Iggeres Ha’Kodesh Epistle 13, Class 4

Tanya/ Iggeres Ha’Kodesh – The Holy Epistle, Epistle 13, Class 4


As for Scripture characterizing him as “Abraham who loved Me,”18 and [in another verse characterizing Isaac as] “the Dread of Isaac,”19 thereby indicating that Abraham’s service was an expression of chesed and Isaac’s service an expression of gevurah, which would seem to contradict the earlier statement that Abraham also revealed the attribute of gevurah,

וּמַה שֶּׁאָמַר הַכָּתוּב: “אַבְרָהָם אוֹהֲבִי” וּ”פַחַד יִצְחָק”,

this difference and distinction exists [only] on the scale of manifestation and concealment.

הִנֵּה הַהֶפְרֵשׁ וְהַהֶבְדֵּל הַזֶּה הוּא בִּבְחִינַת גִּילּוּי וְהֶעְלֵם,

In Isaac’s mode of Divine service, the fear is manifest while the love is hidden in a state of concealment and hiding.

שֶׁבְּמִדַּת יִצְחָק – הַפַּחַד הוּא בִּבְחִינַת גִּילּוּי וְהָאַהֲבָה מְסוּתֶּרֶת בִּבְחִינַת הֶעְלֵם וְהֶסְתֵּר,

The opposite is the case with the trait of our father Abraham, peace be to him—chesed was manifest, and gevurah was concealed.

וְהַהֵיפֶךְ – בְּמִדַּת אַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ עָלָיו־הַשָּׁלוֹם.

And this is the meaning of what was said by King David, peace be to him, who was20 of the attribute of gevurah, “How abundant is Your goodness [which You have hidden away for those who fear You].”

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁאָמַר דָּוִד הַמֶּלֶךְ עָלָיו־הַשָּׁלוֹם: “מָה רַב טוּבְךָ וְגוֹ’”.

That is to say that the attribute of goodness and chesed, which is in a state of concealment and hiding within those whose soul-root derives from the “left,” i.e., from gevurah,

כְּלוֹמַר, שֶׁמִּדַּת הַטּוֹב וְהַחֶסֶד אֲשֶׁר הִיא בִּבְחִינַת הֶעְלֵם וְהֶסְתֵּר אֵצֶל כָּל מִי שֶׁשּׁוֹרֶשׁ נִשְׁמָתוֹ מִבְּחִינַת שְׂמֹאל,

and who are referred to as “those who fear You,”

הַנִּקְרָא בְּשֵׁם “יְרֵאֶיךָ”,

resembling the [abovementioned] trait of Beit Shammai—

כְּמִדַּת בֵּית שַׁמַּאי,

though this is a concealed and hidden goodness, beneath a dominant surface of gevurah,

הִנֵּה אַף שֶׁהוּא טוֹב הַגָּנוּז וְצָפוּן,

it is nevertheless truly as abundant and immense as the attribute of gedulah21 and chesed, which is of the “right.”

אַף־עַל־פִּי־כֵן, הוּא רַב וְגָדוֹל מְאֹד כְּמוֹ מִדַּת הַגְּדוּלָּה וְהַחֶסֶד מַמָּשׁ שֶׁמִּבְּחִינַת יָמִין,

Although the element of chesed within those described as “those that fear You” is concealed, for their soul-root derives essentially from gevurah, it is latent within them just as abundantly as it is found within those who are essentially of the “right.”

Moreover, both [degrees of chesed]—that which is dominant in the souls deriving from the “right” as well as that incorporated in the souls deriving from the “left”—are manifest without limit, measure, or dimension.

וּשְׁתֵּיהֶן הֵן מִבְּחִינַת גִּילּוּי בְּלִי גְבוּל וּמִדָּה וְשִׁיעוּר.

And this is the meaning of the phrase, “How abundant is Your goodness”;

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁכָּתוּב “מָה רַב טוּבְךָ”,

i.e., [it applies in both cases] without limit and measure;

כְּלוֹמַר בְּלִי גְבוּל וּמִדָּה,

whether it be the goodness “which You have hidden away for those who fear You” or that which “You have wrought for those who trust in You,”

בֵּין הַטּוֹב “אֲשֶׁר צָפַנְתָּ לִירֵאֶיךָ”, וּבֵין אֲשֶׁר “פָּעַלְתָּ לַחוֹסִים בָּךְ”,

referring to the trusting ones who derive from the “right,”

שֶׁהֵם בַּעֲלֵי הַבִּטָּחוֹן שֶׁמִּבְּחִינַת יָמִין,

A person trusts his beloved friend to act in his best interests. In the same way, those whose souls stem from the “right” and who serve G‑d with chesed and love place their trust in Him.

and whose kindness and goodness are also in a state of manifestation and expansiveness before [the sight of] man,

וְחַסְדָּם וְטוּבָם, הוּא גַם כֵּן בִּבְחִינַת גִּילּוּי וְהִתְפַּשְּׁטוּת – “נֶגֶד בְּנֵי אָדָם”,

and by no means in a state of contraction and concealment.

וְלֹא בִּבְחִינַת צִמְצוּם וְהֶסְתֵּר כְּלָל.

We can now understand why the verse begins by saying “hidden away for those who fear You” and concludes with the manifest state of “before man”: The verse is alluding to two forms of chesed—in its concealed state, as possessed by “those who fear You,” and in its revealed state, as possessed by “those who trust in You.”

(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.




18. Isaiah 41:8.

19. Genesis 31:42.

20. Zohar III, 282a.

21. This term denotes the Divine attribute of chesed; see Shaar Hayichud VehaEmunah, ch. 4.

22. Parentheses are in the original text.