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Tanya for Shabbos, 9 Adar, 5778 - February 24, 2018

Tanya
As Divided for a Regular Year

Tanya for 9 Adar

8 Adar, 5778 - February 23, 201810 Adar, 5778 - February 25, 2018


Chapter Thirty-Two

[In the previous chapter the Alter Rebbe taught that when one is bitterly remorseful over his sorry spiritual state, he must strive for joy by considering the following.

True, on account of his body and his animal soul he is utterly remote from G-dliness. Yet he has within him a divine soul, veritably a part of G-d.

This soul, in exile within the body and the animal soul, is to be greatly pitied. One should therefore strive constantly to release it from this exile and to return it to its divine source, through engaging in the Torah and the mitzvot.

Such a return will bring one great joy, the joy of freedom. The knowledge that the body and the animal soul remain in their unfortunate state should not disturb one's joy on account of his divine soul, for the soul should be infinitely more precious in one's eyes].

Acting on the advice mentioned above - to view one's body with scorn and contempt, and to find joy in the joy of the soul alone - is a direct and easy path toward fulfilling the mitzvah, [1] "You shall love your fellow as yourself," with regard to every Jew both great and small - [in spiritual stature].

Since his body is despised and loathsome [he will not love himself on account of his body more than he loves his fellow; and] as for the soul and spirit, [the differences between his own soul and that of his fellow surely will not diminish the love between them], for who can know their [the soul and spirit's] greatness and excellence in their source and root - the living G-d?

[How, then, can one claim that his soul is superior to his fellow's]?

Furthermore, they are actually all equal; [2] [and not only equal yet separate, but, furthermore], they all have one father - [one source, and within their source they all comprise one entity].

It is on account of this common root in the One G-d that all of Israel are called "brothers" - in the full sense of the word, [and not only figuratively, in the sense of "relatives" or "similar in appearance" and the like; [3] only the bodies are distinct from each other.

[This explains how it is at all possible to demand that one love his fellow as he loves himself.

Self-love is innate, natural to man; love for one's fellow is not. How can a generated love match a natural one?

According to the principle stated here, this is readily understood.

One Jew need not *create* a love for another.

The love is an inborn characteristic of his soul, on account of its root in G-dliness which is common to all souls; it is as natural as the love between brothers].

Therefore, there can be no true love and fraternity between those who regard their bodies as primary and their souls secondary, but only a love based on an external factor.

[Since the body separates us from each other, whereas the soul is that which binds us together, the greater value one places on his body at the expense of his soul, the more conscious he is of the differences between himself and his fellow.

These differences require that he *create* a love for his fellow, and as said above, a created love can *never* equal a natural, innate love.

Therefore, love between people who consider their bodies as primarily important, must be only a love based on some external factor, in which case the love is

  1. limited to the importance of the motivating factor, and

  2. destined to endure only as long as that factor is valid.

Up to now the Alter Rebbe has discussed the mitzvah of loving one's fellow, on its own merits.

He now proceeds to discuss the value of this mitzvah as the basis for *all* the commandments, thereby elucidating yet further the importance of "rejoicing with the joy of the soul alone."

The Talmud relates that it was Hillel the Elder who authored the well-known statement that Ahavat Yisrael (the love of one's fellow Jew) is the basis of the entire Torah.

For Hillel had been approached by a gentile who declared that he wished to convert to Judaism, but only if Hillel would teach him the entire Torah while he stood on one foot. Hillel replied, "What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is but commentary..."

An obvious difficulty presents itself.

All mitzvot fall into either of two categories:

  1. bein adam lachaveiro - "between man and man," and

  2. bein adam laMakom - "between man and G-d."

It is readily understood how all the mitzvot of the former category may be motivated by one's love of his fellow. But how can this love motivate one to fulfill any of the mitzvot belonging to the latter category - to observe the Sabbath, for example?

The Alter Rebbe's answer follows from his previously stated principle that the essence of Ahavat Yisrael lies in giving priority to one's soul rather than to his body.

This indeed is the basis of the entire Torah - as the Alter Rebbe continues]:

This explains Hillel the Elder's statement concerning the fulfillment of this mitzvah: [4] "This is the entire Torah, the rest is but commentary."

For the basis and root purpose of the entire Torah is to elevate and exalt the soul high above the body, to [G-d], the root and source of all worlds, and also to draw down the infinite light of Ein Sof into the Community of Israel - as will be explained further, [5] meaning into the fountainhead of the souls of all Israel, so that "the One [G-d] will reside within [Israel - but only insofar as they are] one," [i.e., united].

But this [indwelling of the light of Ein Sof in the Community of Israel] is impossible if there is disunity between the souls, G-d forbid, for "G-d does not dwell in an imperfect, [fragmented], place."

So do we say in our prayers:[6] "Bless us, our Father, all as one with the light of Your Countenance," [indicating that "the light of G-d's Countenance" can be revealed only when we are united "all as one]," as explained elsewhere at length.

[Since every Jew has a divine soul, and since the commandment to love one's fellow is based on the essential unity of the souls, it follows that this commandment applies to every Jew without exception.

In fact, however, we find the Talmud exhorting us to hate certain fellow Jews. How do we reconcile these apparently contradictory requirements?

The Alter Rebbe proceeds to clarify]:

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) Vayikra 19:18.

  2. (Back to text) Note the discrepancy: In speaking of the souls of Israel in general, the Alter Rebbe first writes, "Who can know `[can distinguish]' their greatness and excellence?", implying that there are in fact differences between one soul and another; here he writes, "They actually are all equal."

    The explanation: As discussed in chapter 2, the original source of all souls is the Sefirah of Chochmah in the World of Atzilut. On this level, all the souls are indeed one entity.

    This is indicated in the words, "They all have one father" - "father" (Abba) being the kabbalisitic term for Chochmah.

    From this source, the souls progress downward through the various Sefirot and Worlds. It is this descent that creates differences between souls; one soul is more strongly affected by the descent, and another less so. The first stage in this descent is the Sefirah of Binah in the World of Atzilut; thus, it is at the level of Binah that the differences between souls first appear.

    This is alluded to in the words, "Who can know their greatness and excellence in their source and root - the living G-d?"; in kabbalistic terminology, "the living G-d" is a reference to the level of Binah in the World of Atzilut.

    Speaking of the souls at this level, the Alter Rebbe therefore says that feeling superior to one's fellow is unjustified, because "who can know their greatness and excellence...?"

    There are indeed differences between souls - but who knows them? When speaking of the souls having "one father," however, he writes that "they are all equal."

  3. (Back to text) From a note by the Rebbe Shlita. (The two alternative meanings of "brothers" appear in the commentary of Rashi on Bereishit 13:8.)

  4. (Back to text) Shabbat 31a.

  5. (Back to text) Ch. 41.

  6. (Back to text) Liturgy, final blessing in the Amidah.



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