Iggeres Ha’Teshuvah Chapter 2, Class 4

Tanya/ Iggeres Ha’Teshuvah – The Epistle on Repentance, Chapter 2, Class 4


On this basis, that fasting substitutes for an offering and as such has a place even when an individual does not need to undergo suffering in order to attain complete atonement,

וְעַל יְסוֹד זֶה,

the Arizal taught his disciples, according to the principles of the Kabbalah, the number of fasts for many transgressions,

לִימֵּד הָאֲרִיזַ”ל לְתַלְמִידָיו עַל פִּי חָכְמַת הָאֱמֶת, מִסְפַּר הַצּוֹמוֹת לְכַמָּה עֲוֹנוֹת וַחֲטָאִים,

even though they entail neither excision nor death by Divine agency—in which case suffering would be necessary.

אַף שֶׁאֵין בָּהֶן כָּרֵת וְלֹא מִיתָה בִּידֵי שָׁמַיִם,

Examples: for anger—151 fasts;

כְּמוֹ, עַל הַכַּעַס – קנ”א תַּעֲנִיּוֹת וְכוּ’;

even for transgressing a Rabbinic prohibition, such as drinking the wine of non-Jews—seventy-three fasts;

וַאֲפִילוּ עַל אִיסּוּר דְּרַבָּנָן, כְּמוֹ סְתָם יֵינָם – יִתְעַנֶּה ע”ג תַּעֲנִיּוֹת וְכוּ’;

likewise for neglecting a positive Rabbinic enactment, such as prayer11—sixty-one fasts.

וְכֵן עַל בִּיטּוּל מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה דְּרַבָּנָן, כְּמוֹ תְּפִלָּה – יִתְעַנֶּה ס”א תַּעֲנִיּוֹת וְכוּ’.

As a general rule, the mystery of fasting is wondrously effective for the revelation of the supreme will,

וְדֶרֶךְ כְּלָל, סוֹד הַתַּעֲנִית הִיא סְגוּלָּה נִפְלָאָה לְהִתְגַּלּוּת רָצוֹן הָעֶלְיוֹן בָּרוּךְ־הוּא,

similar to an offering, of which it is said, “An aroma pleasing to G‑d.”12

כְּמוֹ הַקָּרְבָּן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בּוֹ: “רֵיחַ נִיחוֹחַ לַה’”,

Thus, in Isaiah we find, “Do you call this a fast and a day desirable to G‑d?!”13

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בִּישַׁעְיָה: “הֲלָזֶה תִּקְרָא צוֹם וְיוֹם רָצוֹן לַה’”,

Obviously, an acceptable fast is a “desirable day.”

מִכְּלָל, שֶׁהַצּוֹם הַנִּרְצֶה הוּא יוֹם רָצוֹן:




11. The Rebbe notes that we cannot adduce from here that the Alter Rebbe is of the opinion that the obligation of prayer is of Rabbinic origin. (This would be consonant with the statement in his Shulchan Aruch, Hilchot Tefillah, Section 106; it is also implied in the beginning of ch. 38 of the Tanya [Vol. II in this series, p. 528], and in Likkutei Torah, Parashat Balak 70c. However, in the famous letter of the Alter Rebbe that appears in Beit Rebbe, Part I, p. 20a [Igrot Kodesh by the Alter Rebbe (Kehot, N.Y., 2012), p. 34], he states outright that prayer is of Torah origin. In Mishnat Yoel, this whole issue is debated and explained. In any event, no proof can be derived from the above text.) For according to all opinions, the specific times for prayer are of Rabbinic origin; when one neglects this aspect of prayer, then the Arizal prescribes sixty-one fasts.

12.  Leviticus 1:13.

13.  58:5.

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