Beis Moshiach presents the maamer the Rebbe MH”M delivered on Yud Shvat 5717, in accordance with the custom established by the Rebbe to review each year a section of the Rebbe Rayatz’s hemshech “Basi L’Gani” of 5710. • This year we focus on the seventh section of the profound and foundational Chassidic discourse.
Translated by Boruch Merkur
THE EPIC ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THE 7th GENERATION
1. “I have returned to My garden, My sister, My bride.” On these words, the Midrash Rabba, in its place, comments: “‘To My garden (l’gani)’ – to My bridal chamber (li’g’nuni) [to the place where My essence was revealed in the first days of Creation],” for the Ikar Sh’china (the essence of the Divine Presence) was manifest then in the lower realms, in the physical world itself.
But with the sin of the Tree of Knowledge, as well as subsequent sins, a fundamental change took place: the Sh’china departed from the earth to the heavens, going as far as the seventh heaven (as related in the Midrash). Afterwards, righteous people arose in the world, tzaddikim, who drew the Sh’china down from the heavens to the earth through their service of G-d. This process reached its pinnacle with Moshe Rabbeinu, leader of the seventh generation [from Avrohom Avinu], and as our Sages teach, “all sevenths are beloved.” Moshe Rabbeinu’s epic accomplishment is that he completed the entire process of drawing the Ikar Sh’china back down to the psychical plane, bringing it from the first firmament of the heavens to the earth. Indeed, the ultimate purpose of Creation is that G-d should have a home in the physical world, which is described as “My bridal chamber (g’nuni),” the primary manifestation of His presence manifest in the Mishkan and the Mikdash, G-d’s sanctuary in this world. Thus, it is written, “‘Make for Me a Sanctuary and I shall dwell among them’ – within each and every Jew.” The construction of this Sanctuary is brought about through the avoda of the righteous.
This concept is explained at length by the Rebbe Rayatz, whose passing we mark on the 10th of Shvat, in the maamer he gave out to be studied on that day, in advance of his passing. The Rebbe elaborates the saying in the Zohar, “when evil is shunned (iskafia, and when it is transformed, sublimated, is’hapcha), the glory of the Alm-ghty is manifest (istalek, a revelation of Divine light) in all the worlds”: This G-dly revelation is one that is manifest in all worlds equally, utterly above and beyond the worlds, even higher than Ohr HaSovev Kol Almin (as the latter relative to the worlds can at least be said to “transcend” them). Here we speak of the G-dly manifestation of the ikar Sh’china, which even surpasses the G-dliness present at the beginning of Creation.
It is the service of offering sacrifices, which took place in the Mishkan and the Mikdash, that brought about this essential G-dly manifestation. The avoda of offering sacrifices is the service of G-d that entails rising upward [transcending one’s worldly, mortal condition], eliciting a G-dly manifestation described as “a pleasant fragrance, a nachas ruach, to G-d,” from above downward.
The Rebbe Rayatz continues in the maamer: Regarding the Mishkan (“Make for Me a Mikdash, a Sanctuary”) it is said, “You shall make the planks of the Mishkan of atzei shittim, standing planks of acacia wood.” The word “shittim” here is derived from “shita,” which means “to stray,” as it is written, “the nation went astray,” straying from the king’s path, the way of the King of the world. Diverging from the correct path is a result of being possessed, as it were, by a ruach shtus, a spirit of folly, as in the saying, “A person would not commit a sin were it not for being infected with a spirit of folly.” The spiritual mission man is charged with is to transform the unholy spirit of folly by mean of shtus (shittim) d’k’dusha, embracing a holy expression of shtus. It is this avoda that draws the ikar Sh’china into the physical world.
The Torah calls the standing wooden planks “krashim.” The word “keresh – plank” is composed of the letters Kuf-Reish-Shin. It says in Zohar that the letter Shin is a “letter of truth,” whereas Kuf and Reish signify aspects of unholiness. The maamer explains that corresponding to the letter Reish is the letter Daled, which is of the realm of holiness. Although at first glance, the significance and meaning of [the names of the letters] Daled and Reish is dalus and reishus, poor and impoverished, both denoting poverty, they are actually polar opposites. In fact, “when one exchanges the Daled for a Reish [in Shma, where we say “G-d is one – Hashem echad (spelled Alef-Ches-Daled)” and instead utter the word “other – acher (spelled Alef-Ches-Reish)”], it destroys worlds” (VaYikra Rabba 19:2).
The dynamic of rav and talmid
The maamer points out the difference in shape between the letters Daled and Reish: The letter Reish differs from the Daled of the holy realm in that the Reish lacks a Yud at its rear. The shape of a Yud is essentially a dot, representing how this letter “made itself small” (Zohar I 20a), acknowledging its own insignificance, an expression of bittul.
Humility makes one into a vessel, a receptacle; it is the means by which one can properly absorb. The dynamic between rav (master, teacher) and talmid (disciple, student) illustrates the function of bittul. It is specifically through the bittul of the talmid that he becomes a vessel to receive the teachings of the rav.
The same is true in general regarding holiness. Bittul, the point of the Yud, serves as a vessel to contain all supernal aspects, as explained at length in the maamer on the day of the Rebbe Rayatz’s hilula and in its continuation in the subsequent chapters (in the maamer HaYoshevet B’Ganim 5710).
THE BITTUL OF MASHPIA
2. The Rebbe Rayatz continues in the chapter in focus this year, Chapter 7, that although the Yud (at the back of the Daled) is the smallest of all the letters (an expression of its bittul, “it made itself small,” as above), it is the head of all the letters. Practically speaking, the shape of all written letters begins with the letter Yud [the first dot that appears on the page], and in terms of spirituality, “Olam HaBa (the World to Come) was created with the letter Yud” (Menachos 29b).
Earlier in the Rebbe Rayatz’s maamer the significance of the letter Yud is discussed in terms of it representing the bittul of the recipient and the talmid – “it made itself small.” Bittul is required to form a vessel fit to contain all the hashpaos and hamshachos from Above, all Divine influence. But in Chapter 7, the Rebbe further elucidates an even loftier aspect of the Yud: the bittul of the mashpia. That is, the letter Yud also alludes to the manner by which influence is drawn from the rav to the recipient (the mekabel, his student), who is hierarchically lower.
