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Tanya for Tuesday, 16 Tishrei, 5779 - September 25, 2018

Tanya
As Divided for a Regular Year

Tanya for 16 Tishrei

15 Tishrei, 5779 - September 24, 201817 Tishrei, 5779 - September 26, 2018


However, I shall relate the truth [16] to those who listen to me: [17]

"Love upsets the natural order of conduct," for it is a covering of the eyes that prevents people from seeing the truth.

[The Alter Rebbe is quick to insist that his listeners' love for the "life of the body" is no doubt motivated by a spiritual purpose.

Nevertheless, they become so enmeshed in this love that they soon come to love the "life of the body" for its own sake as well.

This latter love upsets the natural order to the point that it drives people to seek advice on material matters.]

Because of their great love for the life of the body - [though this love is indeed experienced] for the sake of heaven, so that with [the body] they can serve G-d with flashes of fiery fervor and an ardent flame, ([18] this love being even greater than their soul's love for G-d they are extremely irate when their body undergoes suffering. (Heaven forfend; may G-d show compassion!)

Thus they are not able to bear [it] at all, to the point that it drives them out of their mind, causing them to tramp about from city to city to seek advice from afar.

[But why indeed does G-d cause suffering?

Moreover, how are we respond to life's difficulties, if it is not proper to seek advice on them from Torah sages and tzaddikim?

The Alter Rebbe goes on to explain:

Those who seek merely to be rid of their physical afflictions are not following the proper path of the Torah, for in doing so], they do not turn to G-d by [penitently] returning to Him with humble spirit and submission of the body to accept His chastisement with love, ([19] "for it is him whom G-d loves [that He chastises]."

[For misfortunes are in fact a call from G-d that one should repent.

Indeed, they should be a source of satisfaction: out of G-d's particular love for him, he has been chosen to be roused to repentance.]

This is analogous to a compassionate, wise and righteous father who hits his son.

Surely a wise son should not turn his back to escape and find himself help, or even an intercessor to his father, who is compassionate, righteous and kind.

[The previous Rebbe once remarked ([20] that when the Alter Rebbe first speaks of the father who punishes, he does not use the term "chassid".

(He uses it only later, in the context of the intercessor, where the word "chassid" is translated as "kind.")

The reason, says the Rebbe, is that a father who smites his child may indeed be compassionate, righteous and wise - but he is not a chassid, for a chassid does not hit!

In any event, we see that if the child is truly wise he will not flee from punishment.]

Rather, he will look straight at his father, face to face, bearing his smacks lovingly for his lifelong benefit.

[To transpose this to the analogue: Every Jew ought to look straight at his Father, "face to Face."]

Now in the Divine realm, the concept of "Face" is the willingness and desire with which our Father in heaven bestows upon His children all the good of the worlds - [the physical and the spiritual worlds] - as well as life for the soul and body; [all of this He bestows] out of love and willingness, out of inner desire and delight, through the Torah of Life, which is His blessed Will, that He gave unto us.

[The present passage is based on the body language that typically accompanies a gift.

As explained earlier in Tanya (chapter 22), one gives a gift to a good friend face to face: the giver's eyes rest on the face of the recipient.

Through his very stance the giver thus expresses the fact that his gift stems from his "face" (panim) and inner most core (pnimiyut).

When, however, one gives something to an enemy, he averts his face.

This simply gives outward expression to his real aversion: the gift is not prompted by any inner desire, but by some external factor.

In our context, then, G-d's loving willingness in showering us with His gifts is described by the metaphor of "Face".]

As we recite [in the Amidah], [21] "For in the light of Your Face, You have given us...the Torah of Life...," with which [and through which] to carry out His will.

And of this it is written, [22] "For in the light of the King's Face there is life, and His will...."

To the heathens, however, He grants the life of their bodies [23] without willingness, pleasure and delight.

For this reason they are referred to as elohim acherim "[other gods]", for they draw [their life-force] from achorayim [the "hinderside" of Divinity.

To continue the above metaphor: The Divine "reluctance" to grant life-force to the heathens - i.e., the so-called external level of Divine desire - is here described by a term that is the opposite of the "Face", which expressed G-d's innermost will.]

It is likewise with man: willingness and pleasurable desire, [i.e., man's innermost desires], relate to the "face".

[Thus, turning to G-d "face to Face" means that a man accepts willingly and with inner desire whatever is apportioned to him from the Supernal Face, from G-d's innermost desire.

In our context, this refers to a willing acceptance of G-d's admonishments as expressed in physical suffering.]

If one does not accept [this suffering] with love and willingness, it is as if he turns his neck and back [on G-d], heaven forfend.

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) Cf. Daniel 11:2.

  2. (Back to text) Bereishit Rabbah 55:8.

  3. (Back to text) Cf. Shir HaShirim 8:6.

  4. (Back to text) Mishlei 3:12. As in many other instances, the Alter Rebbe ended his quotation with "etc.", choosing not to spell out the painful final words of the verse.

  5. (Back to text) Sefer HaSichot 5704, p. 15.

  6. (Back to text) Siddur Tehillat HaShem, p. 60, et al.

  7. (Back to text) Mishlei 16:15.

  8. (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita: "This requires further examination, for seemingly this also applies to the life-force of their souls.

    See Tanya, chapter 22, and end of chapter 3."



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