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Maamar VeKibeil HaYehudim 5687 [1927]

Maamar Yehi Havayah Elokeinu Imanu 5687 [1927]

Maamar Havayah Li BeOzrai 5687 [1927]

Maamar Baruch HaGomel LaChayavim Tovos 5687 [1927]

Maamar Asarah SheYoshvim VeOskim BaTorah 5688 [1928]

Defiance And Devotion
Selected Chassidic Discourses
Dating From The Arrest And Liberation
Of The Sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe
Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, In 1927

Maamar Havayah Li BeOzrai 5687 [1927]

Translated by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger Edited by Uri Kaploun

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"G-d Is Among Those Who Help Me..."

[This maamar was delivered on Tuesday, the twelfth of Tammuz, the date on which the Rebbe Rayatz was informed of his impending release from exile in Kostroma, and which is celebrated to this day as Yud-Beis Tammuz, Chag HaGeulah - the Festival of Liberation.]


"G-d is among those who help me; may I witness [the downfall of] those who hate me."[1] The wording here is problematic, appearing to imply that a person has many helpers, and that G-d is [merely] one of them. In truth, however,[2] "There is none else apart from Him." He alone, blessed be He, is the Creator Who brings a man into existence and animates him, and assists him in all his affairs. As Rambam declares:[3] "The foundation of all foundations and the pillar of all wisdom is to know that there exists a Prime Being, and He brings into existence every existing thing; and all things that exist in the heavens and earth and between them exist only by virtue of His true existence." Significantly, the initials of the first four Hebrew words of this passage ("The foundation of all foundations and the pillar of all wisdom") spell the [transcendent] Divine Name Havayah.[4]

In this context, echad ("one") means yachid ("unique"). The term echad is nevertheless used in order to show that "Havayah and Elokim are all one";[5] i.e., everything that has been created and brought into being is at one, in complete unity, with Him, for He is [an indivisible] unity. We, the entire Jewish people, believe with simple faith in the absolute truth that all the life-energy of created beings, their existence, and any salvation that comes to them, derives only from G-d. As it is written,[6] "He stands at the right side of the pauper to save him from those who condemn his soul."

This relates especially to someone who is broken and crushed by extensive suffering, heaven forbid. This is reflected in the verse,[7] "The offering [desirable] to G-d is a contrite spirit, a crushed and broken heart..." Likewise, the Zohar[8] teaches that "G-d is served with broken vessels." For a person who is broken and contrite is self-effacing and humble in his own eyes, and this makes him a fit vessel for G-dliness.

A person who sees himself as a self-sufficient [and important] entity, a yesh, is not a vessel for G-dliness. Our Sages teach[9] that [with regard to a haughty person, G-d says]: "He and I cannot dwell [together]." By contrast, with regard to a person who holds himself humble - particularly after his soul has experienced the bitter taste of contrition and he has turned to G-d with all his heart and all his might - it is written,[10] "I dwell on high, in a holy place, yet [also] with him who is contrite and humble of spirit."

Accordingly, it is difficult to understand the phrase, "G-d is among those who help me," for it implies that G-d is one helper in partnership with others. We must therefore understand: Who are those who help others, particularly in a time of distress, heaven forbid?

In practice, we see the opposite. Most people who follow their natural habit draw close to those who are successful ("A wealthy man has many friends"[11]), and keep their distance from those whose days are tough and whose spirits are embittered, heaven forbid. Who, then, are those who help a person? For the verse implies that a person has true helpers, among whom G-d is to be found.

Also requiring explanation is [King David's] request, "May I witness [the downfall of] those who hate me." Seemingly, it would have been more appropriate for him to have asked that his enemies and haters be transformed into friends and intimates. It is true that David's enmity was directed only to those hate G-d; as it is written,[12] "G-d, do I not hate those who hate You? And against those who rise against You, do I not strive?" Nevertheless, on the verse,[13] "May sinners (Chata'im) cease from the earth," our Sages note that the wording of the Hebrew implies,[14] "May sins cease" and not "May sinners cease." Seen in this light, the verse requests that sinners should turn to G-d in teshuvah. A desire to "witness [the downfall of] those who hate me" thus raises difficulties.

