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I Will Write It In Their Hearts - Volume 2
Letters from the Lubavitcher Rebbe

An explanation of the statement in Tanya that the word ve'ad is equivalent to echad when the letters are exchanged

Translated by: Rabbi Eli Touger

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  An explanation why, when citing our Sages' statement: "Be of humble spirit before all men," the Alter Rebbe uses the wording kol ha'adom, including a heiTable of contentsAn explanation of the concept that a multitude of minor transgressions can create a spiritual blemish equivalent to that produced by the transgression of a more severe prohibition  

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No. 220

This letter like the previous one was printed in Kovetz Lubavitch, Vol. 11.
[Question:] Please explain the statement in Tanya, Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah, ch. 7, [that the word] voed is equivalent to echad when the letters are exchanged.

Response: This statement has its source in the Zohar, Vol. II, p. 134b. In the commentary, Mikdash Melech - as cited in the marginal notes on the Zohar by Nitzutzei Oros - writes: The alef is exchanged with the vav according to [the scheme of] letters alef, hey, vov, yud and the ches is exchanged with the ayin according to [the scheme of] letters alef, ches, hey, ayin.

The letters alef, hey, vov, yud are related to one another for they are all osios hemshech (i.e., they are drawn after - because of the accent - the letters that appear before them), osios hanoach (i.e., sometimes they are silent and are not pronounced), and osios haneshimah (it is only through them that all the letters are expressed in speech). All of these concepts are stated in the texts of grammar. See also the commentary of R. Avraham Ibn Ezra to Shmos 3:15, his riddle (which is included in the introduction to his commentary to the Torah), and the conclusion of sec. 1 in the maamar entitled Es Shabsosai in Likkutei Torah.

Similarly, the letters alef, ches, hey, ayin are all related to each other, because they are all produced by the throat.[385]


The above represents the general meaning of the exchange. The explanation why these letters are indeed interchanged with the others can be understood on the basis of the preceding statement in Tanya (quoted from the Zohar, Vol. I, p. 18b) that Shema Yisrael... represents "the sublime unity," and Baruch Shem..., "the lower unity."

To explain in brief: The yichuda ila'ah (the sublime unity) unity is like the bittul of the radiance of the sun within the sun itself, the bittul which characterizes the world of Atzilus, which encompasses one's entire existence and brings about self-nullification as a matter of course, for one does not feel one's own identity at all.

Yichuda tata'ah (the lower unity) reflects the bittul of the worlds: Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah, which involves the nullification of self. I.e., one feels that one's self exists, but understands intellectually that one is butel, for [in truth] one is in the midst of the source which brings one into being, like the radiance of the sun within the sun itself. (All of this, however, is [merely] understood intellectually; it is not felt [consciously].)

The bittul of the sublime unity stems from the perception of its source. When is the source perceived? When the source is not expressed in garments that conceal, despite the fact that it is extended to bring into being and maintain [other existence] - [e.g.,] it radiates forth and causes the world of Atzilus to emanate.

All of this is alluded to in the letter Alef which stands for Alufo shel olam, "the L-rd of the world." It is drawn down through the ches that is associated with the sublime Chochmah, the first stage of the chain-like progression within spiritual existence, until it brings into being the world through the daled, the realm of speech. This, however, is referring to speech as it is still bound within its source in thought and indeed, to an even higher level, the speech which exists within its source, i.e., speech as it exists in thought. Therefore the daled [of echad] is oversized.[386]

The bittul of the lower unity, by contrast, comes about through the awareness that one is in the midst of one's source even though one does not feel it. This is produced when the source is extended [outward], but as it is extended it becomes enclothed in a garment that conceals. Therefore the created being feels separate [from his source].

[This comes as a result of] the fact that the source (the alef) is drawn down to the lower levels. [This is alluded to] by the letter vav, a line drawn down from above to below (i.e., the alef is exchanged with the vav).

Afterwards, it is enclothed in Chochmah (the ches), but the fundamental enclothement is in the emotional elements of Chochmah, the external elements of the sublime Chochmah. This is alluded to by the letter ayin.[387] (Thus the ches is transformed into an ayin.)

Afterwards, [influence] is drawn down to bring into being the worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah through the letters of speech. Since it is drawn down through the external elements of the sublime Chochmah, the power of speech as it is drawn down from its source and inner dimension (the oversized daled) brings into being the actual letters of speech, an ordinary daled. (Thus the oversized daled is transformed into an ordinary daled.)


See Imrei Binah (Pesach HaShaar, secs. 1-7, Shaar Kerias Shema, secs. 70-78); Shoresh Mitzvas HaTefillah from the Tzemach Tzedek (secs. 19, 22, and 38), and the maamar entitled Kol HaMaarich BiEchad, 5678, where [the concepts] are explained in greater detail.

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) See Sefer HaYetzirah, ch. 12, cited by the Tikkunei Zohar, Tikkun 70, mentioned also in Tanya, Iggeres HaKodesh, Epistle 5 and the maamar entitled ViHeinif es HaOmer in Likkutei Torah.

    Parenthetically, it can be noted that the reason the letters are listed in the order alef, ches, hei, ayin and not tof, alef, hei, ches, ayin which represents an alphabetic progression, can be understood on the basis of the statements of the Zohar, Vol. II, p. 123a. (See also Etz Chayim, Shaar Derushei HaTzelem, Derush 2.)

    It is true that the letters produced by the teeth are also usually stated in the order zayin, samech, shin, reish, tzaddik which does not conform to the order of the alphabet. Nevertheless, in the first printings of Sefer Yetzirah, the Manitoba printing, which is copied at the conclusion of the Warsaw printing of 5644, the order is zayin, samech, tzaddik, reish, shin according to the order of the alphabet.

  2. (Back to text) This reflects the inner motivation of the ruling quoted in the Alter Rebbe's Shulchan Aruch 61:7: "The requirement to extend the daled of echad does not mean that one should extend and draw out the pronunciation of the daled. Instead, one should extend in one's thought...." For as explained above, the daled of echad represents a union of speech and thought.

  3. (Back to text) [For ayin is numerically equivalent to 70, i.e., the seven emotional qualities as each one is subdivided into ten.]


  An explanation why, when citing our Sages' statement: "Be of humble spirit before all men," the Alter Rebbe uses the wording kol ha'adom, including a heiTable of contentsAn explanation of the concept that a multitude of minor transgressions can create a spiritual blemish equivalent to that produced by the transgression of a more severe prohibition  


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