ChaBaD Daily Tanya Iggeret HaKodesh, middle of Epistle 25 Friday, 26 Tishrei 5779 / October 5, 2018

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Iggeret HaKodesh, middle of Epistle 25

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Iggeret HaKodesh, middle of Epistle 25

וכנודע מה שאמר הבעל שם טוב ז״ל על פסוק: לעולם, ה׳, דברך נצב בשמים

The teaching of the Baal Shem Tov, of blessed memory, on the verse,1 “Forever, O G‑d, Your word stands firm in the heavens,” is well known:

As mentioned above in Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah, ch. 1, the Baal Shem Tov expanded and disseminated the following concept that appears in Midrash Tehillim:

שצירוף אותיות שנבראו בהן השמים, שהוא מאמר יהי רקיע כו׳

The combinations of the letters with which the heavens were created, i.e., the creative utterance,2“Let there be a firmament…,”

הן נצבות ועומדות מלובשות בשמים לעולם, להחיותם ולקיימם

stand and remain vested in the heavens forever, to animate and sustain them.

As the Alter Rebbe explained in greater detail in Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah, chs. 1 and 2, this is also the case with regard to all created beings.

ולא כהפלוסופים שכופרים בהשגחה פרטית

This differs from the view of the philosophers who deny the individual Providence of the Creator over each and every one of His creations.

ומדמין בדמיונם הכוזב את מעשה ה׳, עושה שמים וארץ, למעשה אנוש ותחבולותיו

Using their false analogy, they liken the work of G‑d, the Maker of heaven and earth, to the work of man and his devices.

כי כאשר יצא לצורף כלי, שוב אין הכלי צריך לידי הצורף

For when a metal-smith has completed a vessel, [it] no longer needs the hands of the smith;

שאף שידיו מסולקות הימנו, הוא קיים מעצמו

though his hands are removed from it, it remains intact by itself.

Some philosophers apply this model to the creation of heaven and earth, and imagine that once G‑d created them they need Him no more, G‑d forbid. These thinkers thus deny hashgachah pratit, individually-directed Divine Providence — the Creator’s constant and ongoing contact with His created beings.

וטח מראות עיניהם ההבדל הגדול שבין מעשה אנוש ותחבולותיו

But their eyes are bedaubed so that they cannot see the great difference between man’s work and schemes,

שהוא יש מיש

which is [the production of] something out of something (yesh miyesh),

רק שמשנה הצורה והתמונה

where he merely changes the form and the appearance,

The shapeless piece of silver that a craftsman transforms into a vessel (a) already existed, and (b) was innately malleable. The craftsman has thus innovated nothing, and the vessel once shaped will therefore not be dependent on him.

The philosophers, however, do not see the difference between this,

למעשה שמים וארץ, שהוא יש מאין

and the creation of heaven and earth, which is creatio ex nihilo (yesh me’ayin), creating something out of nothing.

As the Alter Rebbe will soon point out, something brought into existence out of nothing cannot continue to exist unless the power that creates it remains constantly vested within it.

והוא פלא גדול יותר מקריעת ים סוף, על דרך משל

This — the creation of heaven and earth ex nihilo — is an [even] greater wonder than, for example, the splitting of the Red Sea,

אשר הוליך ה׳ ברוח קדים עזה כל הלילה, ויבקעו המים

which G‑d drove back3 “by a strong east wind all that night,… and the waters were divided,” and stood upright like a wall.

ואילו פסק הרוח כרגע, היו המים חוזרים וניגרים במורד, כדרכם וטבעם, ולא קמו כחומה

If the wind had ceased even for a moment, the waters would again have flowed downward, as is their way and nature, and they would not have stood upright like a wall,

In the corresponding passage in Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah, the Alter Rebbe adds the words “without a doubt.”

אף שטבע זה במים, הוא גם כן נברא ומחודש יש מאין

even though this characteristic of water — to flow downward — is also created and innovated ex nihilo.

As the Rebbe explains, not only the water itself, but also its characteristic of fluidity, was created ex nihilo.

Thus, when the wind caused the water to stand like a stone wall, this fluid nature had only to be replaced by the capability of a solid, so that it could stand erect. Nevertheless, since this quality is uncharacteristic of water, this innovation had to be constantly and continuously brought about by the power that first made it possible. (Indeed, were the wind to cease, the water would have reverted to its former self.) Thus, even when a yesh is merely changed into another yesh, the activating force must be constantly present.

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to show how the property of fluidity is not intrinsic to water, but must be created within it.