The intent of [David's] statement becomes even more problematic when one considers that [when cursed by Shimi ben Gera] David himself [counseled restraint], saying,[15] "For G-d has told him to curse... Who then shall say, 'Why have you done this?'" [Our verse seems to indicate a very different approach. Moreover, David's] foes [thus] included individuals who were nurtured by holy sources. Further examples are Doeg and Achitofel (as mentioned in chs. 52 and 55 of Tehillim), who outwardly conducted themselves according to the laws of the Torah. If so, the [request to] "witness [the downfall of] those who hate me" appears to be [a request for] vengeance, which in any possible form is an undesirable trait. How could David make such a request?

Another point: What is the apparent connection between the two clauses of our verse? It appears that it is because "G-d is among those who help me" that "I [will] witness [the downfall of] those who hate me." This seems to imply that witnessing the downfall of one's foes becomes possible when a person has helpers with whom G-d joins, as it were.


These concepts can be understood [by prefacing] the explanation of our Sages' statement,[16] "A person who comes to purify [himself] is granted assistance." [Here also] the Hebrew term for "is granted assistance" uses a plural form, whereas [as above] the sole helper is the Holy One, blessed be He.

The infinitive L'Taher is also problematic. This is a transitive verb, implying that one also intends to purify others. Seemingly, the intransitive verb LiTaher would have been more appropriate, for this would imply that the individual himself desires to become pure, rather than to purify others.

The above concepts may be clarified in light of the verse,[17] "Your statutes were my songs when I dwelled in fear." On these words our Sages teach[18] that [G-d exclaimed], "David! You call them songs?!" - and David was punished for this.

[What is the meaning of this passage?] David was extolling the Torah, in that the life-energy and continuing existence of the world depends on the meticulous observance of any of its mitzvos. For the creation of the world came about through the medium of the Torah, which testifies concerning itself,[19] "I was the implement with which the Holy One, blessed be He, [created the world]." Similarly, the Zohar states,[20] "The Holy One, blessed be He, looked into the Torah and created the world."

The continued existence of the entire world thus depends on the Torah, as indicated by our Sages' statement,[21] "The Holy One, blessed be He, made a condition with all the works of Creation: If Israel accepts the Torah, you will continue to exist; if not, I shall return you all to nothingness and void."

Thus, when people are involved in the Torah and its study, particularly in communal study, additional [G-dly] light and revelation are drawn down within the worlds. Similarly, by means of the sacrifices, [all] the worlds are elevated to higher levels; as is stated [in the Zohar[22]], "The secret of the sacrifices ascends to the secret of the Ein Sof," G-d's infinity. For the Hebrew term for "sacrifice" (Korban) is related to Kiruv, meaning "to come close." Thus the phrase,[23] "When a person shall sacrifice...," can be interpreted to mean, "When a person wishes to draw close to G-dliness...." And the verse continues, "...of you an offering," which indicates that drawing close to G-d depends on one's own divine service. As [Rabbeinu] Bachye explains,[24] a sacrifice involves drawing close [Divine] powers and the [influences conveyed by G-d's] Names. And it is well known that every elevation[25] [of the world through our divine service] elicits a downward flow[26] of Divine influence.

The additional [Divine] light and life-energy that is drawn down into the worlds through the sacrifices underlies their description as[27] "a pleasing fragrance to G-d - a pleasure which generates a downward flow of spiritual light to the level of the Name Havayah, and [subsequently] to the various created worlds.

In the era of the Beis HaMikdash, Divinity[28] was overtly apparent. Thus, for example, there were ten miracles which took place in the Beis HaMikdash.[29] So, too, [at each of the three Pilgrim Festivals],[30] "Just as a person would come to be seen [before G-d, as the Torah requires], so too, he would come to see [Divinity]." For in the [Beis Ha]Mikdash one could actually see G-dly light revealed.