All influence is drawn down through the Hebrew letters, called “osiyos.” The meaning of the word “osiyos” itself is expressed in the phrase “asa boker – morning arrived,” from a verse that alludes to the general concept of drawing down influence to the world. This process initiates in the point of the Yud (head of all the letters).
The Rebbe goes on to apply this concept to the topic at hand, the notion that Olam HaBa was created with the letter Yud.
THE TZIMTZUM MAKES IT VIABLE
To explain: The general concept of the Yud – “it made itself small,” signifies total bittul. Bittul as it applies to the mashpia constitutes tzimtzum, a withdrawal or transcendence to the point of utter departure. As a result of tzimtzum, influence is drawn down, hamshacha and hashpaa, as elucidated by the Baal Shem Tov on the verse, “And Elokim said, ‘There shall be light’”: (At first glance it is curious that G-d’s name Elokim is employed here in association with light. Elokim denotes restriction and concealment, whereas light denotes revelation, hamshacha and hashpaa.) The Baal Shem Tov teaches this verse as follows. “G-d, may He be blessed, said – He “spoke” with the power of His name Elokim, which is severity and the focusing or restriction of light (tzimtzum). On account of this power – the power of Elokim, of tzimtzum – ‘There shall be light’ that can be sustained, for the tzimtzum allows the world to handle the G-dly light and accommodate it.”
On this teaching, the Mezritcher Maggid offers further insight, to the latter part of the verse, which states, “va’yehi ohr – and there was light”: “Our Sages say that in every instance the Torah says ‘And there was (va’yehi)’ it expresses tzaar, pain and discomfort, suffering. Thus, ‘and there was light’ means that G-dly light emerged from the tzimtzum, which appears as suffering to the world, etc. But in fact, from the tzimtzum true light was created, as well as the sustained existence of the world.”
The same is true “in the Torah’s saying, ‘va’yehi erev va’yehi boker – and there was evening and there was morning, etc.,’ for from the ‘evening,’ which is tzimtzum, the ‘morning’ emerged and came into being.” That is, the light of Creation was not the G-dly light that existed prior to then, when the Ohr Ein Sof, the Infinite Light of G-d, filled the void, leaving no room at all for [the illusion of independent] existence. Rather, the light of Creation shone by means of the tzimtzum. The light of Creation was therefore the embodiment of “va’yehi ohr – and there was light” – “va’yehi” meaning pain – for it is the “pain” of tzimtzum that gives rise to the existence of worldly light.
Elsewhere the Maggid adds that this process is “analogous to a father (who) constricts his intellect and speaks in a manner that is age appropriate for his young child. Also, in order to bring the child joy, etc., the father entertains all aspects of youthful engagement.” The meaning of this analogy is that the Alm-ghty employs tzimtzum, constricting Himself, for the sake of the Jewish people, as our Sages say, “‘B’reishis – in the beginning of Creation (G-d created Elokim, meaning the tzimtzum)’ for the sake of the Jewish people, who are called ‘reishis.’” Indeed, the Jewish people are the children of the Alm-ghty, as it is written, “You are the children of G-d, your L-rd,” and for their sake, the Alm-ghty constricted Himself.
The Mezritcher Maggid concludes that “The tzimtzum is called wisdom, for wisdom is the ayin (literally, nothingness or void), as in the verse, ‘wisdom is spawn of ayin.’” The latter teaching describes how the point of the Yud applies to the mashpia (the counterpart of the point of the Yud of the mekabel, the bittul of “made itself small.” The bittul of the mekabel allows it to become a vessel fit to receive all aspects from the rav and mashpia). That is, in order for there to be sustained light, meaning the possibility for existence, for Creation, and that this existence should be able to receive light, it is only by means of “va’yehi” – a term that connotes pain, – by means of tzimtzum, which is called wisdom, the point of the Yud.
PLEASURE VS. JOY
3. To explain this concept as well as to illuminate the saying that specifically “Olam HaBa was created with the letter Yud,” it is known that in general, Olam HaBa entails receiving reward for Torah study and avoda done throughout the six millennia of the physical world, Olam HaZeh. Oman HaBa comes after that time; it is established through the Torah and avoda of the Jewish people. The soul descends “from a great height to a deep pit” to receive the reward of Olam HaBa. It comes into the world even though prior to its decent the soul soared at a tremendously lofty height, experiencing only G-dliness, as in the verse, “As G-d lives, before whom I stand…” On the latter verse, our Sages comment – “‘stand’ means nothing other than prayer.”
The descent to “a deep pit” is an extreme decline, but it is for the sake of a subsequent ascent; by means of this descent the soul rises higher than it was before it descended. In general, this ascent is described in the verse, “One thing I have asked of G-d…to behold the splendor of G-d (noam Havaya).” “Noam Havaya” refers to the splendor that is drawn from G-d’s name Havaya (as discussed in Zohar), the main letter of which is Yud (the first letter of the Tetragrammaton). This “splendor” is synonymous with the concept of “Olam HaBa was created with the letter Yud,” and the entire descent [into Olam HaZeh, the material world] is worthwhile in order “to behold the splendor of G-d” [the reward of Olam HaBa].
Now, when we speak of “splendor (noam)” it means pleasure, as in, “Va’yehi noam – may the splendor (pleasure) of G-d our L-rd be upon us, etc.” (T’hillim 90:17). The concept of G-dly pleasure and delight will be understood in light of the mortal experience of pleasure.
Man’s capacity for pleasure is distinct and higher than the other faculties of his soul, even higher than the dynamic and expressive experience of joy, of simcha, which “breaks through barriers” and nullifies all limits and boundaries. The effect of joy is that the soul and all its faculties are in a state of expansiveness and heightened expression, drawn into and impacting even the limbs of the body, reaching even the legs, as in the joyous expression of dancing. All this, however, is not the expression of the inner aspect of the soul’s faculties. It is, rather, that the soul’s faculties as they are find expansive, rich expression to the point of being drawn and revealed even outwardly, with the dancing of the feet. Pleasure, on the other hand – although it too results in expansiveness and expressiveness, as it is written, “Good news broadens bones” (Mishlei 15:30; see Gittin 56b) – is not characteristically expressed outwardly.
