Iggeres Ha’Kodesh Epistle 11, Class 3

Tanya/Iggeres Ha’Kodesh – The Holy Epistle, Epistle 11, Class 3


Therefore, first of all,25 man ought to be happy and joyous at every time26 and hour,

וְעַל כֵּן, רֵאשִׁית הַכֹּל, שֶׁיִּשְׂמַח הָאָדָם וְיָגֵל בְּכָל עֵת וְשָׁעָה,

and truly live by his faith27 in G‑d, Who animates him and acts kindly toward him at every moment.28

וְיִחְיֶה מַמָּשׁ בֶּאֱמוּנָתוֹ בַּה’, הַמְחַיֶּה וּמֵטִיב עִמּוֹ בְּכָל רֶגַע.

But he who is grieved and laments

וּמִי שֶׁמִּתְעַצֵּב וּמִתְאוֹנֵן –

demonstrates29 that he is undergoing some hardship and suffering,

מַרְאֶה בְּעַצְמוֹ שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ מְעַט רַע וְיִסּוּרִין

and lacks some goodness;

וְחָסֵר לוֹ אֵיזֶה טוֹבָה,

he is (heaven forfend) like a heretic, who denies G‑d’s omnipresence.

וַהֲרֵי זֶה כְּכוֹפֵר חַס וְשָׁלוֹם.

For if he would truly believe, he would realize (as above) that “In the light of the King’s countenance, there is life,” and “Strength and joy are in His place,” so that he indeed lacks nothing.

This is why the Sages of Truth, the Kabbalists, strongly rejected the trait of sadness, for it contradicts a Jew’s true faith that “There is no place devoid of Him.”

וְעַל כֵּן הִרְחִיקוּ מִדַּת הָעַצְבוּת בִּמְאֹד חַכְמֵי הָאֱמֶת.

The truly faithful, however, is not perturbed30 by any suffering whatsoever,

אֲבָל הַמַּאֲמִין – לֹא יָחוּשׁ מִשּׁוּם יִסּוּרִין בָּעוֹלָם,

and with respect to all mundane matters, “yes” and “no” are all the same to him, in true equality.

וּבְכָל עִנְיְנֵי הָעוֹלָם “הֵן” וְ”לָאו” שָׁוִין אֶצְלוֹ בְּהַשְׁוָואָה אֲמִיתִּית.

But he to whom they are not the same,

וּמִי שֶׁאֵין שָׁוִין לוֹ,

demonstrates31 that he is one of the eirev rav, who act but for themselves;32

מַרְאֶה בְּעַצְמוֹ שֶׁהוּא מֵ”עֵרֶב רַב” דִּ”לְגַרְמַיְיהוּ עָבְדִין”,

he loves himself to the extent33 that he removes himself from under the hand (i.e., the authority) of G‑d, and lives the life of the gentiles—

וְאוֹהֵב אֶת עַצְמוֹ, לָצֵאת מִתַּחַת יַד ה’ וְלִחְיוֹת בְּחַיֵּי הַגּוֹיִם

[all] because of his self-love.

בִּשְׁבִיל אַהֲבָתוֹ אֶת עַצְמוֹ,

This is why he desires the “life of the flesh,”34 and “children and sustenance,”

וְעַל כֵּן הוּא חָפֵץ בְּחַיֵּי בְשָׂרִים וּבָנֵי וּמְזוֹנֵי,

for that is his good.

כִּי זֶה טוֹב לוֹ.

[Indeed,] it would have been better for him had he not been created,

וְ”נוֹחַ לוֹ שֶׁלֹּא נִבְרָא”,

for the main purpose of man’s creation in this world,

כִּי עִיקַּר בְּרִיאַת הָאָדָם בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה

is to test him by these trials and physical tribulations,

הוּא בִּשְׁבִיל לְנַסּוֹתוֹ בְּנִסְיוֹנוֹת אֵלּוּ,

to ascertain what is in his heart:35

וְלָדַעַת אֶת אֲשֶׁר בִּלְבָבוֹ,

whether his heart will turn toward other gods,

אִם יִפְנֶה לְבָבוֹ אַחֲרֵי “אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים”,

namely the passions of the body which evolve from the sitra achara, and desire these,

שֶׁהֵם תַּאֲווֹת הַגּוּף הַמִּשְׁתַּלְשְׁלִים מִ”סִּטְרָא אָחֳרָא”, וּבָהֶם הוּא חָפֵץ,

Since the kelipot and sitra achara, the forces of evil and unholiness, are termed “other gods,” the passions that they generate are likewise termed “other gods.”

or whether his desire and wish is to live the true life which evolves from the living G‑d.36

אוֹ אִם חֶפְצוֹ וּרְצוֹנוֹ לִחְיוֹת חַיִּים אֲמִיתִּים הַמִּשְׁתַּלְשְׁלִים מֵ”אֱלֹקִים חַיִּים”




25.  Note by the Rebbe: “For, as explained above, we are speaking of the Yotzer Bereishit [‘the One Who formed the first beginnings of Creation’].”

26.  Note by the Rebbe: “This may be seen as a hint that [one should maintain this happy frame of mind at all times, despite the vagaries of life’s] 28 different and opposite ‘times’ (as listed in Ecclesiastes 3:2 ff.). The same hint may also be perceived at the beginning of the present Epistle (‘at every time and moment’).”

27.  Note by the Rebbe: “Since it is for the sake of [his faith] that he was created—and he is alive at all times and hours.”

28.  Note by the Rebbe: “This is another reason why [the above-described train of thinking] should be maintained at all times and hours.”

29.  Note by the Rebbe: “[The second word in the Hebrew phrase מראה בעצמו (here translated “demonstrates”; lit., “shows concerning himself”)] is seemingly superfluous and also unexpected. Perhaps it suggests that [such a response to hardship] runs contrary to the very essence (עצם) of one’s creation and existence (for [a faith in G‑d’s ever present goodness is] the purpose, as stated above, for which he was created).”

30. Note by the Rebbe: “This echoes Isaiah 28:16; see the Targum there [which translates לא יחיש as לא יזדעזעון—‘…will not be agitated’]. In our text, too, the verb should perhaps be spelled thus [with a yud replacing the vav]. See also the Targum of Ecclesiastes 2:25 [which translates ומי יחוש as דאית ליה חששא…—‘…who is apprehensive’].”

31.  Note by the Rebbe: “As above, footnote 29.”

32.  Note by the Rebbe: “Tikkunei ZoharTikkun 6, end of 22a; cf. Iggeret Hakodesh, beginning of sec. 22; see also Part I [of the Tanya], conclusion of ch. 1 (with regard to gentiles).”

33.  The explanatory phrase “to the extent” was inserted by the Rebbe.

34.  Note by the Rebbe: “This [reason] was not stressed above, for it is self-understood and is the simple meaning of the expression as often quoted by our Sages. This, however, is not the case here: after the Alter Rebbe has focused on life in the light of the King’s countenance, it is obvious that this is what should have been desired.”

35.  Cf. Deuteronomy 8:2.

36.  In the text here follow the words אף שאינו יכול—“though he is unable.” A gloss, inserted at this point by the original publishers of this Hebrew edition, notes the anomalous nature of this phrase and comments that it does not appear in some manuscripts. An alternative version reads, “…or whether his desire and wish—though he is unable [to actually do so]—is to live the true life.” According to this version, the phrase is parenthetical. 

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