And this is the meaning of what was said by King David, peace be to him, who was1 of the attribute of Gevurah, "How abundant is Your goodness [which You have hidden away for those who fear You]."
כלומר, שמדת הטוב והחסד, אשר היא בבחינת העלם והסתר אצל כל מי ששורש נשמתו מבחינת שמאל
That is to say that the attribute of goodness and Chesed, which is in a state of concealment and hiding within those whose soul-root derives from the "left", i.e., from Gevurah,
הנקראים בשם יראיך
and who are referred to as "those who fear You,"
כמדת בית שמאי
resembling the [above-mentioned] trait of Beit Shammai, —
הנה, אף שהוא טוב הגנוז וצפון
though this is a concealed and hidden goodness, beneath a dominant surface of Gevurah,
אף על פי כן הוא רב וגדול מאד, כמו מדת הגדולה והחסד ממש, שמבחינת ימין
it is nevertheless truly as abundant and immense as the attribute of Gedulah2 and Chesed, which is of the "right".
Although the element of Chesed within those described as "those that fear You" is concealed, for their soul-root derives essentially from Gevurah, it is latent within them just as abundantly as it is found within those who are essentially of the "right".
ושתיהן הן מבחינת גילוי בלי גבול ומדה ושיעור
Moreover, both [degrees of Chesed] — that which is dominant in the souls deriving from the "right" as well as that incorporated in the souls deriving from the "left" — are manifest without limit, measure or dimension.
וזהו שכתוב: מה רב טובך
And this is the meaning of the phrase, "How abundant is Your goodness";
כלומר, בלי גבול ומדה
i.e., [it applies in both cases] without limit and measure;
בין הטוב אשר צפנת ליראיך, ובין אשר פעלת לחוסים בך
whether it be the goodness "which You have hidden away for those who fear You," or that which "You have wrought for those who trust in You,"
שהם בעלי הבטחון שמבחינת ימין
referring to the trusting ones who derive from the "right",
A person trusts his beloved friend to act in his best interests. In the same way, those whose souls stem from the "right" and who serve G‑d with Chesed and love, place their trust in Him.
וחסדם וטובם הוא גם כן בבחינת גילוי והתפשטות נגד בני אדם
and whose kindness and goodness are also in a state of manifestation and expansiveness before [the sight of] man,
ולא בבחינת צמצום והסתר כלל
and by no means in a state of contraction and concealment.
We can now understand why the verse begins by saying "hidden away for those who fear You" and concludes with the manifest state of "before man": The verse is alluding to two forms of Chesed — in its concealed state, as possessed by "those who fear You," and in its revealed state, as possessed by "those who trust in You."
ומה שכתוב: ליראיך, ולא ביראיך
(3The reason the verse says "for those who fear You," which would seem to imply that the Chesed from above is granted to them as a reward, rather than "in those who fear You,"
היינו משום שכל מה שהוא בבחינת העלם בכל נשמה
is that whatever is in a state of concealment within any soul
הנה בחינה זו אינה מלובשת תוך הגוף, במוחו ולבו
is not vested within the body — in the individual's mind and heart, for they are incapable of receiving it.
אלא היא בבחינת מקיף מלמעלה
Rather, it encompasses [the individual] from above, so to speak,
ומשם היא מאירה למוחו ולבו, לעתים הצריכים להתעוררות בחינה זו
and thence it radiates to his mind and heart at those times which require an arousal of the attribute in question,
שתתעורר ותאיר למוחו ולבו, כדי לבא לידי מעשה בפועל ממש
so that it will be aroused and will illumine his mind and heart in order to result in actual deeds.)
For example, a person whose charitable contributions are customarily limited will have revealed to him the concealed and infinite attribute of Chesed, which will prompt him to give tzedakah unstintingly.
ואמר על כן: אשר רב טוב לבית ישראל, הצפון והגלוי, הוא בבחינת בלי גבול ומדה לפי ערך נפשותם המלובשת בגוף
[King David] therefore said that whereas the "abundance of goodness" of the House of Israel, [both] that which is hidden and that which is manifest, is (so to speak) without limit and measure (relative to the category of their soul vested in the body),
The kindness of a finite creature is by definition limited. However, it may be termed infinite in relation to the soul vested in the body.
