Weekly Tanya video: Lecture I, The Gate to Faith

The Tanya compacts four millennia of Jewish wisdom to answer the great personal and existential questions of life.

Rabbi Shimon Eisenbach ,

Chabad Rebbes
Chabad Rebbes
INN: Chabad

Rabbi Shimon Aisenbach's popular video/lecture series on Tanya, brought weekly on Arutz Sheva, begins studying Shaar Hayichud vehaEmunah today. To learn about what Tanya is all about, click here.

Note: Shaar Hayichud veha Emunah studies can be enjoyed and understood without having watched his lectures on the first segment of Tanya, and each lecture is a unit that can be studied individually.

The Beginning of the Second Segment of Tanya, Shaar Hayichud V’haemunah, Chapter 1, Class 1

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להבין מעט מזעיר מה שכתוב בזהר, דשמע ישראל כו׳ הוא יחודא עילאה, וברוך שם כבוד מלכותו לעולם ועד הוא יחודא תתאה

Let us understand [at least] in a small measure, the statement of the Zohar [2 ] that [3] Shema Yisrael... is yichuda ila‘ah (“higher-level Unity”) and4 Baruch shem kvod malchuto leolam vaed is yichuda tata’ah (“lower-level Unity”). For vaed equals echad through the substitution (and thereby the descent) of letters,5 as stated in the Zohar.

Thus, the object of Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah will be to understand how it is possible to speak of two different levels of Divine Unity.

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וידעת היום והשבות אל לבבך כי ה׳ הוא האלקים בשמים ממעל ועל הארץ מתחת, אין עוד

It is written:[1] “Know this day and take it unto your heart that G‑d is the [mighty and just] L‑rd in the heavens above and upon the earth below; there is none other.”[2]

The verse, if understood simplistically, seems to declare that there are no other gods dwelling in heaven or earth.

וצריך להבין. וכי תעלה על דעתך שיש אלקים נשרה במים מתחת לארץ

This requires explanation. For would it occur to you that there is a god dwelling in the waters beneath the earth,

שצריך להזהיר כל כך: והשבות אל לבבך

so that it is necessary to caution so strongly [and negate this thought by stating that one should] “take it unto your heart,” and come to the realization that this is indeed not so?

הנה כתיב: לעולם ה׳ דברך נצב בשמים

It is written:[3] “Forever, O G‑d, Your word stands firm in the heavens.”

ופירש הבעל שם טוב ז״ל

The Baal Shem Tov, of blessed memory, has explained this concept at length, and made it widely known[4] that this means:

כי דברך שאמרת: יהי רקיע בתוך המים וגו׳

that “Your word” which you uttered, viz.,[5] “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters...,”

תיבות ואותיות אלו הן נצבות ועומדות לעולם בתוך רקיע השמים

these very words and letters through which the heavens were created stand firmly forever within the firmament of heaven

ומלובשות בתוך כל הרקיעים לעולם להחיותם

and are forever clothed within all the heavens to give them life,

Note of the Rebbe: “The fact that these words were uttered thousands of years ago presents no problem, — ”

כדכתיב: ודבר אלקינו יקום לעולם

as it is written,[6] “And the word of our L‑rd shall stand firm forever,”

ודבריו חיים וקיימים לעד כו׳

and as it is likewise written,[7] “And His words live and stand firm forever....”

This refers not only to those creations such as the heavenly firmament which enjoy a permanent existence, but also to those creatures which perish as individuals, with only their species continuing to exist. In all instances, the Divine life-force which created a particular creature must constantly be vested within it, incessantly creating and vivifying it anew, just as it ceaselessly recreates the heavenly firmament, as shall soon be explained.

כי אילו היו האותיות מסתלקות כרגע, חס ושלום, וחוזרות למקורן

For if the creative letters were to depart even for an instant, G‑d forbid, and return to their source, that source being the degree of G‑dliness from whence they emanate,

היו כל השמים אין ואפס ממש, והיו כלא היו כלל

all the heavens would become naught and absolute nothingness, and it would be as though they had never existed at all,

וכמו קודם מאמר: יהי רקיע כו׳ ממש

exactly as before the utterance, “Let there be a firmament.”

Before that Divine utterance the firmament did not exist at all. Were the letters that constitute the Divine utterance to depart from the firmament, it would revert to the state of never having existed at all.

The Alter Rebbe now concludes that this is true not only of the firmament, but of all created beings.

וכן בכל הברואים שבכל העולמות עליונים ותחתונים

And so it is with all created things, in all the upper and lower worlds,

ואפילו ארץ הלזו הגשמית, ובחינת דומם ממש

and even this physical earth and the realm of the completely inanimate.

Even immobile beings that show no signs of animation or spirituality, not even the degree of animation observed in the process of growth in the vegetative world, — even this extremely low life-form constantly harbors within it the Divine life-force that brought it into being.

אילו היו מסתלקות ממנה כרגע, חס ושלום, האותיות מעשרה מאמרות שבהן נבראת הארץ בששת ימי בראשית

If the letters of the Ten Utterances by which the earth was created during the Six Days of Creation were to depart from it but for an instant, G‑d forbid,

היתה חוזרת לאין ואפס ממש, כמו לפני ששת ימי בראשית ממש

it would revert to naught and absolute nothingness, exactly as before the Six Days of Creation.

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FOOTNOTES

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5. Zohar II, 134a. Hebrew grammar classifies the letters of the alphabet according to their syntactic functions, their respective sources in the organs of speech, and so on. Within each group, the letters are interchangeable. The letters alef and vav both belong to the group of “connective letters” (otiyot hahemshech), and may thus be interchanged. The letters chet and ayin fall into the category of guttural letters (otiot groniyot), and may likewise be interchanged. Hence אחד is the equivalent of ועד.

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1. Devarim 4:39.

2. Note of the Rebbe: “This verse continues the idea of an earlier verse , which begins with the phrase אתה הראת (‘You have been shown...’), and which refers to the time at which the Torah was given. At that time ‘G‑d spoke to you...’ (4:12), [with a warning against worshiping any of the components of the created universe]: ‘Lest you become corrupt’ [and worship creatures] of the lowest level, [viz.,] ‘any fish in the water below the earth’ , or of the highest level, [viz.,] ‘Lest you raise your eyes heavenward...’ .”

3. Tehillim 119:89.

4. Note of the Rebbe: “As mentioned in Likkutei Torah,beginning of Parshat Acharei, the germ of this concept is to be found in Midrash Tillim [on this verse].”

5. Bereishit 1:6.

6. Yeshayahu 40:8.

7. Liturgy, Morning Prayer.




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