Iggeres Ha’Kodesh Epistle 4, Class 1

Tanya/ Iggeres Ha’Kodesh – The Holy Epistle, Epistle 4, Class 1


“Israel shall be redeemed only by virtue of tzedakah,”1 as it is written, “And her repatriates [shall be redeemed] through tzedakah.”2

“אֵין יִשְׂרָאֵל נִגְאָלִין אֶלָּא בִּצְדָקָה”, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר “וְשָׁבֶיהָ בִּצְדָקָה”.

Tzedakah, whose root connotes both “righteousness” and “charity,” thus brings about the redemption of the Jewish people from exile and their ultimate return to Zion. The same root appears in the next verse to be quoted:

It is written: “Tzedek shall go (yehaleich) before Him.”3

כְּתִיב: “צֶדֶק לְפָנָיו יְהַלֵּךְ”,

Now, one should have expected the verse to say yeileich.

וַהֲוָה־לֵיהּ־לְמֵימַר: “יֵלֵךְ”.

Yehaleich, by contrast, is a causative form of the verb, seeming to imply that righteousness or charity causes some other entity to “go before Him.”

This concept may be understood by considering the verse, “On Your behalf, my heart says, ‘Seek My face.’”4

אַךְ הָעִנְיָן, עַל פִּי מַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב “לְךָ אָמַר לִבִּי בַּקְּשׁוּ פָנָי”,

As Rashi explains it, the simple meaning of the verse is that “on Your behalf and as Your messenger, my heart tells me to seek out Your face” (i.e., G‑d’s inwardness, or innermost essence, for the word פנים is related to both meanings, “face” and “interior”). In this spirit the verse concludes: “Your countenance, G‑d, do I seek”; i.e., “I am indeed doing so: I am seeking Your countenance.”

However, if panai does in fact refer to G‑d’s countenance and inwardness, why would it be necessary to conclude, “Your countenance, G‑d, do I seek”? Surely it would suffice to say, “Your countenance do I seek,” since we have already been informed that we are speaking of G‑d’s countenance.

The Alter Rebbe therefore explains that the word panai (“my face”) refers to the inwardness of the Jewish heart while panecha (“Your countenance”) refers to the inwardness of G‑d.

This means [that man is being urged to] “seek the inwardness of the heart,” that hidden element within his own heart that must be sought after if it is to be revealed.

פֵּירוּשׁ, בַּקְּשׁוּ פְּנִימִית הַלֵּב.

For in the flame of the element of the Divine Fire that is in the heart, i.e., within the soul’s ardent love of G‑d which derives from the element of Fire within the soul, as mentioned in the Tanya, Part I, ch. 3,

כִּי הִנֵּה, בְּלַהַב יְסוֹד הָאֵשׁ הָאֱלֹקִית שֶׁבַּלֵּב

(5a Variant Reading: “For in the heart, the element of Divine Fire within the heart,”)

(נוסח אחר: הִנֵּה, בְּהַלֵּב [יְסוֹד הָאֵשׁ הָאֱלֹקִית שֶׁבַּלֵּב])

there are two aspects: the aspect of chitzoniyut (“outwardness,” i.e., externality, as opposed to essence) and the aspect of pnimiyut (“inwardness”).

יֵשׁ ב’ בְּחִינוֹת: בְּחִינַת חִיצוֹנִיּוּת, וּבְחִינַת פְּנִימִיּוּת;

The chitzoniyut of the heart is the ardent [love] that flares up on account of one’s understanding and knowledge of the greatness of G‑d, the blessed Ein Sof,

חִיצוֹנִיּוּת הַלֵּב, הִיא הִתְלַהֲבוּת הַמִּתְלַהֶבֶת מִבְּחִינַת הַבִּינָה וְהַדַּעַת בִּגְדוּלַּת ה’ אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא,

by meditating6 on His greatness, and from this contemplation giving birth to a strong love resembling “flashes of fire….”7

(להתבוננן) [לְהִתְבּוֹנֵן] בִּגְדוּלָּתוֹ, וּלְהוֹלִיד מִתְּבוּנָה זוֹ אַהֲבָה עַזָּה כְּרִשְׁפֵּי אֵשׁ וְכוּ’.

This, then, is the chitzoniyut, the external level, of the G‑dly soul: a revealed love of G‑d in one’s heart which results from meditation on G‑d’s greatness.

The pnimiyut of the heart is the innermost point in the heart, the depth of the heart,

וּפְנִימִיּוּת הַלֵּב, הִיא הַנְּקוּדָּה שֶׁבִּפְנִימִיּוּת הַלֵּב וְעוּמְקָא דְלִבָּא,

which transcends by far the categories of knowledge and understanding with which man can meditate in his heart on G‑d’s greatness.

שֶׁהִיא לְמַעְלָה מַּעְלָה מִבְּחִינַת הַדַּעַת וְהַתְּבוּנָה שֶׁיּוּכַל הָאָדָם לְהִתְבּוֹנֵן בְּלִבּוֹ בִּגְדוּלַּת ה’,

Unaided, man would never be able to achieve such a profound love through meditation alone; it is granted to the soul as a gift, as will soon be explained, and man’s task is to search and discover it within himself.




1.RambamHilchot Matnot Aniyim, beginning of ch. 10. On the source and wording of this teaching, see the note of the Rebbe at the conclusion of Epistle 9.

2. Isaiah 1:27.

3. Psalms 85:14.

4. Ibid. 27:8.

5. Parentheses and brackets are in the original text.

6. According to a variant reading, להתבוננן would mean “by making them meditate.”

7. Cf. Song of Songs 8:6.

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