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Tanya for Monday, 5 Tamuz, 5778 - June 18, 2018

Tanya
As Divided for a Regular Year

Tanya for 5 Tamuz

4 Tamuz, 5778 - June 17, 20186 Tamuz, 5778 - June 19, 2018


Chapter Twelve

[The letters that constitute the Ten Utterances, as the Alter Rebbe has just explained, are effluences of the Divine attributes which are wholly united with G-d Himself.

Therefore, though they are termed mere "letters", they are able to serve as vehicles for creating the wisdom and intellect of created beings, to which they are thus far superior; they are termed "letters" only in relation to the supernal attributes from which they emanate.

These letters are the specifically twenty-two manners of manifestation through which G-d chose to create the world.

Accordingly, as the Rebbe Shlita notes, the forthcoming chapter underscores the fact that all created beings, in all their vastly differentiated multiplicity, are in fact no more than twenty-two distinct forms of Divine manifestation.

Moreover, continues the Rebbe Shlita, we can understand why the Alter Rebbe explains this concept at such length further on in this chapter.

Such an explanation would seem to be at home in tracts such as Sefer Yetzirah, that deal with the respective stages of the creative process, not in a treatise dedicated to an explanation of Divine Unity.

The Alter Rebbe explains this here, nevertheless, thereby actually highlighting the concept of Divine Unity - not only insofar as it exists in its Source, but as it exists in practice.

For all the multifarious components of creation are in reality no more than twenty-two different forms of Divine manifestation].

[Although there are only twenty-two letters, they are able to create a vast multitude of creatures,] for the creatures are divided into categories both general [e.g., whether human or animal] and particular [e.g., the animal world in turn comprises numerous species of beasts, birds, fish, etc.

This multitudinous division comes about]:

By changes in the combinations, substitutions and transpositions [of the letters], as was explained above,

[When the letters are combined in one way, one kind of creature is created; a different combination gives rise to a different kind of creature.

For as explained in chapter 1, certain letters may sometimes be substituted or transposed with others. Those creatures whose names are not mentioned in the Ten Utterances derive their vitality by means of the combinations, substitutions and transpositions of the letters that do appear in the Ten Utterances].

For every letter is a flow from an individual, particular life-force and power.

[Note of the Rebbe Shlita: Since the letters are separate from each other, what combines them, and how is this accomplished?

The Alter Rebbe goes on to answer this by saying]:

And when many letters - [i.e. many particular powers and life-forces]- are combined to form a word, then in addition to the numerous kinds of powers and life-forces which issue forth according to the number of letters in the word, there is, in addition, transcending all [the particular powers], the flow of a higher power and general life-force which contains and is equivalent to all the various individual powers and life-forces of the letters and transcends them all.

It unites them and combines them, [1] in order to grant power and life-force to the world which was created in both its general and particular aspects, * [i.e., with its individual created beings], through this word.

* NOTE

Inasmuch as every single one of the twenty-two letters of the Torah is a flow of an individual, particular life-force and power, which does not flow through any other letter, therefore the written shape of each letter is likewise specific and distinctive, which indicates the pattern of the flow and manifestation of the light and life-force and power which is revealed and flows through this letter, [i.e.,] how it flows and is revealed from the attributes of the Holy One, blessed be He, and His Will and His wisdom, and so on.

END OF NOTE

[Returning to the body of the text, the Alter Rebbe now goes on to illustrate how one utterance ("Let there be a firmament") created the extensive components of the worlds as well as their specific creatures.

Note of the Rebbe Shlita: This also helps us understand the degree to which Divine Unity may be perceived in relation to the created beings of this world too, in that the seven heavens and all their celestial hosts were created and live and exist from the solitary Utterance, "Let there be a firmament."]

As, for example, through the words of the Utterance, "Let there be a firmament ....," [2] the seven heavens and all their component celestial hosts were created.

Thus our Sages, of blessed memory, speak of [3] "[the firmament called] Shechakim, in which stand millstones that grind manna for the tzaddikim ...., [the firmament called] Zvul, in which stand [the heavenly] Jerusalem and the Holy Temple and the Altar ...., [and the firmament called] Machon, in which there are stores of snow and stores of hail...."

[Each of the seven firmaments thus has its general nature - the fact that it is a firmament - as well as its individual aspect, as exemplified above].

The heavens as a whole were created and live and exist through the aggregate words of the utterance, "Let there be a firmament...."

[In general terms, [4] their existence as heavens results from the comprehensive illumination contained within the words, "Let there be a firmament.....]"

And each individual created being in the seven heavens [5] was created and lives and exists by virtue of some combination of the letters of these words, or their substitutions and transpositions, [these combinations, substitutions and transpositions being] according to the quality of the life-force of that particular creature.

For every change in a combination is an intermixing and interweaving of the powers and life-forces in a different form.

[For example: the three Hebrew letters alef bet nun in that particular order comprise the word EVEN, which is the name and life-force of a stone.

When, however, these selfame letters are transposed, a different form of creative power and life-force - and consequently a different creature - comes into being].

Since each letter antecedent in the combination dominates and it is the essential [force] in this created being, while the others [i.e., the other letters and forces contained within the word] are subordinate to it and are included in its light, [6] and thereby - [through the different combinations of the same letters] - a new being is created.

[Since, for example, alef is the first letter of the word EVEN, it is the dominant force in the created being that bears this name. If it is a letter stemming from the attribute of Chesed ("kindness"), then that attribute will predominate; if it is a letter of Gevurah ("severity"), a different attribute will prevail].

Likewise, through the substitution of letters or their transpositions, [when, for example, not only is the order of the letters changed but an alef (say) is substituted for an ayin], new creatures are created that are of lower levels than the beings created from the [original] letters themselves.

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) The Rebbe Shlita notes that the root here translated "unites" (chover) is etymologically related to the Hebrew word for "friend"; i.e., previously separate powers are joined in (as it were) friendly kinship. By contrast, the root here translated "combined" (tzoref) means that these powers fuse into one created being and one word. In Chagigah 20b, Rashi likewise explains this verb to mean that a number of separate items "become one entity," and not merely similar to one entity. This widespread understanding of the verb also finds practical, legal application.

  2. (Back to text) Genesis 1:6.

  3. (Back to text) Chagigah 12b. See Commentary of the Rebbe Shlita at the conclusion of this chapter.

  4. (Back to text) The Rebbe Shlita explains that the Alter Rebbe writes here that "the heavens as a whole were created....through the.....words..... `Let there be a firmament,' because each individual heaven was created by the name it is known by in the Holy Tongue (e.g., Shechakim), as stated above at the end of chapter 1.

  5. (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita: "This includes the firmament itself, as explained above."

  6. (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita: This dominance of the initial letter of a word underlies the significance of rashei teivot, the pattern of abbreviation wherein a whole word is telescoped within its first letter. Indeed, the Gemara states (in Shabbat 105a) that such abbreviations are of Torah origin.



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