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Tanya for Wednesday, 20 Av, 5782 - August 17, 2022

As Divided for a Leap Year

Tanya for 20 Menachem Av

19 Av, 5782 - August 16, 202221 Av, 5782 - August 18, 2022

[Since Abraham embodies the attribute of Chesed, the verse thus intimates that heaven and earth were created through the attribute of Chesed.]

But after the creation of man "to work it...", [53] [his life-long task being, to draw down to this world a flow of Divine energy by means of an "arousal from below," i.e., by means of his own spiritual labors], every arousal from Above, to arouse the attribute of Supreme kindness, depends on an arousal from below, through the acts of charity and kindness [54] that Jews perform in this world.

[Thus, these good deeds draw down Divine influence from the yud of the Divine Name, from the level of Chochmah, to the final hei of the Name, the level of Malchut. In this way, then, good deeds bring together and "make" the Name of G-d, and draw it downward in its entirety.]

That is why our Sages, of blessed memory, have said: [55] "Whoever says that he has nothing but Torah," and thus no kindly deeds, "does not have even Torah; rather, one ought to engage in Torah and in the performance of acts of lovingkindness."

For though the "Torah derives from Chochmah," [56] and "the world subsists by virtue of the Torah" [57] and "those who discourse in it," [58] because by speaking of Torah subjects they elicit illuminations and effusions [59] from Supreme Chochmah, the source of Torah, into the plane of the letters of speech with which the world was created, as our Sages, of blessed memory, said, [with regard to Torah scholars, [60] "Do not read banayich ["Your children"] but bonayich ["Your builders", for they build the world through their study of Torah,] - nevertheless, this flow of Chochmah [to the letters of speech is a great descent.]

To accomplish this it is necessary to arouse Supernal Chesed which, like water, is drawn down from a high place to a low place by means of an arousal from below, through acts of charity and kindness here below, whereby one diffuses life and kindness, [61] "to revive the spirit of the humble and downcast." [By doing so one draws down Supernal kindness, so that the vitality of Chochmah descends to the letters of speech, the source of all creation.]

And this is the meaning of the verse, [62] "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom...., but in this let him glory - [in understanding and knowing Me," [63] [but in such a manner that it brings about the fulfillment of the phrase that follows]: "for I am G-d Who acts with kindness...."

[We thus see that wisdom is justifiably glorified when it leads to an act of kindness which in turn evokes a reciprocal act of kindness from Above.] For it is Chesed, [the kindly conduct of man here below, that results in the fulfillment of the verse, "I am G-d Who acts with kindness," i.e., with the Chesed of Asiyah, and] that causes the vitality of Chochmah to issue downwards [into the letters of speech, the source of all created beings.]

In the absence of this [kindly conduct, the Torah study that such a person undertakes] is called "His wisdom" alone: [it remains in heaven as an untapped resource in which that wise man cannot glory,] and there is no downward flow of life from it, G-d forbid.

The above enables one to understand the statement of Rabbi Isaac Luria, of blessed memory, that there are two kinds of souls among Jews: the souls of Torah scholars, who engage in the study of Torah all their lives, [64] and the souls of those who perform the commandments, occupying themselves with charitable and kindly deeds.

Now surely scholars, too, need to occupy themselves with acts of kindness; as our Sages, of blessed memory, taught, "[Whoever says that he has nothing but Torah," - and thus no kindly deeds], "does not have even Torah."

[How, then, could the AriZal have stated that people with a certain kind of soul invest their lives exclusively in Torah study? The Alter Rebbe's answer, which follows, takes it for granted that even fulltime Torah scholars of course spend some of their time in doing good deeds.]

However, as regards Torah scholars whose study of the Torah is their principal occupation and most of their time is spent in it, [with only a minor part of their time spent on the performance of kindly deeds,] the effect of their arousal from below, to arouse Supernal Chesed, to call forth and bring downward the [infinite] Ein Sof-light vested in Supernal Chochmah, the source of G-d's Torah which is in their mouths, extends only to the realm of the souls that are in Beriah, through their occupation with Gemara, [The study of Gemara, inasmuch as it involves reasoning and intellectual give-and-take, corresponds to the World of Beriah, the realm of comprehension.] and extends to the angels that are in the World of Yetzirah, through their occupation with Mishnah.

[The Mishnah consists of statements of law - "kosher" or "non-kosher", "pure" or "impure". Such bipartite divisions, which are a reflection in the material world below of the divergent attributes of Chesed and Gevurah in the realms above, are related to the World of Yetzirah, which is the realm of middot, the spiritual emotions.]

