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Tanya for Wednesday, 6 Av, 5782 - August 3, 2022

As Divided for a Leap Year

Tanya for 6 Menachem Av

5 Av, 5782 - August 2, 20227 Av, 5782 - August 4, 2022

Chapter Twelve

[The Alter Rebbe explained in the previous chapter that although a penitent should always remember his past sins, his recollection should not lead to a state of ongoing depression or shame; such an attitude would cripple the cardinal principle of serving G-d with joy.

Rather, he should recall his past misdeeds "from afar" - only insofar as they will teach him to be humble before all men.

Moreover, these memories will actually enhance the joy of his Divine service, for they will cause him to accept with happy equanimity all manner of pain and suffering, be it verbal or physical, whether visited upon him from Above or through mortal agents.

In this, the concluding chapter of Iggeret HaTeshuvah, the Alter Rebbe explains why these afflictions cause the penitent joy.

The reason for joy [1] in the suffering of the body is that it is a great and potent [2] favor for the sinning soul, to cleanse it in This World, [3] and to spare it from being scoured in Gehinnom. [4]

[5] (This is particularly true in these generations of ours, when one cannot undertake all the fasts prescribed in the penances of the AriZal, [as mentioned earlier on in chapter 3], fasts imperative for the cleansing of the soul, to rescue it from the cleansing of Gehinnom.)

As Nachmanides writes, in the Introduction to his Commentary on Job, that even the sufferings of Job for seventy years bear absolutely no comparison to the suffering of a soul for even one hour in Gehinnom, for [6] "[physical] fire is but one sixtieth [of the fire of Gehinnom]."

It is only that this [7] "world is built by kindness," for which reason through mild suffering in This World one is saved from severe judgments in the Coming World.

This is analogous to the movement of a shadow on earth of a which equals the sun's movement in the heaven of thousands of miles......

[I.e., the sun's movement of thousands of miles causes a corresponding movement of but a few inches of shadow].

Infinitely more so is this true in the parallel, in the descent of the worlds from level to level, from the most exalted heights until this physical world.

[The analogy may be understood as follows.

Any event that transpires in this world results from a parallel but far more ethereal event that "previously" took place in the spiritually exalted worlds. Thus, the effect of an event in this physical world is much greater in those lofty worlds].

We see this in the teachings of the Zohar on the elevation of the higher worlds as a result of the spiritual arousal initiated by man below through his offering of one fowl, a dove or pigeon, or a handful of meal, on the altar.

[The Zohar teaches that offering but one such representative creature from the animal world or but one such representative item from the vegetative world, elevates all the spiritual realms].

Such are the effects of all the commandments requiring practical performance, as is known from the AriZal.

[Mitzvot performed in this world with physical objects, such as tzitzit made of wool or the passages of the tefillin written on parchment, set up far-reaching reverberations in the exalted spiritual worlds].

This too is our Sages' comment [8] on the verse, [9] "Sanctify yourselves and you shall be holy" - "Man sanctifies himself [only] a little [i.e.," comments the Rebbe Shlita, `in quantity'] below [i.e.," comments the Rebbe Shlita, `in quality'], and he becomes sanctified in great measure from Above......"

[10] (It was thus noted above [11] in reference to the phrase, "Who sanctified us with His commandments ....," [that Israel's sanctification through mitzvot is bound up with the Infinite life- force that] encompasses and transcends all worlds....)

[Thus, the physical performance of a Divine commandment in this world, draws down upon the individual holiness not only from the most lofty spiritual worlds, but also from the degree of G-dliness that transcends worlds].

Precisely so is it in reference to reward and punishment.

The reward for the performance of a mitzvah infinitely surpasses the physical deed itself; the punishment as well, suffered by an individual in this world for his sins, substitutes for a far greater measure of punishment that the person would have undergone had it been meted out in the Coming World].

As our Sages say, [12] "The reward of a mitzvah is the mitzvah ....."; [I.e., the reward is the spiritual illumination that is drawn down through the fulfillment of the mitzvah itself], as discussed elsewhere.

Since it has just been explained that the performance of a mitzvah draws down as a reward Divine illumination that utterly transcends all worlds, it follows that the reward for the mitzvah in the loftier spiritual worlds is infinitely higher than the physical action performed here below.

This knowledge is elementary to the discerning, and those with intelligence in this matter will discover good.



  1. (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita: "The focus of this entire explanation is that the difference [between physical and spiritual suffering] and the benefit [of physical suffering] are twofold, quantitative and qualitative. Afflictions of the body, as opposed to afflictions of the soul; physical fire is only one-sixtieth of the fire of Gehinnom; a shadow's movement of a handsbreadth on earth is equivalent to thousands of miles."

  2. (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita: "The two terms [`great' and `potent'] quite possibly allude to [the] extent and quality [of the favor]."

  3. (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita: "Thus enabling the soul to leave this world in the same [pure] state as when it entered it."

  4. (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita: "This seems to imply yet another matter."

  5. (Back to text) Parentheses are in the original text.

  6. (Back to text) Berachot 57b.

  7. (Back to text) Tehillim 89:3.

  8. (Back to text) Yoma 39a.

  9. (Back to text) Vayikra 20:7.

  10. (Back to text) Parentheses are in the original text.

  11. (Back to text) Part I, chapter 46; chapter 10, above.

  12. (Back to text) Avot 4:2.

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