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Tanya for Sunday, 8 Elul, 5778 - August 19, 2018

As Divided for a Regular Year

Tanya for 8 Elul

7 Elul, 5778 - August 18, 20189 Elul, 5778 - August 20, 2018

Epistle Twelve

"And [the reward for] the act of tzedakah will be peace, and [the reward for] the service of tzedakah [will be] quietness and surety forever." [1]

[Some commentaries explain that "act" (Ma-aseh) and "service" (Avoda) are one and the same; the verse merely reiterates the same theme in different words. Targum Yonatan, however, writes that "act" and "service" indicate two different forms of charity: the reward for the "act" of tzedakah is peace; the reward for the "service" of tzedakah is eternal quietness and surety.]

The difference between [the] "act" and "service" of tzedakah, and the difference between [the rewards of] "peace" and "quietness and surety," will be understood by what our Sages, of blessed memory, said [2] on the verse, [3] "He makes peace in His high places": "Michael is the prince of water and Gabriel is the prince of fire, yet they do not extinguish one another."

[Though water seeks to quench fire and fire endeavors to vaporize water, and "Michael is the prince of water and Gabriel is the prince of fire," nevertheless they do not extinguish one another.]

This means to say, [not that Michael's substance derives from the spiritual element of water and Gabriel's substance derives from the spiritual element of fire, but] that Michael is the prince of Chesed ["kindness"], which is called "water", because it descends from a high place to a low place.

[In spiritual terms] this [descent] means: the bestowal and diffusion of the [Divine] life-force from the higher to the lower worlds.

Fire, whose nature is to soar aloft, represents spiritually the thrust of Gevurah ["severity"], and the upward withdrawal of the flow of life-force, in order not to bestow [it] except by way of an intense and immense contraction.

Now these attributes are in conflict, [Chesed representing unlimited effusion, and Gevurah representing limitation and contraction,] but only when they are in their pristine state as attributes.

[Inasmuch as the attributes are inherently limited (and indeed the very word middah means "measure"), each of them is confined to its innate characteristics, Chesed to expansiveness, Gevurah to withdrawal.]

But the Holy One, blessed be He, makes peace between them, [so that they should not oppose one another,] through a revelation - so that an immense illumination and an intense effusion from the [infinite] Ein Sof-light is revealed within them.

For like His Name [viz., Ein Sof - "the Infinite One"), so is He.

He is not, Heaven forfend, on the [measured] plane of an attribute, but transcends exceedingly, ad infinitum, even the rank of [the intellectual faculties of] ChaBaD, which is the source of the attributes, [and surely He transcends the attributes themselves.]

And then, [when G-d's infinite light is revealed within the attributes,] the opposing attributes of Michael and Gabriel (Chesed and Gevurah) are absorbed in their source and root, and they become truly unified, and are nullified in His light, which radiates to them in a manifest way.

[Once their individuality is nullified, they no longer oppose each other. By way of analogy: The intense enmity of two high officials dissolves, in the presence of their sovereign, into friendship. It is because of their joint nullification before the king that this unity comes about. So, too, the defined bounds of the various attributes dissipate in the face of the limitless revelation of the infinite light.]

The Gevurot are thereby tempered and mellowed [lit., "sweetened"] in the Chassadim, [and are transformed into good and kindness,] by a mediary, the determining factor [between Chesed and Gevurah,] which leans towards Chesed, i.e., the attribute of Rachamim ("mercy").

[When Chesed does not insist (so to speak) on an unlimited revelation of kindness (but is satisfied to reveal the G-dly illumination in a finite manner), and Gevurah insists only on witholding the revelation from those who are unworthy of receiving it (but does not insist on blocking the revelation altogether, even from the worthy - then the mediating attribute of mercy, which leans toward kindness, declares that while a particular recipient may not be strictly worthy of the kindness to be shown , he is at least worthy of being granted it out of compassion.]

This [attribute of Rachamim] is called Tiferet ("beauty") in the terminology of the Kabbalists (lit., the scholars of truth"), because it is made up of the two colors white and red, which allude to Chesed and Gevurah, respectively. [Rachamim is therefore called Tiferet, because there is beauty in the harmony of diverse colors.]

The Divine Name Havayah [the Tetragrammaton], as it appears unqualified throughout the Torah, therefore indicates the attribute of Tiferet, as is stated in the sacred Zohar. [4]

[Each of the Divine Names indicates one of the Supernal Attributes: the Name E-l, for example, indicates Chesed; Elokim indicates Gevurah; and any unqualified appearance of the ultimate Divine Name - Havayah, which is known as Shem HaEtzem ("the Essential Name") - alludes to the attribute of Tiferet. Why is this the case?]

For here, [in Tiferet,] the [infinite] Ein Sof-light becomes manifest in an immense illumination, surpassing that of the other Divine attributes.

[This, then, is the meaning of the above quotation, that "He makes peace in His high places": The revelation of G-d's infinite light "makes peace" between Michael and Gabriel, who represent Chesed and Gevurah.]



  1. (Back to text) Yeshayahu 32:17.

  2. (Back to text) See Devarim Rabbah 5:12; Tanchuma, Vayigash 6.

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

  4. (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita: Vayikra 11:1.

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