Iggeres Ha’Kodesh Epistle 8, Class 4

Tanya/ Iggeres Ha’Kodesh – The Holy Epistle, Epistle 8, Class 4


The above concept, however, can be understood by the analogy of sowing seeds of grain or planting kernels of fruit:

אַךְ הָעִנְיָן הוּא, עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל, כְּמוֹ שֶׁזּוֹרְעִין זְרָעִים אוֹ נוֹטְעִין גַּרְעִין,

the shoot that sprouts from the seed, and the tree with its fruits from the kernel,

שֶׁהַשִּׁבּוֹלֶת הַצּוֹמַחַת מֵהַזֶּרַע, וְהָאִילָן וּפֵירוֹתָיו מֵהַגַּרְעִין,

are not the very essence and being of the seed or the kernel at all,

אֵינָן מַהוּתָן וְעַצְמוּתָן שֶׁל הַזֶּרַע וְהַגַּרְעִין כְּלָל,

for their essence and being has been spent and is decayed in the soil, and they are thus not the source of the vegetative property.

כִּי מַהוּתָם וְעַצְמוּתָם כָּלֶה וְנִרְקָב בָּאָרֶץ,

It is the vegetative property in the soil itself rather than the particular vegetative power that resulted in the seed or the kernel which brings about the growth of the shoot or the tree and its fruit;

וְכֹחַ הַצּוֹמֵחַ שֶׁבָּאָרֶץ עַצְמָהּ [נוסח אחר: עַצְמוֹ] הוּא הַמּוֹצִיא וְהַמְגַדֵּל הַשִּׁבּוֹלֶת וְהָאִילָן וּפֵירוֹתָיו.

The vegetative power of growth is a Divine faculty that enables physical growth to result from a spiritual property in a manner of creation ex nihilo. But if the actual growth of any grain or fruit results from the universal power of vegetative growth and not from a particular seed or kernel, then why plant them in the first place? The answer is:

it is only that [the earth’s vegetative power] does not manifest its power outwardly, from the potential to the actual,

רַק שֶׁאֵינוֹ מוֹצִיא וּמְגַלֶּה כֹּחוֹ לַחוּץ מֵהַכֹּחַ אֶל הַפּוֹעַל,

except by means of the seed or the kernel

כִּי אִם עַל־יְדֵי הַזֶּרַע וְהַגַּרְעִין

that are decayed in the soil and whose whole power—the power of growth that originated in the earth’s vegetative property that was implanted in them as they grew—has been consumed by the vegetative property in the soil,

שֶׁנִּרְקָבִין בָּאָרֶץ וְכָלֶה כָּל כֹּחָם בְּכֹחַ הַצּוֹמֵחַ שֶׁבָּאָרֶץ,

so that they unite and become one. I.e., the particular power of growth, that resulted in the seed or kernel, unites with the earth’s universal vegetative property.

וְנִתְאַחֲדוּ וְהָיוּ לַאֲחָדִים,

In this way, the vegetative property actualizes its potential and effuses vitality that makes possible the growth of a shoot that is related to the seed that was sown,

וְעַל־יְדֵי זֶה מוֹצִיא כֹּחַ הַצּוֹמֵחַ אֶת כֹּחוֹ אֶל הַפּוֹעַל, וּמַשְׁפִּיעַ חַיּוּת לְגַדֵּל שִׁבּוֹלֶת כְּעֵין הַזֶּרַע,

though with a very great increase in any single shoot, so that one ear of corn comprises many grains,

אֲבָל בְּרִיבּוּי הַרְבֵּה מְאֹד בְּשִׁבּוֹלֶת אַחַת,

and likewise, there are many fruits on a single tree.

וְכֵן פֵּירוֹת הַרְבֵּה עַל אִילָן אֶחָד,

Moreover, the very nature and essence of the fruits immensely excels the nature and essence of the planted kernel, in that the bland and tasteless kernel serves as the source for delicious fruit.

וְגַם מַהוּתָן וְעַצְמוּתָן שֶׁל הַפֵּירוֹת מְעוּלָּה בְּעִילּוּי רַב וְעָצוּם לְמַעְלָה מַּעְלָה מִמַּהוּתוֹ וְעַצְמוּתוֹ שֶׁל הַגַּרְעִין הַנָּטוּעַ.

The same is true of the produce of the earth which grows from seeds just like kernels, such as cucumbers, and the like.

וְכֵן כְּהַאי גַּוְנָא בְּפֵירוֹת הָאָרֶץ הַגְּדֵלִים מִזֵּרְעוֹנִין כְּעֵין גַּרְעִינִין, כְּמוֹ קִשּׁוּאִים וּכְהַאי גַּוְנָא.

Thus, fruits and vegetables are not only quantitatively superior to the kernels that served as their respective sources but are qualitatively superior as well. (The difference between grain and its original seed, however, is only one of quantity.)

All this is so because the stem and root of the vitality of the fruits issues from the vegetative property in the soil,

וְהַכֹּל הוּא, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁעִיקַּר וְשֹׁרֶשׁ חַיּוּת הַפֵּירוֹת נִשְׁפָּע מִכֹּחַ הַצּוֹמֵחַ שֶׁבָּאָרֶץ,

which includes the vitality of all fruits and causes them to grow,

הַכּוֹלֵל חַיּוּת כָּל הַפֵּירוֹת.

