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Tanya for Thursday, 16 Av, 5780 - August 6, 2020

As Divided for a Regular Year

Tanya for 16 Av

15 Av, 5780 - August 5, 202017 Av, 5780 - August 7, 2020

We now come to an exposition of why our Sages, of blessed memory, said that specifically this world was created by the hei.

[According to the explanation provided above, not only this physical world, but all of creation resulted from the letter hei, i.e., from the Sefirah of Malchut as expressed in Divine speech.

The Alter Rebbe resolves this apparent anomaly by explaining that it is indeed true that all creation derives from the infinite variety of permutations and combinations of the letters which constitute Divine speech. Nevertheless, the loftier and more spiritual created beings derive from the internal aspect of Divine speech, which stems from Chochmah, and they therefore have an intellectual perception of G-dliness. Physical creation, by contrast, is of too lowly a level to be able to receive its life-giving Divine light and energy from the "soul" (i.e., the internal aspect) of the letters of G-d's creative speech; it merely receives this from the "body" (i.e., from the external aspect) of these letters.

The creation of physicality thus resembles the breath emanating from the heart, that forms the physical voice. Above, in like manner, the physical world is formed from Supernal breath, the "body" of the letters.

Hence our Sages teach that this world was created by the letter hei - for this letter denotes the Divine breath, as explained above.

It is this that the Alter Rebbe now goes on to say:]

This is known to all the wise of heart [25] concerning the multitude of worlds and heichalot, [palaces or chambers,] which are innumerable, as it is written, [with reference to these countless worlds and heichalot,] [26] "Do His regiments have a number?"

Each heichal and regiment comprises [a finite but prodigious number of] angels, [as it is written],] [27] "A thousand thousands [serve Him] and myriads of myriads [stand before Him]." [28]

Likewise, [incalculable like the above heichalot and regiments], are the levels of [souls, belonging to the five general categories of] nefesh, ruach, neshamah, chayah and yechidah, in rungs to no end, [for each of these five categories branches out int o levels of inexhaustible number.]

And so too [there are numberless levels] in all the worlds and heichalot, from among the multitudes of heichalot that exist in the Worlds of Atzilut, Beriah and Yetzirah.

[The three above-mentioned worlds are higher than the World of Asiyah ("the World of Action"), which includes both the spiritual and physical worlds of Asiyah.]

All these hosts [of created beings], then, one multitude beyond another ad infinitum, all issue and flow from the multitudinous combinations of the twenty-two letters of the "word of G-d," which, in turn, divide into a further profusion of combinations, truly ad infinitum.

As stated in Sefer Yetzirah, [29] "Seven `stones' [i.e., letters] build five thousand and forty `houses' [i.e., words]; from here onwards - [i.e., from the sum of the factorial of eight and onwards] - go ahead and calculate that which the mouth is unable to express..."

[In this way the letters of Divine speech may be multiplied infinitely by various permutations and combinations, thus giving rise to a correspondingly infinite range of created beings.

But if the distinctions between all these beings lie merely in the ways in which their respective letters are combined, why are there also many and varying qualitative levels, "one surpassing the other"? This is the question that the Alter Rebbe now proceeds to address.]

Though among the rungs and levels of the angels and souls there are so many distinct kinds of qualitative as well as quantitative levels and rungs ad infinitum, one surpassing the other, [these variations of level exist because] they all come into being according to permutations in the various letter-combinations and letter-substitutions of alef-tav, beit-shin, and so on, [30] [of the twenty-two letters which themselves come into being according to permutations in the various letter-combinations and letter-substitutions of alef-tav, beit-shin [and so on]), ([31], [32]) as explained in ch. 12 [of Shaar HaYichud Veha-Emunah]). [33]

[Now, although there exists such a teeming superabundance of distinct and varying levels of created beings:] In a general way they all possess wisdom and knowledge, and they know their Creator, because their life-force stems from the inwardness of the letters which issue from the Supreme Chochmah, as mentioned above.

[We may therefore truly say that the beings encompassed by the general term of [creatures of] the World to Come were all created by the letter yud, for their vitality stems from the inwardness and radiance of the letters of Divine speech that derive from the yud of the Four-Letter Name of G-d.]

This lowly world, however, with the life-force that is found within it, is too small to contain and endure the light and life-force that proceed from the "form" and "inwardness" of the letters; [this lowly world is too small for this light and life-force to be able] to radiate and diffuse in it without any garment or concealment as they radiate and diffuse to the souls and angels, [which receive the radiation from the inwardness of the letters without the garment and concealment of the "matter" and "body" of the letters which consists of the "breath" [34]]

Instead, the radiation and diffusion comes and flows to this world from the "matter", "body", or "externality" of the letters. This is called " breath", [just as the "body" or external aspect of the letters of man's speech derives from physical breath,] and it divides into the seven "breaths" of [the second verse of] Kohelet, [35] on which the world stands; [as taught in the holy Zohar, [36] "The world exists only by virtue of the [seven] "breaths" uttered by King Solomon."

