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Tanya for Monday, 22 Adar II, 5784 - April 1, 2024

As Divided for a Leap Year

Tanya for 22 Adar II

21 Adar II, 5784 - March 31, 202423 Adar II, 5784 - April 2, 2024

From the beginning of chapter 35 until here, the Alter Rebbe has expounded the phrase `to do it,' - the conclusion of the verse, "For the matter (of observing Torah and mitzvot) is very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart that you may do it."

He explained that the mitzvot of action (and of speech, which is also deemed "action") are of paramount importance, since it is through them that we achieve the goal of transforming this physical world into a "dwelling place for G-d in the lower realms," i.e., a place where G-dliness will be revealed to an even greater degree than it is in the higher, spiritual worlds.

This goal will be realized when the energy of the vital soul and the body of every Jew will ascend from kelipat nogah to holiness.

Thereby all of kelipat nogah, - meaning the vitality of the entire world, - will ascend to holiness, and automatically the three impure kelipot will cease to exist.

Thus, there will be no obstruction of G-dliness in the world; G-dliness will radiate throughout; the world will be G-d's "dwelling place."

Since the entire process hinges on the elevation of a Jew's body and his vital soul, and since their elevation is accomplished only by means of the mitzvot of action, which require their power in performance of the mitzvot, therefore the mitzvot of action are, as said, of paramount importance.

In the discussion that now follows, the Alter Rebbe will examine the other side of the coin.

He will explain the importance of kavanah - "devout concentration," or "intention" - in the performance of mitzvot.

As used in this context, kavanah refers to the motivating intention that by performing a mitzvah one is united with G-d, Whose command and Will each mitzvah represents].

Yet nevertheless, it has been said [9] that prayer, or any other blessing, said without kavanah, is like a body without a soul.

This [comparison of the words of prayer to a body, and of kavanah to its soul], means [as follows]:

Just as all the creatures of this world possessing a body and a soul - meaning the Nefesh of every living being, the Ruach of all human flesh, and the Neshamah of all that has the breath of life in its nostrils among all living creatures -

G-d animates them all, and creates them constantly out of nothingness by the light and vitality which He bestows upon them [i.e., upon both the soul and the body; and in support of his contention that the body, too, has a G-dly life-force (aside from the soul), the Alter Rebbe adds parenthetically]:

- for even the material body, and furthermore even the very stones and earth which are absolutely inanimate, [lacking even that sign of life found in plant-life, i.e., growth, - even the totally inanimate being] has within it light and vitality from G-d, so that it should not revert to naught and nothingness, as it was [before it was created.

Further in Tanya, the Alter Rebbe explains that every existing being would instantly revert to absolute nothingness, were it not for the G-dly life-force constantly creating it, and keeping it in existence.

Thus, even the inanimate beings contain a life-force, and so surely, do the bodies of living creatures].

[The Alter Rebbe now concludes the sentence begun earlier:

Just as in all the creatures of this world possessing a body and a soul], there is, nevertheless, [i.e., despite the fact that body and soul are alike in that they both contain a divine life-force, there is nevertheless] no comparison or similarity between the quality of the light and life-force radiating in the body, and the light and life-force radiating in the Neshamah, which is the soul of every living thing.

[It is axiomatic that the physical is incomparable to the spiritual (so much so, that philosophers agree that the evolution of the material from the spiritual is the most radical form of creation ex nihilo).

The body, being physical, is thus incomparable to the soul, which is spiritual.

This difference between them is obviously due to the difference between the respective divine life-forces creating them.

The Alter Rebbe will now explain in what way these life-forces differ.

The difference is surely not one of varying degrees of revelation of the divine life-force - that in the body this life-force is in concealment, while in the soul it stands revealed. In this respect body and soul are alike.

The veil of kelipat nogah, which obscures G-dliness in this physical world as a whole, envelops both body and soul.

Therefore, just as the body does not attest to the fact that it is the product of divine creative power, so does the soul of living creatures belie the fact that its life-giving properties are G-dly.

Thus, the divine life-force is concealed equally in body and soul.

The difference between them lies, rather, in the intensity of G-dly life-force that each contains: in the body the life-force is contracted, so that the body is a physical being; in the soul the life-force is freely bestowed, and the soul is therefore a spiritual, life-giving being.

In the Alter Rebbe's words]:



  1. (Back to text) Shnei Luchot HaBerit, Vol. I, p. 249b.

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