This was especially apparent within the Holy of Holies, where the Or Ein Sof, the infinity of G-d's light, would openly radiate. As a [spatial] expression of this,[31] "The space occupied by the Ark was not included in the measure." [Though there were ten cubits from the Ark to the northern wall, ten cubits from the Ark to the southern wall, and the Ark itself was two-and-a-half cubits long, the total distance from wall to wall remained twenty cubits.]

What is most striking about this phenomenon is that all the items in the [Beis Ha]Mikdash are required to be precise with regard to time, space, dimensions and weight; indeed, altering a dimension invalidates the object in question. Nevertheless, [with regard to the Ark,] the space itself did not occupy space. This [transcendence of space] was an expression of the overt illumination of the infinite dimension of the Or Ein Sof.

All these [revelations] came about by means of the sacrifices - provided that they were offered according to the laws of the Torah. If there was any disqualifying factor whatever, the entire sequence of elevation25 [of worldliness] and [the consequent] downward flow26 of light was nullified.

To cite a parallel: When one wears tefillin, the [Supernal] intellective attributes known as Mochin are drawn down into Z'eir Anpin [which is a level of Divinity corresponding to the emotive attributes, or middos, of mortals]. For the four Scriptural passages contained in the tefillin represent the four Mochin. Thus, the wearing of tefillin augments the downward flow of G-dly light into the world.

[To explain:] The creation of the world has its source in the Middos, [the Supernal] emotive attributes. This is alluded to in the verse,[32] "[In] six days, G-d created the heavens and the earth." [The verse does not state ,aac, meaning "In six days," but rather ,aa, literally meaning "six days." The Sages of the Kabbalah explain that] the six days refer to the six Supernal emotive attributes, [which are the source for the world's existence].

Similarly, [the connection between the creation and the Supernal emotive attributes, or Middos, is reflected in] the verse,[33] "Remember Your mercies... and Your acts of kindness, for they are eternal." [The word okugn, here translated as "eternal", also means "of the world."] This indicates that mercy, kindness, [and the other Supernal emotive attributes,] share a connection with the world. The Supernal intellectual attributes, by contrast, transcend any connection with our world.[34] [For intellect] in essence is a revelation for oneself, and there is a vast difference between a revelation for oneself and a revelation to another person, [the latter being an appropriate analogy for the relationship between our world and its G-dly Source].

Nevertheless, [notwithstanding the apparent distance between the Mochin and the lower levels of Divinity], through [the mitzvah of] tefillin the Supernal intellectual attributes are drawn down into Z'eir Anpin, and [thus] additional light is drawn down into the world. This applies only when the parchment, ink, writing, and fashioning of the tefillin, follow the dictates of Torah law. If, however, there is any disqualifying factor, the downward current [of Divine light] is negated.

The same applies with regard to all the mitzvos. When they are performed according to law, they serve as a medium to draw down additional [Divine] light and life-energy into the world.


To explain this concept: We find that G-d's commandments are known by various names - eidos (testimonials), chukim (statutes), and mishpatim (judgments). [The eidos include commandments] such as Shabbos which [the Torah describes[35] as] "a sign to the Children of Israel," and [dwelling in] sukkos, [of which it is written,[36]] "So that your [future] generations will know that I caused the Children of Israel to live in sukkos when I brought them out of the land of Egypt."

Mishpatim are those commandments that follow the dictates of reason, such as [the prohibitions against] robbery, theft, deceit, [the obligation to] honor one's parents, and the like. Chukim are [the commandments] that do not follow the dictates of reason, but are Scriptural decrees. As Rashi states (in his commentary on the verse [which introduces the commandment of the Red Heifer],[37] "This is the Torah's decree..."): "Satan and the gentile nations vex the Jewish people, saying, 'What does this mitzvah mean to you? What is its rationale?' The Torah therefore calls it a chukah, a decree issued by Me; you have no license to query it."

This is a person's [life-]task - that the fulfillment of the commandments whose [rationale can be] intellectually understood should be [motivated by the same] unquestioning commitment to G-d's will, the same kabbalas ol, as the commandments which are chukim. Even the commandments [whose rationale] can be grasped should not be fulfilled because we comprehend that rationale, but because they are G-d's mitzvos, as commanded by the Torah.

