Iggeres Ha’Kodesh Epistle 5, Class 6

Tanya/ Iggeres Ha’Kodesh – The Holy Epistle, Epistle 5, Class 6


We learned above that the Zohar teaches: “Who makes the Holy Name every day? He who gives charity to the poor.” The relevance of this answer, however, remained obscure. Now, therefore, equipped with the foregoing insights, we revert to the question with which this epistle opened: How does giving tzedakah to the poor “make a Name” for G‑d?

The Alter Rebbe explains as follows:

Now with terrestrial man, for example, when one who is so great a sage as to comprehend the wonders of wisdom

וְהִנֵּה, בָּאָדָם הַתַּחְתּוֹן לְמָשָׁל, מִי שֶׁהוּא חָכָם גָּדוֹל לְהַשְׂכִּיל נִפְלְאוֹת חָכְמָה,

contracts his conception and thought into a single letter of his speech,

וּמְצַמְצֵם שִׂכְלוֹ וּמַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ בְּאוֹת אֶחָד מִדִּבּוּרוֹ,

this is a stupendous contraction and a great descent for his wondrous wisdom.

הִנֵּה זֶה הוּא צִמְצוּם עָצוּם וִירִידָה גְדוֹלָה לְחָכְמָתוֹ הַנִּפְלָאָה,

Precisely as in this analogy but infinitely more so, there was an immensely great and mighty contraction

כָּכָה מַמָּשׁ עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל, וְיָתֵר מִזֶּה לְאֵין קֵץ – הָיָה צִמְצוּם גָּדוֹל עָצוּם וְרַב,

when during the Six Days of Creation “the heavens were made by the word of G‑d, and all their hosts by the breath of His mouth,”41

כַּאֲשֶׁר “בִּדְבַר ה’ שָׁמַיִם נַעֲשׂוּ”, בְּשֵׁשֶׁת יְמֵי בְרֵאשִׁית, “וּבְרוּחַ פִּיו כָּל צְבָאָם”,

i.e., by the letter hey, “a light letter” of the Four-Letter Name of G‑d.

הִיא אוֹת ה’ שֶׁל שֵׁם הַוָיָ’ בָּרוּךְ־הוּא, “אָתָא קַלִּילָא”,

This is not only a single letter but also an insubstantial one.

Thus, it is written, “[These are the chronicles of heaven and earth] behibar’am42 (i.e., ‘when they were created’)By revocalizing the Hebrew letters of this word, the Sages read it as if it were simultaneously pronounced b’hey bra’am.43 The verse would now mean, “These are the chronicles of heaven and earth; with the letter hey, He created them.”

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: “בְּהִבָּרְאָם” – “בְּה’ בְּרָאָם”,

[This letter hey] is the source of the nine creative utterances which issued from the first utterance: Bereishit (“In the beginning”), which itself is a creative utterance,44

הִיא מְקוֹר הַט’ מַאֲמָרוֹת שֶׁנִמְשְׁכוּ מִמַּאֲמָר רִאשׁוֹן “בְּרֵאשִׁית” דְּ”נַמֵי מַאֲמָר הוּא”,

and identical with the sefirah of chochmah,45 which is called reishit (as in the phrase reishit chochmah, “the beginning of wisdom”46).

הִיא בְּחִינַת חָכְמָה הַנִּקְרֵאת “רֵאשִׁית”.

The descent of chochmah, the source of the other nine creative utterances, into malchut, the lowest of the sefirot, involves an intense degree of contraction.

However, at that time, at the beginning of creation, this downward flow from chochmah to malchut occurred without any arousal from below whatsoever,

אַךְ אָז הָיְתָה הַמְשָׁכָה וִירִידָה זוֹ בְּלִי אִתְעָרוּתָא דִלְתַתָּא כְּלָל,

[as it is written,] “For there was no man47 to work”48 and bring about this arousal;

כִּי “אָדָם אַיִן לַעֲבוֹד כוּ’”,

it occurred solely “because He desires [to act with] kindness,”49

רַק “כִּי חָפֵץ חֶסֶד הוּא”,

as it is also written, “The world is built by kindness.”50

וְ”עוֹלָם חֶסֶד יִבָּנֶה”.

And this is the meaning of [another interpretation of the verse, “These are the chronicles of heaven and earth] behibar’am” (i.e., ‘when they were created’). By transposing the Hebrew letters of this word, the Sages read this word as if it were simultaneously pronounced beAvraham51 (i.e., ‘through [the attribute that characterizes] Abraham’),

וְזֶהוּ “בְּהִבָּרְאָם” – “בְּאַבְרָהָם”,

since52 “kindness is to Abraham.” Since Abraham embodies the attribute of chesed, the verse thus intimates that heaven and earth were created through the attribute of chesed.

כִּי “חֶסֶד לְאַבְרָהָם” כוּ’.–




41. Psalms 33:6.

42. Genesis 2:4.

43. Menachot 29b.

44. Rosh Hashanah 32a.

45. Cf. the Aramaic paraphrase of Targum Yerushalmi on Genesis בחוכמא :1:1.

46. Psalms 111:10.

47. Note by the Rebbe: “By inserting this verse (‘…there was no man’), the Alter Rebbe evidently intends to negate the possibility that [unborn] souls too might initiate a comparable ‘arousal from below.’ This perspective allows us to better understand the emphasis in the phrase, ‘…any arousal from below whatsoever.’”

48. Genesis 4:5.

49. Micah 7:18.

50. Psalms 89:3.

51. Bereishit Rabbah 12:9.

52. Micah 7:20.

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