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Tanya for Wednesday, 13 Av, 5782 - August 10, 2022

As Divided for a Leap Year

Tanya for 13 Menachem Av

12 Av, 5782 - August 9, 202214 Av, 5782 - August 11, 2022

Epistle Four

"Israel shall be redeemed only by virtue of tzedakah," [1] as it is written, [2] And her repatriates [shall be redeemed] through tzedakah.

[Tzedakah, whose root connotes both "righteousness" and "charity", thus brings about the redemption of the Jewish people from exile and their ultimate return to Zion. The same root appears in the next verse to be quoted:]

It is written: [3] "Tzedek shall go (yehaleich) before Him." Now, one should have expected the verse to say yeileich. [Yehaleich, by contrast, is a causative form of the verb, seeming to imply that righteousness or charity causes some other entity to "go before Him."]

This concept may be understood by considering the verse, [4] "In Your behalf my heart says, `Seek My face.'" [As Rashi explains it, the simple meaning of the verse is that "On Your behalf and as Your messenger my heart tells me to seek out Your face" (i.e., G-d's inwardness, or innermost essence, for the word Panim is related to both meanings, "face" and "interior"). And in this spirit the verse concludes: "Your countenance, G-d, do I seek"; i.e., "I am indeed doing so: I am seeking Your countenance."

However, if panai does in fact refer to G-d's countenance and inwardness, why would it be necessary to conclude, "Your countenance, G-d, do I seek"? Surely it would suffice to say, "Your countenance do I seek," since we have already been informed that we are speaking of G-d's countenance.

The Alter Rebbe therefore explains that the word panai ("my face") refers to the inwardness of the Jewish heart, while panecha ("Your countenance") refers to the inwardness of G-d.]

This means [that man is being urged to] "seek the inwardness of the heart," [that hidden element within his own heart that must be sought after if it is to be revealed.] For in the flame of the Element of the Divine Fire that is in the heart, [i.e., within the soul's ardent love of G-d which derives from the Element of Fire within the soul, as mentioned in Tanya, Part I, ch. 3,] ( [5] A variant reading: "For in the heart, the Element of Divine Fire within the heart,") there are two aspects: the aspect of chitzoniyut ("outwardness", [i.e., externality, as opposed to essence]) and the aspect of pnimiyut ["inwardness"].

The chitzoniyut of the heart is the ardent [love] that flares up on account of one's understanding and knowledge of the greatness of G-d, the blessed Ein Sof, by meditating [6] on His greatness, and from this contemplation giving birth to a strong love resembling [7] "flashes of fire...."

[This, then, is the chitzoniyut, the external level, of the G-dly soul: a revealed love of G-d in one's heart which results from meditation on G-d's greatness.] And the pnimiyut of the heart is the innermost point in the heart the depth of the heart, which transcends by far the categories of knowledge and understanding with which man can meditate in his heart on G-d's greatness.

[Unaided, man would never be able to achieve such a profound love through meditation alone; it is granted to the soul as a gift, as will soon be explained, and man's task is to search and discover it within himself.]

As it is written: [8] "From out of the depths do I call unto You, O G-d"; [i.e.,] from the depths of the heart. [9] ["Depths" appears in the plural, for the heart harbors depths, with yet profounder depths beyond.]

(By way of analogy, there is a parallel in worldly matters. Sometimes there is an extremely important matter upon which a man's entire vitality hinges; it touches him as far as - and including - the innermost point of his heart, causing him to do things and say things without any reason whatever), [10] [for it touches the essence of his soul that transcends logic and reason.]

And [11] "the one corresponds to the other": [The spiritual realm corresponds to the physical. Just as worldly affairs sometimes touch a person so strongly that he acts without reason:]

It is precisely so with the "service of the heart." [A Jew's love for G-d may be so great that it touches his soul's essence which utterly transcends logic and reason.] As is known, this is because the innermost point of the heart transcends the faculty of reason which extends and vests itself in the emotive attributes born of ChaBaD, [i.e., born of the three intellectual stages - wisdom, understanding, knowledge - that together constitute the intellectual process called ChaBaD.]

