Iggeres Ha’Kodesh Epistle 10, Class 4

Tanya/ Iggeres Ha’Kodesh – The Holy Epistle, Epistle 10, Class 4


Epistle 9.

However, this [limitation on charity] applies only to one who observes the Torah and does not depart from it to the right or left, even as much as a hair’s-breadth.

אַךְ, הַיְינוּ דַוְקָא לְשׁוֹמֵר הַתּוֹרָה וְלֹא סָר מִמֶּנָּה יָמִין וּשְׂמֹאל אֲפִילוּ כִּמְלֹא נִימָא;

But as to him who has strayed from the path, Heaven forfend,

אֲבָל מִי שֶׁהֶעֱבִיר עָלָיו הַדֶּרֶךְ חַס וְשָׁלוֹם,

inasmuch as he has distorted his course, thus diminishing the supreme holiness,

מֵאַחַר שֶׁהֶעֱוָה דַרְכּוֹ, לָתֵת מִגְרָעוֹת בַּקֹּדֶשׁ הָעֶלְיוֹן,

A Jewish person elicits sanctity from the supreme holiness by performing the commandments; as we say in the blessings recited before their performance, “…Who has sanctified us with His commandments.” I.e., performing mitzvot elicits a downflow of supreme holiness whereas nonperformance depletes it.

that is, he has diminished its value as regards the efflux he could have elicited from G‑d’s Divinity and the radiance [he could have elicited] from the [infinite] Ein Sof-light, had he observed the Torah and fulfilled it as required—

שֶׁגָּרַע עֶרְכּוֹ, בְּחִינַת הַמְשָׁכָתוֹ, מַה שֶּׁהָיָה יָכוֹל לְהַמְשִׁיךְ מִבְּחִינַת אֱלֹהוּתוֹ וְהֶאָרַת הָאוֹר מֵאוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא אִילּוּ הָיָה שׁוֹמֵר הַתּוֹרָה וּמְקַיְּימָהּ כְּהִלְכָתָהּ

such distortion cannot be rectified except by an efflux of the supreme light that transcends the worlds without being vested in them.

הֲרֵי מְעֻוָּות זֶה לֹא יוּכַל לִתְקֹן, כִּי אִם בְּהַמְשָׁכַת הָאוֹר הָעֶלְיוֹן שֶׁלְּמַעְלָה מֵהָעוֹלָמוֹת וְאֵינוֹ מִתְלַבֵּשׁ בָּהֶן,

This is what is called chesed ilaah (“superior kindness”) and rav chesed (“abundant kindness”),

הַנִּקְרָא “חֶסֶד עִילָּאָה” וְ”רַב חֶסֶד”,

because it radiates and diffuses infinitely, without limit and measure,

לְפִי שֶׁמֵּאִיר וּמִתְפַּשֵּׁט בִּבְחִינַת אֵין־סוֹף בְּלִי גְבוּל וּמִדָּה,

since it is not contracted within the worlds but encompasses them from above [in equal measure],

מֵאַחַר שֶׁאֵינֶנּוּ מְצוּמְצָם תּוֹךְ הָעוֹלָמוֹת אֶלָּא בִּבְחִינַת מַקִּיף עֲלֵיהֶן מִלְמַעְלָה,

from the peak of all rungs to the end [of all rungs].

מֵרֵישׁ כָּל דַּרְגִין עַד סוֹף וְכוּ’,

Now, when man draws it downward by means of his deeds and by an arousal from below,

וּכְשֶׁהָאָדָם מַמְשִׁיכוֹ לְמַטָּה בְּמַעֲשָׂיו וְ”אִתְעָרוּתָא דִלְתַתָּא”,

this supreme light then radiates and extends within the worlds, rectifying all distortions and deficiencies caused in the kodesh ha’elyon,

אֲזַי, אוֹר עֶלְיוֹן זֶה מֵאִיר וּמִתְפַּשֵּׁט תּוֹךְ הָעוֹלָמוֹת וּמְתַקֵּן כָּל מְעֻוָּות וְכָל מִגְרָעוֹת שֶׁנִּיתְּנוּ בַּקֹּדֶשׁ הָעֶלְיוֹן,

and renewing their light and goodness with an intense elevation, on the level of a truly new light.

וּמְחַדֵּשׁ אוֹרָן וְטוּבָן בְּיֶתֶר שְׂאֵת וְיֶתֶר עֹז, בִּבְחִינַת אוֹר חָדָשׁ מַמָּשׁ.

An act of penitence does not merely uncover a pre-existing light but calls forth a new and infinite light, which is loftier than all the worlds.

This is why the Sages taught that “In the place (i.e., at the level) where penitents stand, [even the perfectly righteous do not stand].”34

לָכֵן אָמְרוּ: “בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁבַּעֲלֵי תְשׁוּבָה עוֹמְדִין וְכוּ’”.

The Rebbe notes that in various sources,35 this is paraphrased as follows: “In the place where penitents stand, even the truly righteous cannot stand.” I.e., the level at which penitents stand steadfastly cannot even be attained by the truly righteous, for the Divine radiance drawn down through repentance is of an utterly superior quality.




34.  Berachot 34b.

35.  RambamHilchot Teshuvah 7:4, as distinct from the wording cited in Berachot, loc. cit.: ‘…do not stand.’”

Comments are closed.