Iggeres Ha’Kodesh Epistle 5, Class 8

Tanya/ Iggeres Ha’Kodesh – The Holy Epistle, Epistle 5, Class 8


The above enables one to understand the statement of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, of blessed memory, that there are two kinds of souls among Jews:

וּבָזֶה יוּבַן מַה שֶׁאָמַר הָאֲרִיזַ”ל, שֶׁיֵּשׁ ב’ מִינֵי נְשָׁמוֹת בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל –

the souls of Torah scholars, who engage in the study of the Torah all their lives,64

נִשְׁמוֹת תַּלְמִידֵי חֲכָמִים הָעוֹסְקִים בַּתּוֹרָה כָּל יְמֵיהֶם,

and the souls of those who perform the commandments, occupying themselves with charitable and kindly deeds.

וְנִשְׁמוֹת בַּעֲלֵי מִצְוֹת הָעוֹסְקִים בִּצְדָקָה וּגְמִילוּת חֲסָדִים.

Now surely scholars, too, need to occupy themselves with acts of kindness;

דְּלִכְאוֹרָה, הֲרֵי גַּם תַּלְמִידֵי חֲכָמִים צְרִיכִים לַעֲסוֹק בִּגְמִילוּת חֲסָדִים,

as our Sages, of blessed memory, taught, [“Whoever says that he has nothing but Torah,” and thus no kindly deeds,] “does not have even Torah.”

כְּמַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה, שֶׁ”אֲפִילוּ תּוֹרָה אֵין לוֹ”.

How, then, could the Arizal have stated that people with a certain kind of soul invest their lives exclusively in Torah study? The Alter Rebbe’s answer, which follows, takes it for granted that even full-time Torah scholars of course spend some of their time in doing good deeds.

However, as regards Torah scholars, whose study of the Torah is their principal occupation and most of their time is spent in it, with only a minor part of their time spent on the performance of kindly deeds,

אֶלָּא שֶׁהַתַּלְמִידֵי חֲכָמִים שֶׁתּוֹרָתָן עִיקָּר וְרוֹב יְמֵיהֶם בָּהּ, וּמִיעוּט יְמֵיהֶם בִּגְמִילוּת חֲסָדִים,

the effect of their arousal from below, to arouse supernal chesed,

הִנֵּה פְּעוּלַּת אִתְעָרוּתָם דִּלְתַתָּא לְעוֹרֵר חֶסֶד עֶלְיוֹן,

to call forth and bring downward the [infinite] Ein Sof-light vested in supernal chochmah, the source of G‑d’s Torah which is in their mouths,

לְהַמְשִׁיךְ וּלְהוֹרִיד אוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף הַמְלוּבָּשׁ בְּחָכְמָה עִילָּאָה, מְקוֹר תּוֹרַת ה’ שֶׁבְּפִיהֶם,

extends only to the realm of the souls that are in Beriah, through their occupation with Gemara,

הוּא רַק לְעוֹלַם הַנְּשָׁמוֹת שֶׁבַּבְּרִיאָה עַל־יְדֵי עֵסֶק הַתַּלְמוּד,

The study of Gemara, inasmuch as it involves reasoning and intellectual give and take, corresponds to the World of Beriah, the realm of comprehension.

and extends to the angels that are in the World of Yetzirah, through their occupation with Mishnah.

וְלַמַּלְאָכִים שֶׁבַּיְצִירָה עַל־יְדֵי לִימּוּד הַמִּשְׁנָה,

The Mishnah consists of statements of law—“kosher” or “nonkosher,” “pure” or “impure.” Such bipartite divisions, which are a reflection in the material world below of the divergent attributes of chesed and gevurah in the realms above, are related to the World of Yetzirah, which is the realm of middot, the spiritual emotions.

For the animation of souls and angels derives from the combinations of the letters of speech, i.e., the Oral Torah; as it is written in Patach Eliyahu, “[The sefirah of] malchut [corresponds to] the mouth, which we call the Oral Torah.”65

יַעַן הֱיוֹת חַיּוּת הַנְּשָׁמוֹת וְהַמַּלְאָכִים נִשְׁפָּעוֹת מִצֵּירוּפֵי אוֹתִיּוֹת הַדִּיבּוּר, הִיא תּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה, –

The source of the letters, however, is in supernal chochmah, as mentioned above.

וּמְקוֹר הָאוֹתִיּוֹת הוּא מֵחָכְמָה עִילָּאָה כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל,

Thus, through their study of the Oral Torah, scholars draw down supernal chochmah into the combinations of the letters of speech; this in turn provides vitality to [unborn] souls and angels.

However, in order to call forth and bring downward an illumination and vitality from the level of the supreme breath, the “lower hey,” to this lowly world,

אַךְ לְהַמְשִׁיךְ וּלְהוֹרִיד הֶאָרָה וְחַיּוּת מִבְּחִינַת הֶבֶל הָעֶלְיוֹן ה’ תַּתָּאָה לָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה הַשָּׁפָל,

which entails a greater and extreme contraction,

שֶׁהוּא צִמְצוּם גָּדוֹל בְּיֶתֶר עֹז,

the arousal from below by the Torah scholars, who for only a small part of their time engage in charitable and kindly deeds, is not sufficient.66

לֹא דַי בְּאִתְעָרוּתָא דִלְתַתָּא שֶׁל תַּלְמִידֵי חֲכָמִים הָעוֹסְקִים מִיעוּט יְמֵיהֶם בִּצְדָקָה וּגְמִילוּת חֲסָדִים,

[This is effected] only through an arousal by those who perform the commandments, who are occupied with deeds of charity and kindness for the major part of their life

אֶלָּא עַל־יְדֵי אִתְעָרוּתָא דְּבַעֲלֵי מִצְוֹת הָעוֹסְקִים רוֹב יְמֵיהֶם בִּצְדָקָה וּגְמִילוּת חֲסָדִים

(67as explained in Likkutei Amarim, Part I, ch. 34).

(וּכְמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּלִקּוּטֵי אֲמָרִים בְּחֵלֶק א’ פֶּרֶק ל”ד).

The Alter Rebbe explains there that even if a man distributes no more than a fifth of his income to charity, that fifth elevates the other four parts with it to G‑d, for thereby, all his exertion becomes a dwelling for Him. Moreover, his acts of kindness will arouse G‑d’s “right hand of kindness.”




64. Note by the Rebbe: “All the other souls are included in the second category; hence, the term ‘all their lives’ is not mentioned there.”

65. Tikkunei Zohar, Introduction.

66. Note by the Rebbe: “Though insufficient, it is indispensable, for the downward flow must be drawn down through the Worlds of Beriah and Yetzirah.”

67. Parentheses are in the original text. 

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