Weekly Tanya lecture: Chap. 35, class 5

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והנה ענין השראת השכינה

The “resting” of the Shechinah means i.e., when we single out a specific object from a world filled with the Shechinah, by saying that the Divine Presence “rests” upon that object, its uniqueness lies in

הוא גילוי אלקותו יתברך ואור אין סוף ברוך הוא באיזה דבר

the revelation of G‑dliness and the Ein Sof-light in that particular object.

והיינו לומר, שאותו דבר נכלל באור ה׳, ובטל לו במציאות לגמרי

This means to say that this object is comprised within G‑d’s light and is nullified out of existence toward Him (i.e., it has no separate identity);

שאז הוא ששורה ומתגלה בו ה׳ אחד

for [only] then can the One G‑d rest upon it (upon that object) and reveal Himself in it.

אבל כל מה שלא בטל אליו במציאות לגמרי, אין אור ה׳ שורה ומתגלה בו

But anything not completely nullified out of existence toward [the G‑dly light] cannot have G‑d’s light rest and reveal itself within it.

ואף צדיק גמור שמתדבק בו באהבה רבה, הרי לית מחשבה תפיסא ביה כלל באמת

Even a perfect tzaddik, who cleaves to Him with “abundant love” — a most lofty level of love and attachment to G‑d; yet even in the case of such atzaddik “no thought can truly grasp Him at all.”

כי אמיתת ה׳ אלקים אמת הוא יחודו ואחדותו, שהוא לבדו הוא, ואפס בלעדו ממש

For the true implication of the phrase “G‑d is the true L‑rd,” is His Unity and Oneness, that He alone exists and there is absolutely nothing besides Him.

As explained in ch. 20, the statement “G‑d is one” means (not only that He is the sole G‑d, but also) that He is the only being that truly exists. All else is totally nullified before Him.

ואם כן, זה האוהב, שהוא יש ולא אפס, לית מחשבה דיליה תפיסא ביה כלל

If so, this person i.e., the above-mentioned tzaddik who loves [G‑d] and who is a [separate] “being” in his own self-perception (as is evident from the very fact that he loves G‑d), rather than a “nonentity”, no thought of his can grasp Him at all.

ואין אור ה׳ שורה ומתגלה בו, אלא על ידי קיום המצות שהן רצונו וחכמתו יתברך ממש, בלי שום הסתר פנים

Even the tzaddik cannot grasp G‑d and thereby become one with Him through the faculties of his own soul; therefore G‑d’s light does not abide or manifest itself in him except through the fulfillment of the mitzvot, which constitute His actual Will and Wisdom, without any “concealment of Countenance.”* Since the inner aspect of the Divine Will stands revealed only in the mitzvot, it is only by means of them that the light of the Shechinah rests upon man; not through spiritual devotion alone.

הגהה

וכאשר שמעתי ממורי עליו השלום, פירוש וטעם למה שכתוב בעץ חיים שאור אין סוף ברוך הוא אינו מתייחד אפילו בעולם האצילות, אלא על ידי התלבשותו תחלה בספירת חכמה

*NOTE

Concerning his aforementioned statement that the Ein Sof-light reveals itself only within that which is totally nullified before G‑d and absorbed within Him, the Alter Rebbe notes:

This accords with what I heard from my teacher (the Maggid of Mezritch), peace upon him, on the meaning of and the reason behind the statement of the Etz Chayim that the Ein Sof-light does not unite itself even with the World of Atzilut(Emanation) except by first vesting itself in the attribute of Chochmah (Wisdom).

The Maggid (a) explained the meaning of the Ein Sof’s vesting itself in Chochmah;(b) provided the reason that it does not unite with Atzilut except by way of Chochmah.

והיינו משום שאין סוף ברוך הוא, הוא אחד האמת, שהוא לבדו הוא, ואין זולתו, וזו היא מדרגת החכמה וכו׳

This is because the Ein Sof is “the true One”; which means that He alone exists, and there is naught besides Him; and this, in fact, is the level of Chochmah.

The attribute of Chochmah represents the perception of G‑dliness as the sole existing being. This, then, is the meaning of the Ein Sof’s “clothing” itself in the attribute ofChochmah: The revelation of Ein Sof as “One alone, with naught besides Him.” And for this reason the Ein Sof does not unite with any world or level except by way ofChochmah; for, as stated above, G‑d abides (“may be united with”) only where there is no sense of self or separation from Him, only in that which is pervaded with the spirit of “He alone... and naught besides him”; and this spirit constitutes the attribute ofChochmah, as stated.

(This note expresses a profound chassidic concept; after further study of the Tanya,we will understand it more clearly.)

