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 9, Class 2.

Note: Each class stands on its own, but a click on the link below will bring you to previous classes.

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Exactly so is the quality and level of wisdom, the beginning and source of the life-force in all the worlds,

כֵּן מַמָּשׁ, עֵרֶךְ מַדְרֵגַת וּמַעֲלַת הַחָכְמָה, שֶׁהִיא רֵאשִׁית וּמְקוֹר הַחַיּוּת שֶׁבְּכָל הָעוֹלָמוֹת –

For we are speaking here of the sefirah of chochmah of the World of Atzilut, which is the source of the entire World of Atzilut, the highest of all the worlds. As such, it is also the source of all the worlds below it. Now this level of wisdom is as nothing—

in relation to the Holy One, blessed be He, in His Glory and Essence,

לְגַבֵּי הַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא בִּכְבוֹדוֹ וּבְעַצְמוֹ,

Who is elevated and exalted by myriads of degrees of elevation more than the quality of wisdom is elevated over the quality of the life-force in action,

הַמְרוֹמָם וְהַמִּתְנַשֵּׂא רִיבּוֹא רִבְבוֹת מַדְרֵגוֹת רוֹמְמוּת, יוֹתֵר מֵרוֹמְמוּת מַדְרֵגַת הַחָכְמָה עַל בְּחִינַת חַיּוּת שֶׁבָּעֲשִׂיָּיה,

for this is an elevation of only five degrees, namely, the levels of action, speech, thought, the emotive attributes, and intellect.

שֶׁהִיא רוֹמְמוּת חָמֵשׁ מַדְרֵגוֹת לְבַד, שֶׁהֵן מַדְרֵגוֹת בְחִינוֹת עֲשִׂיָּיה וְדִבּוּר וּמַחֲשָׁבָה וּמִדּוֹת וְשֵׂכֶל.

The Holy One, blessed be He, however, is “high and exalted” above the level of wisdom by infinite myriads of such degrees.

אֲבָל הַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא, רָם וּמִתְנַשֵּׂא מִמַּדְרֵגַת הַחָכְמָה – רִבְבוֹת מַדְרֵגוֹת כָּאֵלּוּ עַד אֵין קֵץ.

This being so, why do we compare the distance of wisdom from G‑d to the distance of action from wisdom, when in actuality, wisdom is infinitely more distant from Him?

But inasmuch as it is within the power of created beings to comprehend only the descent from the level of wisdom, which is their beginning, to the level of action, which is the lowliest of levels,

רַק מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵין בַּנִּבְרָאִים כֹּחַ לְהַשִּׂיג רַק הַהִשְׁתַּלְשְׁלוּת מִמַּדְרֵגַת חָכְמָה, שֶׁהִיא רֵאשִׁיתָם, לְמַדְרֵגַת עֲשִׂיָּה הַשְּׁפֵלָה,

therefore, we say that in relation to the Holy One, blessed be He, the level of wisdom is considered exactly as the level of action.

לְכָךְ אָנוּ אוֹמְרִים, שֶׁלְּגַבֵּי הַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא, נֶחְשֶׁבֶת מַדְרֵגַת הַחָכְמָה כְּמַדְרֵגַת עֲשִׂיָּה מַמָּשׁ,

We use this example simply because there is no greater descent in the realm of human experience than the descent from wisdom to action.

That is to say: [G‑d] is “high and exalted” and very greatly elevated above the level of wisdom,

דְּהַיְינוּ לוֹמַר, שֶׁהוּא רָם וְנִשָּׂא וְנַעֲלֶה עִילּוּי רַב מְאֹד מְאֹד מִמַּדְרֵגַת הַחָכְמָה.

and it is not at all appropriate to ascribe to Him anything that pertains to wisdom, even in a very lofty and sublime form, i.e., even if by doing so, we mean to express how He transcends wisdom;

וְלֹא שַׁיָּיךְ כְּלָל לְיַיחֵס אֶצְלוֹ שׁוּם עִנְיָן הַמִּתְיַיחֵס לְחָכְמָה, אֲפִילוּ בְּדֶרֶךְ מַעֲלָה וְעִילּוּי רַב,

for example, to say of Him that it is beyond the capacity of any higher or lower creature to comprehend His wisdom or His Essence.

