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Tanya for Shabbos, 15 Nisan, 5779 - April 20, 2019

Tanya
As Divided for a Leap Year

Tanya for 15 Nissan

14 Nisan, 5779 - April 19, 201916 Nisan, 5779 - April 21, 2019


[But what of one who finds it impossible to arouse even a feeling of intellectual awe of G-d? - The Alter Rebbe will now go on to say that since this individual, too, meditates upon the above-mentioned concepts, and, furthermore, his intent during the study of Torah and the performance of mitzvot is to serve G-d, these activities are therefore also deemed to constitute a completely valid form of service].

Furthermore, even in the case of of an individual who even in his mind and thought feels no fear or shame.

[I.e., an individual who is not moved by his contemplation of G-d uniquely bestowing His Kingdom upon him, and furthermore, is not moved by the consideration that G-d is scrutinizing him to see if he is serving Him as is fitting].

[This is] on account of the limited grade of his soul, originating in the lower degrees of the Ten Sefirot of Asiyah, nevertheless, since he is intent in his service to serve the King, this is unequivocally a complete service.

[The soul of this individual derives from Asiyah, the lowest of the Four Worlds. Moreover, within this World itself, it originates from the lowest degrees of the Ten Sefirot that span it. Since his soul stems from such a lowly level, he finds it impossible to reveal within himself a sensitivity to G-dliness, to experience even an intellectual fear of G-d].

For fear and service are accounted as two commandments of the total of 613, and they do not exclude each other.

[Thus, although this individual fails to fulfill the command of fearing G-d, for fear must be felt in one's heart and at the very least in one's mind, he is nevertheless able to fulfill the precept of divine service by studying Torah and performing the commandments with the intention that he is thereby serving G-d, his King.

After all this has been said, the Alter Rebbe will now say, that although this person fails to experience the fear even in his mind, yet since he thinks about those ideas which should evoke fear, he is fulfilling the command of fearing G-d].

Furthermore, as a matter of fact, [he not only fulfills the obligation of service], he also fulfills the commandment of fearing [G-d] by introducing the fear into his thought - [by thinking about it and seeking to arouse it], for at this hour and moment, at any rate, there rests upon him the fear of heaven, at least like one's fear in the presence of an ordinary mortal, even not a king, who is watching him, when he would refrain from doing anything unseemly in the other's eyes.

This - [even this simple expression of fear] - is termed fear; as Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai said to his disciples: [11] "May it be G-d's Will that the fear of heaven be upon you like the fear of a human being." [Whereupon his disciples protested: "No more than this?!"

He responded that the proof that this is indeed a true form of fear is as follows]: "...For you know that when a person commits a sin, he says [to himself]: `May no one see me!'..."

[Such fear, held Rabbi Yochanan, would ensure that they refrain from sinning.

At any rate, we note that this manner of fear is duly designated as "fear of heaven," because it distances a person from sin.

Accordingly, attaining this level of fear through meditation amounts to a proper fulfillment of the command to fear G-d].

Such fear, however, is termed yirah tata'ah "[lower-level fear]" and yirat chet "[fear of sin]", which precedes wisdom; [12] [i.e., it is only a lower level of fear, a fear of transgressing, rather than a fear of G-d Himself], while the higher fear is a "shamefaced fear," [i.e., the state of being abashed and overawed in G-d's presence.

For "wisdom" is an appelation for the fulfillment of Torah and mitzvot, inasmuch as [13] "the ultimate purpose of wisdom is repentance and good deeds." This lower level of fear is therefore considered a prelude to Torah and mitzvot. And, indeed, in this spirit our Sages state: [14] "If there is no fear, there is no wisdom."

Conversely, [15] however, our Sages also state: [14] "If there is no wisdom, there is no fear," which would seem to imply the very opposite - that wisdom precedes fear.

In fact there is no contradiction between the two statements. For there are two levels of fear: (a) yirah tata'ah, the lower level of fear, and (b) yirah ila'ah, the higher level of fear.

The lower level of fear is a necessary prelude to "wisdom", to the proper fulfillment of Torah and mitzvot.

The higher level of fear, however, can only be attained after "wisdom", i.e., after the proper performance of Torah and mitzvot. Hence, "If there is no wisdom, there is no fear]."

For there are two kinds of fear... - [the lower level of fear which leads to the performance of Torah and mitzvot, and the higher level of fear which results from the proper performance of Torah and mitzvot].

Without any fear at all, however, it [i.e., one's fulfillment of Torah and mitzvot] does not soar on high to the supernal Sefirot through love alone, just as a bird cannot fly with one wing, [16] for fear and love are the two wings (as stated in Tikkunei Zohar).

[The spiritual wings of love and fear of G-d elevate the Torah and mitzvot performed under their impetus to the supernal Sefirot, as explained in the previous chapters.

When one lacks a fear of G-d and acts only out of love, he is operating with only one "wing", thus making it impossible for his Torah and mitzvot to soar on high].

Similarly, fear alone is but one wing, and [one's service] cannot ascend with it on high, even though it is termed the "service of a servant," [duly motivated by awe, or fear], for there must also be [the service characteristic of] a "son", [i.e., service motivated by love], in order to awaken at least the natural love for G-d that is hidden in one's heart, so that he should at least become conscious of it in his mind, to recall his love of the One G-d in his thought, and in his desire to cleave to Him.

[This recollection of his hidden love for G-d should arouse within him a desire to cleave to Him].

This should be his intent when occupying himself with the Torah, or with the particular commandment [he is about to perform, viz.], that his divine soul as well as his vivifying soul, together with their "garments", shall cleave to Him, as has been explained above.

[In summary: a Jew's divine service must embrace both that of a son who serves his father out of love, and that of a servant who serves his master out of fear and awe].

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) Berachot 28b.

  2. (Back to text) See Avot 3:9.

  3. (Back to text) Berachot 17a.

  4. (Back to text) Avot 3:17.

  5. (Back to text) See beginning of ch. 43, where this subject is treated in greater detail.

  6. (Back to text) The Rebbe Shlita notes that this does not contradict the statement of the Midrash (Bereishit Rabbah 39:8, quoted in Tosafot, Shabbat 49a, Knafeha), that when a dove is tired it "flies with one wing," indicating that a bird can indeed fly with only one wing.

    There is no contradiction, because the Midrash concludes with the words, "(it flies with one) and rests with one"; the bird possesses both wings. Here, however, the Alter Rebbe is describing a situation where the individual possesses only a love of G-d and lacks fear of Him; he thus completely lacks the second "wing".

    Furthermore, according to the Midrashic text and commentary of the Matnot Kehunah, although the dove is mostly flying with one wing it also makes use, albeit minimal use, of the second wing as well; even a dove cannot fly with just one of its two wings.



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