Iggeres Ha’Kodesh Epistle 7, Class 3

Tanya/ Iggeres Ha’Kodesh – The Holy Epistle, Epistle 7, Class 3


Thus, G‑d’s Being is indeed utterly uncompounded so that there cannot possibly be any division into “parts.” Nevertheless, with regard to the radiance that descends below, (whose main purpose is that it permeate the Jewish soul,) the concept of “parts” does apply.

The abovementioned rays are the 613 basic “parts” into which the radiance is diffused. More specifically, as the Alter Rebbe now goes on to say, each of these general “parts” subdivides into an infinite number of smaller “parts.”

Now, this number—i.e., the above division of the Divine radiance into 613 “parts,” corresponding to the 613 commandments—is the primary, basic division.

וְהִנֵּה, מִסְפָּר זֶה הוּא בְּדֶרֶךְ כְּלָל,

More specifically, however, every single commandment subdivides into infinite details.

אֲבָל בְּדֶרֶךְ פְּרָט, הִנֵּה כָּל מִצְוָה וּמִצְוָה מִתְחַלֶּקֶת לִפְרָטִים רַבִּים לְאֵין קֵץ וְתַכְלִית,

These are the essentials of the detailed rulings of every commandment, which are without number,

וְהֵן הֵן גּוּפֵי הֲלָכוֹת פְּרָטִיּוֹת שֶׁבְּכָל מִצְוָה – שֶׁאֵין לָהֶם מִסְפָּר,

as it is written, “Sixty are the queens,”12 which [as our Sages comment13] alludes to the sixty tractates….

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: “שִׁשִּׁים הֵמָּה מְלָכוֹת” הֵן ס’ מַסֶּכְתּוֹת כוּ’,

[The same verse continues:] “…and maidens without number,” which [as our Sages comment] alludes to the innumerable rulings of the individual laws,

“וַעֲלָמוֹת אֵין מִסְפָּר” הֵן הַהֲלָכוֹת כוּ’,

for they are a downward flow from the supreme will…, which is infinite.

שֶׁהֵן הַמְשָׁכַת רָצוֹן הָעֶלְיוֹן כוּ’.

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to say that just as the soul is made up of 248 “organs” and 365 “sinews” so that it may absorb the luminosity of the 613 general rays, so, too, are souls further divisible so that they may absorb the infinite degrees of the more differentiated rays.

It is precisely so with man’s soul, which has the means to absorb the innumerable details of the downward flow of Divine radiance,

וְכֵן הוּא מַמָּשׁ בְּנִשְׁמַת הָאָדָם,

for all the souls in the world were comprised in Adam.14

כִּי הִנֵּה, כָּל הַנְּשָׁמוֹת שֶׁבָּעוֹלָם הָיוּ כְּלוּלוֹת בְּאָדָם הָרִאשׁוֹן,

Basically, his soul was divisible into 613 elements, consisting of 248 “organs” and 365 “sinews.”

וְדֶרֶךְ כְּלָל, הָיְתָה נִשְׁמָתוֹ נֶחְלֶקֶת לְמִסְפַּר תַּרְיַ”ג: רַמַ”ח אֵבָרִים וְשַׁסַ”ה גִידִים,

More specifically, however, his soul was divisible into innumerable sparks,

אַךְ דֶּרֶךְ פְּרָט, נֶחְלֶקֶת לְנִיצוֹצוֹת אֵין מִסְפָּר,

which are the souls of all of Israel from the days of the Patriarchs and the [founders of the Twelve] Tribes, up to and including the time of the coming of Mashiach,

שֶׁהֵן נִשְׁמוֹת כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל מִימוֹת הָאָבוֹת וְהַשְּׁבָטִים עַד בִּיאַת הַמָּשִׁיחַ וְעַד בִּכְלָל,

when [the promise of] Scripture will be fulfilled: “And the number of the Children of Israel will be like the sand of the sea, that cannot be measured nor counted,”15 “because of its great quantity.”16

שֶׁיְּקוּיַּם אָז מַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב: “וְהָיָה מִסְפַּר בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל כְּחוֹל הַיָּם, אֲשֶׁר לֹא יִמַּד וְלֹא יִסָּפֵר” מֵרוֹב.

