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Tanya/ Iggeres Ha’Kodesh - The Holy Epistle, Epistle 13, Class 5


(22The reason the verse says “for those who fear You,” which would seem to imply that the chesed from above is granted to them as a reward, rather than “in those who fear You,”

(וּמַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב "לִירֵאֶיךָ" וְלֹא "בִּירֵאֶיךָ",

is that whatever is in a state of concealment within any soul

הַיְינוּ מִשּׁוּם שֶׁכָּל מַה שֶּׁהוּא בִּבְחִינַת הֶעְלֵם בְּכָל נְשָׁמָה,

is not vested within the body—in the individual’s mind and heart, for they are incapable of receiving it.

הִנֵּה בְּחִינָה זוֹ אֵינָהּ מְלוּבֶּשֶׁת תּוֹךְ הַגּוּף בְּמוֹחוֹ וְלִבּוֹ,

Rather, it encompasses [the individual] from above, so to speak,

אֶלָּא הוּא בִּבְחִינַת מַקִּיף מִלְמַעְלָה,

and from there it radiates to his mind and heart at those times which require an arousal of the attribute in question,

וּמִשָּׁם הִיא מְאִירָה לְמוֹחוֹ וְלִבּוֹ לָעִתִּים הַצְּרִיכִים לְהִתְעוֹרְרוּת בְּחִינָה זוֹ,

so that it will be aroused and will illumine his mind and heart in order to result in actual deeds.)

שֶׁתִּתְעוֹרֵר וְתָאִיר לְמוֹחוֹ וְלִבּוֹ, כְּדֵי לָבֹא לִידֵי מַעֲשֶׂה בְּפוֹעַל מַמָּשׁ).

For example, a person whose charitable contributions are customarily limited will have revealed to him the concealed and infinite attribute of chesed, which will prompt him to give tzedakah unstintingly.

[King David] therefore said that whereas the “abundance of goodness” of the House of Israel, [both] that which is hidden and that which is manifest, is (so to speak) without limit and measure (relative to the category of their soul vested in the body),

וְאָמַר עַל כֵּן, אֲשֶׁר "רַב טוּב לְבֵית יִשְׂרָאֵל", הַצָּפוּן וְהַגָּלוּי, הוּא בִּבְחִינַת בְּלִי גְבוּל וּמִדָּה לְפִי עֵרֶךְ נַפְשׁוֹתָם הַמְלוּבֶּשֶׁת בַּגּוּף,

The kindness of a finite creature is by definition limited. However, it may be termed infinite in relation to the soul vested in the body.

therefore, “You, too, O G‑d, relate to them with the attribute of Your unlimited and infinitely great chesed, which is of the level known as gedulah, and which is called rav chesed”—the chesed of arich anpin that utterly transcends the lesser chesed of z’eyr anpin, from which the worlds evolve by means of the Seder Hishtalshelut.

לָכֵן, גַּם אַתָּה ה' תִּתְנַהֵג עִמָּהֶם בְּמִדַּת חַסְדְּךָ הַגָּדוֹל בְּלִי גְבוּל וְתַכְלִית, הַנִּקְרָא "רַב חֶסֶד".

“For there is chesed, and [then] there is [a far higher form of] chesed”23:

דְּ"אִית חֶסֶד וְאִית חֶסֶד":

There is chesed olam (lit., “chesed of the world”)—i.e., a worldlike (and hence finite) chesed,

אִית חֶסֶד עוֹלָם,

that has an opposite counterpart—the attribute of din, of severe justice, heaven forfend,

שֶׁיֵּשׁ כְּנֶגְדּוֹ וּלְעוּמָּתוֹ מִדַּת הַדִּין חַס וְשָׁלוֹם,

which would diminish and contract [G‑d’s] goodness.

לְמַעֵט וּלְצַמְצֵם חַסְדּוֹ וְטוּבוֹ.

The superior form of chesed, however, which is called rav chesed,

אֲבָל חֶסֶד עֶלְיוֹן הַנִּקְרָא "רַב חֶסֶד",

does not have the attribute of din opposed to it to diminish and contract the abundance of [G‑d’s] benevolence from extending without limit or end.

