Iggeres Ha’Kodesh Epistle 5, Class 2

Tanya/ Iggeres Ha’Kodesh – The Holy Epistle, Epistle 5, Class 2


Moreover, [chochmah] is referred to as “the ‘father’ who founded the ‘daughter.’”14

וְנִקְרָא “אַבָּא יָסַד בְּרַתָּא”.

Chochmah is the “father,” or source, of the letters of speech, which are called the “daughter,” the level of malchut.

One might have expected the letters of speech to derive from the emotive faculties (the middot) or from binah, for surely a person articulates letters of speech when he seeks to express an emotion or to speak of an idea that he has comprehended. The Alter Rebbe, however, now goes on to explain that the letters of speech in fact derive from chochmah, which transcends comprehension.

This means: The formation of the letters of speech which proceed from the five organs of articulation15 is not an intellectual process.

פֵּירוּשׁ, כִּי הִנֵּה הִתְהַוּוּת אוֹתִיּוֹת הַדִּבּוּר הַיּוֹצְאוֹת מֵה’ מוֹצָאוֹת הַפֶּה אֵינָן דָּבָר מוּשְׂכָּל

The letters do not emanate from the soul as a result of any intellectual imperative.

It is also not inherent in the nature of these organs [that they must] pronounce the letters

וְלֹא מוּטְבָּע בְּטֶבַע מוֹצָאוֹת הַלָּלוּ, לְהוֹצִיא מִבְטָא הָאוֹתִיּוֹת

—by means of the breath and the sound that strikes them—

עַל־יְדֵי הַהֶבֶל וְהַקּוֹל הַמַּכֶּה בָּהֶן

by either a natural faculty or by an intellectual faculty.

עַל פִּי דֶּרֶךְ הַטֶּבַע וְלֹא עַל פִּי דֶּרֶךְ הַשֵּׂכֶל.

With the lips, for example, by means of which the letters beit, vav, mem, and pey are uttered,

כְּגוֹן הַשְּׂפָתַיִם, עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל, שֶׁאוֹתִיּוֹת בומ”פ יוֹצְאוֹת מֵהֶן,

Since the lips are the most visible of the organs of speech, the Alter Rebbe chooses for his example the letters which they form; one can readily see that pronouncing these letters is impelled neither by the nature of the lips themselves nor by the faculty of intellect.

neither nature nor the intellect compels the utterance of the four varying types of pronunciation of these letters in accordance with variations in the movement of the lips,

אֵין הַטֶּבַע וְלֹא הַשֵּׂכֶל נוֹתֵן לִיצִיאַת מִבְטָא אַרְבַּע חֶלְקֵי שִׁינּוּיֵי בִּיטּוּי אוֹתִיּוֹת אֵלּוּ, עַל פִּי שִׁינּוּיֵי תְּנוּעַת הַשְּׂפָתַיִם,

which are moved by the same breath and the same sound that strikes them equally.

שֶׁמִּתְנוֹעַנְעוֹת בְּהֶבֶל אֶחָד וְקוֹל אֶחָד הַפּוֹגֵעַ בָּהֶן בְּשָׁוֶה,

Since the letter beit and the letter vav, for example, are both formed by the same breath and the same sound, the distinction between them must be made by the movements of the lips: when the letter beit is pronounced, the lips are pursed in one way, and when the letter vav is pronounced, they are pursed differently. This being so, one would expect that it would take a conscious mental effort to move the lips in one specific manner to pronounce the letter beit and in another specific manner to pronounce the letter vav.16 Alternatively, if it were dependent on nature, the speaker would naturally want to move his lips in the different ways necessary for the formation of one letter or the other.

On the contrary: the change in the movements of the lips depends on the difference in pronunciation of the letters the soul wishes to utter by means of the lips,

וְאַדְּרַבָּה, שִׁינּוּי הַתְּנוּעוֹת שֶׁבִּשְׂפָתַיִם הוּא לְפִי שִׁינּוּי בִּיטּוּי הָאוֹתִיּוֹת שֶׁבִּרְצוֹן הַנֶּפֶשׁ, לְבַטֵּא בִשְׂפָתַיִם כִּרְצוֹנָהּ,

when it desires to pronounce the letter beit, or vav, or mem, or peyand the lips will instinctively and spontaneously move accordingly.