This distinction is clearly seen in the fact that when a person revels in something pleasurable, his body is not animated; it does not cause him to dance or the like. On the contrary, in terms of motion he is in a state of rest. To that extent, the effect of expansiveness (“broadens bones”) is not in a manner whereby the faculties as they are expand further and become more expressive, but as they are drawn from the inner aspect and essence of the soul’s faculties, and this manifestation (from the inner and essential aspect of the soul’s faculties) is revealed and finds expression in them as they are. Thus, pleasure reveals the inner aspect and essence – causing it to find expression.
The parallel to Supernal pleasure: “Noam Havaya – the splendor of G-d” is the pleasure that is drawn from the Divine name Havaya, Yud-Kei-Vav-Kei, whose foundation is the letter Yud – “Olam HaBa was created with the letter Yud”; It is the revelation of the inner aspect and essence of the Divine. However, in order for it to be possible to reveal the “noam Havaya,” the revelation of the inner aspect and essence of the Divine, there must first be the concept of tzimtzum, alluded to in the letter Yud of Yud-Kei-Vav-Kei. This tzimtzum, in turn, allows there to be the revelation of the inner essence, which is the concept of the “noam Havaya” revealed in Olam HaBa – Olam HaBa was created with the letter Yud.
ESTIMATING THE MIND OF THE TALMID
4. To elaborate: In the beginning, Ohr Ein Sof, the Infinite Light of G-d, filled the void, totally precluding the possibility of existence. Contained within this G-dly infinite light was Ohr HaMugbal, G-dly light that is finite, limited. It was from Ohr HaMugbal that existence was later created. But since this finite aspect of G-dliness was included within Ohr Ein Sof, the Infinite Light of G-d, it was not identifiable at all as a separate, distinct existence. In order to utilize this Divine power of Creation, to permit the possibility of existence, it was therefore necessary for there to be a tzimtzum (the diminishment or concealment of G-dliness) and a siluk (the complete withdrawal of the infinite aspect of G-dly light) [as will be explained].
There is a well-known analogy of rav and talmid to illustrate the function of this Supernal concealment: The intellect of the rav certainly contains the intellectual capacity of the talmid he teaches, as the rav’s intellect is far superior. The talmid’s intellect is thus described as being subsumed by and nullified to the mind of the rav. In fact, this very limited intellectual component is totally indiscernible and undifferentiated in the mind of the rav. In order for the rav to summon thought that is fathomable to the talmid, the recipient of the teaching, it is first necessary for the rav to totally eradicate all prior thinking (siluk ohr sichlo l’gamri). Only after this state of siluk is achieved can thought that is appropriate to the intellectual capacity of the talmid be summoned to the mind of the rav, but this thought is still only comprehensible to the rav [and remains beyond the grasp of the talmid]. Prior to deriving from this point of intellect thought that can actually be understood by the talmid, the rav must first consider the capacity of the talmid’s intellect. After this process, the rav can derive from this point of thought ideas that are appropriate to the talmid, a teaching that can be articulated and communicated to the talmid.
This analogy applies to the entire process of Creation and all of Seider Hishtalshlus (the hierarchy of worlds as they devolve from the Divine source and establish Creation). Creation is primarily associated with the Divine name Havaya, which means haya, hoveh, v’yihiyeh (was, is, and shall be; the general concept of being, existence, Creation). Creation adheres to the order of the four letters of the Tetragrammaton, from the tzimtzum that is alluded to by the letter Yud, all the way to the mekabel, the recipient, symbolized by the final letter Hei. Creation begins with the tzimtzum and siluk. This concealment and withdrawal of G-dliness allows the superficial, finite aspect of Divine light, namely Ohr HaMugbal, to become recognizable, identifiable, providing the possibility for existence.
TZIMTZUM: AFFECTS G-D’S LIGHT, NOT HIS ESSENCE
At first, when the Ohr Ein Sof, G-d’s Infinite light, filled the vacuous space, the void, this limited light was not recognizable. Although it is only an expression of G-dliness – the Ohr Ein Sof, the Infinite Light of G-d, but not His essence – this G-dly light, existing as it is, not subject to tzimtzumim, is comparable to the essence (l’fi erech ha’ezem), meaning it is truly infinite.
But since the Ohr Ein Sof is ultimate perfection in every respect, therefore, k’shem sh’yesh lo ko’ach b’vli g’vul kach yesh lo ko’ach bi’g’vul (just as it possesses the power of infinity so it possesses the power of finitude, of limitation). Nevertheless, ko’ach ha’g’vul is not recognizable in Ohr Ein Sof, in the face of the overt manifestation of ko’ach ha’bli g’vul, in the presence of the infinite, boundless light that exists there. Thus it was necessary for there to be the Tzimtzum HaRishon, the original withdrawal of G-dly revelation that is called siluk, causing the superficial aspect of Divine light to be separate and recognizable, identifiable. This superficial light was also subject to a tzimtzum, allowing for the existence of worlds to arise from it.
The tzimtzum thus serves two major functions: 1) Ohr HaG’vul is separated from Ohr HaBli G’vul and becomes recognizable unto itself. And 2) Ohr HaG’vul itself (after it is recognizable as such) is diminished so there should not be such a plentitude of light as before the tzimtzum, when even Ohr HaG’vul was relative or comparable to the essence and radiated an abundance of Divine light.
All of the above only applies to the Ohr Ein Sof. Since it is just light and not the essence, it is subject to these two effects: 1) the separation of the inner aspect of Divine light (Ohr HaBli G’vul) from the superficial aspect (Ohr HaG’vul); 2) the tzimtzum or diminishment of light, which affects only the light and not the source of light itself.
EXTREME SUPERNAL PLEASURE
Similarly with regard to the creation of the worlds: The Divine will to create worlds was first manifest in the Ohr Ein Sof that shone prior to the Tzimtzum. The Divine will also entails pleasure, as our Sages say on the verse, “His thighs are pillars of marble” – “‘His thighs – shokav’ refers to the world, for the Alm-ghty longed (nishtokek) to create them,” this longing and desire represents G-d’s pleasure in Creation.
