Tanya/Iggeres Ha’Kodesh - The Holy Epistle, Epistle 6, Class 3
This underlies what we say in the prayers: “The King Who is exalted, alone from aforetime.”12
וְזֶהוּ שֶׁאוֹמְרִים: "הַמֶּלֶךְ הַמְרוֹמָם לְבַדּוֹ מֵאָז",
This means that just as aforetime, before the creation, He was alone, and apart from Him nothing existed,
פֵּירוּשׁ, כְּמוֹ שֶׁ"מֵּאָז" קוֹדֶם הַבְּרִיאָה הָיָה הוּא לְבַדּוֹ הוּא,
so is He now “exalted…and elevated beyond the days of the world.”
כָּךְ עַתָּה הוּא "מְרוֹמָם כוּ'" וּ"מִתְנַשֵּׂא מִימוֹת עוֹלָם",
This means that He is exalted and elevated, transcending the dimension of time, which is known as “the days of the world.”
פֵּירוּשׁ, שֶׁהוּא רָם וְנִשָּׂא לְמַעְלָה מַּעְלָה מִבְּחִינַת זְמַן הַנִּקְרָא בְּשֵׁם "יְמוֹת עוֹלָם",
This is so because the life-force of all “the days of the world,” the life-force of the dimension of time, derives solely from the spiritual level known as “the King,” i.e., from the sefirah of malchut,
וְהַיְינוּ לְפִי שֶׁחַיּוּת כָּל "יְמוֹת עוֹלָם" הוּא רַק מִבְּחִינַת "הַמֶּלֶךְ כוּ'",
The axis of past, present, and future—the element of time—relates only to the sefirah of malchut; concerning this level, we may differentiate between the phrases, “He reigned,” “He reigns,” and “He shall reign.” However, the sefirot and attributes that are above malchut transcend the element of time,
as is explained elsewhere.13
וּכְמוֹ שֶׁמְּבוֹאָר בְּמָקוֹם אַחֵר.
Since G‑d utterly transcends creation, which is absolutely of no consequence in relation to His Essence:
It follows that there is extremely great cause to feel compassion for the spark, which is “a part of G‑d Above,”14 that dwells in the dark and gloomy body—the “hide of the snake.”15
וְאֵי לָזֹאת, הָרַחֲמָנוּת גְּדוֹלָה מְאֹד מְאֹד עַל הַנִּיצוֹץ הַשּׁוֹכֵן בַּגּוּף הֶחָשׁוּךְ וְהָאָפֵל, מַשְׁכָּא דְחִוְיָא,
For [the body] is liable to contract impurity by indulging in prohibited things that derive from the three utterly impure kelipot and to become defiled by various lusts (May the Merciful One spare us) involving things which, though permitted, derive from kelipat nogah,
הֶעָלוּל לְקַבֵּל טוּמְאָה וּלְהִתְגָּאֵל בְּכָל הַתַּאֲווֹת רַחֲמָנָא לִצְּלָן,
if not for G‑d’s serving the man as a shield,
לוּלֵי שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא מָגֵן לוֹ
and giving him strength and might to wage war with the body and its passions and to triumph over them.
וְנוֹתֵן לוֹ עוֹז וְתַעֲצוּמוֹת לִלְחוֹם עִם הַגּוּף וְתַאֲוֹתָיו וּלְנַצְּחָן,
Even when the body does not actually lust after physical pleasures, the very fact that it is so inclined points to its lowly state, and it is within such a body that the Divine spark is obliged to spend its days.
And this is the meaning of [the continuation of the prayer], “Master of our strength…, Shield of our salvation….”16
וְזֶהוּ שֶׁאוֹמְרִים: "אֲדוֹן עוּזֵּנוּ כוּ' מָגֵן יִשְׁעֵנוּ כוּ'".
After extolling G‑d as “the King who is exalted, alone from aforetime,” and beseeching Him in His “abundant mercies to have compassion on us,” we continue with the above-quoted phrases. With these words, we affirm that G‑d provides us with an encompassing light and power, far transcending man’s own puny powers, that enables us to triumph over the body and its passions.
Now, it is well known17 that there are two types of awe [of G‑d] and [two types] of love [of G‑d].
וְהִנֵּה מוּדַעַת זֹאת, דְּיֵשׁ ב' מִינֵי דְּחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ:
The first ones are born of an understanding and cognition of the greatness of G‑d. and of those matters that lead to the love of G‑d and to the fear of Him, such as G‑d’s closeness to the Jewish people.
הָרִאשׁוֹנוֹת, הֵן הַנּוֹלָדוֹת מֵהַתְּבוּנָה וְהַדַּעַת בִּגְדוּלַּת ה' וּבִדְבָרִים הַמְּבִיאִין לִידֵי אַהֲבַת ה' וְיִרְאָתוֹ,
The latter ones are those that come afterward, from Above, as a gift,
וְהָאַחֲרוֹנוֹת, הֵן הַבָּאוֹת אַחַר כָּךְ מִלְמַעְלָה בִּבְחִינַת מַתָּנָה,
After one has acquired a love and fear of G‑d as a result of his own contemplation, he is then granted from Above a heightened measure of love and fear.
as explained elsewhere18 in comment on the verse, “I shall grant [you] your priestly service as a gift.”19
וּכְמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּמָקוֹם אַחֵר עַל פָּסוּק: "עֲבוֹדַת מַתָּנָה אֶתֵּן אֶת כְּהוּנַּתְכֶם",
This [priesthood] refers to the attribute of love,
שֶׁהִיא מִדַּת אַהֲבָה,
and it is likewise with regard to awe. I.e., there is a degree of fear of G‑d that is likewise granted as a gift from Above.
וְכֵן הוּא גַם כֵּן בְּיִּרְאָה.
Now, there is surely no comparison between the first ones, the lower levels of love and fear, which are the products of the created intellect,
וְהִנֵּה, וַדַּאי אֵין עֲרוֹךְ כְּלָל בֵּין הָרִאשׁוֹנוֹת שֶׁהֵן תּוֹלְדוֹת הַשֵּׂכֶל הַנִּבְרָא,
and the latter ones, which are [a gift] from the Creator, blessed be His Name.
לְגַבֵּי הָאַחֲרוֹנוֹת שֶׁהֵן מֵהַבּוֹרֵא יִתְבָּרֵךְ שְׁמוֹ,
Just as there can be absolutely no comparison between Creator and created, so can there be no comparison between the love and fear generated by each of these two levels.
12. Liturgy, Blessings of the Shema (Siddur Tehillat Hashem, p. 43; Annotated Edition, p. 39).
13. Note by the Rebbe: “Cf. Shaar Hayichud VehaEmunah, ch. 7. However, we cannot assume that the Alter Rebbe is referring directly to this chapter, for then he would have stated so explicitly, as above (‘…in Likkutei Amarim, Part II’). At any rate, this does not warrant a lengthy discussion at this point.”
14.Tanya, beginning of ch. 2.
15. See Introduction to Tikkunei Zohar, p. 10b; also elsewhere.
16. Liturgy, Blessings of the Shema (Siddur Tehillat Hashem, p. 43; Annotated Edition, p. 39).
17. See Likkutei Amarim, Part I, ch. 14; Part II, Chinuch Katan.
18. Ibid., Part I, ch. 14.