LESSONS IN TANYA: Thursday, September 13, 2012

Elul 26, 5772 · September 13, 2012
Today's Tanya Lesson
Iggeret HaKodesh, end of Epistle 17

וזהו: רחבה מצותך מאד

And this is the meaning of [the verse], "And your commandment is very wide."

היא מצות הצדקה, שהיא כלי ושטח רחב מאד, להתלבש בה הארת אור אין סוף ברוך הוא

This refers to the precept of charity, which is a vessel of great volume, in which the radiation from the [infinite] Ein Sof-light may be invested,

וכמו שכתוב: לבושו צדקה

(1as it is written,2 "His garment is tzedakah").

אשר יאיר לעתיד בבחינת בלי גבול ותכלית

In the future this [light] will radiate without limit or end,

בחסד חנם באתערותא דלתתא זו, הנקראת דרך ה׳

with a gratuitous [Divine] kindness elicited by this arousal from below — by the kindness and tzedakah initiated by man — which is called "the path of G‑d."

As mentioned above, even when this Divine revelation is granted in response to an arousal from below it is still considered "gratuitous kindness," for it is granted out of all proportion to man's actions; man's tzedakah is no more than a vessel which enables him to receive the benevolence of this Divine revelation.

וזהו לשון מאד, שהוא בלי גבול ותכלית

And this is the meaning of the term "very [wide]," signifying limitlessness and endlessness: tzedakah acts as an infinitely wide vessel for receiving an infinite degree of G‑d-liness.

אבל: לכל תכלה ראיתי קץ

However, at the beginning of the verse quoted above,3 [it is written,] "To every tichlah (lit., "conclusion") I have seen an end."

תכלה היא מלשון כלות הנפש שבגן עדן

The word tichlah is related to the term kalot hanefesh, the intense yearning — to the point of expiry — of the soul in Gan Eden,

שהיא בבחינת קץ ותכלית וצמצום, כנ״ל

for it (i.e., the Divine light that is yearned for in Gan Eden) does have an end and a limit, and undergoes contraction, as mentioned above: this is the radiation of the finite light called Memaleh Kol Almin.

Likkutei Levi Yitzchak, authored by the father of the Rebbe, explains how "end", "limit" and "contraction" respectively refer to three kinds of illumination that radiate within Gan Eden. It also explains why the verse chooses to use the word "end" rather than "limit" or "contraction."

ולכל תכלה

As to the term "to every [kind of] tichlah," when the verse is alluding only to the yearning of souls in Gan Eden,

הוא לפי שיש כמה וכמה מעלות ומדרגות גן עדן, זה למעלה מזה, עד רום המעלות

this is used because there are numerous levels and rungs of Gan Eden, one higher than the other, to the topmost of levels.

כמו שכתוב בלקוטי הש״ס מהאריז״ל, בפירוש מאמר רז״ל: תלמידי חכמים אין להם מנוחה כו׳

As is written in Likkutei HaShas by R. Isaac Luria, of blessed memory, in explanation of the teaching of our Sages, of blessed memory,4 "Torah scholars have no rest [in this world nor in the next],"

שעולים תמיד ממדרגה למדרגה בהשגת התורה, שאין לה סוף כו׳

because they are constantly rising from level to level in [their] grasp of the Torah, which has no end... —

עד אחר התחיה, שיהיה להם מנוחה כו׳

until after the Resurrection, when they will have rest..., for that time will be5 "a day which is entirely Shabbat, and rest."

At that time there will be revealed a radiance from G‑d's Essence that utterly transcends levels; elevation from level to level will thus be not only impossible but also unnecessary. At that time mortal souls will finally find repose, as they delight in the radiance of G‑d's Essence.

1. Parentheses are in the original text.
2. From a piyyut (Machzor for Rosh HaShanah, p. 98; Machzor for Yom Kippur, p. 118).
3. Tehillim 119:96.
4. Conclusion of Tractate Berachot.
5. Conclusion of Tractate Tamid.

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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