Prior to the Tzimtzum, the Divine pleasure is extremely great and intense. It is impossible to create existence in the midst of such intense G-dliness. Thus it is necessary for there to be the concept of tzimtzum, the siluk or withdrawal of G-d’s great light. The result of this withdrawal is that the light (within which is the Divine will and pleasure in Creation) is constrained and focused, so that just a point emerges from the essence of G-d’s will and pleasure in creating the worlds. This point lacks the vastness and intensity that was prior to the Tzimtzum.
This point is called “nekudas ha’roshem,” which is the Yud of the Divine name Havaya, no more than a point. From this point of G-dliness the revelation of the Kav emerges, which is alluded to in the letter Vav of Havaya, signifying drawing G-dliness down to the lower worlds. But prior to descending into the lower worlds, there must first be the initial Hei of G-d’s name Havaya, which is the estimation of the depth of the faculties of the mekabel, as it exists within the mashpia himself (for which reason it is sometimes referred to as “Shetach d’A”K”). Then there is the final Hei, which signifies the place of the mekabel, the world of Atzilus. This final stage is comprised of Divine lights within keilim, vessels to contain the light.
All of the above describes the process of Creation within Seider Hishtalshlus, where the Divine will and pleasure in the worlds is at the level of Yud, just a point, nekudas ha’roshem. Subsequent to this process, the first function of the letter Yud, the concept of “Olam HaBa was created with the letter Yud,” is manifest – that as a result of the avoda of the Jewish people in fulfilling Torah and Mitzvos (which is the ultimate purpose of the entire Creation – “‘B’reishis’ – for the sake of the Jewish people, who are called ‘reishis,’ and for the sake of the Torah, which is called ‘reishis’”), the Yud then serves to create Olam HaBa (the reward for the Torah and avoda of the Jewish people). That is, the essence of the Divine will for and pleasure in the worlds, which is the concept of “noam Havaya,” does not remain just as a nekuda, a point; it is meant to be drawn into and revealed with expansiveness and with very broad and rich expression.
The great descent of G-dliness is in order to establish Olam HaBa, where there can be the extremely powerful revelation of “noam Havaya,” Divine pleasure, which is even higher than the level of the soul prior to its descent. Indeed, taanug, pleasure, is the revelation of the inner aspect and essence as it finds great expansiveness and open expression (as above regarding the soul of man and similarly with regard to Creation).
The latter is symbolized by the letter Yud as it exists in the mashpia, the Supernal expression of “it made itself small,” as it were. It is a process of tzimtzum and siluk, until it finds expression in nekudas ha’roshem. Nekudas ha’roshem contains everything that is intended to be given to the mekabel below – in an extremely expansive and expressive fashion – in Olam HaBa, “noam Havaya.”
YESOD UNITES THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH
5. The Rebbe Rayatz continues in the maamer that the concept of “Olam HaBa was created with the letter Yud” is drawn down and revealed by the Yud of S’firas HaYesod (whose shape is like that of a Yud (see Zohar I 56a, Zohar III 74b end, and elsewhere)). Regarding S’firas HaYesod it is said, “ki kol ba’shamayim u’va’aretz – for all in the heavens and the earth” (Divrei HaYamim 29:11). The latter verse is translated in Aramaic as “d’achid d’shmaya v’ar’a – that unifies the heavens with the earth.” This verse refers to S’firas HaYesod (Zohar I 31a, end), from which Malchus receives. What is meant by, “that unifies the heavens with the earth”? “Shamayim-heavens” means “eish u’mayim – fire and water” (as stated in Midrash B’Reishis Rabba 4:7), alluding to the aspects of Chesed-Kindness and G’vura-Severity (or the Supernal Middos-Attributes, in general); and “earth” is the aspect of Malchus-Kingship. The verse thus hints at the esoteric principle that S’firas HaYesod unifies Chesed and G’vura with Malchus.
The latter is understood in light of what was discussed above (in Section 2): The previous Section of the Rebbe Rayatz’s maamer explains the concept of the Yud’s bittul, how the Yud “made itself small,” as it applies to the mekabel-recipient (namely, that this process of diminishment causes it to be a vessel fit to receive), whereas this section focuses on the concept of the Yud as it applies to the “it made itself small” of the mashpia-giver. The bittul of mashpia, its tzimtzum, prepares everything that is to be given to the lower worlds.
In order for this bestowal to actually take place, even after the vessel (the mekabel, the recipient) and the hashpaa (coming from the mashpia, the giver) have both been prepared, there must be a bond between (“d’achid – that unifies”) mashpia and mekabel, joining the two as one. This bond is established by S’firas HaYesod, which serves two main functions: One, that S’firas HaMalchus receives from it (which indicates the preparedness of the receiving vessel and the readiness of the light of the mashpia); and two, Yesod establishes the bond of mashpia and mekabel – “that unifies the heavens with the earth.”
The latter will be understood in light of the Alter Rebbe’s interpretation of the verse, “Ben poras Yosef; ben poras alei ayin (A charming son is Yosef, a son charming to the eye).” Why are the words “ben poras” (a charming son) repeated? Also what is the significance of “alei ayin (to the eye)”?
YOSEF: Tzaddik yesod olam
Yosef, the Alter Rebbe explains, is “Tzaddik yesod olam (the righteous person, the foundation of the world),” who is the embodiment of S’firas HaYesod. Regarding S’firas HaYesod it is said, “Yesod siyuma d’gufa (yesod is the end of the body)” (Tikkunei Zohar, Preface “Pasach Eliyahu,” 17a). It is also said that “the body and the bris are considered as one” (Zohar III 223b, 236a, 279a, 283a, among other places). At first glance, these are two conflicting statements. It starts by saying that yesod is only “the end part of the body,” then it adds that “the body and the bris are considered as one” [equating the place of the bris mila with the entirety of the body].