We understand from the above that Adam’s soul (which comprised the innumerable sparks of individual souls) was capable of receiving the infinitely numerous detailed emanations from the radiance of the supreme will, which ultimately animates all of the individual Jewish souls.

At this point, the Alter Rebbe resumes the thought begun earlier, where it was pointed out that Jacob referred to G‑d as “E-l, G‑d of Israel,” for the soul of Jacob (otherwise known as Israel) was illumined with all the aspects of the Divine radiance, just as was the soul of Adam.

Now, “The consummate beauty of Jacob resembles the consummate beauty of Adam,”17

וְהִנֵּה, “שׁוּפְרֵיהּ דְּיַעֲקֹב מֵעֵין שׁוּפְרֵיהּ דְּאָדָם הָרִאשׁוֹן”,

for he rectified the sin of Adam.18

שֶׁתִּיקֵּן חֵטְא אָדָם הָרִאשׁוֹן,

His soul, too, comprised all the souls of Israel, “from world to world,” i.e., both those of the “Revealed World” as well as the “Concealed World.”

וְהָיְתָה נִשְׁמָתוֹ גַם כֵּן כְּלוּלָה מִכָּל הַנְּשָׁמוֹת שֶׁבְּיִשְׂרָאֵל, מֵעוֹלָם וְעַד עוֹלָם,

Moreover, he was a vehicle for the Torah in its heavenly state, which is referred to as Adam,

וְהָיָה מֶרְכָּבָה לַתּוֹרָה שֶׁלְּמַעְלָה, שֶׁנִּקְרֵאת בְּשֵׁם “אָדָם”,

This phrase reflects the wording of a verse which begins with the words זֹאת הַתּוֹרָה אָדָם—“This is the law: A man….” Interpreted on the level of derush, these words have been taken literally to mean: “This is the Torah—Adam.”19

as it is written, “And on the likeness of the throne, there was a likeness as the appearance of Adam”20 [lit., “of a man”], and the latter term, as is explained in the Kabbalah,21 refers to the Torah.

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: “וְעַל דְּמוּת הַכִּסֵּא דְּמוּת כְּמַרְאֵה אָדָם וְכוּ’”,

It is likewise written: “And this (זֹאת) was the custom in former times in Israel…,”22

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: “וְזֹאת לְפָנִים בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל כוּ’” –

That, at least, is the plain meaning of the phrase quoted. On the interpretative level of derush, however, each of the three Hebrew words is here construed as follows: זֹאת (as taught in the Zohar) connotes “Torah”; לְפָנִים—“within”; בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל—“in Israel the Patriarch.” At this level, the quoted phrase thus means that “the Torah is [implanted] within, in Israel the Patriarch.”

and “זֹאת refers only to the Torah.”23

“אֵין זֹאת אֶלָּא תּוֹרָה כוּ’”,

For the Torah was contained and vested within the soul of “Israel the Patriarch,” which compounded all the souls. (The quoted phrase refers both to Jacob in the mortal world and to his supernal source, which is also known by this name.)

שֶׁהָיְתָה כְּלוּלָה וּמְלוּבֶּשֶׁת בְּנִשְׁמַת “יִשְׂרָאֵל סָבָא”, הַכְּלוּלָה מִכָּל הַנְּשָׁמוֹת.