Similarly, with regard [to a man's conduct] in every element of his worldly affairs, he should always weigh and measure every move according to the standards of the Torah. [Even] activities which are neither forbidden nor [explicitly] permitted, i.e., they are left to our choice, or activities which mortal understanding would accept or even obligate, should not be undertaken unless one has first weighed them against the Torah's standards.

This concept is reflected in the blessing recited [after one has been called to the public Reading of the Torah, praising G-d][38] "Who gave us the Torah of truth and planted eternal life (okug hhj) within us." [Since, as explained above, okug means both "eternal" and "world", the blessing can be understood as speaking of guidance with regard to] "life within the world," conduct in the sphere of behavior that is left to our choice: here, too, our approval or disapproval should be determined by the Torah's standards. If a particular line of conduct will benefit or buttress the Torah, it should be encouraged. And if it could possibly lead to the opposite, or to a slackening of [adherence to] a mitzvah or custom, it should be rejected in all possible ways with mesirus nefesh, with self-sacrifice, even when mortal reason would accept or obligate it.

[An awareness of] the Torah's standards can be cultivated solely through a comprehension of the pnimiyus - the innermost, mystical dimension - of the Torah. This reflects the approach of David, of whom it is said,[39] "G-d is with him." As understood by our Sages (Sanhedrin 93b), this means that "the Halachah follows his [rulings] at all times."

The intent can be explained as follows: It is written,[40] "The paths of the world are his." [Interpreting on the non-literal level of derush,] our Sages[41] [extend the meaning of the verse,] saying, "Do not read halichos ('the paths'); read halachos ('Torah laws')." [This implies that] through [the study of] Halachah, Torah law, one will acquire "the paths of the world"; even within our material world G-dly light will manifestly shine.

[This is also indicated by a verse concerning Avraham Avinu:[42]] "For I have known him, for he commands his descendants and his household who follow him to observe the path of G-d (Havayah), to perform righteousness and judgment in the earth." [The use of the Name Havayah in the above verse is significant.] The world is brought into being [through the medium of] the Name Elokim. (This is reflected in the numerical equivalence (gematria) of Elokim and hateva, which means "nature".) Serving G-d through the Torah and its commandments is intended to draw down the revelation of the Name Havayah, which transcends nature, [into our world which is governed by natural laws].

[The verse teaches that] "the path of Havayah" is reached by tzedakah [lit., "righteousness"; i.e., charity] that is regulated by mishpat ["judgment"]. This is also indicated by the verse,[43] "You established judgment and righteousness within Yaakov" [i.e., among the Jewish people]. Yishmael [also offers] kindness - but only after he has satisfied all his own needs to the point of luxury will he give charity to another.

The kindness of Avraham, by contrast, is subject to judgment: a Jew judges himself, providing for no more than his own necessities and giving his [remaining] resources to others. [Conduct of this nature] causes the [transcendent] Name Havayah to be revealed in the world. Seen in this light, the above teaching of the Sages, that "the Halachah follows [David's rulings] at all times," means that David elicited a revelation of the Name Havayah in this world. This is especially accomplished by disseminating Torah through communal [study sessions]; as our Sages[44] comment on the verse,[45] "And You, G-d, protect them; shield them from this generation forever."

[On this basis, we can appreciate the uniqueness of King David's divine service.] Our Sages (Eruvin 53a) state: "David revealed the teachings (galei masechta); Shaul did not reveal the teachings." Rashi (commenting on Gittin 59a) explains that although Shaul was a great Torah scholar, he did not teach others. David, by contrast, revealed the teachings: he would labor in Torah study, and issue practical halachic directives.[46]

Perceived through the eyes of Chassidus, the meaning [of the phrase is expanded]. [Masechta ("the teachings") recalls masach ("veil").] When "revealing the teachings," David was "removing veils" of obscurity and uncovering the hidden [inner meanings of the Torah].