Rather, [the pnimiyut of the heart] is a radiation from the supreme Chochmah, which transcends Binah and Daat, and in this [supreme Chochmah] there is vested and concealed the actual light of G-d; as it is written, [12] "By wisdom (Chochmah) G-d [founded the earth]."

[The two quoted Hebrew words literally mean, "G-d [is] in Chochmah"; i.e., G-d's infinite light is clothed in Chochmah.]

And this is precisely the spark of Divinity in every soul of Israel. [13] [It is this Divine spark, utterly transcending reason, that gives birth to the love of G-d in the pnimiyut of the heart, that likewise transcends all reason. [14]

A question arises: Since this love emanates from the Divine spark found within the soul of all Jews, why do they not all attain this level of Divine service?]

The reason that not every person merits this rank [in the service of the heart] - service from the depth of the heart in a state of pnimiyut - is that within him this faculty is in a state of exile and captivity. And this is actually the state of the exile of the Shechinah, for it is precisely the [Shechinah] which is the spark of Divinity that is in one's Divine soul.

[Thus, when the "spark" is in exile, the Shechinah is in exile as well. Moreover, being in exile, the spark cannot rouse the soul to serve G-d with the loftier manner of love that stems from the innermost depths of the heart.]

The cause of the exile [of the Divine spark of the soul] is, [15] as in the words of our Sages, of blessed memory: [16] "When [the Jewish people] were exiled to Babylon, the Shechinah went with them."

[In terms of the individual sparks of the soul this means that when a spark is in a state of "Babylon" - i.e., when an individual acts in a "Babylonian" manner - then the Shechinah is in exile together with him.]

This is so because he has vested the innermost point of his heart in [that aspect of the universe which is] the opposing counterpart [to holiness], namely, in the soiled garments - mundane matters and worldly desires - which are known as "Babylon". [He has thereby banished the Divine spark within his soul - the personal Shechinah within himself, so to speak - to this all-pervasive "Babylon".]

This [exile] corresponds to the "foreskin" that covers the covenant and the innermost point of the heart. Of this it is written, [17] "And you shall excise the foreskin of your heart." [In principle, the spiritual service of circumcision is that of repentance. [18] With regard to exile our Sages teach that [19] "if Israel repent they will be immediately redeemed." Repentance thus leads to the redemption (on a personal scale) of the Divine spark within each individual soul, and (on a cosmic scale) of the Shechina, from their respective exiles. In spiritual terms, the act of circumcision likewise removes a veil of concealment, and allows the innermost point of the heart to be revealed.]

Now, in circumcision there are two stages: milah ["excision"] and periah ["uncovering", which remove respectively] the coarse foreskin and the thin membrane.

With respect to the "foreskin" of the heart, [which the Torah commands us similarly to circumcise,] there are like-wise coarse and subtle desires, [corresponding to the two grades of skin.]

[These two grades of worldly desire respectively require] milah and periah, and [20] "if one performed milah [circumcision] without periah [uncovering], it is as if he had not circumcised,"

[Just as this is the law with regard to actual circumcision, so too is it true when it comes to circumcising the desires of the heart: if a person removes only his coarse desires and does not proceed to remove the subtler ones as well, it is as if he had not circumcised his heart at all,] because, after all is said and done, the innermost point of the heart is still covered by a garment of thin sack-cloth [of kelipah]; it is in a state of exile and captivity. [And there it will remain - until the individual redeems it by performing a spiritual periah, and removing his subtler desires as well.]

Now, concerning the excision of the foreskin itself it is written: "And you - [yourselves] - shall excise the foreskin of your heart." [Each and every Jew is able to remove this himself, for repentance tears down the veil with which his desires obscure the innermost point of his heart.]

But the removal of the thin membrane is a difficult matter for man, and of this it is written [21] that with the coming of Mashiach, "The L-rd your G-d will circumcise your heart", to love the L-rd your G-d with all your heart and all your soul, for the sake of your life," because G-d alone is literally your whole life.