Now in addition, Jacob, or “Israel the Patriarch,” was a vessel capable of receiving the radiance of the Torah. Hence:

This is the meaning [of the above-quoted phrase], “And he called Him E-l, G‑d of Israel”:

וְזֶהוּ “וַיִּקְרָא לוֹ אֵל אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל” –

Since the Name E-l denotes the Divine attribute of chesed, which finds expression in G-d’s desire to communicate His hidden light, [Jacob’s use of] the Name E-l signifies [man’s] calling forth the radiance from the [infinite] Ein Sof-light, which is clothed in the Torah, from concealment to manifestation,

“אֵל” לְשׁוֹן הַמְשָׁכַת הַהֶאָרָה מֵאוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא מֵהַהֶעְלֵם אֶל הַגִּילּוּי,

so that it should illumine manifestly in man’s soul.

לְהָאִיר בִּבְחִינַת גִּילּוּי בְּנִשְׁמָתוֹ,

Thus, too, it is written: “E-l is the L-rd, and He has given us light,”24 indicating likewise that the Divine Name E-l connotes illumination.

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: “אֵל ה’ וַיָאֶר לָנוּ”;

Thus, when we say that Jacob called G‑d “E-l,” we imply that he called forth and drew down into his soul an all-encompassing revelation of the [infinite] Ein Sof-light that comprises all the particular details of the Torah and its mitzvot.

and after [Jacob], the [infinite] Ein Sof-light shines openly into the souls of all the upright of heart who engage in the Torah and the mitzvot.

וְאַחֲרָיו כָּל יִשְׁרֵי לֵב, הָעוֹסְקִים בַּתּוֹרָה וּבַמִּצְוֹת, מֵאִיר אוֹר ה’ אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא בִּבְחִינַת גִּילּוּי בְּנִשְׁמָתָם,

“The upright of heart”25 alludes to those individuals within whom the G‑dly illumination found in the intellect descends to the heart, where it inspires them with a love and an awe of G‑d. These spiritual emotions in turn add vitality to their study of the Torah and their performance of the mitzvot.

The Divine radiance felt by these individuals is termed “our portion” (חֶלְקֵנוּ, as in the quotation with which this epistle opened). This is the particular G‑dly illumination which permeates a Jew’s soul through his performance of each and every commandment and which is a portion and part of the all-encompassing illumination comprising 613 “parts.”

The most elevating and most powerful26 manifestation of this [Divine] radiance in their mind and heart

וּזְמַן גִּילּוּי זֶה בְּיֶתֶר שְׂאֵת וְיֶתֶר עֹז הַהֶאָרָה בְּמוֹחָם וְלִבָּם

occurs at the time of prayer, as is explained elsewhere.27

הוּא בִּשְׁעַת הַתְּפִלָּה, כְּמוֹ שֶׁמְּבוֹאָר בְּמָקוֹם אַחֵר.

It is by means of the ladder of prayer that all of a man’s mitzvot ascend; this same ladder also serves as the conduit through which the resultant Divine radiance and revelation descend to this world.



12.  Song of Songs 6:8.

13.  Cf. Shir Hashirim Rabbah 6:9.

14.  Sefer Hagilgulim, ch. 1. Shaar Hapesukim, Bereishis, Drush 3 (citing Shemot Rabbah 40:2-3 and Tanchuma, Tisa 12).

15.  Hosea 2:1.

16.  Note by the Rebbe: “The conclusion of this quotation is drawn from another verse” [viz., Genesis 16:10].

17.  Bava Metzia 84a, et al.

18.  Zohar III, 111b, et al.

19.  Numbers 19:14.

20.  Ezekiel 1:26.

21.  See Zohar I, 71b ff.

22.  Ruth 4:7.

23.  Zohar III, 81b.

24.  Psalms 119:130.

25.  [In the Hebrew original, this phrase reads ישרי לב. On this, the Rebbe comments:] “For the word ישראל comprises the words ישר א־ל.” [In this phrase, the first two letters of ישר are each vocalized with a kamatz, thus meaning “upright.” As explained in Likkutei TorahParashat Shelach, 40c, these two words imply that G‑d’s power finds direct expression in the souls of those described as ישרי לב.]

26.  Cf. Genesis 49:3.

27.  Note by the Rebbe: “Cf. Epistle 24, below.”

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