This week's Tanya lecture - the way to improve your spiritual health

Previous lectures are available by clicking the link below. Today's lecture: End of chapter 43.

HaRav Shneur Zalman Miliadi, | updated: 05:56

Rav Shneur Zalman Miliady
Rav Shneur Zalman Miliady
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All the above refers to a person who has a love for worldly matters, and divests himself of this love because of his contemplation of G‑d’s greatness. His love will then be felt for G‑d rather than for mundane things.

However, he who by nature is cold and removed from any feelings of love, whether to G‑d or otherwise, cannot simply transfer his love. It is much more difficult for such a person to awaken a feeling of love for G‑d. Nevertheless, the Alter Rebbe goes on to say, even he can arouse within himself a fiery love for G‑d through the above-mentioned contemplation.

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וגם מי שאין מדת אהבה שבנפשו מלובשת כלל בשום תענוג גשמי או רוחני, יכול להלהיב נפשו כרשפי אש ושלהבת עזה ולהב העולה השמימה, על ידי התבוננות הנ״ל, כמו שיתבאר לקמן

Also he, whose soul’s attribute of love is not vested at all in any physical or spiritual enjoyment, is able to kindle his soul as with burning coals and an intense fire and a flame that soars heavenward, by contemplating the above-mentioned matters, as shall be explained later on.

It has previously been noted that the higher level of love can come about only after one’s fear of G‑d is total. However, the lower level of love may sometimes come about, as shall soon be explained, even without being preceded by the fear of G‑d.

והנה בחינת אהבה זו, פעמים שקודמת ליראה, כפי בחינת הדעת המולידה, כנודע שהדעת כולל חסדים וגבורות, שהם אהבה ויראה

This [latter] category of love sometimes precedes fear, according to the quality of the Daat which fathers it, as is known. (17For Daat incorporates both Chassadim and Gevurot, which are love and fear; Chessed is love and Gevurah is fear. Daat reveals both these emotions. Thus, binding one’s Daat intensely to the greatness of G‑d gives rise to both feelings, fear and love,

ופעמים שהחסדים קודמים לירד ולהתגלות

and sometimes the Chassadim descend and manifest themselves first).

The Chassadim may sometimes precede the Gevurot; this means that Daat may sometimes evoke love before fear.

ולכן אפשר לרשע ובעל עבירות שיעשה תשובה מאהבה הנולדה בלבו, בזכרו את ה׳ אלקיו

Therefore it is possible for a wicked and sinful person to repent by virtue of the love that is born in his heart at the time he remembers the L‑rd his G‑d.

Although up to the point of his repentance he was wicked, and lacked a fear of G‑d, still there may be born in him a love for G‑d that will lead him to repent.

ומכל מקום, היראה גם כן כלולה בה ממילא, רק שהיא בבחינת קטנות והעלם, דהיינו, יראת חטא למרוד בו, חס ושלום, והאהבה היא בהתגלות לבו ומוחו

At any rate, fear, too, is included therein — in the love, as a matter of course, except that it is [there] in a state of “minuteness” and “concealment”, namely, as the fear of sin — of rebelling against Him, G‑d forbid, while the love is in a revealed state in his heart and mind, so that consciously the individual is only aware of a love for G‑d.

אך זהו דרך מקרה והוראת שעה בהשגחה פרטית מאת ה׳ לצורך שעה, כמעשה דרבי אלעזר בן דורדייא

However, such a case — where the wicked and sinful person should suddenly attain a love of G‑d and become a penitent — where love precedes fear is an extraordinary occurrence, and an “emergency prescription,” through G‑d’s particular providence as the occasion requires, as happened with Rabbi Elazar benDurdaya,18 who had been sinful, and suddenly became a penitent, repenting out of a love for G‑d. Indeed, so intense was his penitence that it caused his soul to depart his body.

This was an “emergency prescription” required for that occasion. For it is written19 that Rabbi Elazar ben Durdaya was a gilgul — the reincarnated soul — of Yochanan the High Priest, who served in that office for eighty years and then became a Sadducee.20 All the Torah and mitzvot fulfilled by Yochanan were elevated through the transmigration of his soul into the body of Rabbi Elazar ben Durdaya, whose life-story followed the reverse course, that of a sinner who ultimately repented out of his love for G‑d.21

אבל סדר העבודה הקבועה ותלויה בבחירת האדם, צריך להקדים תחלה קיום התורה והמצות על ידי יראה תתאה, בבחינת קטנות על כל פנים, בסור מרע ועשה טוב

However, the [regular] order of divine service, which is determined by and depends on a man’s choice, is to begin with the fulfillment of the Torah and mitzvot through yirah tata‘ah in its state of “minuteness” at least, departing from evil and doing good, i.e., refraining from committing any sins and performing all the mitzvot,

להאיר נפשו האלקית באור התורה ומצותיה

so as to illuminate his divine soul with the light of the Torah and its commandments,

ואחר כך יאיר עליה אור האהבה

whereupon the light of love will also shine upon it,

כי ואהבת בגימטריא ב׳ פעמים אור, כידוע ליודעי ח״ן

(22for the word ve‘ahavta, (“And you shall love [the L‑rd your G‑d]”) has a numerical value twice that of or (“light”), as is known to those who are familiar with the Esoteric Discipline [of the Kabbalah]).

Thus, first must come the illumination earned by the fulfillment of Torah and mitzvot; only then can one be granted the illumination of experiencing a love of G‑d.

Footnotes

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17.  Parentheses are in the original text.

18.  See Avodah Zarah 17a.

19. In Likkutei Torah of the AriZal, Tehillim 32.

20. See Berachot 29a.

21.  The Rebbe cites the letter of the previous Rebbe, printed at the end of Kuntres HaAvodah, which states that the Alter Rebbe here speaks of Rabbi Elazar ben Durdaya’slove for G‑d, even though the plain meaning of the narrative would seem to highlight only his repentance.True enough, the experience of ahavat olam alone would not be expected to bring about klot hanefesh, the expiry of his soul. Both love and repentance, however, were present here; indeed, his teshuvah was so intense that his soul left his body while he shed tears of contrition.

22.  Parentheses are in the original text.





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