion of Chapter Four)

Now, since Torah and its commandments clothe all ten faculties of the soul, and all of the soul's 613 `organs', from head to foot, [i.e, from its highest level - its `head' - to its lowest level], it [the soul] is truly completely bound up with G-d in the (12) `bond of life,' and the very light of G-d envelops and clothes it from head to foot.

So it is written: (13) `G-d is my Rock, in whom I take refuge' [and naturally, only that which surrounds a person can protect him]; and it is further written, (14) `As with a shield G-d's Will surrounds him, meaning His Will and wisdom that are clothed in Torah and its commandments.

[We see, at any rate, that although G-d's wisdom and Will are beyond man's reach, they are made accessible to him because the Torah is clothed in physical terms, and its commandments are vested in physical objects.]

For this reason, it has been said: (15) `One hour of repentance and good deeds in this world is better than the whole life of the World to Come.'

For [the reward] in the World to Come consists of enjoying the radiance of the Divine Presence; (16) it is the pleasure derived from comprehension [of G-dliness].

Now no created being, even [a spiritual being] of the higher realms [such as angels or souls], can comprehend any more than a glimmer of the Divine light, for which reason the reward of the souls in the World to Come is referred to as `the radiance of the Divine Presence,' [since it is no more than a remote gleam of the Divine light.]

But as for the essence and glory of the Holy One, blessed be He, no thought can apprehend Him at all. Only when it apprehends and clothes itself in Torah and its mitzvot does it grasp and clothe itself in G-d Himself, for `Torah and the Holy One, blessed be He, are one and the same.'

[Hence the superiority of Torah and mitzvot in this world over the life of the World to Come. In the World to Come the soul grasps only a glimmer of G-dliness; in this world, through Torah and mitzvot, it is united with G-d Himself.]

For, although the Torah has been clothed in lowly material things, [and it is only these material things that man's intellect grasps when studying Torah, not the essence of G-d's Will and wisdom, yet] - it is, by way of illustration, like one who embraces a king.

There is no difference in the degree of his closeness and attachment to the king whether he embraces him when the king is wearing one robe or many robes, since the king's body is in them.

[Similarly, when a Jew `embraces' G-d's wisdom in Torah study, the fact that His wisdom is clothed in material `robes' is irrelevant.

Another point understood from this analogy: in the study of Torah, man is also `embraced', enveloped and encompassed by, G-d's wisdom that the Torah contains (as will be explained further in ch. 5) - as the Alter Rebbe continues]:

Similarly, when the king embraces one with his arm, though it be dressed in his robes. [To illustrate that Torah is analogous to a royal embrace, the Alter Rebbe quotes]: As it is written, (17) `His [G-d's] right hand embraces me, which refers to Torah, called `the right hand' because Torah was given by G-d's (18) `right hand,' for [Torah] is related to the attribute of Chesed [`kindness', and `water'.

As explained in the Kabbalah, the right hand represents both Chesed and water (and, as said earlier, Torah is compared to water), and the left hand represents Gevurah (`severity') and fire. When the verse states that G-d's right hand `embraces me, the intention is that G-d `embraces' and envelops the soul through Torah - G-d's `right hand.

Thus, the bond that Torah study creates between the soul and G-d is two-fold: The soul `embraces' G-d and is `embraced' by G-d. In this, Torah study is superior to other mitzvot, as discussed in the following chapter.


12. I Shmuel 25:29.
13. Tehillim 18:3.
14. Ibid. 5:13.
15. Avot 4:17.
16. Berachot 17a.
17. Shir HaShirim 8:3.
18. Devarim 33:2.


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