The Alter Rebbe reconciles the two statements by explaining that the spiritual impact of S’firas HaYesod reaches extremely high, reaching even the ultimate height. Indeed, the transcendent aspect of Yesod is observable even in mortal man, as our Sages say, “ein kishui ela l’daas” (Yevamos 53b), indicating that the bond and connection of this part of the body to the brain is stronger than all the other organs or limbs of the body. The other parts of the body are unaffected by thoughts of desire – not the hand [for example] nor the foot. From this anatomical fact it is clear that yesod reaches very lofty heights. The same is true with regard to drawing down from above, analogous to the seminal point that is drawn down from the choice substance of the brain and descends lower and lower until “the end part of the body.”
These two points (the ascent and the drawing downward associated with S’firas HaYesod) exist also in the avoda of “tzaddik yesod olam.” To be sure, there are various levels in the avoda of tzaddikim. There are tzaddikim whose d’veikus brings them to a state of consciousness that is totally devoid of material concern, attaining genuine self-sacrifice with every fiber of their being. Then there are tzaddikim who don’t have the same true self-sufficing as the former group, yet they are still much higher in another respect.
Take for example Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai and Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa, where [the bittul of] Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa is described as like a servant before a king and Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai like a minister before the king. Although the self-sacrifice of Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa is truer, the source of his soul, which is from Chesed, and his ability to fathom G-dliness is not on par with that of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai, whose soul stems from Chochma.
However, when the self-sacrifice of (the tzaddikim at) the level of Chochma is more genuine than the self-sacrifice of (the tzaddikim at) the level of Chesed – then this tzaddik’s greatness is incomparable. The impact the latter has On High is superior in two respects: it reaches a greater spiritual height and draws down more light.
This level is descriptive of Yosef HaTzaddik, “tzaddik yesod olam,” who was superior in both respects. The source of Yosef’s soul is extremely lofty and his self-sacrifice in the world was at the ultimate height. Thus he reached the loftiest of spiritual levels and from there he drew down with additional, brilliant illumination.
In this sense, the seeming redundancy in the verse, “ben poras Yosef, ben poras alei ayin,” alludes to the two approaches to bonding discussed earlier (from above downward and from below up). The meaning of “poras” is related to “pirya u’rivya – producing offspring,” a connection, hiskashrus, from above downward (hamshacha), to sire the offspring of souls and angels. The reason why Yosef is “ben poras,” prolific, is because he is “ben poras alei ayin,” he has a great depth of connecting from below to the greatest heights, which is the meaning of “alei ayin,” greater than the Ayin Rabasi, the large letter Ayin (as the Alter Rebbe explains there at length).
all comes through the tzaddik
Thus, the Mezritcher Maggid teaches in Ohr Torah (siman 95, 97): “Yesod has the power to rise up to the level of Daas and to draw down from there, from the Supernal Mind … Yesod is the power that joins everything, as it is said, ‘For all in the heavens and the earth’ … for it ‘unifies the heavens with the earth’ … all is joined through him, for he is the tzaddik … ‘tzaddik yesod olam.’ And in so doing he brings the Divine influence into the world of Asiya … It only enters the world through a tzaddik in the world of Asiya, etc.”
The latter can be connected with the teaching of the Maggid discussed above (in Section 2), the analogy of a father who focuses and constricts his thinking for the sake of his little child. The analogy teaches that the Tzimtzum [the Creation of the world] is for the sake of the Jewish people, in order for them to be tzaddikim. This concept is connected with “tzaddik yesod olam,” discussed above, for all Supernal beneficence is bestowed through the tzaddik.
With this idea the Rebbe Rayatz concludes his explanation of the third aspect of the Yud, which symbolizes S’firas HaYesod, siyuma d’gufa, d’achid Shmaya v’ar’a, which unites mashpia and mekabel. That is, after bittul has been established on the part of the mekabel (the first quality of the Yud), as well as the bittul on the part of the mashpia (the second quality of the Yud), there is a third quality the Yud possesses. Namely, it unites mashpia and mekabel. That is, all the “letters-osiyos,” all hamshachos from Above, are drawn down and channeled in a manner that is absorbed and contained below in the mekabel.
IMPOVERISHED OF THE ABILITY TO BOND
6. The maamer continues that all of the above pertains to the letter Daled, which is from the realm of holiness. Its counterpart, however, associated with the unholy realm, is the letter Reish. The unholy quality of the letter Reish is alluded to in the verse, “V’la’rash ein kol (literally, the poor have nothing)” (Shmuel II 12:3), meaning that they [“the poor,” the forces of evil] do not possess the aspect of “kol,” the power of S’firas HaYesod to engender bonding – “ki kol ba’shamayim va’aretz (for all in the heavens and the earth),” “d’achid shmaya v’ar’a (that unifies the heavens with the earth).” Thus, unholiness literally has nothing.
The opposite is said of Yaakov (who embodies the general concept of holiness): “yesh li kol (I have kol, everything; i.e., holiness possesses the aspect of Yesod).”
The Rebbe adds that Daled is also related to the word “dibbur-speech.” The letter Daled, which stems from the realm of holiness, therefore signifies the revelation of Divine speech. Divine speech gives rise to all existence and sustains the entire universe (“with the word of G-d the heavens were made, etc.”). The unholy forces, however, especially when they prevail over holiness, counter Divine speech, causing it to be concealed and hidden, indeed silenced, as it is written “ne’elamti dumiya hechesheisi – I made myself mute in silence” (T’hillim 39:3).
RECOGNIZING G-D IN THE FUTURE ERA
To further elaborate on the connection between the concealment of Divine speech and the concept of “la’rash ein kol,” consider the opposite effect, the full expression of Divine speech in the Future Era, when the Tzimtzum will be “corrected”:
Regarding the Future Era it is said, “and the glory of G-d will be revealed and all flesh will together see that the mouth of [specifically the Divine name] Havaya has spoken (pi Havaya dibber)” (Yeshayahu 40:5). Now, the world was created with G-d’s speech, through Ten Divine Utterances, articulated by the Divine name Elokim (“Va’yomer Elokim” – B’Reishis 1:3). What then is the meaning of “all flesh will together see that the mouth of Havana has spoken”?