Nevertheless, a kernel—moreover, the kernel of the specific species desired—must be sown, as is now explained:

while the kernels that are sown in the ground are only like an “arousal from below” that is necessary if one is to elicit a reciprocal “arousal from Above,”

וְהַגַּרְעִינִין הַזְּרוּעִים בָּאָרֶץ, אֵינָן אֶלָּא כְּעֵין “אִתְעָרוּתָא דִלְתַתָּא”,

this [“arousal from below”] being referred to in the writings of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, of blessed memory, as the “elevation of mayin nukvin” (commonly abbreviated מנ)the arousal of the “feminine waters” that serve as the recipient of the efflux of the “male waters.”

הַנִּקְרֵאת בְּשֵׁם “הַעֲלָאַת מַיִּין נוּקְבִין” בְּכִתְבֵי הָאֲרִיזַ”ל:

The same applies here as well: The power of vegetative growth is a spiritual power that encompasses all fruits and vegetables. Its spiritual state is such that it is far too lofty to descend spontaneously to a level at which it can make physical produce grow. The actual growth can only come about as a result of the “elevation of the feminine waters” of a particular fruit or grain. This arouses within the universal vegetative property the particular manifestation necessary for the growth of the specific kind of produce that is inherent in the kernel or seed that is sown.

At any rate, it is clear from the above that vegetative growth entails producing something far superior to that which was sown in the ground.

Reverting to the analogue, the Alter Rebbe will now explain how man’s tzedakah and kindness effect a Divine manifestation that utterly transcends man’s service. This results in his receiving as a reward for his actions not only a share in the World to Come—a corresponding measure, albeit quantitatively superior, for both this world and the World to Come are categorized as “worlds”—but also the qualitatively superior revelation of teshuvah ilaah that transcends by far any state that could be called a “world.”

Now precisely like this, metaphorically speaking, every act of charity that Jews perform

וְכָכָה מַמָּשׁ עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל, כָּל מַעֲשֵׂה הַצְּדָקָה שֶׁעוֹשִׂין יִשְׂרָאֵל,

ascends, like an “elevation of mayin nukvin,” to the Root of their souls Above,

עוֹלֶה לְמַעְלָה בִּבְחִינַת “הַעֲלָאַת מַיִּין נוּקְבִין” לְשׁוֹרֶשׁ נִשְׁמוֹתֵיהֶן לְמַעְלָה,

Just as in the analogy, planting a seed will unveil the earth’s vegetative power, so, too, the Jew’s act of charity will elicit the Divine attribute of chesed, since this act serves as the mayin nukvin to its spiritual counterpart Above,

which is referred to17 as Knesset Yisrael (lit., “the Congregation of Israel”),

הַנִּקְרָא בְּשֵׁם “כְּנֶסֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל”

(a) because it is the source of Jewish souls, and (b) because within it congregate the lights and revelations of the emotive attributes (the middot) that derive from יִשְׂרָאֵל דִלְעֵילָא (“supernal Israel”).

and in the terminology of the Zohar, [the source of Jewish souls is known as] imma tataah, the “lower-level mother,”

וְ”אִימָּא תַּתָּאָה” בִּלְשׁוֹן הַזֹּהַר,

Binah, by contrast, is termed imma ilaah, the “higher-level mother,” while malchut is referred to as the “lower-level mother” (since it is the “mother” of the world that follows it).

and in the phraseology of the Talmud, [the source of the souls of Israel is known as] the Shechinah,

וּ”שְׁכִינָה” בִּלְשׁוֹן הַגְּמָרָא,

It is so called because it “rests” (from the root שכן; i.e., it descends and is present) in lowly levels.18

which comprises, and is utterly united with, all the attributes of the Holy One, blessed is He,

הַכְּלוּלָה מִכָּל מִדּוֹתָיו שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא, וּמְיוּחֶדֶת בָּהֶן בְּתַכְלִית,

the first of which is the attribute of chesed.

וְרֵאשִׁיתָן – הִיא מִדַּת הַחֶסֶד.

Man’s neighborly acts of chesed ascend, as a form of mayin nukvin, to this Divine attribute of chesed, for it is the source of the attribute of chesed within his own soul.

Now, through this elevation, the actual “chesed of G‑d”—which is immeasurably superior to man’s chesed and to worlds in general—is aroused,

וְעַל־יְדֵי הַעֲלָאָה זוֹ מִתְעוֹרֵר “חֶסֶד ה’” מַמָּשׁ,

so that a great and intense revelation of His light descends into this lowly [world], where it lights up the souls of Israel,

שֶׁהוּא גִילּוּי אוֹרוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ, לֵירֵד וּלְהָאִיר לְמַטָּה לְנִשְׁמוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל, בִּבְחִינַת גִּילּוּי רַב וְעָצוּם

at least during the time of prayer, even if not permanently.




17. Note by the Rebbe: “Cf. Part I, beginning of ch. 52: ‘And this source….’ Here is not the place to elaborate upon the differences.”

18.  See also later in the present epistle, and see Likkutei Amarim, Part I, ch. 41.

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