[For even the Torah is veiled.] Just as there is an Egypt, [a state of limitation,[47]] within the realm of evil, so, too, there is a [constraining] Egypt within the realm of holiness - namely, the fact that the Torah, which is G-d's [infinite] wisdom, has been garbed in terms conceivable by man's [finite] intelligence; for example,[48] "if Reuven would claim thus and Shimon thus, such and such should be the verdict between them." And this verdict can be understood even by mortal logic.

Thus there is a possibility for error. (As explained elsewhere:[49] If one studies the revealed dimension of Torah [law] alone, without also studying the pnimiyus of Torah or at least works of Mussar, one can forget the [Divine] Giver of the Torah. This can happen especially to those who pride themselves on their Torah [achievements]; they are punished by erring with regard to a explicit halachic ruling. Even more at risk are those whose scholarly contributions are original but unfounded.)

David, by contrast, studied the spiritual dimension of the laws, the profound mystical intentions illuminated by the pnimiyus of the Torah - a realm to which unaided mortal intellect has no access.

In this manner he "revealed the teachings," removing veils of obscurity to the extent that as a result of his efforts, even human intellect could actually appreciate Divinity as manifest on the worldly plane. In this spirit [he exclaims],[50] "How manifold are Your works, O G-d," and[51] "How great are Your works, O G-d."

Shaul, although he was a great Torah sage, sinned by following his reason.[52] David's divine service, by contrast, centered on kabbalas ol, an unquestioning acceptance of G-d's yoke. For this reason "G-d is with him," meaning that "the Halachah follows his [rulings] at all times" - for he drew down a revelation of the Name Havayah into our world.


When David was in distress, forced to wander and flee from the pursuit of all the enemies who rose up against him, and when his material situation was unfavorable, he would rejoice in the Torah. Meditating on how the existence of all the worlds depends on the meticulous observance of any one of its mitzvos, he concluded that all worldly affairs are absolutely insignificant when compared to the Torah. Hence, his own material situation, too, was of no consequence whatever to him, because of the light of the Torah that shone within his soul. Indeed, the light of the pnimiyus of the Torah brought him great joy.

On this basis, we can appreciate the meaning of the verse cited above, "Your statutes were my songs when I dwelled in fear." [The word Mador has two meanings:] In addition to the meaning "sojourn", as in the verse,[53] "We came to sojourn (LaDor) in the land," it also means "fear", as in the verses, "Do not fear (Taduru) any man,"[54] and "He saved me from all my fears (Meduroisai)."[55]

[In David's instance, both meanings apply.] Throughout the entire time he was wandering and filled with fear because of his foes and pursuers, he derived his vitality and spiritual joy from the pnimiyus of the Torah. This is what he meant by the verse, "Your statutes were my songs (even) when I dwelled in fear."

If so, why was David punished for making such a statement? After all, it is explicitly written,[56] "[The Torah] is a tree of life for those who hold fast to it, and those who support it are happy." Why, then, was he punished?

This concept can be understood by means of our Sages' interpretation of the verse,[57] "The blossoms can be seen in the land; the time of the singing bird has come, and the voice of the dove is heard in our land," Midrash Rabbah[58] teaches:

" 'The blossoms can be seen in the land': This alludes to Mordechai and his company, and Ezra and his company....

'The time of the singing bird has come': The time has come for Israel to be redeemed; the time has come for the uncircumcised to be circumcised;... the time has come for the Kingdom of Heaven to be revealed....

'The voice of the dove is heard in our land:' What voice is this? - The voice of the King Mashiach."

From the interpretation by the Midrash, it is apparent that the root of Zemirois [translated above in the verse concerning King David as "songs"] has two meanings: (a) to cut off, as in the phrase,[59] "to cut off tyrants," and (b) to sing. [These two meanings are interrelated:] Through the song of Torah study, we cut off "tyrants" - the [evil forces of] kelipah[60] which conceal [Divinity].

[This process is indicated by the verse,[61] "The exaltation[62] of G-d is in their throat, and a double-edged sword is in their hand."] It is because "the exaltation of G-d is in their throat" that "a double-edged sword is in their hand." For a double-edged sword is required to sever the nurture of the forces of evil.

