Sunday, July 23, 2006

Tanya -- Ch. 4, Part 4

“Nearly Everybody”: The Inner Life and Struggles of the Jewish Soul

(Based on “Tanya: Collected Discourses of R. Schneur Zalman of Liadi”)

by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman


Ch. 4


We’re told, though (parenthetically, quite ironically, and very esoterically), that its three garments of thought, speech, and action are actually more august and eminent than the G-dly spirit itself. But how could that be?

It comes to is this. We’re taught that G-d and His Torah are one and the same (Zohar 1:24A, 2:60A). Needless to say that doesn’t mean that the Torah-scroll we might find before us is G-d! All it implies is that the instruction (hora’ah in Hebrew, a cognate of Torah) that we receive from G-d via His Torah -- that we do this or that, and avoid something else -- is at one with G-d since its derived from His very own will and wisdom [9].

So, while the G-dly spirit is indeed a part of G-d (see ch. 2), it’s *only a part* -- and a detached and discrete one at that ... while G-d’s will and wisdom, and hence the Torah that’s derived from it and which we think and speak about and act out on, are an expression of His full Being (see Likutei Biurim) [10].

The implication is that at bottom it’s the fact that the Torah and its mitzvot are so utterly unearthly that enables us to transcend our beings so.



[9] And thus, when we grasp Torah, apply its mitzvot to ourselves, and cling onto the whole of it, we grasp onto G-d as well -- since He and it are enmeshed (Likutei Biurim; Shiurim BeSefer HaTanya).

[10] On another level, though, the G-dly spirit is indeed loftier yet than the Torah. After all, our people are said to be G-d’s “bride”, hearkening to a deep and unique connection to Him. The solution offered for that paradox is that on its highest planes (i.e., on a Chaya and Yechida level, technically speaking) the G-dly spirit is indeed loftier than the Torah, while its lower planes (i.e., its Nephesh, Ruach, and Neshama levels) are in fact lower than the Torah (Likutei Biurim).

(c) 2006 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

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Rabbi Feldman's translation of "The Gates of Repentance" has been reissued and can be ordered from here
Rabbi Yaakov Feldman has also translated and commented upon "The Path of the Just", and "The Duties of the Heart" (Jason Aronson Publishers). His new work on Maimonides' "The Eight Chapters" will soon be available.
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