[In this state, the individual's love of G-d will not be a mere manifestation of his soul, but a love that constitutes his very life. And just as a person does not regard his life as being something apart from himself, so too will this love not be sensed as a distinct entity, but as an intrinsic component of himself.]

That is why this love, [the love that follows the Divine excision of the heart's thin membrane,] stems from the depth of the heart, from the truly innermost point, as mentioned above, and transcends the faculty of Daat. Therefore, too, Mashiach will come when Israel in general are [22] "caught unawares."

[His coming] is the manifestation of the innermost point which is universal [to all Jews], and [likewise] the emergence of the universal Shechinah [of the entire community of Israel] from exile and captivity forever more.

[Just as each individual's Divine spark - his personal Shechinah, so to speak - is redeemed from captivity through means that transcend reason and Daat, in such a manner too will the universal Shechinah, and with it the entire House of Israel, be redeemed.

Thus, the ultimate circumcision of the heart, and in its wake the ultimate manifestation of the love of G-d, will take place when Mashiach comes. Nevertheless, it is possible even now to liberate one's personal Shechinah - one's Divine spark - at least on a temporary basis, during the time of prayer. This the Alter Rebbe now goes on to say.]

Similarly, every particular spark of the Shechinah, inherent in the soul of every individual Jew, emerges for the moment from exile and captivity during that [23] "momentary life which is prayer" - during the service of his heart, from the depth of his heart, from the innermost point which becomes divested of the [concealing] "foreskin" - and soars upwards to cleave to Him with a fierce passion, in the spirit of the phrase, "for the sake of your life," for the individual senses that G-dliness is his entire life.

And [in] this, too - [in this momentary deliverance of the innermost point of the heart during the service of prayer] - a man may be considered to be in a state of hessech daat, ["unaware" or "absentminded", so to speak,] for this state, [the state in which the Divine spark within man, his personal Shechinah, is momentarily revealed,] transcends the Daat of man and his meditation on the greatness of G-d.

Rather, it is a kind of gift granted by G-d from heaven from the radiation of the Supernal Countenance, as it is written, [24] "May G-d make His countenance shine upon you," and as it is written, "And the L-rd, your G-d, will circumcise [i.e., remove the insensitivity of [your heart]" - and this is a state which exists even now on a temporary basis.]

But it is well known that an arousal from above comes only in response to an arousal from below, [A man's soul is stimulated from above only in response to the spiritual service that he initiates here below. Even an effusion of Divine benevolence that comes exclusively from above, and can neither be brought into being nor drawn down by man's service alone, also awaits a previous arousal from below,] as an elevation of mayin nukvin; [i.e., by an arousal of the "feminine waters" by which the recipient elicits the mayin de-churin - the downward flow ("masculine waters") - emanating from the Giver.]

As our Sages, of blessed memory, said: [25] "No drop [of rain] descends from above [without two corresponding drops first ascending from below]." A man must therefore perform the beginning of this milah by himself, to remove the "foreskin" of the heart and the coarse and thin husks which clothe and cover its innermost point, this [innermost point being] a love of G-d in the spirit of the phrase, "for the sake of your life" -[ i.e., a love that springs from an awareness that G-dliness is the person's entire life] - [this love of G-d being] in exile among the desires of this world.

These [physical desires] likewise exist in the spirit of the phrase, "for the sake of your life," in [that aspect of the universe which is] the opposing counterpart [to holiness], as mentioned above.

[It is thus possible for an individual to be so dedicated to his passions and desires that they are his entire life. For just as this state exists in holiness, it also has its counterpart in the opposite direction, whereby one is immersed in desires to the innermost core of his heart and being.]

And this [removal of the spiritual foreskin] is achieved by giving charity to G-d from one's money, which is his vitality, [It has been noted earlier, in Part I, ch. 37, that since money enables a man to purchase life's essentials, parting with it in favor of charitable ends is equated to giving his "very vitality" to G-d,] especially with a person whose income is limited and who is very hard pressed at the time, for - [when he gives]- he gives of his very life.

