The Gate of Unity & Faith
Introduction to Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah
The heading written by the Alter Rebbe reads as follows:
ליקוטי אמרים, חלק שני הנקרא בשם חינוך קטן מלוקט מפי ספרים ומפי סופרים קדושי עליון נ״ע מיוסד על פרשה ראשונה של קריאת שמע
Compiled from sacred books and from teachers of heavenly saintliness, whose souls are in Eden;
This mention of his sources echoes the words of the Alter Rebbe in the title page to Part One of Tanya. The Previous Rebbe, the Rebbe Rayatz, of blessed memory, notes in one of his talks that “books” here traditionally refers to the works of the Maharal and the Shelah, and “teachers”, to the Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid of Mezritch.
This first paragraph contains both the verse beginning4 Shema Yisrael and the sentence beginning5 Baruch shem. As explained in the Zohar,6 these quotations refer respectively to yichuda ila‘ah (the higher level of perception of G‑d’s Unity) and yichuda tata’ah (the lower level of perception of G‑d’s Unity). It is around this theme that Part Two of Tanya revolves.
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חנוך לנער על פי דרכו, גם כי יזקין לא יסור ממנה
7“Educate the child according to his way: even as he grows old he will not depart from it.”
הנה מדכתיב: על פי דרכו, משמע שאינה דרך האמת לאמיתו
Since the verse writes “according to his way,” this implies that it is not the path of perfect truth, but merely a path to be followed by the child;
ואם כן מאי מעליותא שגם כי יזקין לא יסור ממנה
hence of what merit is it that “even as he grows old he will not depart from it”?
Indeed, it would seem that the very opposite should be the case: when the child matures he should forsake his childish path in favor of the path of truth. What possible merit could there be in not departing from it?
אך הנה מודעת זאת כי שרשי עבודת ה׳ ויסודותיה הן דחילו ורחימו
Now it is well known that the awe (lit., “fear”) and the love of G‑d are the roots and foundations8 of divine service.
The performance of Torah and mitzvot in thought, speech and deed is rooted in and founded upon one’s love and fear of G‑d. The awe of G‑d enables the Jew to properly observe the prohibitive commandments, while the love of Him makes it possible for the Jew to perform the positive commandments with inner feeling,9 as the Alter Rebbe now goes on to explain.
היראה שרש ויסוד לסור מרע
Awe is the root and fundament of [what constrains one to]10 “refrain from evil,” ensuring that one will not transgress the prohibitive commandments,
והאהבה לועשה טוב, וקיום כל מצוות עשה דאורייתא ודרבנן
and the love of G‑d [is the root and fundament] of [what motivates one to] “do good,” and to observe all the positive commandments of the Torah and the Sages,
כמו שיתבאר במקומן
as will be explained in their proper place.
“As will be explained in their proper place” refers to chs. 4 and 41 in the first part of Tanya. This reference, as the Rebbe points out, corroborates the tradition handed down by chassidim that the Alter Rebbe originally intended to reverse the current order, with this second part of Tanya appearing first, as Part I, and the fifty-three chapters of the first part becoming Part II.
ומצות החינוך היא גם כן במצוות עשה, כמו שכתוב באורח חיים, סימן שמ״ג
(13The commandment of educating [a child] includes also [training in the performance of] positive precepts, as is stated in Orach Chayim, Section 343.)
Since a child is to be educated to observe both prohibitive and positive commandments, it follows that his love of G‑d, as the root and fundament of all positive commands,14 must be such that it serves as the springboard for all the positive commandments that are performed as a result of education. We must therefore say that there exists an inferior and transient degree of love that serves as the root and foundation for those mitzvot that are performed as a result of education, a degree of love distinct from the superior level that motivates an adult. Nevertheless, as shall soon be explained, this lower level of love, too — a love which is “according to the child’s way” — possesses certain permanent qualities that make it desirable that “even as he grows old he will not (and indeed should not) depart from it.”
והנה באהבה כתיב, בסוף פרשת עקב: אשר אנכי מצוה אתכם לעשותה, לאהבה את ה׳ וגו׳
Concerning the love [of G‑d] it is written at the end of the portion Eikev,“...which I command you to do — to love G‑d...”
וצריך להבין איך שייך לשון עשיה גבי אהבה שבלב
It is necessary to understand how an expression of “doing” can be applied to love, which is [an emotion] in the heart.
The Alter Rebbe now proceeds to resolve this seeming anomaly. (First, however, he describes the superior degree of love that cannot be created: one can merely provide the conditions for its revelation.) As to the above anomaly, he now explains that there exists a manner of love that is indeed created — by meditating upon those concepts that arouse it. An active verb such as “doing” suits this manner of love, since it is experienced as a result of one’s own doing.
אך הענין הוא, דיש שני מיני אהבת ה׳
The explanation, however, is that there are two kinds of love of G‑d:
האחת היא כלות הנפש בטבעה אל בוראה
One is the natural, yearning love of the soul to its Creator.
Since this love is intrinsic to the soul, which is “truly a part of G‑d above,” this love need not — and indeed cannot — be created at all. It merely needs to be revealed. But how can such a passionate yearning become revealed in one’s corporeal, fleshly heart?
כאשר תתגבר נפש השכלית על החומר, ותשפילהו ותכניעהו תחתיה
When the rational soul prevails over the grossness [of the body] and subdues and subjugates it,
Here the Divinely-appointed task of the G‑dly soul comes to the fore: to rectify the animal soul and refine the body by means of the rational soul’s comprehension of G‑dliness. For the G‑dly soul’s own intellect and comprehension are too lofty to affect the body. The rational soul, however, embodies man’s natural quality of intellect and as such is close to the physical body. The rational soul comprehends G‑dliness in such a manner that it is able to cause Form to master Matter — to overmaster the body and harness its corporeality. When it actually does so:
אזי תתלהב ותתלהט בשלהבת העולה מאליה
then [the soul] will flare and blaze with a flame that ascends of its own accord,
It will be aflame not with a love created through contemplation, but with a natural love whose revelation was barred by the grossness of the body. Now, with the mastery and refinement of the body, the soul’s innate love for G‑d can at last be revealed.
ותגל ותשמח בה׳ עושה, ותתענג על ה׳ תענוג נפלא
and [the soul] will rejoice and exult both inwardly and outwardly in G‑d its Maker, and will delight in Him with wondrous bliss.
In this instance the delight is part of the love and the divine service itself, rather than a reward for the divine service, as is sometimes the case.
והזוכים למעלת אהבה רבה זו, הם הנקראים צדיקים
It is those who merit the [joyous] state of this great love who are called tzaddikim,
כדכתיב: שמחו צדיקים בה׳
as it is written,16 “Rejoice in G‑d, you tzaddikim.”
To serve G‑d with delight of this order is the privilege of tzaddikim alone. For though the above-described love emanates from the G‑dly soul which is possessed by every single Jew, for which reason one would expect everyone to be able to feel it, it is nevertheless not experienced by all. The reason for this — as the Alter Rebbe goes on to explain — is that one’s physical grossness impedes its revelation. And clearing this hurdle demands prodigious effort.