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Tanya for Shabbos, 19 Tishrei, 5782 - September 25, 2021

Tanya
As Divided for a Regular Year

Tanya for 19 Tishrei

18 Tishrei, 5782 - September 24, 202120 Tishrei, 5782 - September 26, 2021


[On the above matters between man and G-d, the Alter Rebbe referred to himself as merely "repeating reminders." Here, however, as he begins to speak of the relationship between man and man, he uses stronger terms.]

Furthermore, I earnestly ask of my esteemed listeners, not to cast aside my words, in which I have asked that every man be upright and walk with integrity, just as [17] "G-d made man upright"; nor to seek [17] "numerous calculations" regarding [18] "the pretexts of man's steps and a person's thoughts and devices."

[It is not man's task to weigh the motives of his fellow.]

For that is the work of heaven and not an occupation for flesh and blood.

Rather, every one should believe with absolute faith in the precept of our Sages, [19] of blessed memory: "And be humble of spirit before every man," without exception. [20]

For it is a true statement and a correct proverb that every man becomes better through his fellow.

[Since every individual possesses specific qualities that others lack, the realization by disparate people that in essence they comprise one whole, enables them all to be complemented and perfected by each other.

The above form of address, "Furthermore, I earnestly ask of my exalted listeners...," is expounded by the Previous Rebbe, the saintly Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak, on the non-literal level of derush.

Noting that the Hebrew words "Edrosh Mima'alatchem" can also be understood as speaking of "calling forth exalted qualities," the Previous Rebbe once remarked: [21] "This form of address does not mean that the Alter Rebbe was confining his appeal to an exclusive group of exalted individuals; after all, he was addressing this letter to his chassidim at large.

Rather, in using this phrase he was implying an underlying plea: Call forth your exalted qualities!"

With regard to the following pair of phrases, "not to cast aside my words, in which I have asked...," the Previous Rebbe explains that the former phrase refers to the indirect and transcendent (makkif) mode in which the Alter Rebbe influenced his chassidim, while the second phrase refers to his simultaneously direct and internalized (pnimi) mode of influence.

Finally, the Previous Rebbe points out that the Alter Rebbe's following affirmation that "every man [literally:] is better than his fellow," really means that one's fellows enable one to become a better person; i.e., as translated above, "every man becomes better through his fellow."

Thus too it is written, [22] "All the men of Israel ... associated together like one man."

Just as one man is composed of many limbs and when they become separated this affects the heart, for from it there issues life, therefore, by our truly being all like one man, the service [of G-d] in the heart [i.e., prayer] will be firmly established.

[To consider both this divisiveness and this harmony on the cosmic level, in terms of the relation of souls to the Divine Presence: The above sentence means [23] that divisiveness among Jews affects, as it were, the Divine Presence, the "heart" of the Jewish people; conversely, since the task of prayer is to connect a soul with its source in the Divine Presence, cultivating one's sense of unity with one's fellows - which in turn connects all souls with the Shechinah - enhances the divine service of prayer.]

And from the affirmative [you may infer the negative]. [24]

[In keeping with Rabbinic usage, the bracketed clause is euphemistically omitted in the Hebrew original, and merely hinted at by "etc." I.e., when unity is lacking, the service of prayer is likewise imperfect.]

That is why it is said, [25] "To serve Him with one purpose" [literally, "with one part" or "with one shoulder": only when all Jews fully unite in this way can it be said that they "serve Him."

The Alter Rebbe resumes his plea to his chassidim]:

Therefore, my beloved and dear ones, I beg again and again that each of you exert himself with all his heart and soul to firmly implant in his heart a love for his fellow Jew, and, in the words of Scripture, [26] "let none of you consider in your heart what is evil for his fellow."

Moreover, [such a consideration] should never arise in one's heart [in the first place]; and if it does arise, [for even a person who has attained the rank of a Beinoni cannot prevent a thought from presenting itself to his mind], one should push it away from his heart [27] "as smoke is driven away," as if it were an actual idolatrous thought. [28]

For to speak evil [of another] is as grave as idolatry and incest and bloodshed. [29]

And if this be so with speech, [then surely thinking evil about another is even worse]; [30] for all the wise of heart are aware of the greater impact [on the soul] of thought over speech, whether for the good or for the better.

[This really means, "whether for good or for bad."

Here, too, however, the Alter Rebbe uses a traditional euphemism "for the better", which could be understood to mean, "for that which needs to become better. [31]

Thought is a soul-garment that is more intimately involved with the soul than speech.

For this reason,

  1. good thoughts leave a deeper impression on oneself than good speech, and conversely evil thoughts leave a deeper impression than evil speech;

  2. thought is a constant, just as the soul itself is a constant, whereas with regard to speech, [32] "There is a time to keep silence, and a time to speak."

May the good L-rd, Who blesses His people with peace, bestow peace and life upon you forever more, as is the wish of him who loves you deeply from heart and soul.

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) Kohelet 7:29.

  2. (Back to text) From the Mussaf prayer of Rosh HaShanah; Machzor for Rosh HaShanah (Kehot, N.Y., 1983; bi-lingual edition), p. 135.

  3. (Back to text) Avot 4:10.

  4. (Back to text) In Tanya chapter 30, this same teaching of the Sages

    1. is not introduced by an injunction that one "believe [in it] with absolute faith";

    2. it is followed by a consideration of the conduct of others.

    Concerning these differences the Rebbe Shlita notes: "Chapter 30 speaks of man's service with regard to himself - his battle with the evil inclination and his efforts to refrain from evil and to do good, and so on. This demands the kind of meditation outlined there, that will lead to proper thought, speech and action - a detailed consideration of the conduct of another individual, who is less righteous, [and yet whose divine service one has to learn to regard as being in fact superior to one's own].

    Belief plays no part in this; all that matters there is that one's mind should compel him to conduct himself as he ought.

    "Here, however, in Iggeret HaKodesh, our text speaks of the need to become one with every other Jew - all of us like actually one man.

    The Alter Rebbe therefore has to make provision for the possibility that if one individual imagines a flaw in another or in a group of people, he should not think about it, etc., as is soon stated; rather, he should believe in this teaching of the Sages.

    Indeed, in order for it to be truly internalized he should believe in it `with absolute faith,' and certainly not contemplate the details of the conduct of this individual or the other."

  5. (Back to text) Sefer HaSichot 5705, p. 51.

  6. (Back to text) Shoftim 20:11.

  7. (Back to text) See below at length in Epistle XXXI.

  8. (Back to text) Sifrei, Eikev 11:19.

  9. (Back to text) Zephaniah 3:9.

  10. (Back to text) Zechariah 8:17.

  11. (Back to text) Tehillim 68:3.

  12. (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita: "This comparison is perhaps explained by the statement of our Sages that one is punished only for idolatrous thoughts (Kiddushin 40a)."

  13. (Back to text) Arachin 15b.

  14. (Back to text) Here, too, the bracketed words are euphemistically omitted in the Hebrew original, and merely hinted at by "etc."

  15. (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita: "On the meaning of the Hebrew word L'Mutav, see Likkutei Torah (conclusion of Parshas Korach)."

  16. (Back to text) Kohelet 3:7.



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