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Tanya for Thursday, 18 Shevat, 5780 - February 13, 2020

Tanya
As Divided for a Regular Year

Tanya for 18 Shevat

17 Shevat, 5780 - February 12, 202019 Shevat, 5780 - February 14, 2020


Likewise in the category of "doing good" [one can employ the power of his "hidden love]," to strengthen himself like a lion with might and determination of heart, against the evil nature which weighs down his body and casts over him a sloth, which stems from the element of Earth that is in his animal soul. [7]

[This laziness prevents him] from exerting his body energetically with every type of effort and strain, in the service of G-d that entails effort and toil.

For example, to labor in the Torah with deep concentration, and also orally, so that "his mouth will never cease from Torah study"; as our Sages have said: [8] "A man should always submit to the words of Torah like the ox to the yoke, and the ass to the load."

Similarly with regard to devout prayer, [he should exert himself] with all the strength he can muster.

So too with regard to serving G-d in monetary matters, such as the duty of charity, [9] and in similar matters that entail great effort where one must struggle with the evil inclination and its wiles which seek to cool the ardor of a man's soul, claiming that he ought not dissipate his money [in the case of charity or his health in matters requiring physical exertion].

It is very easy for a person to resist and subjugate his nature when he considers deeply that to conquer his nature in all the above and more, and in fact to do the very opposite, [i.e., to exert himself strenuously, both bodily and financially], is much lighter suffering than death (May G-d preserve us!).

Yet he would lovingly and willingly have accepted the pain of death (G-d preserve us!) so as not to be separated from G-d's unity and oneness even for a moment by an act of idolatry, G-d forbid.

[For, as mentioned earlier, every Jew would sacrifice his life rather than practice idolatry, since he knows that it represents separation from G-d].

Certainly, then, he ought to accept lovingly and willingly [the comparatively minor pain of exerting himself in the performance of the mitzvot] in order to bind himself to G-d with an eternal bond.

[There is a twofold a fortiori argument here. [6]

Firstly, performing a mitzvah actively binds man to G-d, as opposed to refraining from idolatry, which merely prevents separation from Him.

Secondly, the bond effected by the mitzvah is an eternal one, as opposed to the temporary separation from G-d caused by idolatry.

Now if one would sacrifice his life to refrain from idolatry, how much more so ought he accept whatever hardships are entailed by fulfilling the mitzvot, since their performance has both these gains that are not found in the rejection of idolatry.

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to explain how mitzvot effect an eternal bond with G-d].

For by fulfilling G-d's Will through this service despite the exertion involved, the innermost Divine Will will be revealed in it - internally [as opposed to "surrounding" it or "hovering" over it from above], and very manifestly, without any obscurity whatever.

[As explained in chapter 23, the mitzvot represent G-d's innermost Will, and when one performs them, this Will stands completely revealed].

Now, when there is no "concealment of the Countenance" of the Divine Will, nothing is at all separate from G-dliness, having an independent and separate identity of its own.

[For, as explained in chapters 22 and 24, no created being can possibly consider itself separate from G-d unless the Divine Will is concealed from it. Since the inner aspect of this Will stands revealed in one's performance of a mitzvah, it does not permit any sense of separation].

Thus his soul [i.e., the soul of the person performing the mitzvah], both the divine and the animating souls, and their "garments" of thought, speech, and action, will be united in perfect unity with the Divine Will and with the infinite light of G-d, blessed be He, as explained above.

[This details how the mitzvot effect a bond between man and G-d. The Alter Rebbe will now go on to explain why this bond is eternal].

In the upper spheres, this union [between the soul and G-d] is eternal. For G-d, blessed be He, and His Will transcend time, [and thus the union with G-d and His Will also transcends time and is eternal].

So too [even in this world] His revealed Will, as expressed in His Word - the Torah, is also eternal, as it is written: [10] "But the Word of our G-d shall stand forever"; and [11] "His words live and endure [eternally]"; and [12] "He will never alter or exchange His law."

[Since the revelation of G-d's Will as expressed in the Torah is beyond time, the union of the soul with G-d that Torah and mitzvot effect is likewise eternal].

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) Based on a comment by the Rebbe Shlita.

  2. (Back to text) See ch. 1.

  3. (Back to text) Avodah Zarah 5b.

  4. (Back to text) The three examples given here correspond to the three "pillars" of Torah, avodah, and gemilut chassadim.

  5. (Back to text) Yeshayahu 40:8.

  6. (Back to text) From the prayer following the morning Shema.

  7. (Back to text) From the medieval hymn Yigdal, based on the Thirteen Principles of Faith formulated by Rambam.



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