Iggeres Ha’Kodesh Epistle 4, Class 2

Tanya/ Iggeres Ha’Kodesh – The Holy Epistle, Epistle 4, Class 2


As it is written: “From out of the depths do I call unto You, O G‑d”8; [i.e.,] from the depths of the heart.9

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב “מִמַּעֲמַקִּים קְרָאתִיךָ ה’” – מֵעוּמְקָא דְלִיבָּא

“Depths” appears in the plural, for the heart harbors depths, with yet profounder depths beyond.

(By way of analogy, there is a parallel in worldly matters. Sometimes, there is an extremely important matter upon which a man’s entire vitality hinges; it touches him as far as and including the innermost point of his heart,

(וְעַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל, כְּמוֹ בְּמִילֵּי דְעָלְמָא, לִפְעָמִים יֵשׁ עִנְיָן גָּדוֹל מְאֹד מְאֹד, שֶׁכָּל חַיּוּת הָאָדָם תָּלוּי בּוֹ וְנוֹגֵעַ עַד נְקוּדַּת פְּנִימִיּוּת הַלֵּב וְעַד בִּכְלָל,

causing him to do things and say things without any reason whatsoever),10 for it touches the essence of his soul that transcends logic and reason.

וְגוֹרֵם לוֹ לִפְעָמִים לַעֲשׂוֹת מַעֲשִׂים וּלְדַבֵּר דְּבָרִים שֶׁלֹּא בְדַעַת כְּלָל).

And “the one corresponds to the other”11:

וְזֶה לְעוּמַּת זֶה,

The spiritual realm corresponds to the physical. Just as worldly affairs sometimes touch a person so strongly that he acts without reason:

It is precisely so with the “service of the heart.” A Jew’s love for G‑d may be so great that it touches his soul’s essence, which utterly transcends logic and reason.

כָּכָה הוּא מַמָּשׁ בַּעֲבוֹדָה שֶׁבַּלֵּב.

As is known, this is because the innermost point of the heart transcends the faculty of reason, which extends and vests itself in the emotive attributes born of ChaBaDi.e., born of the three intellectual stages of wisdom, understanding, and knowledge that together constitute the intellectual process called ChaBaD.

וְהַיְינוּ, לְפִי שֶׁבְּחִינַת נְקוּדַּת פְּנִימִית הַלֵּב הִיא לְמַעְלָה מִבְּחִינַת הַדַּעַת הַמִּתְפַּשֵּׁט וּמִתְלַבֵּשׁ בַּמִּדּוֹת שֶׁנּוֹלְדוּ מֵחָכְמָה־בִּינָה־דַּעַת כַּנּוֹדָע,

Rather, [the pnimiyut of the heart] is an aspect of the radiance from the supreme chochmah, which transcends binah and daat,

רַק הִיא בְּחִינַת הֶאָרַת חָכְמָה עֶלְיוֹנָה שֶׁלְּמַעְלָה מֵהַבִּינָה וְהַדַּעַת,

and in this [supreme chochmah], there is vested and concealed the actual light of G‑d,

וּבָהּ מְלוּבָּשׁ וְגָנוּז אוֹר ה’ מַמָּשׁ,

as it is written, “By wisdom (chochmah) G‑d [founded the earth].”12

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב “ה’ בְּחָכְמָה כוּ’”,

The two quoted Hebrew words literally mean “G‑d [is] in chochmah”; i.e., G‑d’s infinite light is clothed in chochmah.

And this is precisely the spark of Divinity in every soul of Israel.13

וְהִיא הִיא בְּחִינַת נִיצוֹץ אֱלֹקוּת שֶׁבְּכָל נֶפֶשׁ מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל.

It is this Divine spark, utterly transcending reason, that gives birth to the love of G‑d in the pnimiyut of the heart, that likewise transcends all reason.14

A question arises: Since this love emanates from the Divine spark found within the soul of all Jews, why do they not all attain this level of Divine service?

