Ch. 22, Class # 3

End of Chapter 22

אדרבה מגביה עצמה כנשר, לומר אני ואפסי עוד, וכמאמר: יאור לי ואני עשיתני

On the contrary, it soars aloft like an eagle, saying6: “I am, and there is nothing beside me”; or, as in the statement of Pharaoh7: “The river is mine, and I have made myself!”

ולכן אמרו רז״ל שגסות הרוח שקולה כעבודה זרה ממש

That is why the Sages, of blessed memory, said that8 arrogance is truly tantamount to idolatry.

כי עיקר ושרש עבודה זרה הוא מה שנחשב לדבר בפני עצמו, נפרד מקדושתו של מקום, ולא כפירה בה’ לגמרי

For the essence and root of idolatry is that it is regarded as an independent entity, separate from the holiness of G‑d; idolatry does not imply an outright denial of G‑d;

כדאיתא בגמרא דקרו ליה אלקא דאלקיא

as it is stated in the Gemara9 that they of the realm of kelipah call Him “the G‑d of gods,” so that although they do not deny His supremacy, their statement nevertheless constitutes idolatry,

אלא שגם הם מחשיבים עצמם ליש ודבר בפני עצמו, ובזה מפרידים את עצמם מקדושתו של מקום, ברוך הוא, מאחר שאין בטלים לו יתברך

only because they consider themselves, too, to be separate entities and independent beings; and thereby they separate themselves from the holiness of G‑d, since they do not efface themselves before Him.

כי אין קדושה עליונה שורה אלא על מה שבטל לו יתברך, כנ״ל

For the supernal holiness rests only on that which is surrendered to Him, as explained above. 10

ולכן נקראים טורי דפרודא בזהר הקדוש

For this reason the Zohar11 calls the kelipot “peaks of separation” i.e., they are as haughty as the mountain peaks, and are thus separate from G‑d.

והרי זו כפירה באחדותו האמיתית, דכולא קמיה כלא חשיב, ובטל באמת לו יתברך

But this constitutes a denial of G‑d’s true unity, since His unity implies that12 “all is esteemed as nothing before Him,” and that all is utterly nullified before Him,

ולרצונו המחיה את כולם ומהוה אותם מאין ליש תמיד

and before His Will which animates them all, and which constantly brings them into being out of nothingness.

Arrogance, therefore, which is the aggrandizement of one’s own identity, is diametrically opposed to the surrender of one’s identity which is a corollary of the concept of G‑d’s unity. Arrogance thus represents a denial of the unity of G‑d, and for this reason the Gemara equates it with idolatry.

* * *

To summarize briefly the points made in this chapter: Through many and varied tzimtzumim the Divine Word brought into being kelipot and the sitra achra, who perceive themselves to be entities separate from G‑d. For this reason, G‑d’s Word is described in the Torah as speech, for the element of separation found in human speech (where the spoken word becomes separated from the speaker) is also present in the Divine “speech” of Creation. However, this separateness exists only in the perspective from which the created beings view their relationship with their source; from G‑d’s perspective there is no separation at all, for everything is united with Him and is contained within Him even after it is created.

With this, the Alter Rebbe concludes one step of the discussion begun in ch. 20. There he stated that in order to explain how all the commandments of the Torah are encapsulated in the two commandments concerning idolatry, it is first necessary to clarify the true meaning of idolatry. This in turn necessitated an in‑depth discussion of the meaning of the unity of G‑d, which idolatry denies. The Alter Rebbe has thus far explained that G‑d’s unity means not only that there is but one G‑d: rather G‑d is the only existing being. All else is as naught before Him. Thus, any feeling (such as the kelipot feel) of having an identity of one’s own, apart from G‑d, actually represents idolatry.

In the following two chapters the Alter Rebbe now resumes his discussion, explaining how the above concept of G‑d’s unity finds expression in all themitzvot of the Torah.

——— ● ———

FOOTNOTES
6. Yeshayahu 47:8; Tzephaniah 2:15.
7. A compound of Yeshayahu 29:9 and 29:3.
8. Sotah 4b.
9. Menachot 110a.
10. Ch. 6.
11. I, 158a.
12. Zohar I, 11b.

Comments are closed.