אֵין כְּנֶגְדּוֹ מִדַּת הַדִּין לְמַעֵט וּלְצַמְצֵם רוֹב חַסְדּוֹ מִלְּהִתְפַּשֵּׁט בְּלִי גְבוּל וְתַכְלִית,

For it derives from the level of [Divinity called] sovev kol almin, which transcends (lit., “encompasses”) all worlds and limitations, and from [the level of Divinity called] Temira DeChol Temirin (lit., “that which is hidden [even] from all the hidden [worlds]),”

כִּי הוּא נִמְשָׁךְ מִבְּחִינַת "סוֹבֵב כָּל עָלְמִין" וּ"טְמִירָא דְכָל טְמִירִין",

which is called keter elyon (lit., “the supernal crown”), i.e., the utterly transcendent level of Divinity known as keter.

הַנִּקְרָא "כֶּתֶר עֶלְיוֹן".

This, then, is the meaning of the verse which follows our opening quotation and which continues to speak of “those who fear You” and “those who trust in You”: “Hide them in the concealment of Your innermost dimension…” (for, as explained above, פנים denotes both “countenance” and “inwardness”); “conceal them in a sukkah…” (i.e., in the sublime level of chesed which, deriving from the abovementioned level of keter, transcends the Seder Hishtalshelut and will encompass them like a sukkah).

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "תַּסְתִּירֵם בְּסֵתֶר פָּנֶיךָ וְגוֹ' תִּצְפְּנֵם בְּסוּכָּה וְגוֹ'":


Supplement by the Rebbe

The thrust of the above letter, which was delivered by an emissary who was to collect contributions for charity, is that even those who serve G‑d by means of their soul-root in the “left”—even if, like Beit Shammai, they are totally righteous individuals (who need not give tzedakah [for the sake of atonement]; cf. “for we are not complete,” as explained above in Iggeret Hakodesh, Epistle 10)—nevertheless, they too possess “an abundant and immense” degree of chesed. “At those times which require it,” moreover, “it results in actual deeds.”

This is explicit in the concluding passage of the letter which was not printed “by the rabbis, long may they live, sons of the illustrious author of blessed memory, whose soul is in Eden,” and which reads as follows24:

After the above words, from the depths of my soul I seek

ואחר הדברים האלה, נפשי בשאלתי

to arouse the [infinite] abundance of benevolence that is concealed in the heart of every individual in the Chasidic brotherhood,25

לעורר רב טוב הגנוז והצפון בלב כל אנשי שלומנו

[so that it be manifested] from concealment to revelation and be translated into action,

מן ההעלם אל הגילוי, לבא לידי מעשה

and so that you will all “fill your hands unto G‑d” by giving charity with a full and open hand

למלאות ידם לה', ביד מלאה ורחבה

through the trusted bearer of this message—and what is written [above] in the letter should suffice for the discerning.

על ידי ציר נאמן, מוסר כתב זה כו', ודי למבין כמו שכתוב באגרת

I am not spelling it out, for this is not necessary; the above will suffice.

ואין אני כותבו מחמת שלא נצרך, ודי למבין

These are the words of one who loves you with all his soul and who seeks your welfare with heartfelt and soulful longing.

הכל דברי אוהב נפשם, דורש שלומם מלב ונפש חפיצה

At this point, the Alter Rebbe signs:

Shneur Zalman, the son of my master, my father, my mentor and Rebbe, Rabbi Baruch

שניאור זלמן בן לאדוני אבי מורי ורבי הרב ר' ברוך

The Rebbe adds: “The above passage [which makes it clear that the foregoing teachings were intended to find practical expression in the giving of tzedakah] enables us to understand the relevance here of the first part of this letter, which otherwise should seemingly have begun with והנה כל איש ישראל—‘Now every Jew needs to comprise….’”26




22. Parentheses are in the original text.

23. Note by the Rebbe: “Zohar III, 133b.”

24. See Igrot Kodesh by the Alter Rebbe (Kehot, N.Y., 1980), p. 47 ff. (revised ed. 2012, p. 95 ff.)

25. In the Hebrew original, this phrase is abbreviated as אנ"ש.

26. Page 203, above.