Weekly Tanya video\lecture: 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 ,

Lessons in Tanya
Lessons in Tanya
Eisenbach

For an introduction to what Tanya is about, click here.

Note: Previous lectures can be accessed by means of the link below, but each lecture stands on its own.

Tanya/Shaar Hayichud V’haEmunah, Chapter 4, Class 2.

tanyaonline.com/?p=1731

והנה בסידור שבחיו של הקב״ה כתיב: הגדול הגבור כו׳

In the enumeration of the praises of the Holy One, blessed be He, it is written,4 HaGadol (“the Great”), HaGibor (“the Mighty”), and so on.

ופירוש הגדול היא מדת חסד והתפשטות החיות בכל העולמות וברואים, לאין קץ ותכלית

“HaGadol” refers to the attribute of Chesed (“kindness”) and to the spreading forth of the life-force into all the worlds and created things, without end or limit,

להיות ברואים מאין ליש, וקיימים בחסד חנם

so that they shall be created ex nihilo and exist through gratuitous kindness, for G‑d maintains all creatures, whether they are worthy of His kindness or not.

ונקראת גדולה, כי באה מגדולתו של הקב״ה בכבודו ובעצמו

[The attribute of Chesed] is called Gedulah (“greatness”) for it derives from the greatness of the Holy One, blessed be He, from Himself in all His glory,

כי גדול ה׳ ולגדולתו אין חקר

for5 “G‑d is great... and His greatness is unsearchable,” inasmuch as it is infinite,

ולכן משפיע גם כן חיות והתהוות מאין ליש לעולמות וברואים אין קץ

and therefore, He also causes life-force and existence ex nihilo to issue forth for an unlimited number of worlds and creatures,

שטבע הטוב להטיב

for 6 “it is the nature of the benevolent to do good.”

G‑d’s benevolence thus dictates that there be an infinite number of worlds and creatures who will benefit from His beneficence.

והנה כמו שמדה זו היא שבחו של הקב״ה לבדו

Now, this attribute of “HaGadol”, the attribute of Chesed that spreads forth His life-force into all the worlds so as to create them ex nihilo, is exclusively the praise of the Holy One, blessed be He,

שאין ביכולת שום נברא לברוא יש מאין ולהחיותו

for no created thing can create a being out of nothing and give it life.

Creatio ex nihilo is utterly beyond the realm of created beings. In the words of the Midrash:7 “Even if all mankind were to gather together they would not be able to create even the wing of a gnat and animate it.”

וגם מדה זו היא למעלה מהשכלת כל הברואים והשגתם

This attribute of benevolence, whereby G‑d creates ex nihilo, is also beyond the cognition of all creatures and their understanding,

שאין כח בשכל שום נברא להשכיל ולהשיג מדה זו ויכלתה לברוא יש מאין ולהחיותו

for it is not within the power of the intellect of any creature to comprehend through the faculty of Chochmah or understand through the faculty of Binah this attribute and its ability to create a being out of nothing and vivify it.

כי הבריאה יש מאין היא דבר שלמעלה משכל הנבראים, כי היא ממדת גדולתו של הקב״ה

For creatio ex nihilo is a matter which transcends the intellect of all creatures, inasmuch as it stems from the Divine attribute of Gedulah.

והקב״ה ומדותיו אחדות פשוט, כדאיתא בזהר הקדוש: דאיהו וגרמוהי חד

Now the Holy One, blessed be He, and His attributes are a perfect unity, as the holy Zohar states,8 “He and His causations i.e., His attributes are One,”

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FOOTNOTES

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4. Liturgy, Amidah prayer; cf. Yoma 69b.

5. Tehillim 145:3.

6. R. Zvi Hirsch Ashkenazi, Chacham Zvi (Responsa), Sec. 18; R. Yosef Irgas, Shomer Emunim, 2:14, quoting kabbalistic sources.

7. See Talmud Yerushalmi, Sanhedrin, beginning of ch. 7;Bereishit Rabbah 39:14; Sifri, Va‘etchanan 6:5.

8. Introduction to Tikkunei Zohar (3b).



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