כְּגוֹן לוֹמַר עָלָיו שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר לְשׁוּם נִבְרָא עֶלְיוֹנִים וְתַחְתּוֹנִים לְהַשִּׂיג חָכְמָתוֹ אוֹ מַהוּתוֹ,

Even this negative reference to wisdom is inappropriate—

For comprehension pertains and applies to a matter of wisdom and intellect, about which one can say that it can or cannot be understood because of the profundity of the concept.

כִּי עִנְיַן הַהַשָּׂגָה מִתְיַיחֵס וְנוֹפֵל עַל דְּבַר חָכְמָה וָשֵׂכֶל, לוֹמַר שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר לְהַשִּׂיגוֹ, אוֹ אִי אֶפְשָׁר לְהַשִּׂיגוֹ מִפְּנֵי עוֹמֶק הַמּוּשָּׂג;

However, concerning the Holy One, blessed be He, Who transcends intellect and wisdom, it is not at all appropriate to say that one cannot comprehend Him because of the profundity of the concept,

אֲבָל הַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא שֶׁהוּא לְמַעְלָה מִן הַשֵּׂכֶל וְהַחָכְמָה – לֹא שַׁיָּיךְ כְּלָל לוֹמַר בּוֹ שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר לְהַשִּׂיגוֹ מִפְּנֵי עוֹמֶק הַמּוּשָּׂג,

for He is not within the realm of comprehension at all.

כִּי אֵינוֹ בִּבְחִינַת הַשָּׂגָה כְּלָל,

He who states that it is impossible to comprehend Him is like one who says of some lofty and profound concept that it cannot be touched with their hands because of the depth of the concept.

וְהָאוֹמֵר עָלָיו שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר לְהַשִּׂיגוֹ – הוּא כְּאוֹמֵר עַל אֵיזוֹ חָכְמָה רָמָה וַעֲמוּקָּה, שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר לְמַשְּׁשָׁהּ בְּיָדַיִם מִפְּנֵי עוֹמֶק הַמּוּשָּׂג,

Whoever hears [this] will mock him because the sense of touch refers and applies only to physical objects, which may be grasped by the hands.

שֶׁכָּל הַשּׁוֹמֵעַ יִצְחַק לוֹ, לְפִי שֶׁחוּשׁ הַמִּישּׁוּשׁ אֵינוֹ מִתְיַיחֵס וְנוֹפֵל אֶלָּא עַל עֲשִׂיָּיה גַשְׁמִית הַנִּתְפֶּסֶת בְּיָדַיִם,

Exactly so, the level of intellect and comprehension in relation to the Holy One, blessed be He, is considered as actual, physical action.

וְכָכָה מַמָּשׁ, נֶחְשֶׁבֶת לְגַבֵּי הַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא מַדְרֵגַת הַשֵּׂכֶל וְהַהַשָּׂגָה כַּעֲשִׂיָּיה גַשְׁמִית מַמָּשׁ,

Even the comprehension of the [superior and spiritual] Intelligences in the higher worlds, and even the level of supernal wisdom of the World of Atzilut, which gives life to them all [is considered so in relation to the Holy One, blessed be He],

וַאֲפִילוּ הַשָּׂגַת שְׂכָלִים שֶׁבְּעוֹלָמוֹת עֶלְיוֹנִים, וַאֲפִילוּ מַדְרֵגַת חָכְמָה עִילָּאָה הַמְחַיָּה אֶת כּוּלָּם,

as it is written, “You have made them all with wisdom.”2

כְּדִכְתִיב: "כּוּלָּם בְּחָכְמָה עָשִׂיתָ".

All of creation is rooted in the wisdom of Atzilut. Nevertheless, even the supernal wisdom of Atzilut is considered as action in relation to G‑d, for G‑d transcends it infinitely. It is thus impossible to say that G‑d can or cannot be apprehended through intellect, inasmuch as intellect and wisdom are not at all the means by which G‑d can be grasped.

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FOOTNOTES

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2. Psalms 104:24.



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