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

Note: Each class is independent, but previous lectures can be found by clicking the link below.

Tanya/Shaar Hayichud V’haEmunah, Chapter 12, Class 2

tanyaonline.com/?p=1799

[Although there are only twenty-two letters, they are able to create a vast multitude of creatures,] for the creatures are divided into categories both general (e.g., whether human or animal) and particular (e.g., the animal world in turn comprises numerous species of beasts, birds, fish, etc.). This multitudinous division comes about:

רַק שֶׁהַבְּרוּאִים מִתְחַלְּקִים לְמִינֵיהֶם בִּכְלָלוּת וּבִפְרָטוּת,

by changes in the combinations, substitutions, and transpositions [of the letters], as was explained above,

עַל יְדֵי שִׁינּוּיֵי הַצֵּירוּפִים וְחִילּוּפִים וּתְמוּרוֹת, כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל.

When the letters are combined in one way, one kind of creature is created; a different combination gives rise to a different kind of creature. For as explained in ch. 1, certain letters may sometimes be substituted or transposed with others. Those creatures whose names are not mentioned in the ten utterances derive their vitality by means of the combinations, substitutions, and transpositions of the letters that do appear in the ten utterances.

for every letter is a flow from an individual, particular life-force and power.

כִּי כָּל אוֹת, הִיא הַמְשָׁכַת חַיּוּת וְכֹחַ מְיוּחָד פְּרָטִי,

Note by the Rebbe: Since the letters are separate from each other, what combines them, and how is this accomplished? The Alter Rebbe goes on to answer this by saying:

And when many letters—i.e., many particular powers and life-forces—are combined to form a word,

וּכְשֶׁנִּצְטָרְפוּ אוֹתִיּוֹת הַרְבֵּה – לִהְיוֹת תֵּיבָה,

then, in addition to the numerous kinds of powers and life-forces which issue forth according to the number of letters in the word,

אֲזַי, מִלְּבַד רִיבּוּי מִינֵי כֹּחוֹת וְחַיּוּת הַנִּמְשָׁכִים כְּפִי מִסְפַּר הָאוֹתִיּוֹת שֶׁבַּתֵּיבָה,

there is, in addition, transcending all [the particular powers],

עוֹד זֹאת הָעוֹלָה עַל כּוּלָּנָה –

the flow of a higher power and general life-force, which contains and is equivalent to all the various individual powers and life-forces of the letters and transcends them all;

הַמְשָׁכַת כֹּחַ עֶלְיוֹן וְחַיּוּת כְּלָלִית הַכּוֹלֶלֶת וּשְׁקוּלָה כְּנֶגֶד כָּל מִינֵי הַכֹּחוֹת וְהַחַיּוּת פְּרָטִיּוֹת שֶׁל הָאוֹתִיּוֹת וְעוֹלָה עַל גַּבֵּיהֶן,

it unites them and combines them1 in order to grant power and life-force to the world which was created in both its general and particular aspects, i.e., with its individual created beings, through this word.

וְהִיא מְחַבַּרְתָּן וּמְצָרַפְתָּן יַחַד, לְהַשְׁפִּיעַ כֹּחַ וְחַיּוּת לָעוֹלָם הַנִּבְרָא בְּתֵיבָה זוֹ, לִכְלָלוֹ וְלִפְרָטָיו.

Inasmuch as every single one of the twenty-two letters of the Torah is a flow of an individual, particular life-force and power, which does not flow through any other letter,

וּלְפִי שֶׁכָּל אוֹת וָאוֹת מִכ"ב אוֹתִיּוֹת הַתּוֹרָה, הִיא הַמְשָׁכַת חַיּוּת וְכֹחַ מְיוּחָד פְּרָטִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ נִמְשָׁךְ בְּאוֹת אֲחֶרֶת,

therefore, the written shape of each letter is likewise specific and distinctive,

לְכָךְ גַּם תְּמוּנָתָן בִּכְתָב – כָּל אוֹת הִיא בִּתְמוּנָה מְיוּחֶדֶת פְּרָטִית,

which indicates the pattern of the flow and manifestation of the light and life-force and power which is revealed and flows through this letter,

הַמּוֹרָה ﬠַל צִיּוּר הַהַמְשָׁכָה וְהִתְגַּלּוּת הָאוֹר וְהַחַיּוּת וְהַכֹּחַ הַנִּגְלֶה וְנִמְשָׁךְ בְּאוֹת זוֹ,

[i.e.,] how it flows and is revealed from the attributes of the Holy One, blessed be He, and His will and His wisdom, and so on.

אֵיךְ הוּא נִמְשָׁךְ וְנִתְגַּלֶּה מִמִּדּוֹתָיו שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא וּרְצוֹנוֹ וְחָכְמָתוֹ וְכוּ':

Returning to the body of the text, the Alter Rebbe now goes on to illustrate how one utterance (“Let there be a firmament”) created the extensive components of the worlds as well as their specific creatures.

Note by the Rebbe: This also helps us understand the degree to which Divine Unity may be perceived in relation to the created beings of this world too, in that the seven heavens and all their celestial hosts were created and live and exist from the solitary utterance, “Let there be a firmament.”

As, for example, through the words of the utterance, “Let there be a firmament…,”2 the seven heavens and all their component celestial hosts were created.

כְּגוֹן דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל, בְּתֵיבוֹת שֶׁבְּמַאֲמַר "יְהִי רָקִיעַ וְגוֹ'", שֶׁנִּבְרְאוּ בָּהֶן ז' רְקִיעִים וְכָל צְבָא הַשָּׁמַיִם אֲשֶׁר בָּהֶם,

Thus, our Sages, of blessed memory, speak of ‘‘[the firmament called] Shechakim, in which stand millstones that grind manna for the tzaddikim…,

כְּמַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: "שְׁחָקִים, שֶׁבּוֹ רֵחַיִים עוֹמְדוֹת וְטוֹחֲנוֹת מָן לַצַּדִּיקִים וְכוּ',

[the firmament called] Zvul, in which stand [the heavenly] Jerusalem and the Holy Temple and the Altar…,

זְבוּל, שֶׁבּוֹ יְרוּשָׁלַיִם וּבֵית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ וּמִזְבֵּחַ וְכוּ',

[and the firmament called] Machon, in which there are stores of snow and stores of hail….”3

מָכוֹן, שֶׁבּוֹ אוֹצְרוֹת שֶׁלֶג וְאוֹצְרוֹת בָּרָד וְכוּ'",

Each of the seven firmaments thus has its general nature—the fact that it is a firmament—as well as its individual aspect, as exemplified above.

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FOOTNOTES

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1.The Rebbe notes that the root here translated “unites” (חבר) is etymologically related to the Hebrew word for “friend”; i.e., previously separate powers are joined in (as it were) friendly kinship. By contrast, the root here translated “combined” (צרף) means that these powers fuse into one created being and one word. In Chagigah 20b, Rashi likewise explains this verb to mean that a number of separate items “become one entity” and are not merely similar to one entity. This widespread understanding of the verb also finds practical, legal application.

2. Genesis 1:6.

3. Chagigah 12b. See Commentary of the Rebbe at the conclusion of this chapter.

4. The Rebbe explains that the Alter Rebbe writes here that “the heavens as a whole were created…through the…words…‘Let there be a firmament,’” because each individual heaven was created by the name it is known by in the Holy Tongue (e.g., Shechakim), as stated above at the end of ch. 1.



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