This is especially so if he supports himself by the toil of his hands. For it is impossible that in his work he did not often involve "the innermost point of the heart," the depth of his heart, as is the way of the world when people are occupied with business and the like.

Thus, now that he disburses the fruits of his toil unstintingly, [despite his circumstances,] and gives unto G-d with joy and with a gladsome heart, he thereby redeems his soul from the pit. [26]

That is, [he redeems] the innermost point of his heart which was in a state of exile and captivity within the coarse or thin kelipah.

For thus it is written: [27] "Guard your heart with the greatest vigilance" [lit., "Guard your heart from every mishmar"], "mishmar" meaning a prison. [The verse is thus exhorting us to "guard our hearts from being imprisoned and exiled in kelipot and desires."]

Thus, through present charity, [the innermost point of the heart] is now redeemed from the forces of evil [in which it had been imprisoned.]

This also explains the term periah, which suggests [28] periat chov ["removing a debt"], for [the individual in question] had become indebted and subjected to the forces of evil that had ruled within him over the innermost point of his heart.

Through this we can understand the meaning of [the above-quoted phrase], "and her [former spiritual] captives [29] [shall be redeemed] through tzedakah."



  1. (Back to text) Rambam, Hilchot Matnot Aniyim, beginning of ch. 10. On the source and wording of this teaching, see the note of the Rebbe Shlita at the conclusion of Epistle 9.

  2. (Back to text) Yeshayahu 1:27.

  3. (Back to text) Tehillim 85:14.

  4. (Back to text) Ibid. 27:8.

  5. (Back to text) Parentheses and brackets are in the original text.

  6. (Back to text) According to a variant reading, Lehisbonen would mean "by making them meditate."

  7. (Back to text) Cf. Shir HaShirim 8:6.

  8. (Back to text) Tehillim 130:1.

  9. (Back to text) Zohar II, 63b.

  10. (Back to text) The parentheses close here in the original text. However, the Rebbe Shlita points out that they should in fact close further on, after the words, "in every soul of Israel."

  11. (Back to text) Kohelet 7:14.

  12. (Back to text) Mishlei 3:19.

  13. (Back to text) See note 10, above.

  14. (Back to text) Cf. Tanya, Part I, ch. 19. (Note of the Rebbe Shlita.)

  15. (Back to text) "It would seem that the text should read, Kemamar - `as our Sages...'"

    (Note of the Rebbe Shlita.)

  16. (Back to text) Megillah 29a.

  17. (Back to text) Devarim 10:16. The same Hebrew word means both "excision" and


  18. (Back to text) See Sefer HaLikkutim Dach: Tzemach Tzedek, s.v. Milah.

  19. (Back to text) Sanhedrin 98a; Rambam, Hilchot Teshuvah 7:5.

  20. (Back to text) Mishnah, Shabbat 137b.

  21. (Back to text) Devarim 30:6.

  22. (Back to text) Sanhedrin 97a. The phrase Hesech Hadaat commonly implies that Daat is absent because it has been forgotten; the Alter Rebbe's interpretation makes Daat absent because it has been transcended.

  23. (Back to text) See Shabbat 10a.

  24. (Back to text) Bamidbar 6:25.

  25. (Back to text) Zohar III, 247b; cf. Taanit 25b.

  26. (Back to text) Cf. Iyov 33:28.

  27. (Back to text) Mishlei 4:23.

  28. (Back to text) See Tikkunei Zohar, Tikkun 37: "And the blood... from the periah to provide nurture". Similarly at the conclusion of Tikkun 24. See also Sefer HaMitzvot by the Tzemach Tzedek, Mitzvat Eglah Arufah; Levush on Yoreh Deah 265:10. (Note of the Reb be Shlita.)

  29. (Back to text) The Hebrew Veshoveha can mean either "her returning expatriates" or "her captives."

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