Tanya/Iggeres Ha’Kodesh - The Holy Epistle, Epistle 7, Class 2



This radiance actually vests itself in the upper and lower worlds in order to animate them.

וְהֶאָרָה זוֹ מִתְלַבֶּשֶׁת מַמָּשׁ בָּעֶלְיוֹנִים וְתַחְתּוֹנִים לְהַחֲיוֹתָם,

At this level, the G‑dly life-force is not merely present in created beings and worlds but actually vests itself in them: it contracts and adapts to the spiritual capacity of each particular world in which it is vested and is integrated within it.

It is contained in them by means of many intermediaries, i.e., levels that are related both to the levels above and below them, thereby enabling them to serve as conduits for the transference of the radiance,

וְנִתְפֶּסֶת בְּתוֹכָם עַל־יְדֵי מְמוּצָּעִים רַבִּים,

and by means of numerous and intense contractions,

וְצִמְצוּמִים רַבִּים וַעֲצוּמִים,

“Numerous” describes the quantitative diminution of Divine light and life-force; “intense” alludes to their qualitative diminution, whereby the light that emerges after the contraction is entirely different from the light that originally emanated before being screened and contracted.

in a downward, chainlike progression through the levels of the various worlds, in a sequence of cause and effect, and so on.

בְּהִשְׁתַּלְשְׁלוּת הַמַּדְרֵגוֹת דֶּרֶךְ עִלָּה וְעָלוּל וְכוּ'.

Within every world, the lower level develops from the higher level by way of cause and effect, the higher level serving as the cause and source of the lower.

After all these contractions and descents, then, the light manifests itself within the various worlds by becoming vested in them.

Now although above, in the lofty worlds of infinitude, this illumination shines and extends itself in unlimited and infinite fashion,

וְהִנֵּה, הֶאָרָה זוֹ, אַף שֶׁלְּמַעְלָה הִיא מְאִירָה וּמִתְפַּשֶּׁטֶת בִּבְחִינַת בְּלִי גְבוּל וְתַכְלִית,

to animate worlds that are infinitely concealed,

לְהַחֲיוֹת עוֹלָמוֹת נֶעְלָמִים לְאֵין קֵץ וְתַכְלִית,

I.e., there are infinite kinds of worlds, each of which is of infinite degree,

as is written in the Idra Rabba;11

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּאִדְרָא רַבָּא,

nevertheless, as [this radiance] descends by means of numerous contractions,

אַף־עַל־פִּי־כֵן, בְּרִדְתָּהּ לְמַטָּה עַל־יְדֵי צִמְצוּמִים רַבִּים

to animate the beings that have been created, formed, and made,

לְהַחֲיוֹת הַנִּבְרָאִים וְהַיְצוּרִים וְהַנַּעֲשִׂים,

In their Hebrew original, these three verbs allude respectively to the beings that inhabit the Worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah. Accordingly, we understand that previously, reference was being made to the World of Atzilut and to those infinite worlds that are “higher” than Atzilut.

it is divided primarily into 613 [rays], corresponding to the 613 commandments of the Torah.

הִיא נֶחְלֶקֶת דֶּרֶךְ כְּלָל לְמִסְפַּר תַּרְיַ"ג, כְּנֶגֶד תַּרְיַ"ג מִצְוֹת הַתּוֹרָה,

These [commandments] are in fact 613 kinds of conduits which transmit this radiance from the [infinite] Ein Sof-light,

שֶׁהֵן הֵן תַּרְיַ"ג מִינֵי הַמְשָׁכוֹת הֶאָרָה זוֹ מֵאוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא,

[whose function is] to illumine man’s soul, which comprises 248 “organs” and 365 “sinews,” totaling 613 elements,

לְהָאִיר לְנִשְׁמַת הָאָדָם הַכְּלוּלָה מֵרַמַ"ח אֵבָרִים וְשַׁסַ"ה גִידִים,

for it was mainly for the sake of [man’s soul] that this radiance was caused to flow down below,

אֲשֶׁר בַּעֲבוּרָהּ הוּא עִיקַּר תַּכְלִית יְרִידַת וְהַמְשָׁכַת הֶאָרָה זוֹ לְמַטָּה

to all those beings which have been created, formed, and made, their respective locations in the Worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah being “below” the loftier worlds of infinite degree,

לְכָל הַנִּבְרָאִים וְהַיְצוּרִים וְהַנַּעֲשִׂים,

since the ultimate purpose of all these [beings], as is known, is man.

שֶׁתַּכְלִית כּוּלָּן הוּא הָאָדָם, כַּנּוֹדָע:

Thus, G‑d’s Being is indeed utterly uncompounded so that there cannot possibly be any division into “parts.” Nevertheless, with regard to the radiance that descends below, (whose main purpose is that it permeate the Jewish soul,) the concept of “parts” does apply.

The abovementioned rays are the 613 basic “parts” into which the radiance is diffused. More specifically, as the Alter Rebbe now goes on to say, each of these general “parts” subdivides into an infinite number of smaller “parts.”


11.Zohar III, 128b ff.