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Tanya for Thursday, 7 Adar, 5778 - February 22, 2018

Tanya
As Divided for a Regular Year

Tanya for 7 Adar

6 Adar, 5778 - February 21, 20188 Adar, 5778 - February 23, 2018


This, then, should be one's lifelong [aim in the] service of G-d with great joy - the joy of the soul upon leaving the loathsome body, and returning, during one's study of the Torah and service of G-d [through prayer], to "her father's house as in her youth," [i.e., to the unity with G-d that it enjoyed before it descended into the body].

This corresponds to the statement of our Sages [11] that one ought to engage in teshuvah throughout his life.

[If the word teshuvah is understood only in the sense of repentance for sin, why the need for further repentance once one has already repented? However, teshuvah as explained here, returning the soul to its source, is something in which one may well engage throughout his life - whenever he studies Torah or performs a mitzvah].

Surely, there is no joy as great as that of being released from exile and captivity. It is comparable to the joy of a prince who was taken captive, [and was subjected to the hard labor of] turning the millstone in prison, [12] while covered with filth, and who then goes free to the house of his father, the king.

[Such a prince, descended from the Supreme King, is the soul - and by means of the Torah and the mitzvot it is redeemed from the captivity and degradation imposed on it by the body].

True, the body remains abominable and loathsome, and as the Zohar says, it is called [13]"a serpent's skin," since the essential character of the animal soul has not been transformed to good, so that it might be absorbed into the realm of holiness.

[For, as explained above, the Beinoni may indeed elevate the "garments" of the animal soul - the thought, speech and action through which it expresses itself - by performing the mitzvot by means of his thought, speech and action; but the essential character of the animal soul - its intellectual and emotional faculties - remains subject to the realm of kelipat nogah.

How, then, can one be expected to rejoice, knowing that his body and animal soul are still in such an undesirable state]?

Yet, let his divine soul be more precious to him than his loathsome body, so that he rejoices in the soul's joy [at its liberation, through the observance of the Torah and the mitzvot, from the exile of the body], without letting the sadness on account of the lowly state of his body interfere with or disturb the joy of the soul.

This form of divine service - [in which the divine soul breaks free of its exile within the body, while the body and animal soul remain in their lowly state] - is analogous to the Exodus from Egypt, of which it is written that [14] "the people escaped."

[The Jews told Pharaoh that they would leave Egypt for only three days, but upon being released from his land they escaped].

At first glance it seems strange: Why should it have been so, [in a manner of flight]? Had they demanded of Pharaoh that he set them free forever, would he not have been forced to do so, [having been stricken by the Plagues?

The explanation, the Alter Rebbe goes on to say, lies in the spiritual aspect of the Exodus, and this was reflected in its physical counterpart just as every event in Jewish history reflects a parallel spiritual process.

The corporeal enslavement of the Jewish people in Egypt reflected the enslavement of their souls by the kelipah of Egyptian impurity.

Their Exodus from Egypt likewise represented a spiritual liberation from this kelipah. Since the spiritual Exodus was an act of escape - i.e., their soul broke away and "escaped" from the impurity of Egypt, while the body and animal soul were still in exile within the kelipah - therefore the physical Exodus likewise assumed the manner of an escape.

In the Alter Rebbe's words]:

But [escape was necessary] because the evil in the "animal" souls of Israel was still strong in the left part of the heart, [the seat of the animal soul], for their impurity [the impurity of kelipah] did not cease until the Giving of the Torah.

Yet their aim and desire was that their divine soul leave the exile of the sitra achra - the impurity of Egypt, and that it cleave to G-d. [15]

So it is written [16] - [that there is a divine service which consists of the divine soul's "escape" from the impurity of the body and animal soul]: "G-d is my strength and my fortress, my refuge in the day of affliction" [17] "[He is] my high tower and my refuge" and [18] "He is my escape..." [And the Exodus from Egypt exemplified this idea of "escape]."

Hence it is written of [the Redemption which will take place in] the time to come, when G-d will remove the spirit of impurity from the earth [and there will therefore be no evil necessitating spiritual escape]: [19] "You will not go out in haste, nor go in flight, for G-d will go before you."

[The Exodus from Egypt, however, took place in a manner of flight, for the evil was still strong in the people's animal soul.

Similarly, whenever one disregards the lowliness of his body and animal soul and engages in the Torah and the mitzvot in order to free the divine soul from its corporeal exile, he effects the spiritual equivalent of the Exodus from Egypt].

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) Cf. Shabbat 153a.

  2. (Back to text) Cf. Shoftim 16:21; Rashbam on Shemot 11:5.

  3. (Back to text) The term "serpent" refers to the three utterly impure kelipot. The body of a Jew, which derives its vitality from kelipat nogah, is thus the "skin" - the "outer shell," so to speak, of the "serpent." The subject is explained at length by R. Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch (author of Tzemach Tzedek) in his Sefer HaChakirah, p. 136.

  4. (Back to text) Shemot 14:5.

  5. (Back to text) This explains why "when the hour of Redemption arrived" G-d did not detain them in Egypt even for a moment - lest the evil within them drag them back to the impurity of Egypt.

    (- Based on a comment by the Rebbe Shlita.)

  6. (Back to text) Yirmeyahu 16:19.

  7. (Back to text) II Shmuel 22:3.

  8. (Back to text) From the hymn that begins "Adon Olam."

  9. (Back to text) Yeshayahu 52:12.



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