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As Divided for a Leap Year
Tanya for 19 Menachem Av
[We learned above that the Zohar teaches: "Who makes the Holy Name every day? He who gives charity to the poor." The relevance of this answer, however, remained obscure. Now, therefore, equipped with the foregoing insights, we revert to the question with which this epistle opened: How does giving tzedakah to the poor "make a Name" for G-d? The Alter Rebbe explains as follows:]
Now with terrestrial man, for example, when one who is so great a sage as to comprehend the wonders of wisdom, contracts his conception and thought into a single letter of his speech, this is a stupendous contraction and a great descent for his wondrous wisdom.
Precisely as in this analogy but infinitely more so, there was an immensely great and mighty contraction when during the Six Days of Creation "the heavens were made by the word of G-d, and all their hosts by the breath of His mouth,"  i.e., by the letter hei - "a light letter" - of the Four- Letter Name of G-d. [This is not only a single letter, but also an insubstantial one.]
Thus it is written,  "[These are the chronicles of heaven and earth] behibar-am" [i.e., ("when they were created"). By revocalizing the Hebrew letters of this word, the Sages  read it as if it were simultaneously pronounced b-hei bra-am. The verse would now mean, "These are the chronicles of heaven and earth; with the letter hei He created them."]
[This letter hei] is the source of the nine creative utterances which issued from the first utterance: Berei-shith ("In the beginning"), which itself is a creative utter-ance,  and identical with the Sefirah of Chochmah,  which is called reishit [as in the phrase, reishit chochmah "the beginning of wisdom"  ). The descent of Chochmah, the source of the other nine creative utterances, into Malchut, the lowest of the Sefirot, involves an intense degree of contraction.]
But at that time, [at the beginning of creation,] this downward flow [from Chochmah to Malchut] occurred without any arousal from below whatever, [as it is written,]  "For there was no man to work  [and bring about this arousal;] it occurred solely  "because He desires [to act with] kindness," as it is also written,  "The world is built by kindness."
And this is the meaning of [another interpretation of the verse, "These are the chronicles of heaven and earth] behibar-am" [(i.e., "when they were created"). By transposing the Hebrew letters of this word, the Sages  read this word as if it were simultaneously pronounced] beAvraham [i.e., `through the attribute that characterizes Abraham'], since  "kindness is to Abraham."
- (Back to text) Tehillim 33:6.
- (Back to text) Bereishit 2:4.
- (Back to text) Menachot 29b.
- (Back to text) Rosh HaShanah 32a.
- (Back to text) Cf. the Aramaic paraphrase of Targum Yerushalmi on Bereishit 1:1: Be-chuk-ma.
- (Back to text) Tehillim 111:10.
- (Back to text) Bereishit 4:5.
- (Back to text) By inserting this verse ("there was no man"), the Alter Rebbe evidently intends to negate the possibility that [unborn] souls too might initiate a comparable "arousal from below." This perspective allows us to better understand the emphasis in the phrase, "any arousal from below whatever. (Note of the Rebbe Shlita.)
- (Back to text) Michah 7:18.
- (Back to text) Tehillim 89:3.
- (Back to text) Bereishit Rabbah 12:9.
- (Back to text) Michah 7:20.
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