For the animation of souls and angels derives from the combinations of the letters of speech, i.e., the Oral Torah; [as it is written in Patach Eliyahu, [65] "[The Sefirah of Malchut corresponds to the mouth, which we call the Oral Torah."] The source of the letters, however, is in Supernal Chochmah, as mentioned above.

[Thus, through their study of the Oral Torah, scholars draw down Supernal Chochmah into the combinations of the letters of speech; this in turn provides vitality to [unborn] souls and angels.]

However, in order to call forth and bring downward an illumination and vitality from the level of the Supreme Breath, the "lower hei," to this lowly world, which entails a greater and extreme contraction, the arousal from below by the Torah scholars, who for only a small part of their time engage in charitable and kindly deeds, is not sufficient. [66]

[This is effected] only through an arousal by those who perform the commandments, who are occupied with deeds of charity and kindness for the major part of their life ( [67] as explained in Likkutei Amarim, Part I, ch. 34).

[The Alter Rebbe explains there that even if a man distributes no more than a fifth of his income for charity, that fifth elevates the other four parts with it to G-d, for thereby all his exertion becomes a dwelling for Him. Moreover, his acts of kindness will arouse G-d's "right hand of kindness."

That is why [people who are mainly occupied with such mitzvot] are called [68] "the supporters of [the] Torah [itself]," [and not only of those who study the Torah, for by their activities they draw down the light of the Torah from its root and source so that it will illuminate this physical world below.]

These [people] represent the levels of Netzach and Hod, [which are analogous to [69] "the two thighs" which enable a man to stand upon the ground; the function of the Sefirot of Netzach and Hod is similar,] because they cause the light of Torah to issue downwards to the World of Asiyah.

Now it is clear [70] why charity is referred to as an "act", as in the verse, [71] "And the act of charity will be peace." For the effect of charity is to elicit the light of G-d down to the World of Asiyah.

And this is the meaning of the subtle phraseology of the holy Zohar: "He who makes the Holy Name," expressly saying "who makes." For by an arousal from below, through charity and mortal Chesed, one arouses the Supernal Chesed - to elicit the [infinite] Ein Sof-light from Supernal Chochmah, the yud of the Divine Name, to the hei of the Name, to the "speech" and "breath" of G-d's blessed mouth, in order to draw down [Divine light] to the World of Asiyah.

And, analogously speaking, though infinitely incomparable: a human being speaks only to others ( [72] and not when he is alone), and then when speaking to them he contracts his intellect and thought. The intelligent will understand.



  1. (Back to text) Bereishit 2:15.

  2. (Back to text) It will be noted that though the opening passage of this Epistle speaks of tzedakah alone, there are many variations thereafter: charity and kindness; acts of lovingkindness; charity and lovingkindness; charity and acts of lovingkindness; and so on. (Note of the Rebbe Shlita.)

  3. (Back to text) Yevamot 109b.

  4. (Back to text) Zohar II, 121a, et al.

  5. (Back to text) Op. cit. 200a, et al.

  6. (Back to text) Ibid. I, 47a, et al.

  7. (Back to text) A variant reading: "indwellings".

  8. (Back to text) Berachot 64a.

  9. (Back to text) Cf. Yeshayahu 57:15.

  10. (Back to text) Yirmeyahu 9:22-23.

  11. (Back to text) For this too is wisdom; moreover, its mainstay. (Note of the Rebbe Shlita.)

  12. (Back to text) All the other souls are included in the second category; hence the term "all their lives" is not mentioned there. (Note of the Rebbe Shlita.)

  13. (Back to text) Tikkunei Zohar, Introduction II.

  14. (Back to text) Though insufficient, it is indispensable, for the downward flow must be drawn down through the Worlds of Beriah and Yetzirah. (Note of the Rebbe Shlita.)

  15. (Back to text) Parentheses are in the original text.

  16. (Back to text) Zohar I, 8a, paraphrasing Mishlei 3:18. See also Zohar III, 53b; Vayikra Rabbah 25:1; Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 251:9; et al.

  17. (Back to text) Tikkunei Zohar, loc. cit.

  18. (Back to text) Though this comment would appear to be less appropriate here than in Epistle 12, its inclusion here may be appreciated in the light of a statement by the Ramaz (Nitzutzei Orot, in Zohar III, loc. cit.).

    (Note of the Rebbe Shlita.)

  19. (Back to text) Yeshayahu 32:17, expounded at length in Epistle 12, below.

  20. (Back to text) Parentheses are in the original text.

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