Friday, July 23, 2004

A Condensation of Tanya (Part 6)

Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

PART SIX: Ch's 41 - 50

1. While not quite left as afterthoughts, the sort of "ahava" (love of G-d) and "yirah" (fear of or reverence for G-d) we'd need to serve Him auspiciously wasn't really delved into in the last section, but they'll indeed be the focal point of this one. We'll thus learn here how love and reverence interact with and nourish each other, and about the different grades of them we can manifest.

2. Yirah is deemed to be the "beginning, basis, and source of one's (Divine) service", and ahava is said to be an expression of our longing to cling on to G-d by means of His Torah and mitzvot. We're told that *both* are needed, since each serves as an indispensable wing with which to "fly" in our service (see end of Part 5).

3. There are various degrees of yirah. The lower sort "merely" acts as a stimulus for fulfilling mitzvot while the higher sort is loftier.

4. Expanding upon what was said just above, first and foremost, ahava is an expression of our longing to unite our souls with and have it be incorporated into the Light of Ein Sof. Additionally, and on a higher plane, it's the desire to "unite G-d with the source of one's G-dly spirit as well as the source of the Jewish Nation's souls, and to have them affix themselves onto each other".

5. Moshe said, “What does G-d your L-rd ask of you but to [simply] fear G-d your L-rd” (Deuteronomy 10:12). But our sages asked, "Is fearing G-d so simple?" to which they concluded that it indeed is -- for Moshe. So we're taught here that the import of that statement is to indicate that we can easily foster yirah by drawing upon either Moshe's own yirah (which we're all capable of drawing upon) or upon the yirah of his representatives in our own day and age -- our sages.

6. The particular ways to draw upon our lower latent, native yirah and to arrive at the utterly unlike more clandestine, higher yirah are then spelled out in some detail. At bottom they hinge upon the specific realities we're to reflect upon.

7. We draw upon our lower, native yirah by dwelling on G-d's greatness, and on how He infuses and hovers over everything, and perceives everything; and by accompanying that with the acceptance of the yoke of Heaven. Higher yirah is identified with being shamefaced before G-d's Presence and with the fostering of what's termed "inner-awe".

8. There are likewise two fundamental levels of ahava. The first is termed "eternal love" (which comes as a consequence of your efforts to concentrate upon G-d's greatness and your serving Him) and "great love" or "a love of delights" (which is a gift from G-d). But the latter is only granted after you will have achieved full, higher yirah.

9. There's yet another sort of ahava that incorporates the two above which is also available to us all as a national inheritance. But it too is comprised of two over-all sorts. There's the sort of love one would have for G-d that's like the love he'd have for his own life and soul, his own well-being, in the conviction that G-d himself is his very life-force and impetus. And there's the sort that's like the love he'd express when doing all he could for his parents selflessly and self-sacrificingly.

10. With all that in our hearts we can then engage in Torah and mitzvot on a higher level, and can then foster the degree of compassion we each inherit from Yaakov our forefather, which we're to direct toward our G-dly spirit and the Divine Presence, which are both in exile. When we do that, we conjoin the two in a "kiss" that's an expression of the "adhesion of two spirits onto each other".

11. There are yet other ways to ignite the love of G-d that we have within us. And they center upon reflecting upon how much G-d loves *us* and using that to be inspired to love Him in return. After all, He forsook all celestial and material entities and chose to focus upon our people, as when He brought us out of Egypt and drew us so close to Him by granting us His Torah.

12. An underlying point associated with that, too, is that just as He liberated us from Egypt in the past and drew us close to Him, our serving Him by fulfilling His mitzvot and studying His Torah "liberates" us from physicality and enables us to be subsumed in the Light of Ein Sof.

13. We then go on to delve into the great *tzimtzum* -- G-d's act of delimiting His Being to some degree so as to allow for the finite and determinate universe to exist despite His overarching and infinite Presence. And also to allow for souls and celestial entities to experience G-dliness and to bask in His Light without the threat of the sort of personal annihilation one would expect in the face of that. But at bottom all that came about so as to allow for mortal man with his ignoble body, who can -- despite it all -- manage to overturn the other side and allow for more light, rather than darkness, in the universe.

14. With all *that" in mind we're capable of loving G-d so much more for having arranged for all that; and we too can "delimit" ourselves, i.e., our untoward urges, so as to serve and attach ourselves onto Him.

15. Finally, there's the level of ahava known as "fiery" ahava which is of an entirely different order of ahava. It's rooted in a thirsting and pining for G-d that expresses itself in a desire to be removed from all physicality on the one hand, and the opposite urge to serve G-d in the physical world so as to make a dwelling place for His Presence on earth (which is the point of our having been born, after all).

(c) 2004 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

(Feel free to contact me at )

Get your own copy of Rabbi Feldman’s translation of “The Gates of Repentance” by logging onto and typing in "The Gates of Repentance".
Rabbi Yaakov Feldman has translated and commented upon "The Gates of Repentance", "The Path of the Just", and "The Duties of the Heart" (Jason Aronson Publishers). And his new work on Maimonides' "The Eight Chapters" will soon be available from Judaica Press.
His works are available in bookstores and in various locations on the Web.
Rabbi Feldman also offers two free e-mail classes on entitled "Spiritual Excellence" and "Ramchal".