Iggeres Ha’Kodesh Epistle 5, Class 3

Tanya/ Iggeres Ha’Kodesh – The Holy Epistle, Epistle 5, Class 3


Until this point, the Alter Rebbe has explained the Talmudic teaching that the World to Come was created by the letter yud: the sefirah of chochmah, which this letter represents, is the spiritual source of Gan Eden, which is in the World to Come.

However, according to the above, since the letters of the supernal creative speech derive from chochmah, it would seem that this world, which was also created by the letters of Divine speech, was likewise created from the letter yud that represents chochmah. Why, then, do our Sages teach that only the World to Come was created from the letter yud, while this world was created from the letter hey?

The Alter Rebbe therefore now goes on to explain that the letters of speech are composed of “matter” and “form” the “body” and “soul” (or: the external and internal aspects) of the letters. While the “form” of the letters does indeed derive from chochmah, the “matter” of the letters of speech merely derives from the heart.

So, too, Above: the internal aspect of the letters derives from chochmah; from this aspect are created the higher spiritual beings which are able to apprehend G-dliness. However, the external aspect of the supernal letters of speech derives from the “breath,” the hey of the Divine Name. It is from this lesser level that this physical world was created.

In the words of the Alter Rebbe:

However, the letters exist on planes of “matter” and “form,” which are also referred to as their “internal” aspect (i.e., the “form,” which is their “soul”) and their “external” aspect (i.e., the “matter,” which is their “body”).

אַךְ הָאוֹתִיּוֹת הֵן בִּבְחִינַת חוֹמֶר וְצוּרָה, הַנִּקְרָא פְּנִימִית וְחִיצוֹנִית,

Although their source is the primordial stage of the intellect and the will of the soul, for as soon as the soul desires to speak these letters are formed, as explained above,

כִּי הֲגַם שֶׁמְּקוֹרָן הוּא מִקַּדְמוּת הַשֵּׂכֶל וּרְצוֹן הַנֶּפֶשׁ,

this is but the “form” of the differentiation in the pronunciation of the twenty-two letters.

זוֹ הִיא בְּחִינַת צוּרַת שִׁינּוּי הַמִּבְטָא שֶׁבְּכב אוֹתִיּוֹת,

The “matter” and “body” of their formation, however, i.e., the aspect of their “externality,” is the breath issuing from the heart.

אֲבָל בְּחִינַת הַחוֹמֶר וְגוּף הִתְהַוּוּתָן, וְהוּא בְּחִינַת חִיצוֹנִיּוּתָן, הוּא הַהֶבֶל הַיּוֹצֵא מֵהַלֵּב,

From this breath is formed a simple sound which proceeds from the throat,

שֶׁמִּמֶּנּוּ מִתְהַוֶּה קוֹל פָּשׁוּט הַיּוֹצֵא מֵהַגָּרוֹן,

and which is then divided into the twenty-two kinds of enunciation and expression of the twenty-two letters,

וְאַחַר כָּךְ נֶחְלָק לְכב הֲבָרוֹת, וּבִיטּוּי כב אוֹתִיּוֹת

[these divisions taking place] through the five known organs of speech: alef, chet, hey, and ayin18 through the throat;

בְּהמוֹצָאוֹת הַיְדוּעוֹת: אחהע מֵהַגָּרוֹן,

gimmel, yud, kaf, and kuf through the palate, and so on; e.g., beit, vav, mem, and pey from the lips, and so on;

גיכק מֵהַחֵיךְ כוּ‘.

while the breath itself, which has its own sound independent of the letter being spoken, is uttered by the letter hey19—“the light letter…,” inasmuch as it lacks the substance of a complete letter,

וּמִבְטָא הַהֶבֶל הוּא אוֹת ה‘ “אָתָא קַלִּילָא כוּ‘”,

which is the source of the “matter” and “body” of the letters before their division into twenty-two.

וְהוּא מְקוֹר הַחוֹמֶר וְגוּף הָאוֹתִיּוֹת טֶרֶם הִתְחַלְּקוּתָן לְכב,

The hey is thus the source of each letter’s “body.”

And that is why our Sages, of blessed memory, said that “this world was created by the hey”: it was created by the external aspect, or “body,” of the supernal letters whose source is the hey of the Divine Name.

וְלָכֵן אָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה, שֶׁעוֹלָם הַזֶּה נִבְרָא בְּה‘”:


Now, though this is the “lower hey,” the latter Hey of the Four-Letter Name of G-d,

וְהִנֵּה, הֲגַם שֶׁהִיא התַּתָּאָה, האַחֲרוֹנָה שֶׁבְּשֵׁם הַוָיָ‘,

Supernal speech is of the level of malchut, as alluded to in the verse, “The king’s utterance reigns.”20 The hey that is the source of speech is thus the lower hey of the Tetragrammaton, the letter which denotes the level of malchut.

while our Sages, of blessed memory, expounded this—that the World to Come was created by the letter yud and this world by the letter hey—from their reading of the verse, “for by yud-hey [G-d created the worlds],”

וְרַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה דָּרְשׁוּ זֶה עַל פָּסוּק: “כִּי בְּיָהּ“,

Since these are the first two letters of the Divine Name, how are we taught here that the statement that “this world was created by the letter hey” refers to the lower letter hey, the source of the breath of the letters of speech?

this is because its source and the beginning of its progress into a state of manifestation from the obscurity of the yud

הַיְינוּ לְפִי שֶׁמְּקוֹרָהּ וְרֵאשִׁיתָהּ לָבֹא לִבְחִינַת גִּילּוּי מֵהֶעְלֵם הַיּוּד

is influenced and drawn forth from the level of the upper hey.

