Lubavitcher Rebbe
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Tanya/ Iggeres Ha’Kodesh - The Holy Epistle, Epistle 13, Class 2
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The Alter Rebbe now goes on to speak of the other dominant trait that characterizes the attribute of gevurah, viz., contraction.

From this attribute derives also the element of contraction and limitation in the service of G‑d,

וְהִנֵּה, מִמִּדָּה זוֹ נִמְשְׁכָה גַם כֵּן בְּחִינַת הַצִּמְצוּם וְהַגְּבוּל בַּעֲבוֹדַת ה',

for example, having one’s disbursements to charity adjudged according to one’s means,5

כְּמוֹ בִּצְדָקָה לִהְיוֹת נִידּוֹן בְּהֶשֵּׂג יָד,

and [setting one’s limits in the spirit of the teaching], “He who gives lavishly should not expend more than one-fifth.”6

וְ"הַמְבַזְבֵּז – אַל יְבַזְבֵּז יוֹתֵר מֵחוֹמֶשׁ",

Likewise, as regards the study of the Torah and the other commandments, such a person is satisfied if he discharges his definite duty which the Torah explicitly obligates him to do,

וּכְהַאי גַּוְנָא בְּתַלְמוּד תּוֹרָה וּשְׁאָרֵי מִצְוֹת, דַּי לוֹ שֶׁיּוֹצֵא יְדֵי חוֹבָתוֹ מֵחִיּוּב מְפוֹרָשׁ שֶׁחִיְּיבַתּוּ הַתּוֹרָה בְּפֵירוּשׁ

such as to set aside certain times [for Torah study].

לִקְבּוֹעַ עִתִּים כוּ'.

Thus, the soul’s root in the supernal “left,” in the attribute of gevurah, will lead one to act in a manner consistent with its character trait of limitation: so that he will give only as much tzedakah, study only as much Torah, and perform the mitzvot only to the degree that he is obligated.

From it derives also the teaching of our Sages, of blessed memory,7 “Cast awe upon the pupils….”8

וּמִמֶּנָּה נִמְשָׁךְ גַּם כֵּן מַה שֶּׁאָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: "זְרוֹק מָרָה בַּתַּלְמִידִים כוּ'".

By contrast, the characteristic of the “right” is the attribute of chesed and expansiveness—serving G‑d

אַךְ בְּחִינַת יָמִין, הִיא מִדַּת הַחֶסֶד וְהַהִתְפַּשְּׁטוּת בַּעֲבוֹדַת ה',

with amplitude, without any contraction or concealment whatsoever,

בְּהִתְרַחֲבוּת בְּלִי צִמְצוּם וְהֶסְתֵּר כְּלָל,

as it is written, “And I will walk about expansively…,”9

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "וְאֶתְהַלְּכָה בָרְחָבָה כוּ'",

and without any contraction or limitation whatsoever. I.e., with such an individual, not only the approach to Divine service but also its execution is characterized by a broad sweep.

וְגַם בְּלִי צִמְצוּם וּגְבוּל כְּלָל,

There is no restraint to the spirit of his generosity, whether it be with respect to charity, the study of the Torah, or other commandments.

וְאֵין מַעֲצוֹר לְרוּחַ נִדְבָתוֹ, בֵּין בִּצְדָקָה וּבֵין בְּתַלְמוּד תּוֹרָה וּשְׁאָרֵי מִצְוֹת,

He is not satisfied with merely discharging his obligation but [continues] “to the extent of never [saying] ‘Enough!’…”10

וְלֹא דַי לוֹ לָצֵאת יְדֵי חוֹבָתוֹ בִּלְבַד, אֶלָּא עַד בְּלִי דַי כוּ':

These, then, are the two types of Divine service that result from the soul’s being rooted either in the “right” or the “left.”




5. Note by the Rebbe: “Tur and Shulchan Aruch, beginning of Hilchot Tzedakah.’’

6. Ketuvot 50a.

7. Ibid. 103b.

8. In the standard Hebrew text, this last sentence appears after the following one (i.e., after ברחבה כו'—“expansively”). A parenthetical comment there notes the consequent anomaly and suggests that the sentence might in fact belong here, as in the present edition.

9. Psalms 119:45.

10. Malachi 3:10.