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Judaism: Weekly Tanya Lesson: Chap. 4, Lecture 5

Tanya is a way to enhance your spiritual life.
Published: Tuesday, April 29, 2014 10:28 AM


http://tanyaonline.com/?p=159

ומאחר שהתורה ומצותיה מלבישים כל עשר בחינות הנפש וכל תרי״ג אבריה מראשה ועד רגלה

Now, since Torah and its commandments clothe all ten faculties of the soul, and all of the soul’s 613 “organs”, from head to foot, i.e, from its highest level — its “head” — to its lowest level,

הרי כולה צרורה בצרור החיים את הוי׳ ממש, ואור הוי׳ ממש מקיפה ומלבישה מראשה ועד רגלה

it the soul is truly completely bound up with G-d in the12 “bond of life,” and the very light of G-d envelops and clothes it from head to foot.

כמו שכתוב: צורי אחסה בו, וכתיב: כצנה רצון תעטרנו

So it is written:13 “G-d is my Rock, in whom I take refuge” (and naturally, only that which surrounds a person can protect him); and it is further written,14 “As with a shield G-d’s Will surrounds him,”

שהוא רצונו וחכמתו יתברך, המלובשים בתורתו ומצותיה

meaning His Will and wisdom that are clothed in Torah and its commandments.

We see, at any rate, that although G-d’s wisdom and Will are beyond man’s reach, they are made accessible to him because the Torah is clothed in physical terms, and its commandments are vested in physical objects.

ולכן אמרו: יפה שעה אחת בתשובה ומעשים טובים בעולם הזה מכל חיי עולם הבא

For this reason, it has been said:15 “One hour of repentance and good deeds in this world is better than the whole life of the World to Come.”

כי עולם הבא הוא שנהנין מזיו השכינה, שהוא תענוג ההשגה

For the reward in the World to Come consists of enjoying the radiance of the Divine Presence;16 it is the pleasure derived from comprehension of G-dliness.

ואי אפשר לשום נברא, אפילו מהעליונים, להשיג כי אם איזו הארה מאור הוי׳

Now no created being, even a spiritual being of the higher realms such as angels or souls, can comprehend any more than a glimmer of the Divine light,

ולכן נקרא בשם זיו השכינה

for which reason the reward of the souls in the World to Come is referred to as “theradiance of the Divine Presence,” since it is no more than a remote gleam of the Divine light.

אבל הקדוש ברוך הוא בכבודו ובעצמו לית מחשבה תפיסא ביה כלל

But as for the essence and glory of the Holy One, blessed be He, no thought can apprehend Him at all.

כי אם כאשר תפיסא ומתלבשת בתורה ומצותיה, אזי היא תפיסא ומתלבשת בהקדוש ברוך הוא ממש

Only when it apprehends and clothes itself in Torah and its mitzvot does it grasp and clothe itself in G-d Himself,

דאורייתא וקודשא בריך הוא כולא חד

for “Torah and the Holy One, blessed be He, are one and the same.”

Hence the superiority of Torah and mitzvot in this world over the life of the World to Come. In the World to Come the soul grasps only a glimmer of G-dliness; in this world, through Torah and mitzvot, it is united with G-d Himself.

ואף שהתורה נתלבשה בדברים תחתונים גשמיים

For, although the Torah has been clothed in lowly material things, and it is only these material things that man’s intellect grasps when studying Torah, not the essence of G-d’s Will and wisdom, yet —

הרי זה כמחבק את המלך, דרך משל

it is, by way of illustration, like one who embraces a king.

שאין הפרש במעלת התקרבותו ודביקותו במלך, בין מחבקו כשהוא לבוש לבוש אחד, בין שהוא לבוש כמה לבושים

There is no difference in the degree of his closeness and attachment to the king whether he embraces him when the king is wearing one robe or many robes,

מאחר שגוף המלך בתוכם

since the king’s body is in them.

Similarly, when a Jew “embraces” G-d’s wisdom in Torah study, the fact that His wisdom is clothed in material “robes” is irrelevant.

Another point understood from this analogy: in the study of Torah, man is also “embraced”, enveloped and encompassed by, G-d’s wisdom that the Torah contains (as will be explained further in ch. 5) — as the Alter Rebbe continues:

וכן אם המלך מחבקו בזרועו גם שהיא מלובשת תוך מלבושיו

Similarly, when the king embraces one with his arm, though it be dressed in his robes.

To illustrate that Torah is analogous to a royal embrace, the Alter Rebbe quotes:

כמו שכתוב: וימינו תחבקני

As it is written,17 “His (G-d’s) right hand embraces me,”

שהיא התורה, שנתנה מימין

which refers to Torah, called “the right hand” because Torah was given by G-d’s18“right hand,”

שהיא בחינת חסד ומים

for [Torah] is related to the attribute of Chesed (“kindness”), and “water”.

As explained in the Kabbalah, the right hand represents both Chesed and water (and, as said earlier, Torah is compared to water), and the left hand represents Gevurah (“severity”) and fire. When the verse states that G-d’s right hand “embraces me,” the intention is that G-d “embraces” and envelops the soul through Torah — G-d’s “right hand.”

Thus, the bond that Torah study creates between the soul and G-d is two-fold: The soul “embraces” G-d and is “embraced” by G-d. In this, Torah study is superior to other mitzvot, as discussed in the following chapter.

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FOOTNOTES

13Tehillim 18:3.

14 Ibid. 5:13.

15 Avot 4:17.

16 Berachot 17a.

17 Shir HaShirim 8:3.

18 Devarim 33:2.