To explain: The forces of evil derive their nurture in two ways: either (a) from the [transcendent spiritual light known as] makkif; or (b) due to the multiplicity of tzimtzumim.[63]

As is known, the forces of kelipah and the sitra achra[64] raise themselves aloft to receive nurture from the higher transcendent light called makkif haelyon; as it is written,[65] "If you make your nest high as does an eagle...," and[66] "the path of the eagle is in the heavens." [The forces of evil] can also receive nurture from the external dimensions of the transcendent light, for at this level[67] "darkness is as light," and all can receive. [I.e., since this light is unlimited, there is no distinction between good and evil recipients.]

Alternatively, [the forces of evil] can receive nurture as a result of the numerous tzimtzumim that exist at the end of Hishtalshelus, [the chainlike sequence of descending stages by which the Divine light progressively screens itself]. For the kelipah and the sitra achra cannot receive revealed light. This is implied by the teaching of our Sages[68] [in which G-d speaks of a haughty person]: "I and he cannot live [together]," [for Divine light is openly revealed only when the prospective recipient is batel, self-effacing].

Moreover, light can be revealed only through the medium of a receptive vessel.[69] Obviously, this does not apply to the kelipah and sitra achra, which cannot serve as vessels at all. They can receive nurture only through the numerous tzimtzumim [which reduce the intensity of the Divine light until] it is not revealed. In addition, [as mentioned above,] they can be nurtured by the transcendent makkif light - though not from its revealed aspect [for their innate self-concern prevents this], only from its external aspect.

Accordingly, to sever both conduits of the spiritual energy that nurture the forces of evil, a double-edged sword is required. This is hinted at in the verse,[70] "And I destroyed his fruit from above, and his roots from below." "I destroyed his fruit from above" - so that the forces of evil will not be able to be nurtured by the higher transcendent light; "and his roots from below" - so that they will not be able to be nurtured by the myriad tzimtzumim.


The potential for the kelipah and sitra achra to derive nurture from both these sources - from the numerous tzimtzumim and from makkif haelyon, the higher transcendent light - depends on the divine service of the Jewish people. [For indeed, all existence depends on the Jewish people.] Thus it is written, "In the beginning (Bereishis), G-d created the heavens and the earth," and our Sages comment:[71] "The term Raishis ('the beginning') refers solely to the Jewish people," for whose sake the world was created. Another verse states,[72] "I made the earth, and I created (Barasi) man upon it." [Here too, the clauses of the verse suggest a dependence:] "I [i.e., He Who can truly be called 'I'] made the earth" for the sake of man. And, as our Sages explain,[73] "man" refers to the Jewish people: as it is written,[74] "You are man." [The verse also alludes to] the purpose of man's creation, for Barasi ("I created") is numerically equivalent to 613: the purpose of creation is that man should observe the 613 mitzvos in this material world.

In this spirit our Sages teach,[75] "A person is obligated to say, 'The world was created for me,' " [i.e., for my divine service]. Since the souls of the Jewish people are the essential and ultimate reason for the creation of the world, every kind of Divine revelation and influence - even that which affects the lowest levels - depends on man, on his conduct and on his divine service.

Accordingly, through pride, haughtiness, and an overpowering sense of self-importance, [man empowers] the kelipah and the sitra achra in the heavenly worlds to raise themselves up and receive nurture from the higher transcendent light. Likewise, through lowering and demeaning himself to be drawn after a love of alien things and sinister desires, man also affects the spiritual realms: Divine light is lowered through numerous tzimtzumim and becomes obscured.

[This dynamic is alluded to] in the verse,[76] "Mortal man will lower himself, and the Man will be humbled." Through man's lowering himself on this material plane, i.e., following the body's undesirable tendencies to seek material desire and pleasure, the Man [i.e., the G-dly counterpart to man which is described as[77] "the image of a man"] is humbled. The Divine light [which maintains existence] becomes lowered through a multitude of tzimtzumim.