The reason that not every person merits this rank in the service of the heart—service from the depth of the heart in a state of pnimiyut

וּמַה שֶּׁאֵין כָּל אָדָם זוֹכֶה לְמַדְרֵגָה זוֹ, לַעֲבוֹדָה שֶׁבַּלֵּב מֵעוּמְקָא דְלִבָּא בִּבְחִינַת פְּנִימִיּוּת,

is that within him, this faculty is in a state of exile and captivity,

הַיְינוּ, לְפִי שֶׁבְּחִינָה זוֹ הִיא אֶצְלוֹ בִּבְחִינַת גָּלוּת וְשִׁבְיָה,

and this is actually the state of the exile of the Shechinah,

וְהִיא בְּחִינַת גָּלוּת הַשְּׁכִינָה מַמָּשׁ,

for it is precisely the [Shechinah] which is the spark of Divinity that is in one’s Divine soul.

כִּי הִיא הִיא בְּחִינַת נִיצוֹץ אֱלֹהוּת שֶׁבְּנַפְשׁוֹ הָאֱלֹהִית.

Thus, when the “spark” is in exile, the Shechinah is in exile as well. Moreover, being in exile, the spark cannot rouse the soul to serve G‑d with the loftier manner of love that stems from the innermost depths of the heart.

The cause of the exile of the Divine spark of the soul is,15 as in the words of our Sages, of blessed memory: “When [the Jewish people] were exiled to Babylon, the Shechinah went with them.”16

וְסִבַּת הַגָּלוּת, הוּא מַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה “גָּלוּ לְבָבֶל שְׁכִינָה עִמָּהֶם”,

In terms of the individual sparks of the soul, this means that when a spark is in a state of “Babylon,” i.e., when an individual acts in a “Babylonian” manner, then the Shechinah is in exile together with him.

This is so because he has vested the innermost point of his heart in [that aspect of the universe which is] the opposing counterpart [to holiness],

דְּהַיְינוּ מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהִלְבִּישׁ בְּחִינַת פְּנִימִית נְקוּדַּת לְבָבוֹ בְּ”זֶה לְעוּמַּת זֶה”,

namely, in the soiled garments—mundane matters and worldly desires—which are known as “Babylon.”

דְּהַיְינוּ בִּלְבוּשִׁים צוֹאִים דְּמִילֵּי דְּעָלְמָא וְתַאֲוֹת עוֹלָם הַזֶּה, הַנִּקְרָא בְּשֵׁם “בָּבֶל”,

He has thereby banished the Divine spark within his soul, the personal Shechinah within himself, so to speak, to this all pervasive “Babylon.”

This [exile] corresponds to the “foreskin” that covers the covenant and the innermost point of the heart.

וְהִיא בְּחִינַת עָרְלָה הַמְכַסָּה עַל הַבְּרִית וּנְקוּדָּה הַפְּנִימִית שֶׁבַּלֵּב,

Of this it is written, “And you shall excise the foreskin of your heart.”17

וְעַל זֶה נֶאֱמַר: “וּמַלְתֶּם אֵת עָרְלַת לְבַבְכֶם”.

In principle, the spiritual service of circumcision is that of repentance.18 With regard to exile, our Sages teach that “if Israel repent, they will be immediately redeemed.”19 Repentance thus leads to the redemption (on a personal scale) of the Divine spark within each individual soul, and (on a cosmic scale) of the Shechinah, from their respective exiles. In spiritual terms, the act of circumcision likewise removes a veil of concealment and allows the innermost point of the heart to be revealed.




9. Zohar II, 63b.

10. The parentheses close here in the original text. However, the Rebbe points out that they should, in fact, close further on, after the words, “in every soul of Israel.”

11. Ecclesiastes 7:14.

12. Proverbs 3:19.

13. See note 10, above.

14. Note by the Rebbe: “Cf. Tanya, Part I, ch. 19.”

15. Note by the Rebbe: “It would seem that the text should read, כמאמר—‘as our Sages….’”

16. Megillah 29a.

17. Deuteronomy 10:16. The same Hebrew word means both “excision” and “circumcision.”

18.See Sefer Halikkutim DachTzemach Tzedek, s.v. Milah.

19. Sanhedrin 98a; RambamHilchot Teshuvah 7:5.

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