הוּא מוּשְׁפָּע וְנִמְשָׁךְ מִבְּחִינַת העִילָּאָה,

The obscurity of the yud of chochmah is the source of every manner of revelation, both of the World to Come as well as of this world. As this relates to the letters: it serves as the source of revelation both for the “form” as well as the “matter” of the letters. It is only that in the resulting revelation of the letters, the “form” of the letters and the revelation of the World to Come emanate from the letter yud—from chochmah—itself while the revelation of the “matter” or external aspect of the letters emanates from the “breath of the heart,” from the latter hey of the Divine Name.

[The form or shape of the letter hey] has dimensions of length and width

שֶׁיֵּשׁ לָהּ הִתְפַּשְּׁטוּת אוֹרֶךְ וְרוֹחַב,

to indicate the faculty of binah, for the upper hey of the Divine Name denotes the level of binah,

לְהוֹרוֹת עַל בְּחִינַת בִּינָה,

which is the expansion of the “concealed intellect” into a state of manifestation and apprehension, extending into daat,

שֶׁהִיא הִתְפַּשְּׁטוּת הַשֵּׂכֶל הַנֶּעְלָם בִּבְחִינַת גִּילּוּי וְהַשָּׂגָה בְּהַרְחָבַת הַדַּעַת,

and its diffusion—the diffusion of the flow of binah—culminates in the heart.

וְהַשְׁפָּעָתָהּ מִסְתַּיֶּימֶת בַּלֵּב,

Thus, it is written in the Tikkunim that “binah is the heart, and by means of it, the heart understands.”21

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּתִּיקּוּנִים, דְּבִינָה לִבָּא, וּבָהּ הַלֵּב מֵבִין“,

Thus, the diffusion of binah takes place within the heart.

From there issues the breath, the original manifestation of the “body” of the letters of speech

וּמִשָּׁם יוֹצֵא הַהֶבֶל מְקוֹר גִּילּוּי גּוּף הָאוֹתִיּוֹת הַדִּבּוּר,

which become revealed from the concealment of the yud through the five organs of speech.

הַמִּתְגַּלּוֹת בְּהמוֹצָאוֹת מֵהֶעְלֵם הַיּוּד.

The shape of the lower hey, which, in its written form, also has dimensions of length and width,

וּתְמוּנַת התַּתָּאָה בִּכְתִיבָתָהּ גַּם כֵּן בְּהִתְפַּשְּׁטוּת אוֹרֶךְ וְרוֹחַב,

indicates the extension of [G-d’s] blessed Sovereignty, “the sovereignty of all worlds,”22

מוֹרָה עַל הִתְפַּשְּׁטוּת בְּחִינַת מַלְכוּתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ, “מַלְכוּת כָּל עוֹלָמִים“,

which extends upward and downward, and in the four directions,

לְמַעְלָה וּלְמַטָּה וּלְדסִטְרִין,

[all these directions] extending and issuing from the letters of the “word of G-d,” as it is written in Ecclesiastes, “The king’s utterance reigns,” as explained elsewhere.

הַמִּתְפַּשְּׁטוֹת וְנִמְשָׁכוֹת מֵאוֹתִיּוֹת דְּבַר ה‘, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּקֹהֶלֶת: “בַּאֲשֶׁר דְּבַר מֶלֶךְ שִׁלְטוֹן“, כְּמוֹ שֶׁמְּבוֹאָר בְּמָקוֹם אַחֵר.

Just as a king of flesh and blood rules through his faculty of speech by issuing commands, so, too, does supernal speech extend G-d’s reign in all the dimensions of the created universe.

23[As for understanding somewhat the concept and nature of “letters of speech” in relation to Divinity, inasmuch as [G-d] has no form of a body, nor of a soul, heaven forfend,

[וּלְהָבִין מְעַט מִזְּעֵיר עִנְיַן וּמַהוּת אוֹתִיּוֹת הַדִּבּוּר בֵּאלֹהוּת, שֶׁאֵין לוֹ דְּמוּת הַגּוּף וְלֹא הַנֶּפֶשׁ חַס וְשָׁלוֹם,

this has already been explained comprehensively yet concisely 24(in Likkutei Amarim, Part II, chs. 11 and 12; see there).]

כְּבָר נִתְבָּאֵר בְּדֶרֶךְ אֲרוּכָּה וּקְצָרָה (בְּלִקּוּטֵי אֲמָרִים חֵלֶק ב פְּרָקִים יא וְיב, עַיֵּין שָׁם)]:




18.  Note by the Rebbe: “The reason for the change in order (אחהע instead of the alphabetical order of אהחע) may be understood by reference to the statement in Zohar II, 123a. (See also Etz Chaim, Shaar Derushei Hatzelem, p. 2.)”
 Liturgy, Akdamut hymn (Siddur Tehillat Hashem, p. 502; Annotated Edition, p. 517).
Elucidations translated from Yiddish by Rabbi Levy Wineberg and Rabbi Sholom B. Wineberg. Edited by Uri Kaploun.
Published and copyright by Kehot Publication Society, all rights reserved.
The text on this page contains sacred literature. Please do not deface or discard. 

20.  Ecclesiastes 8:4.
21.  Introduction to Tikkunei Zohar.
22.  Psalms 145:13.
23.  Brackets are in the original text.
24.  Parentheses are in the original text.
Elucidations translated from Yiddish by Rabbi Levy Wineberg and Rabbi Sholom B. Wineberg. Edited by Uri Kaploun.
Published and copyright by Kehot Publication Society, all rights reserved.
The text on this page contains sacred literature. Please do not deface or discard. 

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