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Tanya for Shabbos, 22 Nisan, 5776 - April 30, 2016

Tanya
As Divided for a Leap Year

Tanya for 22 Nisan

21 Nisan, 5776 - April 29, 201623 Nisan, 5776 - May 1, 2016


And although He has no bodily likeness, [how, then, can we possibly say that G-d possesses an "eye" and "ear", organs that are part of a physical body]?

Yet, on the contrary: [i.e., this is the very reason that] everything is revealed and known to Him infinitely more than, for example, through the physical medium of sight and hearing.

[When we say that G-d does not possess any bodily likeness, we mean that He is not bounded by the frailties of a physical body.

A physical eye can observe corporeality, but not spirituality; it can see only when there is adequate light, and only up to a given distance, and so on.

Physical hearing is likewise limited. G-d's "seeing" and "hearing", however, possess only the merits of these faculties, but none of their physical limitations.

For it goes without saying that any quality possessed by created beings is surely possessed by their Creator].

By way of illustration, [G-d's "seeing" and "hearing", and the fact that everything is revealed to Him and known by Him, are] like a man who knows and feels within himself all that is happening to and being experienced by each of his 248 organs, such as cold and heat, feeling even the heat in his toenails, for example, as when he is scorched by fire; so also their essence and substance, and all that is affected [16] in [ or: by] them, is known to the person and sensed in his brain.

[I.e., not only is a person aware of all that is happening to his organs; he also feels the organs themselves.

One need not use his eyes or ears to see or hear what has happened to a limb of his body, such as the pain of a burned hand or foot, for he knows and senses it in his mind].

In a similar manner of knowledge, by way of analogy, G-d knows all that befalls all created beings of both higher and lower worlds, because they all receive their flow of life from Him, as it is written: [17] "For from You come all things."

[Just as the brain, which is the source of life for the whole body, knows what transpires within it, so too does G-d, the Source of all life, know what is happening with all of creation].

And this is the meaning of what we say: [18] "...and no creature is hidden from You," [inasmuch as all created beings emanate from Him].

And as Maimonides [speaking as a philosopher] has said ([11] and this has been agreed to by the scholars of the Kabbalah, as Rabbi Moses Cordovero writes in Pardess), that by knowing Himself, as it were, He knows all created things, whose source of existence is His true existence.

[However, G-d provides creation with life in a different manner than the manner in which the soul provides life to the body.

The soul must garb itself in the body in order to provide it with life. By doing so it is affected by the body (for "enclothing" implies that the clothed object undergoes a change).

G-d, however, is of course not subject to change when He provides life to creation.

Hence]: This analogy of soul and body, however, is only to "calm the ear" - [to make it possible for man's ear and intellect to perceive how one may know about something without having to actually see or hear it. In truth, however, the analogy of soul and body bears no similarity at all to the analogue of G-dliness and creation].

For the human soul, even the rational and the divine soul, is affected by the events which transpire with the body and its pain, by reason of its [the rational and divine soul's] being actually clothed within the vivifying soul [i.e., the soul which provides the body with physical life] which [in turn] is clothed in the body itself.

G-d, however, is not [heaven forbid] affected by the events of the world and its changes, nor by the world itself, [He is not affected by the existence (the essence and being [19] ) of the world]; none of them effect any change in Him, G-d forbid, [nor in His absolute unity; just as He was One and Unified before He created them, so, too, does He remain One and Unified after their creation.

In order to help us understand this well with our intelligence, the Scholars of Truth [i.e., the Kabbalists] have already treated it at length in their books, [and an explanation will be found there].

However, all Jews [as descendants of the Patriarchs who believed in G-d], are "believers, descendants of believers," without any speculation of mortal intellect whatever, and they declare: [20] "You were [the same] before the world was created,"" and so forth.

[The passage concludes: "You are [the same] since the world has been created"; thus, all Jews firmly believe that the world's creation causes no change in G-d], as has been explained above in chapter 20.

   

Notes:

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

  2. (Back to text) The Rebbe Shlita indicates in a footnote that it is incorrect to translate "all that is done to them," namely, the effect of heat or cold on the organs. For were that to be so: (a) this has already been mentioned earlier; why repeat it again; (b) the Hebrew should have read, "nif'al bahem," which would translate to "done to them," and not, "mitpa'el bahem," which translates literally, "what is affected in them." For this reason the phrase has been translated, "and all that is affected in them."

    Furthermore, says the Rebbe Shlita, it is possible that there is a typographical error, and that the phrase should read, meihem - "and all that is affected by them," i.e., all that which man as a whole is affected by the organs. For this reason the translation has alternatively been given as, "and all that is affected by them."

    This emendation parallels that which is stated a little later on, that the analogy of man's knowledge of his organs is not at all similar to the analogue, for a person is affected by his body; G-d, however, is in no way affected by changes in the world. It therefore is reasonable to assume that the analogy given here is that of the person being affected by his bodily organs, for it is in this regard that the analogue is not at all similar to the analogy.

  3. (Back to text) I Divrei HaYamim 29:14.

  4. (Back to text) In the Mussaf prayer of Rosh HaShanah.

  5. (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita: "In line with the analogy (end of side (a) in the Hebrew text). `The creation' is not part of the analogy at all, for the soul does not create the body. The Alter Rebbe therefore does not speak of it or negate it in the analogue."

  6. (Back to text) In the morning prayers.



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