Iggeres Ha’Teshuvah Chapter 9, Class 1

Tanya/ Iggeres Ha’Teshuvah – The Epistle on Repentance, Chapter 9, Class 1


The Alter Rebbe explained at the conclusion of the previous chapter that through teshuvah ilaah, the higher level of repentance, the soul is totally cleansed and purified. It then ascends and cleaves to G‑d with the same degree of unity that it enjoyed before it descended into the body. Furthermore, the Alter Rebbe quoted the Zohar to the effect that teshuvah ilaah involves studying Torah with awe and love of G‑d.

In the fourth chapter, however, he explained that teshuvah ilaah involves reinstating the higher letter hey of the Tetragrammaton. What possible connection does this have with studying Torah out of love and fear of G‑d when these two spiritual emotions are related to the letter vav?

In order to resolve this seeming anomaly, the Alter Rebbe will now explain that the love and fear discussed in the present chapter are generated intellectually: they result from meditation upon G‑d’s greatness and are thus the offspring of binah. It is specifically this kind of love and fear that unites the hey with the vav—the intellect with the resulting emotions.

The explanation of this subject—which levels of love and fear are related to the upper hey—is as discussed frequently in the Zohar and Tikkunim,

וּבֵיאוּר הָעִנְיָן, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּזּוֹהַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ וְתִיקּוּנִים בְּכַמָּה מְקוֹמוֹת,

that binah is the higher level of teshuvah,

דְּבִינָה – אִיהִי תְּשׁוּבָה עִילָּאָה,

“the mother crouching over the chicks….”1

“וְהָאֵם רוֹבֶצֶת עַל הָאֶפְרוֹחִים” וְכוּ’.

I.e., binah is the mother of her offspring—the love and fear of G‑d.

One ought to meditate profoundly and with concentration on the greatness of G‑d,

דְּהַיְינוּ, שֶׁעַל־יְדֵי שֶׁמִּתְבּוֹנֵן בִּגְדוּלַּת ה’ בְּהַעֲמָקַת הַדַּעַת,

and through his comprehension arouse a sense of intellectual awe and love

וּמוֹלִיד מֵרוּחַ בִּינָתוֹ דְּחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ שִׂכְלִיִּים,

on rational grounds.

וּבְטוּב טַעַם וָדַעַת,

This love is that of the verse, “To love the L-rd your G‑d…because He is your life…”2a love based on a reason.

כָּעִנְיָן שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: “לְאַהֲבָה אֶת ה’ אֱלֹקֶיךָ”, מִשּׁוּם “כִּי הוּא חַיֶּיךָ וְגוֹ’”,

He will not be content with the endowed, latent love alone….

וְלֹא דַי לוֹ בְּאַהֲבָה טִבְעִית הַמְסוּתֶּרֶת לְבַד וְכוּ’,

This is concealed in the heart of every Jew and needs but to be revealed; such a worshipper, though, creates instead a love of G‑d through his own intellectual endeavor.

So, too, with fear and terror of G‑d,

וְכֵן בְּיִרְאָה וָפַחַד

or shame…, as is known.

אוֹ בּוּשָׁה וְכוּ’, כַּנּוֹדָע –

This is a deeper form of awe, in which one feels abashed in G‑d’s presence, hence fearing to rebel against Him by sinning.

When one’s spiritual emotions of love and fear are born in the mind, then:

This is termed “the mother crouching over the chicks…”: binah has given birth and hovers over her offspring—the love and fear of G‑d.

אֲזַי נִקְרֵאת “הָאֵם רוֹבֶצֶת עַל הָאֶפְרוֹחִים” וְכוּ’.





1.  Deuteronomy 22:6.

2.  Ibid. 30:20.

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