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Tanya for Wednesday, 11 Elul, 5779 - September 11, 2019

As Divided for a Leap Year

Tanya for 11 Elul

10 Elul, 5779 - September 10, 201912 Elul, 5779 - September 12, 2019

Epistle Thirteen

"How abundant is Your goodness which You have hidden away for those who fear You, [which You have wrought for those who trust in You before man]." [1]

[Now the first part of the verse states that the reward is "hidden away," while its conclusion implies that it is revealed to the sight of man.

The Alter Rebbe will now explain that corresponding to these two forms of reward, the Jew's spiritual service (that leads to the reward) likewise assumes two forms: there is both a concealed and a revealed form of divine service.]

Among those who serve G-d [by fulfilling the Torah and its mitzvot,] there are two distinct kinds and levels, depending on the root of their souls above, in the categories of the "right" [Chesed] and the "left" [Gevurah].

[In terms of the effect of the soul's root,] this means that the "left" is characterized by contraction and concealment in one's divine service.

Thus, [with regard to this manner of service,] it is written, [2] "...and to walk covertly [with the L-rd your G-d]"; [and in another verse we find], [3] "in secret places weeps [my soul]..."; [and, in the words of our Sages], [4] "Whoever engages in the study of the Torah in secret...."

[The three above-mentioned quotations refer to the three general modes of divine service: With regard to mitzvot - "to walk covertly"; regarding prayer - "my soul weeps"; and with regard to Torah - "engages in the study of the Torah in secret."

All the above approaches to divine service result from one of the traits that characterizes Gevurah, viz., concealment. The Alter Rebbe now goes on to speak of the other dominant trait that characterizes the attribute of Gevurah, viz., contraction.]

From this attribute derives also the element of contraction and limitation in the service of G-d; for example, having one's disbursements to charity adjudged according to one 's means, [5] and [setting one's limits in the spirit of the teaching], [6] "He who gives lavishly, should not expend more than one fifth."

Likewise, as regards the study of Torah and the other commandments, such a person is satisfied if he discharges his definite duty which the Torah explicitly obligates him to do, such as to set aside certain times [for Torah study].

[Thus, the soul's root in the Supernal "left", in the attribute of Gevurah, will lead one to act in a manner consistent with its character trait of limitation: so that he will give only as much tzedakah, study only as much Torah, and perform the mitzvot only to the degree that he is obligated.]

From it derives also the teaching of our Sages, of blessed memory, [7] "Cast awe upon the pupils...." [8] By contrast, the characteristic of the "right" is the attribute of Chesed and expansiveness - serving G-d with amplitude, without any contraction or concealment whatever, as it is written, [9] "And I will walk about expansively...," and without any contraction or limitation whatever. [I.e., with such an individual, not only the approach to divine service but also its execution is characterized by a broad sweep.]

There is no restraint to the spirit of his generosity, whether it be with respect to charity, the study of Torah, or other commandments. He is not satisfied with merely discharging his obligation, but [continues] [10] "to the extent of never [saying] `Enough!'..."

[These, then, are the two types of divine service that result from the soul's being rooted either in the "right" or the "left".]

Now, every Jew needs to comprise both these traits: a Jew whose soul derives from Chesed [must also incorporate the thrust of Gevurah, and vice versa,] for [11] "There is no thing that has not its place."

[Both Chesed and Gevurah are essential to one's service; at times he must use one attribute, at times - the other.]

Thus we find various matters that exemplify the leniencies of Beit Shammai and the stringencies of Beit Hillel. [12] This comes to teach us that even Beit Shammai, whose soul was rooted in the Supernal "left", [13] (which is why they always decided stringently as regards all the prohibitions of the Torah, [For stringencies stem from Gevurah, inasmuch as they prevent an object from being used and thereby elevated.] whereas Beit Hillel, who derived from the Supernal "right", would find arguments for leniency in order to render permissible the things prohibited by Beit Sham-mai, so that these should become released from their prohibitive bonds and be able to ascend), -

[The word Asur means "bound" (i.e., to the sitra achra) and hence "prohibited". Its opposite Mutar means "released" and hence "permitted". Declaring an object permissible thus unfetters it from the bonds of the sitra achra, thereby allowing it to ascend, as explained in Tanya, Part I, ch. 7.] nevertheless, in numerous matters, [even] Beit Sham-mai were lenient.

[This is so] because of the inclusiveness of their soul's root, which is compounded of the "right" (Chesed) as well. And, likewise, the root of Beit Hillel's soul was also compounded of the "left" (Gevurah).

