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Tanya for Wednesday, 13 Adar II, 5779 - March 20, 2019

As Divided for a Leap Year

Tanya for 13 Adar II

12 Adar II, 5779 - March 19, 201914 Adar II, 5779 - March 21, 2019

Now that one fulfills G-d's commandment and Will with these objects, the vitality within them ascends and is dissolved and absorbed into the blessed Ein Sof-light, which is His Will that is clothed in the mitzvot, the Divine Will that each mitzvah represents.

For [in a mitzvah] there is no "concealment of the Countenance" whatever to hide His light, [preventing the object from being absorbed in this light.

As stated earlier, wherever the Ein Sof-light stands revealed, there is no separation from G-d; everything is united with His light - in this case, the object with which the mitzvah (representing revelation of the Will and light of the Ein Sof) is performed.

Thus far, the Alter Rebbe has discussed the effect of a mitzvah on the objects used in its performance (e.g., the etrog, the parchment used for tefillin, etc.).

He now discusses its effect on the power of a Jew's animal soul that is applied to the mitzvah.

This soul, like the aforementioned objects, derives its vitality from kelipat nogah; and like them it experiences a similar elevation to the realm of holiness whenever it is used in service of a mitzvah, being absorbed into the Divine Will represented by the mitzvah.

In the Alter Rebbe's words]:

Similarly the power of the vitalizing animal soul clothed in the bodily limbs of a person who performs a mitzvah, likewise clothes itself in the deed of the mitzvah.

[Thereby] it ascends from the kelipah to be absorbed into the holiness of the mitzvah which is His Will, and is nullified within the blessed Ein Sof-light.

[The Alter Rebbe now goes on to say that those mitzvot involving speech alone likewise effect this elevation of the animal soul, even though here the animal soul's power is not brought to bear in the performance of any mitzvah].

Even in the case of such mitzvot as Torah study, reciting the Shema, prayer and the like, [the animal soul's power is elevated to holiness], although they do not involve actual physical action which is under the dominion of kelipat nogah, yet it is an accepted principle that "thought is not a substitute for speech"; and one does not fulfill his duty of Torah study, prayer, etc. unless he actually utters [the words] with his lips.

It is also accepted that "moving one's lips constitutes action," [and such "action", as the Rebbe Shlita notes, likewise stems from the vitality of the kelipat nogah that is nourished by the animal soul, as does the actual bodily action spoken of earlier].

For the divine soul cannot express itself with the physical lips, mouth, tongue or teeth, the instruments of speech, except by way of the vitalizing animal soul actually clothed in the organs of the body.

[The divine soul is entirely spiritual, the body, physical.

Therefore (as explained in chapter 35), the divine soul cannot activate the body to perform a mitzvah except through an intermediary.

This intermediary is the animal soul, which, on the one hand, is a soul, a spiritual life-force, yet on the other hand is actually clothed in the blood and the bodily organs.

This intermediary is necessary in mitzvot performed through speech, just as in the mitzvot performed through action.

For articulating the words required for the mitzvah also constitutes physical "action"; so that this too cannot be accomplished by the divine soul except by way of the animal soul's power].

Hence, the more forcefully one speaks words of Torah or prayer, the more of the animal soul's energy he introduces and clothes in these words. [Thereby, he converts more of the energy of the kelipah to holiness].

This is also the meaning of the verse, [2] "All my bones shall declare.... [:`G-d, who is like You?'," which means that the words of Torah and prayer must be said "with all of one's bones," so that as much as possible of the body's energy be utilized in performing the mitzvot].

This is why our Sages have said: [3] "If the Torah abides in all of your 248 limbs it is preserved [in your memory]; otherwise it is not preserved."

For forgetfulness [in matters of Torah] stems from the kelipah of the body and vitalizing animal soul, derived from kelipat nogah which is sometimes absorbed into holiness; [when it is absorbed into holiness, there is no longer any cause for forgetfulness].

This is accomplished when one weakens their power [the power of body and animal soul], applying all their strength to the holiness of Torah and prayer.

[This, then, is the meaning of the aforementioned quotation: "When one involves [the energy of] all his 248 limbs in Torah study, it is preserved in his memory," for the kelipah that causes one to forget has been weakened.

Up till here, the Alter Rebbe has spoken of the effect of a mitzvah on the power of one's animal soul used in performing it.

He now states that not only does one's animal soul ascend from kelipat nogah to holiness when he performs a mitzvah, but also all the food and drink that sustained one and gave him the strength to perform the mitzvah, are likewise elevated from the dominion of kelipat nogah.

Based on this idea, the Alter Rebbe explains how the vitality of all physical objects of this world - which currently draw their vitality from kelipat nogah - will be elevated to the realm of holiness.

Every Jewish soul is given the ability and responsibility to elevate a portion of this physical world which "belongs" to it.

This elevation is accomplished by means of the 613 mitzvot, as mentioned.

There are, however, two categories in mitzvot: the 248 positive commandments and the 365 prohibitive commandments.

Similarly, the elevating effect of mitzvot on physical matter takes two forms: one positive and the other negative (i.e., restrictive).

To explain these two aspects of elevation accomplished by the two categories of mitzvot, the Alter Rebbe uses for each category an analogy drawn from the human body.

The 248 positive commandments correspond to the body's 248 limbs; and, indeed, the function of these mitzvot resembles that of the limbs.

Every organ of the body is a vehicle for a particular faculty of the soul, and brings that faculty into active expression.

Similarly, every (positive) mitzvah is a vehicle for the expression of a particular aspect of Divine Will, and brings about a G-dly revelation.

The prohibitive commandments, numbering 365, correspond to the 365 blood vessels of the body; their function, too, is like that of the blood vessels.

The blood vessel acts as a conduit, channeling blood in the right direction so that it will not be randomly, wastefully dispersed through the body.

Similarly, the prohibitive commandments prevent the life-force of holiness from being funneled off into the kelipot, thereby increasing their power; they channel the life-force toward deserving recipients.

When all the souls of Israel, representing the vitality of all physical matter, fulfill all the commandments - drawing down G-d's light by performing the positive mitzvot, and confining it to the realm of holiness by observing the prohibitive mitzvot - they elevate the vitality of the entire world from kelipat nogah to holiness.

This, in summary, is the subject of the following discussion].



  1. (Back to text) Tehillim 35:10.

  2. (Back to text) Eruvin 54a.

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