לכן גם אתה ה׳ תתנהג עמהם במדת חסדך הגדול, בלי גבול ותכלית, הנקרא רב חסד
therefore "You, too, O G‑d, relate to them with the attribute of Your unlimited and infinitely great Chesed, which is of the level known as Gedulah, and which is called rav Chesed" — the Chesed of Arich Anpin that utterly transcends the lesser Chesed of Z'eir Anpin, from which the worlds evolve by means of the Seder Hishtalshelut.
דאית חסד ואית חסד
"For there is Chesed and [then] there is [a far higher form of] Chesed":4
אית חסד עולם
There is Chesed olam(lit., "Chesed of the world") — i.e., a worldlike (and hence finite)Chesed,
שיש כנגדו ולעומתו מדת הדין, חס ושלום
that has an opposite counterpart — the attribute of din,of severe justice, heaven forfend,
למעט ולצמצם חסדו וטובו
which would diminish and contract [G‑d's] goodness.
אבל חסד עליון, הנקרא רב חסד
The superior form of Chesed, however, which is called rav Chesed,
אין כנגדו מדת הדין, למעט ולצמצם רוב חסדו, מלהתפשט בלי גבול ותכלית
does not have the attribute of din opposed to it, to diminish and contract the abundance of [G‑d's] benevolence from extending without limit or end.
כי הוא נמשך מבחינת סובב כל עלמין, וטמירא דכל טמירין
For it derives from the level of [Divinity called] Sovev Kol Almin,which transcends (lit., "encompasses") all worlds and limitations, and from [the level of Divinity called] Temira DeChol Temirin(lit., "that which is hidden [even] from all the hidden [worlds]),"
הנקרא כתר עליון
which is called Keter Elyon(lit., "the Supernal Crown"), i.e., the utterly transcendent level of Divinity known as Keter.
This, then, is the meaning of the verse which follows our opening quotation, and which continues to speak of "those who fear You" and "those who trust in You": "Hide them in the concealment of Your innermost dimension..." (for, as explained above, פנים denotes both "countenance" and "inwardness"); "conceal them in a sukkah..." (i.e., in the sublime level of Chesed which, deriving from the above-mentioned level of Keter, transcends the Seder Hishtalshelut, and will encompass them like a sukkah).
Supplement by the Rebbe
The thrust of the above letter, which was delivered by an emissary who was to collect contributions for charity, is that even those who serve G‑d by means of their soul-root in the "left", — even if, like Beit Shammai, they are totally righteous individuals (who need not give tzedakah [for the sake of atonement]; cf. "for we are not complete," as explained above in Iggeret HaKodesh, Epistle 10), — nevertheless, they too possess "an abundant and immense" degree of Chesed. "At those times which require it," moreover, "it results in actual deeds."'
This is explicit in the concluding passage of the letter which was not printed "by the rabbis, long may they live, sons of the illustrious author of blessed memory, whose soul is in Eden," and which reads as follows:5
ואחר הדברים האלה, נפשי בשאלתי
And after the above words, from the depths of my soul I seek
לעורר רב טוב הגנוז והצפון בלב כל אנשי שלומנו
to arouse the [infinite] abundance of benevolence that is concealed in the heart of every individual in the chassidic brotherhood,6
מן ההעלם אל הגילוי, לבא לידי מעשה
[so that it be manifested] from concealment to revelation and be translated into action,
למלאות ידם לה׳, ביד מלאה ורחבה
and so that you will all "fill your hands unto G‑d" by giving charity with a full and open hand
על ידי ציר נאמן, מוסר כתב זה כו׳, ודי למבין כמו שכתוב באגרת
through the trusted bearer of this message — and what is written [above] in the letter should suffice for the discerning.
ואין אני כותבו מחמת שלא נצרך, ודי למבין
I am not spelling it out, for this is not necessary; the above will suffice.
הכל דברי אוהב נפשם, דורש שלומם מלב ונפש חפיצה
These are the words of one who loves you with all his soul, and who seeks your welfare with heartfelt and soulful longing.
At this point the Alter Rebbe signs:
שניאור זלמן בן לאדוני אבי מורנו ורבנו הרב ר׳ ברוך
Shneur Zalman, the son of my master, my father, our mentor and Rebbe, Rabbi Baruch
The Rebbe adds: "The above passage [which makes it clear that the foregoing teachings were intended to find practical expression in the giving of tzedakah] enables us to understand the relevance here of the first part of this letter, which otherwise should seemingly have begun with והנה כל איש ישראל — 'Now every Jew needs to comprise...."'
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