For, as is known of the mode and the attributes [14] [i.e., the manner] of Supernal Holiness, "there is no cleavage or division there," [15] heaven forfend; rather, all the traits that derive from Supernal Holiness incorporate each other [- Chesed incorporates an aspect of Gevurah; Gevurah of Chesed; and so on.]

They are therefore in union with each other, as is known to those who study the Kabbalah [lit., "the scholars of the Hidden Wisdom". [Although Chesed and Gevurah are opposites, nonetheless, since they are also compounded of each other, they are able to work together.]

Thus it is written of Abraham, [16] who personifies the attribute of Chesed and love, "Now I know that you stand in awe of G-d," - for he had garbed himself in the attribute of Gevurah, [which was not of his essence, [17] "And bound Isaac his son...and took the knife [to slaughter his son]." [We thus see that Abraham, who is the very embodiment of Chesed, was able to respond as the occasion demanded with even this expression of severity, the very epitome of the attribute of Gevurah.]

As for Scripture characterizing him as [18] "Abraham who loved Me," and [in another verse characterizing Isaac as] [19] "the Dread of Isaac," [thereby indicating that Abraham's service was an expression of Chesed and Isaac's service an expression of Gevurah, which would seem to contradict the earlier statement that Abraham also revealed the attribute of Gevurah,] this difference and distinction exists [only] on the scale of manifestation and concealment.

In Isaac's mode of divine service, the fear is manifest, while the love is hidden, in a state of concealment and hiding. The opposite is the case with the trait of our father Abraham, peace be to him [- Chesed was manifest and Gevurah was concealed].

And this is the meaning of what was said by King David, peace be to him, [who was [20] of the attribute of Gevurah,] "How abundant is Your goodness [which You have hidden away for those who fear You]." That is to say that the attribute of goodness and Chesed, which is in a state of concealment and hiding within those whose soul-root derives from the "left", [i.e., from Gevurah,] and who are referred to as "those who fear You," resembling the [above-mentioned] trait of Beit Sham-mai, - though this is a concealed and hidden goodness, beneath a dominant surface of Gevurah, it is nevertheless truly as abundant and immense as the attribute of Gedulah [21] and Chesed, which is of the "right".

[Although the element of Chesed within those described as "those that fear You" is concealed, for their soul-root derives essentially from Gevurah, it is latent within them just as abundantly as it is found within those who are essentially of the "right".]

Moreover, both [degrees of Chesed] - [that which is dominant in the souls deriving from the "right" as well as that incorporated in the souls deriving from the "left"] - are manifest without limit, measure or dimension.

And this is the meaning of the phrase, "How abundant is Your goodness"; i.e., [it applies in both cases] without limit and measure; whether it be the goodness "which You have hidden away for those who fear You," or that which "You have wrought for those who trust in You," referring to the trusting ones who derive from the "right", [A person trusts his beloved friend to act in his best interests. In the same way, those whose souls stem from the "right" and who serve G-d with Chesed and love, place their trust in Him.] and whose kindness and goodness are also in a state of manifestation and expansiveness before [the sight of] man, and by no means in a state of contraction and concealment.

[We can now understand why the verse begins by saying "hidden away for those who fear You" and concludes with the manifest state of "before man":

The verse is alluding to two forms of Chesed - in its concealed state, as possessed by "those who fear You," and in its revealed state, as possessed by "those who trust in You."]

( [22] The reason the verse says "FOR those who fear You," [which would seem to imply that the Chesed from above is granted to them as a reward,] rather than "IN those who fear You," is, that whatever is in a state of concealment within any soul is not vested within the body - in the individual's mind and heart, [for they are incapable of receiving it.]

Rather, it encompasses [the individual] from above, so to speak, and thence it radiates to his mind and heart at those times which require an arousal of the attribute in question, so that it will be aroused and will illumine his mind and heart in order to result in actual deeds.)

[For example, a person whose charitable contributions are customarily limited will have revealed to him the concealed and infinite attribute of Chesed, which will prompt him to give tzedakah unstintingly.]

[King David] therefore said that whereas the "abundance of goodness" of the House of Israel, [both] that which is hidden and that which is manifest, is (so to speak) without limit and measure (relative to the category of their soul vested in the body), [The kindness of a finite creature is by definition limited. However, it may be termed infinite in relation to the soul vested in the body.] therefore "You, too, O G-d, relate to them with the attribute of Your unlimited and infinitely great Chesed, [which is of the level known as Gedulah, and] which is called rav Chesed" - [the Chesed of Arich Anpin that utterly transcends the lesser Chesed of Z-eir Anpin, from which the worlds evolve by means of the Seder Hishtalshelut.]

