LESSONS IN TANYA: Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tishrei 3, 5773 · September 19, 2012
Today's Tanya Lesson
Iggeret HaKodesh, end of Epistle 19

Part (ii)

The Epistle that follows, beginning "The Letters that are Revealed," is one of the Epistles that was appended to the edition of Tanya published in Vilna in the year 5660 (1900), these additions being noted by R. Asher of Nikolayev in his introductory declaration there.1

This relevance of this Epistle to the previous one may be found in the following parallel: The previous Epistle explains how only the Netzach-Hod-Yesod-Malchut (i.e., the lower Sefirot) of the Emanator extend to the recipient. The conclusion of the present Epistle likewise explains2 that only the hindmost aspect and externality of the Netzach-Hod-Yesod of the higher realm enter the lower one.

האותיות הנגלות לנו, הן במעשה, דיבור ומחשבה

The letters3 that are revealed to us exist in action, speech, and thought.

דמעשה, הן תמונות האותיות שבכתב אשורי שבספר תורה

Pertaining to the plane of action are the visual forms4 of the letters in the Assyrian script of the Torah scroll.5

The very validity of the scroll depends on the scrupulous observance of the numerous detailed laws governing the writing of these twenty-two letters. As is explained in the Note to ch. 12 of Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah, each letter reflects the flow of a unique life-force and spiritual energy: its distinct shape suggests the form taken by the flow of light and energy revealed in that letter.

ואותיות הדבור נחקקות בהבל וקול, המתחלק לכ״ב חלקים, שונים זה מזה בצורתן

The letters pertaining to speech are engraved in the breath and voice, which is divided into twenty-two parts, one differing from the other with respect to their form,

שהיא הברת ומבטא הכ״ב אותיות בכל לשון

i.e., the enunciation and utterance of the twenty-two letters in any language.6

כי אין הפרש בין לשון הקודש ובין שאר לשונות במהות הברת האותיות, כי אם בצירופן

For there is no difference between the Holy Tongue and the other languages with respect to the nature of the letters' enunciation, only with respect to their com-binations.7

ואותיות המחשבה הן, גם כן בכל לשון שאדם מחשב, תיבות ואותיות הלשון

The letters of thought are — again, in any language that a person may think in — the words and letters of that language and its letters,

שהן כ״ב לבד

which number twenty-two only.

רק שבמחשבה, יש בה ג׳ מיני בחינות אותיות

Now in thought there are three kinds of letters.

שהרי כשרואה בספר תורה תמונות האותיות, הן מצטיירות במחשבתו

For when one sees the visual forms of the letters in the Torah-scroll they are pictured in his thought.

וזה נקרא בחינת עשיה שבמחשבה

This is called the "action in thought," i.e., the manner in which thought envisions the letters of actual handwritten script. In terms of the spiritual Worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah, "action in thought" relates to the lowest World — Asiyah, the World of Action.

וכן כאשר שומע אותיות הדבור, הן נרשמות במחשבתו, ומהרהר בהן

Likewise, when one hears the letters of speech, they become inscribed in his thought and he meditates upon them.

וזה נקרא בחינת דבור שבמחשבה, ובחינת יצירה

This is called the "speech in thought,"i.e., thinking about the letters of speech, and it relates to Yetzirah.

ואותיות המחשבה לבדה, בלי הרהור אותיות הדבור, נקראות מחשבה שבמחשבה, בחינת בריאה

The letters of thought alone, without any meditation on the letters of speech, are called the "thought in thought," and relate to Beriah.

In general terms, thought, speech and action correspond to Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah, respectively. More particularly, "action in thought" corresponds to "Asiyah within Beriah," "speech in thought" to "Yetzirah within Beriah," and "thought in thought" to "Beriah within Beriah."

והנה אותיות הדבור ממש, הן מתהוות ומקבלות חיותן מאותיות אלו עצמן שבמחשבה

Now, the letters of actual speech come into being and receive their life-force from those very same letters that are in thought.

ואף שלפעמים מדבר אדם, ומהרהר בדבר אחר

Though sometimes a person may speak [of one thing] while thinking of another,

This would tend to indicate that the letters of speech do not receive their life-force from the letters of thought.

הרי אינו יכול לדבר כי אם אותן דבורים וצירופים שכבר דברם, והיו במחשבתו פעמים רבות מאד

in such an instance he can speak only such words and combinations that he has already spoken previously and that were in his thought a great many times.

ונשאר בדבורים וצירופים אלו הרשימו מהמחשבה, שנכנסה בהם פעמים רבות

Thus in those words and combinations there remains the vestige of the thought that entered into them many times, and this serves as the life-force of the letters of his speech.

וזהו בחינת אחוריים וחיצוניות נה״י מפרצוף העליון שנכנס בתחתון, להיות לו בחינת מוחין וחיות כנודע

And this, in terms of the Sefirot, is the hindmost aspect and the externality of the Netzach-Hod-Yesod of the Visage of the higher realm that enters into the lower one, serving it as the intellective faculty of mochin (lit., "brains") and life-force, as is known.

1. Note of the Rebbe: "It will have been noted that the Alter Rebbe himself added letters to Iggeret HaKodesh (Sefer HaMaamarim 5708, p. 170, et al.)."
2. Note of the Rebbe: "For example: In keeping with the teaching that 'from my flesh do I behold G‑dliness,' [the above levels are here discussed] as found within man — in thought, speech and action."
3. Note of the Rebbe: "In all that follows, cf. Imrei Binah, Shaar HaKriyat Shema, sec. 32; the slight differences in the mode of explanation may be resolved without great difficulty."
4. Heb. text emended above according to the Glosses and Emendations of the Rebbe.
5. Cf. Sanhedrin 21b.
6. Note of the Rebbe: "In this respect, 'letters of speech' and 'letters of thought' are superior (to 'letters of action,' whose visual forms vanish [when depicted in another language], as they are superseded by its differing visual forms)."
7. Note of the Rebbe: "What possible connection between the combinations and the enunciations [of the letters] prompted [the Alter Rebbe] to negate it? Possibly he is here anticipating the assumption that since [the letters of other languages] are not holy, they must perforce be on a lower level than those of the Holy Tongue (and surely — different). Hence he explains that the [difference between the letters of the Holy Tongue and those of other languages lies only] in their combinations."

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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