The answer emerges from the Mitteler Rebbe’s interpretation of the verse, “Praise G-d from the heavens, praise Him from the exalted heights … praise G-d from the earth … the beast and all animals, etc.” All individual creations in the heavens and the earth, all the way down to the lowest depths, praise the Divine name Havaya. At first glance, it is difficult to understand how beings that were created through G-d’s name Elokim praise Havaya? It makes sense that beings created by the Ten Utterances of Elokim chant “Kadosh, kadosh, kadosh Havaya (Holy, holy, holy is Havaya),” because it is possible to come to the recognition of the holiness of Havaya – that G-d is “holy” and separate, distinct – even through the name Elokim. But the fact is that the verse specifies that all creations [not only recognize but] praise Havaya (even the Gentile nations praise Havaya, as it is written, “praise Havaya all nations”). How is it possible that creations that stem from the Divine name Elokim praise Havaya?
To answer, the Mitteler Rebbe offers a lengthy interpretation of the verse, “You shall know today and place upon your hearts that Havaya is Elokim”: The Zohar speaks of the fundamental, universal principle that Havaya and Elokim are one. Therefore, the creation of beings with the Divine name Elokim is also in a manner whereby Havaya and Elokim are one. It is just that Elokim is analogous to a shield or sheath to Havaya, as it is written, “For a sun and shield is Havaya Elokim.” But since this shield and sheath is of the realm of holiness, also through it all created beings can come to praise Havaya, including “praise Havaya all nations.”
All the above, however, applies just to the present era – that in our time, only through the Ten Utterance of Elokim can Havaya be reached. That is, the “sun” of Havaya is only attainable as it is within the shield and sheath of the name Elokim. But in the Future Era there will be the innovation of “the glory of Havaya will be revealed and all flesh will together see that the mouth of Havaya has spoken,” for “the Alm-ghty will bring the sun out of its sheath.” The sun of Havaya will emerge from the shield and sheath of Elokim. Then the revelation of the name Havaya will be seen as it is unto itself. Seen and perceived, that is, not only by souls and angels, but “all flesh,” including beasts and animals of the physical world; all shall recognize that the “the mouth of Havaya has spoken.”
This broad revelation is reminiscent of what is written (in the Biblical story where oxen where used to transport the Holy Ark), “Va’yisharna (literally, the cows went straight; Shmuel I 6:12). Our Sages interpret (in Tractate Avoda Zara 24b; see also Zohar II 137b, end, ff.) the word “va’yisharna” to mean that the cows sang a song, shira, and they ask, “What song did they sing? … ‘Sing to Havaya a new song, shir chadash’ (T’hillim 98:1).” Here the Talmud alludes to the song of the Future Era, as stated in Midrash (Tanchuma B’Shalach 10): “The song of the Future Era, when there will be a redemption that will never be followed by another exile, is referred to in the masculine form [i.e., “shir” as opposed to “shira”], ‘sing to Havaya a new song, shir chadash.’”
And the revelation of the Future Era will be in a manner of “all flesh will…see,” even animals and beasts, “that the mouth of Havaya has spoken,” for G-d’s speech will be revealed in the most overt fashion.
the silence of a lamb
In the present time of exile, however, it is the exact opposite: G-d’s speech is now in the ultimate state of concealment, as it is written, “Ne’elamti dumiya hechesheisi (I made myself mute in silence).” “Ne’elamti” means mute, the opposite of speech. The Tzemach Tzedek explains that this condition prevails in the time of exile, as it is written, “As the silence of a lamb before it is shorn” (Yeshayahu 53:7), the opposite of speech. And he elaborates: “As the silence of a lamb before it is shorn” – it is specifically then, when the lamb is to be shorn, that it is silent. “Lamb” here refers to the Jewish people, K’nesses Yisroel, corresponding to S’firas HaMalchus. In the time of exile, when the “lamb” (Malchus) is “shorn” – shearing saaros (hair or wool) – it is silenced. That is, the Ten Utterances of Creation are silent and mute, as it were, and the drawing down of G-dly vitality into the world comes about through “garments” and “saaros,” which conceal Divine speech.
The above resonates with what the Rebbe Rayatz explains later in this section of the maamer (the seventh section) – that the light and vitality that enlivens Sitra Achara, the unholy forces, is a mere haara d’haara, the reflection of a ray. This light is the external aspect of a superficial G-dly revelation and it is manifest in a most unobtrusive way. Hair is symbolic of this process, for the vitality of hair is not apparent. When hair/wool is cut/shorn, no pain is felt, because the vitality within hair is highly constricted. The vitality of hair, which must pass through the barrier and tzimtzum of the skull, contains only the most superficial aspect of bodily vitality. For this reason it is called “ne’elama-silence,” the opposite of speech.
The Tzemach Tzedek explains that this is also the meaning of the verse, “Ne’elamti dumiya hechesheisi (I made myself mute in silence)”: Reishis Chochma points out that the first initial of each word of “ne’elamti dumiya hechesheisi” spells “nida.” (Nida alludes to the general time of exile – when “Yerushalayim sinned grievously, she became a wanderer (l’nida haysa)” (Eicha 1:8), and Tzor [a city of the descendants of Eisav] was filled from the destruction of Yerushalayim (Rashi Toldos 25:23).)
“Nida” is comprised of the letters Nun-Daled (spelling “nad-wander”) and Hei, alluding to how the final Hei of the name Havaya withdraws from the letter Vav. That is, the final Hei, S’firas HaMalchus, the aspect of speech, “wanders” and distances itself from the letter Vav, whose function is to draw G-dliness into the world. The result of this dislocation is that Divine speech is concealed and hidden, as it says in Zohar, “since they separated (Hei separated from Vav) … ‘ne’elamti dumiya’; since Vav withdrew from Hei … Divine speech is muted, silenced.”
From this it is understood that the concept of ne’elamti dumiya hechesheisi – the acronym for “nida,” whereby Hei “wanders” away from and withdraws from Vav – is the opposite of the concept of kol-everything, S’firas HaYesod, which “unites the heavens with the earth, joining the Vav (heavens, Ze’ir Anpin) with Hei (the earth, Malchus). This also comprises the concept of “la’rash ein kol”: Since there is no aspect of “kol” to unite the heavens with the earth, the middos-attributes (signified by the letter Vav) are not manifest and drawn into Malchus (the letter Hei). Hei, in effect, wanders away from Vav, resulting in the concept of “reishus” (Reish) and poverty.