END OF NOTE

The Alter Rebbe now returns to our subject of the light of the Shechinah which rests upon man only through the mitzvot (which alone can serve as oil for this light). He points out that the effect of this light upon the person performing a mitzvah, varies from one category of mitzvot to another.

Those mitzvot performed in one’s thought and speech, cause the light of theShechinah to rest upon the divine soul alone. Drawing this light upon the body and upon the animal soul requires the performance of mitzvot which involve action, where one harnesses the power of the animal, life-giving soul.5 In the Alter Rebbe’s words:

והנה, כשהאדם עוסק בתורה, אזי נשמתו שהיא נפשו האלהית, עם שני לבושיה הפנימים לבדם, שהם כח הדבור ומחשבה

When a person studies Torah, using his powers of thought and speech, hisNeshamah, his divine soul with its two inner “garments” only, viz., the faculties of speech and thought*—

Thought is obviously an internal “garment”, as it is connected to the soul itself. This is why thought functions ceaselessly; it is closely bound to the soul, and the soul’s presence is constant. Speech too is internal, when compared with action, which acts upon objects outside the soul.

נכללות באור ה׳ אין סוף ברוך הוא, ומיוחדות בו ביחוד גמור

are absorbed within the light of G‑d the Ein Sof, blessed be He, and are merged within it in perfect unity.

והיא השראת השכינה על נפשו האלקית, כמאמר רז״ל שאפילו אחד שיושב ועוסק בתורה שכינה עמו

This constitutes the “resting of the Shechinah” on his divine soul; as our Sages have said:6 “When even one person applies himself diligently to Torah study, the Shechinah is with him,” meaning, in this case, that theShechinah rests upon his divine soul, and upon its faculties of thought and speech which are engaged in the mental and oral study of the Torah.

אך כדי להמשיך אור והארת השכינה גם על גופו ונפשו הבהמית, שהיא החיונית המלובשת בגופו ממש

However, in order to draw the light and radiation of the Shechinah upon his body and animal soul as well, i.e., upon the vitalizing soul actually clothed in the body and providing for it a corporeal life-force,

צריך לקיים מצות מעשיות הנעשות על ידי הגוף ממש

one must fulfill the practical mitzvot (i.e., commandments involving the faculty of action), which are performed with the body itself.

שאז כח הגוף ממש שבעשיה זו נכלל באור ה׳ ורצונו, ומיוחד בו ביחוד גמור

In this way the actual power of the body engaged in this act e.g., when one dons Tefillin, it is the physical strength in his arm that impels the motions that constitute the fulfillment of the mitzvah; and therefore this bodily power is absorbed in the Divine light and Will, and merges with it in perfect unity.

והוא לבוש השלישי של נפש האלקית

This (power of the body) constitutes the third garment of the divine soul. As mentioned in ch.4, the divine soul expresses itself in the faculty of action through performing the mitzvot.

ואזי גם כח נפש החיונית שבגופו ממש, שמקליפת נוגה

When the faculty of action is absorbed within the Divine Will then in addition the power of the vitalizing soul actually clothed within the body, the power of that soul derived from kelipat nogah,

נתהפך מרע לטוב, ונכלל ממש בקדושה כנפש האלקית ממש

is transformed from evil to good, and is actually absorbed into holiness exactly like the divine soul.

מאחר שהוא הוא הפועל ועושה מעשה המצוה

For it is the [power of the animal soul] that implements and performs the act that constitutes the mitzvah.

True, the divine soul is the force motivating one’s observance of a mitzvah, yet the divine soul cannot directly activate the body to perform a physical action; to don theTefillin, for example. It can accomplish this only through the agency of the animal soul, which serves as a medium between the divine soul and the body. In the Alter Rebbe’s words:

שבלעדו לא היתה נפש האלקית פועלת בגוף כלל, כי היא רוחניית והגוף גשמי וחומרי

For without this power of the animal soul the divine soul would not affect the body at all, since it is spiritual and the body physical and corporeal, so that body and divine soul are antithetical, as are the spiritual and material dimensions generally.

והממוצע ביניהם היא נפש החיונית הבהמית, המלובשת בדם האדם שבלבו וכל הגוף

The intermediary between them is the vitalizing animal soul clothed in man’s blood, which is in his heart and throughout his body.

For the nature of the animal soul is such that the coarsest, most material-like level of its spiritual substance is capable of clothing itself within the blood.

Since the animal soul is the divine soul’s medium of affecting the body, its active power is also absorbed into holiness when one performs a mitzvah.

FOOTNOTES    

5.  The Rebbe notes: “See below, ch. 37; cf. commentary of Rabbi Korf.”

6.  Berachot 6a.






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