LESSONS IN TANYA: Shabbat, September 8, 2012

Elul 21, 5772 · September 8, 2012
Today's Tanya Lesson
Iggeret HaKodesh, end of Epistle 15

Up to this point the Alter Rebbe has explained how the seven middot exist within the Jew's G‑dly soul. These emotive attributes are activated by the three intellective faculties — the Sefirot of ChaBaD (Chochmah, Binah and Daat), which are now to be explained.

ומקור ושורש כל המדות הן מחב״ד

Now, the source and root of all the attributes are in the ChaBaD.

דהיינו: החכמה היא מקור השכל המשיג את ה׳ וחכמתו וגדולתו ומדותיו הקדושות, שמנהיג ומחיה בהן כל העולמות עליונים ותחתונים

That is: Chochmah is the source of the intellect which apprehends G‑d and His wisdom, His greatness, and the holy attributes wherewith He conducts and animates all the higher and lower worlds;

ובינה היא ההתבוננות בהשגה זו

Binah is the contemplation of this apprehension of G‑d's greatness and His holy attributes

באורך ורוחב ועומק בינתו

in the length, breadth, and depth of one's understanding,

The "length" of a particular concept — in this case, the greatness of the Creator — entails drawing it down from its lofty abstraction (by way of a parable, for example) to a level of intelligibility. The "breadth" of the concept refers to the multitudinous components and ramifications that await one's mastery. Its "depth" refers to the challenge of plumbing its seemingly limitless profundity.

להבין דבר מתוך דבר

in order1 "to understand (or deduce) one matter out of another,"2

ולהוליד מהשגה זו תולדותיה

and from this apprehension to beget its offspring,

שהן מדות אהבה ויראה

which are the attributes of love and awe,

The thinker's understanding of the greatness of G‑d gives birth to emotions — a love and a fear of Him.

ושארי מדות הנולדות בנפש האלקית, המשכלת ומתבוננת בגדולת ה׳, כי לגדולתו אין חקר

and the other attributes born in the divine soul which contemplates and meditates upon G‑d's greatness, as to how3 "His greatness is unfathomable."

ויש בחינת גדולת ה׳, שעל ידי התבוננות הנפש האלקית בה, תפול עליה אימתה ופחד

One aspect of G‑d's greatness is such that the divine soul, when contemplating it, is overwhelmed by a fear and dread.

שהיא יראה תתאה, שהיא בחינת מלכות

This is yirah tataah ("the lower level of fear"), which is an aspect of Malchut.

ויש בחינת גדולת ה׳, שממנה באה יראה עילאה, ירא בושת

There is another aspect of the greatness of G‑d from [the contemplation of] which derives yirah ilaah ("the superior level of fear"), in which one is awed out of bashfulness.

ויש בחינה שממנה באה אהבה רבה

There is also an aspect [of G‑d's greatness] from [the contemplation of] which derives ahavah rabbah ("the great love"),

ויש בחינה שממנה באה אהבה זוטא

and still another aspect [of G‑d's greatness], from [the contemplation of] which derives ahavah zutta ("the lesser love").

All these levels of ahavah and yirah are internal emotive attributes that are fathered by ChaBaD.

וכן במדות החיצוניות, שהן חסד כו׳

The same applies to the external attributes, i.e., Chesed and so on; they, too, emanate from ChaBaD.

ובכולן צריך להיות מלובש בהן בחינת הדעת

Now, the faculty of Daat must be vested within all these [emotive attributes],

שהוא בחינת התקשרות הנפש, הקשורה ותקועה בהשגה זו

for it represents the bond with which the soul is bound and embedded in this apprehension

שמשגת איזה ענין מגדולת ה׳, שממנה נולדה בה איזה מדה מהמדות

as it apprehends some aspect of G‑d's greatness, from which one of these attributes is born within it.

Once the soul has apprehended some aspect of G‑d's greatness it must bind itself to this comprehension through the faculty of Daat.

כי בהיסח הדעת כרגע מהשגה זו

For by a momentary removal of Daat from this apprehension,

מסתלקת גם כן המדה הנולדה ממנה

the emotion born of it is also withdrawn

מהגילוי בנפש אל ההעלם

from its [prior] state of manifestation in the soul [back] into concealment [within the soul],

להיות בה בכח ולא בפועל

to exist there in potentia but not in actuality.

It is the faculty of Daat — a prolonged and constant involv-ement in the subject being contemplated — that reveals and actualizes the emotive experience of love or fear.

ולכן נקרא הזיווג בלשון דעת, מפני שהוא לשון התקשרות

That is why the term Daat is applied to coition,4 for it signifies a bond that results in issue, just as out of Daat are born the emotions.

וזהו בחינת דעת תחתון נוסח אחר: הדעת התחתון, המתפשט במדות ומתלבש בהן, להחיותן ולקיימן

This is the faculty of Daat Tachton, the lower level of Daat, which extends into the attributes and vests itself in them to animate and sustain them.

ויש בחינת דעת העליון, שהוא בחינת התקשרות וחיבור מקור השכל המשיג עומק המושג

There is also a faculty of Daat Elyon, a superior level of Daat, through which the source of the intellect that apprehends the profundity of a concept is bound and connected [to it] —

שהוא כנקודה וכברק המבריק על שכלו

like a point or a flash of lightning that flashes over one's mind —

שיתפשט למטה

so that [the concept] will extend downward.

ויבא עומק המושג לידי הבנה

The profundity of the apprehended concept will thereby come to be understood

בהרחבת הביאור, באורך ורוחב

with extensive clarification, in length and breadth,

שהיא בחינת בינה, הנקראת, רחובות הנהר, כמו שיתבאר במקומו

this stage being the function of the faculty of Binah, which is known as rechovot hanahar (lit., "the expanses of the river"), as will be explained in its place.5

The faculty of Daat Elyon unifies Chochmah with Binah. For Chochmah is the intuitive flash of illumination that would vanish as quickly as it appeared, if it were not anchored by Daat in the comprehension of Binah, whereby this seminal point assumes length and breadth. Chochmah is thus likened to a wellspring whose waters issue forth drop by drop, while Binah is likened to a broad and deep river. It is the function of Daat Elyon to draw the wellsprings of Chochmah into the river of Binah.

The function of Daat Tachton, by contrast, is that of binding the intellective faculties of ChaBaD with their resultant emotions, so that one's intellectual activity will illuminate them, and provide them with vitality and continuity.

* * *

In summary, this discourse demonstrates how all the ten faculties of the divine soul engage in an ongoing relationship with their G‑dly source. Indeed, to recall the Alter Rebbe's opening lines, an understanding of this dynamic within oneself enables one to experience the truth of the verse, "From my flesh shall I behold G‑d," and to gain some measure of understanding of the Supernal Sefirot.

1. Chagigah 14a.
2. Note of the Rebbe: "Two explanations (Or HaTorah, Bereishit, p. 2048ff.)."
3. Tehillim 145:3.
4. Note of the Rebbe: "See [Tanya,] Part I, conclusion of ch. 3."
5. Note of the Rebbe: "The intent of 'in its place' is problematic. Possibly this refers to the relevant places in [Tanya,] Part I (see its indexes), and likewise in Likkutei Torah, etc."

By Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812), founder of Chabad Chassidism (Free Translation)    More articles...  |   RSS Listing of Newest Articles by this Author
Elucidated by Rabbi Yosef Wineberg. Translated from Yiddish by Rabbi Levy Wineberg and Rabbi Sholom B. Wineberg. Edited by Uri Kaploun.
Published and copyright by Kehot Publication Society, all rights reserved.
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