Weekly Tanya lecture: Chap. 42, Class 4

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HaRav Shneur Zalman Miliadi, | updated: 09:19

Rav Shneur Zalman Miliady
Rav Shneur Zalman Miliady
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והנה אף מי שגם במוחו ומחשבתו אינו מרגיש שום יראה ובושה

Furthermore, even in the case of an individual who even in his mind and thought feels no fear or shame,

I.e., an individual who is not moved by his contemplation of G‑d uniquely bestowing His Kingdom upon him, and furthermore, is not moved by the consideration that G‑d is scrutinizing him to see if he is serving Him as is fitting,

מפני פחיתות ערך נפשו ממקור חוצבה ממדריגות תחתונים די׳ ספירות דעשיה

on account of the limited grade of his soul, originating in the lower degrees of the Ten Sefirot ofAsiyah,

The soul of this individual derives from Asiyah, the lowest of the Four Worlds. Moreover, within this World itself, it originates from the lowest degrees of the Ten Sefirot that span it. Since his soul stems from such a lowly level, he finds it impossible to reveal within himself a sensitivity to G‑dliness, to experience even an intellectual fear of G‑d.

אף על פי כן מאחר שמתכוין בעבודתו כדי לעבוד את המלך, הרי זו עבודה גמורה

nevertheless, since he is intent in his service to serve the King, this is unequivocally a complete service.

כי היראה והעבודה נחשבות לשתי מצות במנין תרי״ג, ואינן מעכבות זו את זו

For fear and service are accounted as two commandments of the total of 613, and they do not exclude each other.

Thus, although this individual fails to fulfill the command of fearing G‑d, for fear must be felt in one’s heart and at the very least in one’s mind, he is nevertheless able to fulfill the precept of divine service by studying Torah and performing the commandments with the intention that he is thereby serving G‑d, his King.

After all this has been said, the Alter Rebbe will now say, that although this person fails to experience the fear even in his mind, yet since he thinks about those ideas which should evoke fear, he is fulfilling the command of fearing G‑d.

ועוד, שבאמת מקיים גם מצות יראה במה שממשיך היראה במחשבתו

Furthermore, as a matter of fact, he not only fulfills the obligation of service, he also fulfills the commandment of fearing [G‑d] by introducing the fear into his thought — by thinking about it and seeking to arouse it,

כי בשעה ורגע זו, על כל פנים, מורא שמים עליו, על כל פנים כמורא בשר ודם הדיוט לפחות, שאינו מלך, המביט עליו

for at this hour and moment, at any rate, there rests upon him the fear of heaven, at least like one’s fear in the presence of an ordinary mortal, even not a king, who is watching him,

שנמנע בעבורו מלעשות דבר שאינו הגון בעיניו

when he would refrain from doing anything unseemly in the other’s eyes.

שזו נקראת יראה, כמו שאמר רבן יוחנן בן זכאי לתלמידיו: יהי רצון שיהא מורא שמים עליכם כמורא בשר ודם כו׳

This — even this simple expression of fear — is termed fear; as Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai said to his disciples:11 “May it be G‑d’s Will that the fear of heaven be upon you like the fear of a human being.”

Whereupon his disciples protested: “No more than this?!”

תדעו כשאדם עובר עבירה, אומר: שלא יראני אדם כו׳

He responded that the proof that this is indeed a true form of fear is as follows: “...For you know that when a person commits a sin, he says [to himself]: ‘May no one see me!’...”

Such fear, held Rabbi Yochanan, would ensure that they refrain from sinning.

At any rate, we note that this manner of fear is duly designated as “fear of heaven,” because it distances a person from sin. Accordingly, attaining this level of fear through meditation amounts to a proper fulfillment of the command to fear G‑d.

רק שיראה זו נקראת יראה תתאה ויראת חטא, שקודמת לחכמתו

Such fear, however, is termed yirah tata‘ah (“lower-level fear”) and yirat chet (“fear of sin”), which precedes wisdom;12 i.e., it is only a lower level of fear, a fear of transgressing, rather than a fear of G‑d Himself,

For “wisdom” is an appelation for the fulfillment of Torah and mitzvot, inasmuch as13 “the ultimate purpose of wisdom is repentance and good deeds.” This lower level of fear is therefore considered a prelude to Torah and mitzvot.And, indeed, in this spirit our Sages state:14 “If there is no fear, there is no wisdom.”

Conversely,15 however, our Sages also state:16 “If there is no wisdom, there is no fear,” which would seem to imply the very opposite — that wisdom precedes fear.

In fact there is no contradiction between the two statements. For there are two levels of fear: (a) yirah tata‘ah, the lower level of fear, and (b) yirah ila’ah, the higher level of fear.

The lower level of fear is a necessary prelude to “wisdom”, to the proper fulfillment of Torah and mitzvot. The higher level of fear, however, can only be attained after “wisdom”, i.e., after the proper performance of Torah andmitzvot. Hence, “If there is no wisdom, there is no fear.”

ויראה עילאה הוא ירא בושת כו׳

while the higher fear is a “shamefaced fear,” i.e., the state of being abashed and overawed in G‑d’s presence.

דאית יראה ואית יראה כו׳

For there are two kinds of fear... — the lower level of fear which leads to the performance of Torah and mitzvot,and the higher level of fear which results from the proper performance of Torah and mitzvot.

FOOTNOTES  


11. Berachot 28b.

12. See Avot 3:9.

13. Berachot 17a.

14. Avot 3:17.

15. See beginning of ch. 43, where this subject is treated in greater detail.

16. Avot 3:17.



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