This is "the utterance that issues forth from G-d's mouth," [i.e., this is the letter hei,] which is vested in this world and all its hosts to animate them; in [this utterance] is vested the "form" of the letters of speech and thought, emanating from His holy attributes, and His will and wisdom, and so on,

[This is similar to the letters (i.e., the potential and as-yet-inarticulate components) of a man's speech or thought, which attain a state of revealed expression through his emotions: since, for example, he loves and desires something, he thinks and speaks about it. The emotions themselves, however, derive from his will and mind. The same is true Above: the letters of speech and thought are revealed by the Divine attributes and emanate from them, though ultimately they derive from G-d's will and wisdom.] which are utterly incorporated in the blessed Ein Sof.

[Thus, the radiance emanating from the "form" of the letters - a radiance that emanates from G-d's attributes, wisdom and will - is merely found Betocho, within the internality of the Divine utterance that creates and vitalizes this world; it is not manifest.

That which serves as the source of the creation and vitality of this world is the externality or "body" of the letters, the "breath" of Divine speech.]

([37] And this is what Rabbi Isaac Luria, of blessed memory, stated [38] "that the external aspects of the vessels of [the Sefirah of] Malchut of [the World of] Atzilut, [these external aspects being] alluded to by the [lower] hei of the Four-Letter Name of G-d, descended and became the soul for the World of Asiyah.)

It is likewise stated in the Tikkunim, [39] that the yud is in [the World of] Atzilut..., [the upper hei in the World of Beriah, the vav in the World of Yetzirah,] and the lower hei nests in [the World of] Asiyah.

[These four letters of the Divine Name Havayah are the aspect of G-dliness that is revealed within the Four Worlds, [40] as follows:

In the World of Atzilut, the Sefirah of Chochmah (the yud of the Divine Name) is manifest. Chochmah signifies the highest form of self-nullification, the awareness that "He is One Alone and apart from Him there is nothing," as explained in the Note to Part I, ch. 35. This Sefirah permeates the entire World of Atzilut, so that whatever exists at that state of being experiences this degree of self-nullification before G-d. The upper hei of the Divine Name, the Sefirah of Binah ("comprehension"), illuminates the World of Beriah. Hence all the inhabitants of this world, both souls and angels, are characterized by a high degree of perception of Divinity.

The World of Yetzirah is illumined by the letter vav of the Divine Name, representing the six middot, the Divine emotive attributes. The created beings of this world therefore serve G-d with their spiritual emotions, with ecstatic love and fear.

The World of Asiyah is animated by the lower hei of the Tetragrammaton, the Sefirah of Malchut. This is the world of action, the level of active Divine service that is motivated by an acceptance of the yoke of the heavenly kingdom.

However, this refers only to the soul of the World of Asiyah that emanates from the combinations of the letters of Divine speech at their innermost dimension. This level is clothed and concealed within the "matter" or "body" of the letters - the "breath". The actual creation and animation of the World of Asiyah derives only from the externality of Divine speech, i.e., from the "breath". It is for this reason that this world is physical and corporeal.



  1. (Back to text) This accords with the explanation in Torah Or (and Or HaTorah) on this phrase [in the context of Shmot 28:2-3]. (Note of the Rebbe Shlita.)

  2. (Back to text) Iyov 25:3.

  3. (Back to text) Daniel 7:10.

  4. (Back to text) The Alter Rebbe cites this as well (as he does also in Part I, ch. 46, p. 65b), thus inviting a question as to what is added thereby (see ibid., beginning of ch. 48). It could be argued that he thereby adduces that though these "regiments" derive from letters and are therefore (finite and) countable, they nevertheless comprise as well an aspect of infinity. (Note of the Rebbe Shlita.)

  5. (Back to text) 4:12.

  6. (Back to text) According to the rules of substitution, the first letter (Aleph) can be substituted by the last letter (Tav); the second letter (Bet) can be substituted by the second-last letter (Shin), and so on. There are also other schemes of transposition, e.g., of letters of similar sound; of letters articulated by the same organ of speech; and so on.

  7. (Back to text) This parenthetical gloss was added by the Rebbe Shlita.

  8. (Back to text) Parentheses appear in original text.

  9. (Back to text) [The above-described successive stages of letter-permutation cause the light of Divine speech] to descend from the loftiest rung to the lofty rung below it..., [creating creatures of lesser standing by a mere] "radiation of a radiation..." [as in ch . 12, loc. cit.]. By contrast, mere differences in letter-permutation would not produce [creatures of] lesser standing. (Note of the Rebbe Shlita.)

  10. (Back to text) [This "garment" or "breath"] retains no separate identity from that which is clothed in it, and does not conceal it. (Note of the Rebbe Shlita.)

  11. (Back to text) See also Or HaTorah on this verse. (Note of the Rebbe Shlita.)

  12. (Back to text) I, 146b.

  13. (Back to text) Parentheses appear in original text.

  14. (Back to text) See Etz Chayim, Shaar 47, ch. 2, et al.

  15. (Back to text) See Tikkun 6 (p. 23a); Etz Chayim, Shaar 42, conclusion of ch. 4.

  16. (Back to text) As explained in Part I, ch. 39. (Note of the Rebbe Shlita.)

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