Certain characteristics do not need to be created separately from a particular being, for they are intrinsic to all created beings; for example, all created beings occupy space. Water, however, need not necessarily flow. Other created beings exist quite happily without this property, and when water exists as a solid (as ice) it too possesses the quality of rigidity. The quality of fluidity is thus not intrinsic to water.

This is what the Alter Rebbe now goes on to say:

שהרי חומת אבנים נצבת מעצמה, בלי רוח, רק שטבע המים אינו כן

For a wall of stone stands erect by itself, without [the assistance of] any wind, but the nature of water is not so.

As stated above, the property of fluidity was something that G‑d created within the already existing entity of water. Though the wind had only to change one yesh to another, replacing the property of fluidity by the property of solidity, this is still considered a wondrous event. And in order for this to have been accomplished, the activating force — in this case, the wind — had to be working constantly.

How much more will this be the case, the Alter Rebbe will soon conclude, with regard to creating a yesh out of utter nothingness. And indeed, the Divine Source responsible for the innovation of the entire universe out of nothing, must be consistently vested within it, in order to enable it to endure and not revert to nothingness. Such a corollary should have been imperative even according to the philosophers. They thus err on two grounds — in their above-mentioned reliance on a misleading analogy, and in their failure to realize that the activating force must constantly be invested within the created being.

Thus, to resume the above argument, if for the miraculous splitting of the Red Sea that only involved the changing of one yesh to another, the continuous action of G‑d was necessary, —

וכל שכן וקל וחומר בבריאת יש מאין, שהוא למעלה מן הטבע, והפלא ופלא יותר מקריעת ים סוף

How much more so, with respect to the creation of an existent being out of nothing, for this transcends nature, and is far more wondrous than the splitting of the Red Sea;

על אחת כמה וכמה שבהסתלקות חס ושלום כח הבורא יש מאין מן הנברא, ישוב הנברא לאין ואפס ממש

surely if the creative power that creates an existent being out of nothing were (heaven forfend) to be withdrawn from a created being, that being would revert to utter naught and non-existence.

אלא צריך להיות כח הפועל בנפעל תמיד, להחיותו ולקיימו

Rather,4 the activating force of the Creator, which initially brings every created being into existence, must continuously be present within the thing created, to give it life and continued existence.

ובחינה זו היא דבר ה׳ ורוח פיו שבעשרה מאמרות, שבהן נברא העולם

This5 [force] is the “word of G‑d” and the “breath of His mouth,” that are to be found in the Ten Utterances by which the universe was created.

The Ten Utterances are the source of the “letters of speech” by means of which all of creation is brought into existence. Moreover, as explained in the first chapter of Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah, even those created beings which are not specifically mentioned in the Ten Utterances, likewise derive their vitality from the Ten Utterances by means of various combinations, substitutions and transpositions of these letters. Read more…….

ChaBaD Daily Tanya Iggeret HaKodesh, beginning of Epistle 25 Thursday, 25 Tishrei 5779 / October 4, 2018

Daily Tanya

Iggeret HaKodesh, beginning of Epistle 25

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Iggeret HaKodesh, beginning of Epistle 25

This letter comments on a discourse (in Tzavaat HaRivash, sec. 120 in the Kehot editions) in which the Baal Shem Tov explains that though all things emanate from G‑d through His attributes of love and awe, these attributes can find themselves in a state of exile.

The Baal Shem Tov goes on to say that in the same way, a worshiper who finds that his endeavors to concentrate are being disturbed by someone speaking should consider: “Why did G‑d bring me here, where this talker is disturbing my prayers? After all, everything is Providential.”

Indeed it is, explains the Baal Shem Tov: this man’s talk is a spark of the radiance of the Shechinah that has descended and now “abides” in his mouth, in order that the worshiper should exert himself so strenuously that he will be able to ignore the disturbance. (The verb used in the above-quoted version of the teaching is “abides” — שרתה; as the Alter Rebbe will soon explain, the proper term is “vested” — נתלבשה.)

Especially so, the text there goes on to say, if the person speaking is a heathen or a child, then the realization that the Shechinah has (as it were) contracted itself to such a degree should surely bring the worshiper to ever-increasing fervor.

It would seem that the opponents of Chassidism seized upon this statement of the Baal Shem Tov: they could not understand how one could possibly say that the Shechinah “abided” (or even was “vested”) within a heathen.