"For there is Chesed and [then] there is [a far higher form of] Chesed" [23] There is Chesed olam [lit., "Chesed of the world" - i.e.,] a worldlike [and hence finite] Chesed, that has an opposite counterpart - the attribute of din, [of severe justice,] heaven forfend, which would diminish and contract [G-d's] goodness.

The superior form of Chesed, however, which is called rav Chesed, does not have the attribute of din opposed to it, to diminish and contract the abundance of [G-d's] benevolence from extending without limit or end.

For it derives from the level of [Divinity called] Sovev Kol Almin, [which transcends (lit., "encompasses") all worlds and limitations,] and from [the level of Divinity called] Temira DeChol Temirin [lit., "that which is hidden [even] from all the hidden [worlds]," which is called Keter Elyon [lit., "the Supernal Crown"), i.e., the utterly transcendent level of Divinity known as Keter.]

This, then, is the meaning of the verse [which follows our opening quotation, and which continues to speak of "those who fear You" and "those who trust in You":] "Hide them in the concealment of Your innermost dimension..." [for, as explained above, Panim denotes both "countenance" and "inwardness";] "conceal them in a sukkah..." [i.e., in the sublime level of Chesed which, deriving from the above-mentioned level of Keter, transcends the Seder Hishtalshelut, and will encompass them like a sukkah.]

Supplement by the Rebbe Shlita

The thrust of the above letter, which was delivered by an emissary who was to collect contributions for charity, is that even those who serve G-d by means of their soul-root in the "left", - even if, like Beit Shammai, they are totally righteous individuals (who need not give tzedakah [for the sake of atonement]; cf. "for we are not complete," as explained above in Iggeret HaKodesh, Epistle 10), - nevertheless, they too possess "an abundant and immense" degree of Chesed. "At those times which require it," moreover, "it results in actual deeds."

This is explicit in the concluding passage of the letter which was not printed "by the rabbis, long may they live, sons of the illustrious author of blessed memory, whose soul is in Eden," and which reads as follows: [24]]

And after the above words, from the depths of my soul I seek to arouse the [infinite] abundance of benevolence that is concealed in the heart of every individual in the chassidic brotherhood, [25] [so that it be manifested] from concealment to revelation and be translated into action, and so that you will all "fill your hands unto G-d" by giving charity with a full and open hand through the trusted bearer of this message - and what is written [above] in the letter should suffice for the discerning.

I am not spelling it out, for this is not necessary; the above will suffice. These are the words of one who loves you with all his soul, and who seeks your welfare with heartfelt and soulful longing.

[At this point the Alter Rebbe signs:]

Shneur Zalman, the son of my master, my father, our mentor and Rebbe, Rabbi Baruch

[The Rebbe Shlita adds: "The above passage [which makes it clear that the foregoing teachings were intended to find practical expression in the giving of tzedakah] enables us to understand the relevance here of the first part of this letter, which otherwise should seemingly have begun with Vehine Kol Ish Yisrael - `Now every Jew needs to comprise...."'



  1. (Back to text) Tehillim 31:20.

  2. (Back to text) Michah 6:8.

  3. (Back to text) Yirmeyahu 13:17.

  4. (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita: "See Moed Katan 16b Mibefnim etc. B'seser.

  5. (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita: "Tur and Shulchan Aruch, beginning of Hilchot Tzedakah."

  6. (Back to text) Ketubbot 50a.

  7. (Back to text) Ibid. 103b.

  8. (Back to text) In the standard Hebrew text, this last sentence appears after the following one (i.e., after Berchava...- "expansively"). A parenthetical comment there notes the consequent anomaly, and suggests that the sentence might in fact belong here, as in the present edition.

  9. (Back to text) Tehillim 119:45.

  10. (Back to text) Malachi 3:10.

  11. (Back to text) Avot 4:3.

  12. (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita: "Eduyot, chs. 4-5."

  13. (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita: "See Zohar III, 245a."

  14. (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita in He-arot VeTikkunim: "This expression requires some explanation."

  15. (Back to text) Zohar III, 70a.

  16. (Back to text) Bereishit 22:12.

  17. (Back to text) Ibid., verses 9, 10.

  18. (Back to text) Yeshayahu 41:8.

  19. (Back to text) Bereishit 31:42.

  20. (Back to text) Zohar III, 204a.

  21. (Back to text) This term denotes the Divine attribute of Chesed; see Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah, ch. 4.

  22. (Back to text) Parentheses are in the original text.

  23. (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita: "Zohar III, 133b."

  24. (Back to text) See Igrot Kodesh (Letters) of the Alter Rebbe (Kehot, N.Y., 5740), p. 47ff.

  25. (Back to text) In the Hebrew original, this phrase is abbreviated as Anash.

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