“ONE WHO IS SMALL IS GREAT AND ONE WHO IS GREAT IS SMALL”
7. The maamer continues, contrasting the perspectives of Yaakov and Eisav regarding their personal wealth. When the twin brothers meet, Yaakov proclaims his prosperity with the words, “yesh li kol – I have everything,” and Eisav speaks of his abundant wealth, saying, “yesh li rav – I have plenty.” Here Yaakov’s perspective characterizes holiness, as it invokes and embraces the aspect of “kol,” which establishes a bond, a genuine connection – “d’achid b’shmaya v’ar’a (that unifies the heavens with the earth).” Eisav, on the other hand, who embodies the world of klipa (a “shell” or “husk” that conceals G-dliness), fails to mention “kol,” a testimony to his inability to connect. Eisav instead has “rav-plenty,” signifying ribbui and his’chalkus (fragmented hordes of possessions), the opposite of unity (d’achid), which is characteristic of holiness. The Midrash captures this difference in a different context: “Regarding Eisav’s household, the Torah speaks of ‘sheish nefashos – six people,’ ‘nefashos’ written in the plural (similar to “yesh li rav”), as it is written, ‘Eisav took … nefashos beiso, the people of his household.’ Yaakov, on the other hand, had seventy offspring, but they are referred to in the singular, ‘nefesh echad,’ as it is written, ‘kol nefesh yotz’ei yerech Yaakov, etc. (all the offspring sired by Yaakov, etc.’).”
The Rebbe goes on to reconcile Eisav’s claim “Yesh li rav – I have everything” with “la’rash ein kol – the poor have nothing” by citing the enigmatic statement of “Rav Mesivta” in Zohar: “One who is small is great and one who is great is small” (Zohar I 122b, Zohar III 168a). “One who is small” alludes to the realm of holiness, for [as discussed above regarding the bittul of the letter Yud] “it made itself small.” Thus, it is written, “How will Yaakov stand, for he is small” (Amos 7:2,5). But since he is “small,” he is great, for bittul allows a person to receive all influence from above, including the revelation of “Olam HaBa was created with the letter Yud,” which is the aspect of “to behold the splendor of G-d (noam Havaya)” (as above, Section 3).
The realm of unholiness, on the other hand, which is described as “one who is great,” for it embraces grandiosity, megalomania (hisravravus, the opposite of bittul), receives Divine influence only from chitzonius d’chitzonius, the most superficial aspect. Thus, it “is small,” it only receives a minute quantity. That is, the “plenty” of one who has only material possessions is considered as minute and in small measure. In fact, physicality, even when it is plentiful, “yesh li rav,” has unto itself no existence whatsoever; it is “small.”
A DANGEROUS QUEST FOR HIDDEN TREASURE
Moreover, as well shall see, material plenty (“yesh li rav”) itself causes the person to become “small” and insignificant. The negative impact of materialism is explained at length by the Rebbe Maharash in his interpretation of the verse, “A man’s folly distorts his way, but his heart is incensed with Havaya” (Mishlei 19:3):
We see in nature that the necessities of life are more commonly available and more accessible. For example, air is a constant need and it is everywhere to be found and effortlessly acquired. Food and drink, which are needed on a less regular basis than air, are not as readily available. Regarding consumables themselves, drink is more necessary than food, and it is more accessible and less expensive. Clothing is not as urgently required (for one may still live without clothes) but more expensive than food and drink. One’s most valued worldly asset is likely his house, which is not at all an immediate necessity. A house is extremely expensive and difficult to acquire. How much more so regarding truly ostentatious possessions, pure luxuries. The fact is though that there are people who, for the sake of acquiring luxuries, pursue them to the point of engendering themselves, acting in way that defies logic.
It is with regard to the latter category, the pursuit of ostentatious goods, that the verse applies, “A man’s folly distorts his way.” For this conduct, this “folly” and stupidity to attain luxury items, “distorts his way”; not only does he not achieve his goal, he actually suffers a loss, for he becomes unsettled, lacking peace of mind. Thus, he comes to lose out on even material things he requires.
The above insight illuminates the saying, “One who is small is great and one who is great is small,” for it teaches that material abundance itself brings about one’s diminishment.
BY PURSUING LUXURIES THEY LOSE EVEN THEIR NECESSITIES
The Rebbe continues in the maamer, citing the saying (recited on Erev Rosh HaShana and the prayer of N’ila on Yom Kippur) “the needs of Your nation are great but they (the people) are narrow-minded (v’daatam k’tzara).” The entire reason why “the needs of your nation are great” – with the compulsion to attain luxury items – is because “they are narrow-minded” (as in the verse, “A man’s folly”). These fools fail to understand that by pursuing luxuries they stand to lose even their necessities.
The Rebbe points out that on a subtler, more spiritual level, the lesson of “they are narrow-minded – v’daatam k’tzara” pertains to delving deeply (haamakas ha’daas) into Divine contemplation, applying one’s mind to this worthy pursuit, in a manner of hiskashrus, unwavering, focused meditation. (See Tanya Chapter 3, end; Chapter 42 (59b), etc. This concept is discussed above in Section 5 of this maamer regarding “yesod is the end part of the body,” that “the body and the bris are considered as one.”) When one applies his mind in contemplating G-dliness, to know that “G-d, your L-rd gives you strength to make wealth” (Eikev 8:18), he does not devise plots to wander and journey to the corners of the earth [to amass wealth]. This person believes and knows what is written, “G-d your L-rd shall bless you in all that you do” (and his knowledge is genuine, with hiskashrus, permeating all powers of his soul). Indeed, G-d can bless the person “in all that he does” in his locale; there is no need for him to have travel to a place of danger, nor is there any need for plots and schemes.
Thus, “the needs of your nation are great” because “they are narrow-minded (v’daatam k’tzara)”: Here “narrow-minded” refers to the lack of daas and hiskashrus to the concept of “G-d your L-rd shall bless you in all that you do.” This neglect result in “A man’s folly distorts his way,” the tendency towards plotting and scheming, etc. As a result, the hashpaa also comes about in a circuitous fashion, exchanging rav-great (plentiful material wealth) for ze’er-small, as above.
