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 ,

Chabad-Lubavitch's main headquarters
Chabad-Lubavitch's main headquarters
Nati Shohat/Flash 90
Tanya/Shaar Hayichud V’haEmunah, Chapter 5, Class 2.

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.


והנה על זה אמרו בזהר, דלעילא, בסטרא דקדושה עילאה, אית ימינא ואית שמאלא, דהיינו חסד וגבורה

Regarding this, i.e., regarding the fact that the attributes of Chesed and Gevurah transcend intellect, it was stated in the Zohar:[2] “Above, in the ‘Side of Supernal Holiness,’ i.e., in the World of Atzilut, which is far superior to the three lower Worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah, there is right and left,” namely, Chesed and Gevurah.

פירוש: דשתיהן הן מדות אלקות למעלה משכל הנבראים והשגתם

This statement was surely not written simply to inform us that Chesed and Gevurah exist, for this is already well-known; rather: This means that both Gevurah as well as Chesed are attributes of G‑dliness that transcend the intellect and comprehension of created beings,

The fact that they are Supernal attributes also helps us understand how they are able to combine, when by definition they are opposites. Within the “Side of Supernal Holiness” there is no dissonance, G‑d forbid, for all its components are complementary and integrated. At that level, Chesed and Gevurah, though opposed by nature, coexist and conjoin as “two opposites within a unity.” This is possible because of their complete and total union with G‑d.

דאיהו וגרמוהי חד בעולם האצילות

for[3] “He and His attributes are One in the World of Atzilut,” both Chesed and Gevurah being thus wholly united with Him.

ואף השגת משה רבינו עליו השלום בנבואתו לא היתה בעולם האצילות

Even the comprehension of Moses our Teacher (peace unto him) in his prophetic vision did not extend to the World of Atzilut itself,

אלא על ידי התלבשותו בעולם הבריאה

except through its being clothed in the World of Beriah;

ואף גם זאת, לא בשתי מדות אלו, חסד וגבורה

and even then, [his comprehension of the World of Atzilut did] not [extend] to these two attributes, viz., Chesed and Gevurah,[4]

אלא על ידי התלבשותן במדות שלמטה מהן במדרגה, שהן מדות נצח הוד יסוד

but only insofar as they were previously clothed in attributes which are of lower levels than themselves, viz., the attributes of Netzach (“victory”, “eternity”), Hod (“splendor”), and Yesod (“foundation”), the attribute of Netzach being merely an offshoot of Chesed, and Hod an offshoot of Gevurah, so that through them Chesed and Gevurah percolate down into Yesod, which in turn transmits its influence to yet lower levels.

(כמו שכתוב בשער הנבואה)

(5as is explained in Shaar HaNevuah) concerning the level of Moses‘ prophecy.

רק שמתן שכרם של צדיקים בגן עדן הוא השגת התפשטות החיות ואור, הנמשך משתי מדות אלו, חסד וגבורה

It is only the tzaddikim in Gan Eden who are granted the reward of comprehending the spreading forth of the life-force and light which issues from these two attributes, Chesed and Gevurah.

והוא מזון נשמות הצדיקים שעסקו בתורה לשמה בעולם הזה

This comprehension of the spreading forth of life-force and light which issues from these two attributes is the “food” of the souls of the tzaddikim who, in this world, engaged in the study of Torah for its own sake.

כי מהתפשטות שתי מדות אלו, נמתח רקיע על הנשמות שבגן עדן

For from the diffusion of these two attributes, a firmament i.e., an or makkif, a transcendental (lit., “encompassing”) degree of illumination is spread over the souls in Gan Eden, and it is this firmament that empowers them to receive this diffusion.

ורקיע זה נקרא רזא דאורייתא

This firmament is called Raza deOrayta (“the secret of the Torah”); i.e., the mystical dimension of the Torah.

ובו סוד כ״ב אותיות התורה, הנתונה משתי מדות אלו

Within this firmament is the secret of the twenty-two letters of the Torah (which derive from an even higher level than the rational and comprehensible aspect of the Torah), which was given as an expression of these two attributes,

כדכתיב: מימינו אש דת למו

as it is written,[6 ]“From His right hand [He gave] unto them a fiery Law.” The “right hand” represents Chesed, while “fiery” alludes to the element of Gevurah that is present in the Torah.

ומרקיע זה נוטף טל למזון הנשמות

From this firmament, from this transcendental illumination, drops dew, symbolic of the esoteric insights of the Torah, as food for the souls,

I.e., an or pnimi, a degree of illumination that can be internalized and comprehended, issues forth from the firmament. Being comprehensible, this level of perception is likened to food, which is ingested internally.

דהיינו ידיעת סוד כ״ב אותיות התורה

i.e., a knowledge of the secret of the twenty-two letters of the Torah.

כי הרקיע הזה הוא סוד הדעת

For this firmament is the secret and level of knowledge (Daat), and the “dew” that issues forth from it is the knowledge of the secret of the twenty-two letters of the Torah,

והתורה היא מזון הנשמות בגן עדן, והמצות הן לבושים

and the Torah is the “food” of the souls in Gan Eden, and the commandments are [their] “garments”,

כמבואר כל זה (בזהר ויקהל דף ר״ט ור״י, ובעץ חיים שער מ״ד פרק ג׳)

as all this is explained (]7] in Zohar, Vayakhel, pp. 209-210, and in Etz Chayim, Shaar 44, ch. 3).

We thus see that the attributes of Chesed and Gevurah of the World of Atzilut transcend not only the comprehension of created beings, but even souls of the level of Atzilut cannot comprehend them. Only as a reward are the souls in Gan Eden enabled to comprehend a mere diffusion of these two attributes.


2. I, 53a.

3. Introduction to Tikkunei Zohar.

4. Note of the Rebbe: “According to that which is explained in Iggeret HaKodesh (Epistle 19), it is clear that this does not preclude [comprehension of] a higher level (for there have been souls whose comprehension has reached up to Chochmah and Binah). Rather, the comprehension ofChesed and Gevurah (the source of creation and itstzimtzum), which is the matter at hand, became possible only through their being clothed in Netzach, Hod andYesod.”

5. Parentheses are in the original text.

6. Devarim 33:2.

7. Parentheses are in the original text.