The Alter Rebbe explains this in the present letter, beginning with the teaching of the Sages that “Whoever is in a rage resembles an idolater.” A Jew, he explains, must know that everything comes from G‑d. When someone strikes him or angers him with words, he should remind himself that at that very moment, a glimmer of the Divine Presence — which provides life to all creatures and to this individual as well — has vested itself within that person.

The Alter Rebbe goes on to prove this from King David’s response when Shimi ben Geira cursed him. King David said: “For G‑d told him, ‘Curse!’” Although we do not find it explicitly stated that G‑d told Shimi to curse David, still, since G‑d’s spirit animated Shimi at the moment that he cursed David, thus providing him with the strength to do so, David considered this as if “G‑d told him to curse.” Indeed, as the Alter Rebbe goes on to explain, a glimmer or irradiation of the Shechinah vests itself even in kelipot.

Throughout this discussion the Alter Rebbe does not actually quote the Baal Shem Tov’s teaching nor the above objection to it. The reason for the latter omission may perhaps be understood in light of the fact that the Alter Rebbe was prepared for mesirut nefesh, literally risking his life, not to be sundered from any teaching or even the slightest gesture of the Baal Shem Tov, even if it would only appear to be so in the eyes of the beholder.1

It is thus reasonable to assume that here as well, the Alter Rebbe chose not to even mention an objection raised against a teaching of the Baal Shem Tov; he merely clarifies the concepts involved, and the objection falls away as a matter of course.

להבין אמרי בינה

“To comprehend the words of understanding,” i.e., the words of Torah,2

מה שכתוב בספר הנקרא צוואת ריב״ש

stated in the book called Tzavaat Rivash(“The Testament of the Baal Shem Tov),”

הגם שבאמת אינה צוואתו כלל, ולא ציוה כלל לפני פטירתו

though in fact it is not at all4 his will or testament, and he did not ordain anything before his passing;

רק הם לקוטי אמרותיו הטהורות

they (i.e., the teachings in this book) are merely gleanings of his pure sayings

The adjective (“pure”) recalls the phrase in the morning blessings, טהורה היא, that describes the pristine purity of a soul before it descends from the World of Atzilut; likewise the verse,5 כעצם השמים לטוהר (“as pure as the very heavens”).

שלקטו לקוטי בתר לקוטי

that were gathered as6 “compilations after compilations,”

ולא ידעו לכוין הלשון על מתכונתו

and [the compilers] did not know how to phrase his teachings exactly. Read more…….

ChaBaD Today in Judaism Today is Thursday, Tishrei 25, 5779 · October 4, 2018

Today is Thursday, Tishrei 25, 5779 · October 4, 2018

Today in Jewish History

• Passing of R. Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev (1809)

Passing of the great Chassidic leader and advocate for the Jewish people, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev (1740-1810). Rabbi Levi Yitzchak was a close disciple of the second leader of the Chassidic movement, Rabbi DovBer, the Maggid of Mezritch. He is best known for his love for every Jew and his impassioned words of advocacy on their behalf before the Almighty.

Link: Kol Nidrei; more on R. Levi Yitzchak

• Passing of Chatam Sofer (1839)

Tishrei 25th is the yahrtzeit of Rabbi Moshe Sofer of Pressburg (1762-1839), known as “Chatam Sofer” after his work of Rabbinic responsa. Rabbi Moshe was an outstanding Halachic authority and community leader, and was at the forefront of the battle to preserve the integrity of traditional Judaism in the face of the various “reformist” movements of his time.

Daily Quote

And He told the moon to renew herself, as a crown of beauty to those He carries from the womb, for they are likewise to be renewed and to glorify their Creator for the name of the glory of His kingdom

— From the Kiddush Levanah prayer, the monthly “Sanctification of the Moon”

Daily Torah Study

Chumash: Bereishit, 5th Portion Genesis 4:19-4:22 with Rashi
• English / Hebrew Linear Translation
• Video Class
• Daily Wisdom (short insight)

Tehillim: Chapter 119, Verses 1-96
• Hebrew text
• English text

Tanya: Iggeret HaKodesh, beginning of Epistle 25
• English Text (Lessons in Tanya)
• Hebrew Text
• Audio Class: Listen | Download
• Video Class

Rambam:
• Sefer Hamitzvot:

• 1 Chapter A Day: Matnot Aniyim Matnot Aniyim – Chapter 8

• 3 Chapters A Day: Berachot Berachot – Chapter Ten, Berachot Berachot – Chapter Eleven, Milah Milah – Chapter One

Hayom Yom:
• English Text | Video Class

Source: ChaBaD org.

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