“My river is my own, and I made myself”
8. The Rebbe continues in the maamer that the influence extended to klipa and Sitra Achara actually causes these unholy forces to become more self-centered and arrogant. To illustrate, Pharaoh is characterized in Scripture by his assertion, “My river is my own, and I made myself” (Yechezkel 29:3), which flies in the face of truth. The truth is that Pharaoh was blessed with power over the Nile by Yaakov, as it is written, “Yaakov blessed Pharaoh” with a blessing that the Nile should rise up to his feet [and spill out upon the land to irrigate it]. Pharaoh, however, was stubborn, for which reason the letters of his name when rearranged spell “ha’oref – the neck” [as in “stiff-necked”]. Pharaoh denied the truth, showing ingratitude for the good he was blessed with and said, “My river is my own, and I made myself.” Thus, the hashpaa (the influence extended to him) made him more narcissistic and self-centered.
Although the hashpaa to the forces of unholiness may be vast in measure (“yesh li rav – I have plenty”), it is extremely superficial. It is, therefore, subject to “shearing” (just hair/wool), causing “silence.” So it was with Pharaoh (“ha’oref”) – he displayed ingratitude and the complete denial of the truth, saying, “My river is my own, and I made myself.” The result of this denial is “la’rash ein kol,” being impoverished and totally bereft of spiritual hashpaa. Even the material hashpaa to the likes of Pharoah, since it is only the most superficial aspect of influence from above, it is short-lived, being the opposite of truth.
This dynamic, however, requires further explanation. Although it is true that klipa receives hashpaa only from the most superficial aspect of Divinity, the hashpaa still originates from holiness. How is it possible that influence from a holy source can result in a further affirmation of self, of the false notion of independent existence, to say “My river is my own, and I made myself”?
The answer emerges from the teaching of the Rebbe Rashab, nishmaso Eden, that the reason why Sitra Achara summons the audacity to say, “My river is my own, and I made myself,” is because the light of holiness does not shine openly within the forces of unholiness; it is in a state of exile within them.
When the influence and G-dliness is drawn down into the side of holiness, it is manifest within the Jewish people in such a way that the G-dly light is revealed and united within them. Jews, in essence, are fit vessels for G-dliness, receptacles that are ready and prepared to receive influence from above. What makes the Jewish people unique is that they have the capacity for bittul. As explained in Tanya, Divine sanctity only resides upon that which is battul (nullified) to G-d. Thus, G-dly light can be revealed and united within the Jewish people.
The Other Side, however, are not at all vessels for G-dliness, insofar as they are disunited and fragmented. Their disunity is referenced in the verse, “which G-d, your L-rd, allocated/apportioned (chalak, divided) to all the nations” (VaEs’chanan 4:19), for He [“divided” and] separated them from His oneness, the opposite of bittul. Thus, the light of holiness does not invest itself within them or unite with them. Rather, it is present within them in a state of exile.
G-D’S LIGHT IN EXILE
The concept of G-dliness in exile is illustrated by the difference between hislabshus (the investment of a soul within a human body) and gilgulim (the reincarnation of a soul into the body of a non-human, such as an animal). The human body is a fit vessel, ready and prepared to receive the soul. The hislabshus of a soul within it is analogous to light being clothed within a vessel (whereby light affects the vessel and the vessel affects the light). That is, the material aspect of the human body, its corporeality, is appropriate to accommodate the “form” of the soul. The body interacts with and affects the soul and the soul affects the body to the point that they are utterly unified. Regarding gilgulim, however, when the soul of man reincarnates into the body of an animal, the soul does not have any impact upon it. In fact, the soul is completely unrecognizable in the animal, because it is not fit to receive the soul that reincarnates within it.
Consider a person confined or bound, like in a straightjacket. His movement is constricted and he cannot do anything. The same applies to the way G-dliness is in exile within the unholy forces. The influence that extends to klipa and Sitra Achara is subject to tzimtzum and is the most external, superficial aspect of Divine light. Even what does penetrate inwardly within the forces of unholiness is not there in a manner of light invested within a vessel (since, in essence, klipa and Sitra Achara are not vessels prepared and fit to contain G-dliness). Rather, the G-dly light is in exile there. Thus, not only does this holiness not engender bittul – on the contrary, it temporarily adds power to klipa, causing it to become more cognizant of its selfhood and independence, enabling it to say, “My river is my own, and I made myself.”
“the glory of g-d” is already here
9. The point here is that the Other Side lacks the pivotal concept of bittul, of “it made itself small.” Without bittul on the part of the recipient, the mashpia also lacks the tzimtzum required for the sake of hamshacha. As a result, there is the state of “la’rash ein kol” [i.e., disunity between mashpia and mekabel]. To correct this deficiency, the avoda of the Jewish people is required. This avoda is alluded to in the Mishkan and Mikdash, beginning with the planks of the Mishkan – that even in the Reish, a Yud is added at its rear [becoming a Daled], attaining the bittul of “it made itself small.” As a result, it becomes a fit vessel, ready to receive from the Yud (“Olam HaBa was created with a Yud,” the revelation of “noam Havaya”) by means of the aspect of Yesod – “that unifies the heavens with the earth.”
All of this takes place in virtue of the avoda of the Jewish people in fulfilling Torah and Mitzvos throughout the six millennia of the world’s existence, especially in the final moments prior to the advent of Moshiach, when the avoda is pronouncedly in a manner of “from the straits.” By means of “From the straits I called G-d; G-d answered me with a vast expanse,” the hamshacha is loftier, bringing about the revelation of the Future Era, when “the glory of Havaya will be revealed, etc.” Here the operating term is “revealed,” meaning that the concept itself already exists (it is already present); it is just concealed. The innovation of the Future Era is only with regard to it being revealed – to the point of “all flesh will see,” including animals and beasts (as above.) May it be speedily in our times, as stated, “the glory of Havaya will be revealed and all flesh will together see that the mouth of Havaya has spoken.”