לוֹמַר אוֹת ב’ אוֹ ו’ אוֹ מ’ אוֹ פ’.

It is not the other way around, that it is the will and intention of the soul to make a change in the motions of the lips

וְלֹא לְהֵיפֶךְ, שֶׁיִּהְיֶה רְצוֹן הַנֶּפֶשׁ וְכַוָּנָתָהּ לַעֲשׂוֹת שִׁינּוּי תְּנוּעוֹת הַשְּׂפָתַיִם

as they are moving now in the utterance of these four letters.

כְּמוֹ שֶׁהֵן מִתְנַעַנְעוֹת עַתָּה בְּבִיטּוּיֵי ד’ אוֹתִיּוֹת אֵלּוּ,

As is empirically evident, the soul does not at all intend or know how to intend the change in the motions of the lips [which articulate] those distinctions [between the various letters].

וְכַנִּרְאֶה בְּחוּשׁ, שֶׁאֵין הַנֶּפֶשׁ מִתְכַּוֶּונֶת וְיוֹדַעַת לְכַוֵּין כְּלָל שִׁינּוּי תְּנוּעוֹת הַשְּׂפָתַיִם בְּשִׁינּוּיִים אֵלּוּ.

Since the soul neither intends nor even knows how to direct the lips to move in the manner required to form particular letters, it is obviously the mere desire to utter certain letters that results in the automatic movement of the lips in the appropriate manner.

This is even more evident with the pronunciation of the vowels,

וְיוֹתֵר נִרְאֶה כֵּן בְּבִיטּוּי הַנְּקוּדּוֹת,

for when the soul wishes to utter the kamatz vowel, the lips spontaneously become compressed,

שֶׁכְּשֶׁהַנֶּפֶשׁ רְצוֹנָהּ לְהוֹצִיא מִפִּיהָ נְקוּדַּת קָמַץ אֲזַי מִמֵּילָא נִקְמָצִים הַשְּׂפָתַיִם,

and with the patach vowel, the lips open17of their own accord,

וּבְפַתָּח נִפְתָּחִים הַשְּׂפָתַיִם,

and not at all because of the will of the soul to compress or to open [them].

וְלֹא שֶׁרְצוֹן הַנֶּפֶשׁ לִקְמוֹץ וְלֹא לִפְתּוֹחַ כְּלָל וּכְלָל.

There is no need to go any further into a matter which is simple, comprehensible, and intelligible to every intelligent person,

וְאֵין לְהַאֲרִיךְ בְּדָבָר הַפָּשׁוּט וּמוּבָן וּמוּשְׂכָּל לְכָל מַשְׂכִּיל,

namely, that the pronunciation of the letters and vowels transcends the apprehended and comprehended intellect,

שֶׁמִּבְטָא הָאוֹתִיּוֹת וְהַנְּקוּדּוֹת הוּא לְמַעְלָה מֵהַשֵּׂכֶל הַמּוּשָּׂג וּמוּבָן,

but rather derives from the hidden intellect and the primordial stage of the intellect, which is in the articulate soul.

אֶלָּא מִשֵּׂכֶל הַנֶּעְלָם וְקַדְמוּת הַשֵּׂכֶל שֶׁבַּנֶּפֶשׁ הַמְדַבֶּרֶת,

This is why an infant cannot speak, even though it understands everything, for speech does not result from revealed and apprehended intellect but from the more rarefied “hidden intellect,” which in the infant has yet to be developed.

וְלָכֵן אֵין הַתִּינוֹק יָכוֹל לְדַבֵּר, אַף שֶׁמֵּבִין הַכֹּל:

We thus see that the letters of speech derive from chochmah. This, then, is the meaning of “the ‘father’ who founded the ‘daughter’”: chochmah is the “father” or source of the letters of speech, which are called the “daughter,” or the sefirah of malchut.




15. The larynx, palate, tongue, teeth, and lips.

16. Note by the Rebbe: “This is analogous to the musical notes of a harp that are produced by plucking different strings… (Hemshech 5666, p. 447).”

17. The Hebrew names for the vowels קָמַץ and פַּתָּח respectively mean “compressing” and “opening.”

Comments are closed.