It is true that [regardless of man's conduct], through the chainlike order of spiritual descent, the measuring rod [of Divine influence] apportions [a certain measure of] nurture to the [forces of evil] through the numerous tzimtzumim. For they too were created [by G-d], and thus they must be granted a certain measure of vitality; as it is written,[78] "And You grant life to them all," i.e., even to the kelipah and sitra achra.

Nevertheless, they are apportioned only the precise minimum needed to maintain their existence. It is only through sins and transgressions, heaven forbid, that they are granted additional nurture, beyond what is endowed to them by the measuring rod [of Divine influence].

This concept can be understood in light of the contrast draw in Etz Chayim, Shaar Miut HaYareach, between the diminution [of Divine influence] brought about by the complaint of the moon,[79] and the diminution brought about by the sin of the Tree of Knowledge. In both instances, the Sefirah of Malchus was reduced to a single point, its root. Nevertheless, there is a great difference between them. In the case of the moon, [the influence of] the [preceding] nine Sefiros departed and ascended. With regard to the sin of the Tree of Knowledge, [the influence of] the [preceding] nine Sefiros was drawn down to the realm of the kelipos, granting them additional nurture.

This is a grievous matter, for sins and transgressions (heaven forbid) make the creation of tzimtzumim obligatory, so to speak.

By contrast, the tzimtzumim that exist within the chainlike process of spiritual descent are voluntary. Hence they are not genuine tzimtzumim, just as a limitation which is undertaken by choice is not a genuine limitation.[80] All the tzimtzumim through which G-d (so to speak) limited Himself [in order to bring material reality into existence] - however and wherever they were undertaken, even within the lowest realms - were not mandated by any compulsion, but were freely willed. [To paraphrase the idiom of our Sages,] thus it arose in His will.

Sins and transgressions, however, compel (so to speak) the creation of tzimtzum. In truth, of course, there is nothing that can compel G-d. Nevertheless, since He chose to connect Himself with the souls of the Jewish people, our conduct in this material world brings about repercussions in the spiritual realms. The tzimtzumim that are caused by sin are thus, as it were, imperative. This is reflected in the statement of our Sages,[81] "If one walks with an upright posture..., it is as if he pushes away the stature (lit., 'the feet') of the Divine Presence." In other words, he brings about tzimtzum.

[By contrast,] "Positive attributes have more [powerful effects than negative ones]."[82] Every positive activity which a person performs, not only his actual observance of the Torah and its mitzvos, but also his positive conduct in the loving embellishment of a mitzvah and in his support of Torah students, gives rise to a revelation of G-dly light within the world.

This is within the capacity of each and every Jew. As it is written,[83] "For His people are G-d's portion, Yaakov is the rope of His inheritance." [The connection between G-d and His people can be compared[84] to] a rope whose upper end is tied above, and whose lower end descends below: when the lower end is shaken, the upper end also moves. Similarly, the divine service of the Jewish people in the material realm brings about corresponding influences in the spiritual realm.


Every [phase in the] elevation [of a person and of materiality] comes about through divine service in prayer. For prayer (Tefilah) is a process of connection, as echoed by the term,[85] "One who joins together (Hatoifel) [the broken shards of] an earthenware vessel...." Prayer involves giving over one's innermost will and desire to G-d.

This is made possible through the comprehension of Divinity and through meditation, including meditation that is based on reasoning. When one meditates and grasps a divine concept until it is settled in his mind and felt in his heart, he then becomes very closely drawn to Divinity. Through the comprehension of the divine concept, he senses how lofty and precious Divinity is, and this makes it the sole focus of his entire will and desire.

There are several different levels within this approach. In certain people, this feeling - appreciating the loftiness and preciousness of Divinity - comes after the intellectual comprehension of the spiritual concept in question; i.e., when meditating on the concept, the intellectual dimension is more powerful than the resultant feeling for Divinity, which comes afterwards. After such a person grasps the idea with thorough comprehension, he then comes to a feeling for its loftiness. And as a result, the feeling he experiences is merely how "the closeness of G-d is good for [him]."[86]

At a higher level, at the time a person grasps the concept intellectually, he also feels the G-dly dimension of the subject of his meditation and comprehension, and at this same time he senses the lofty worth of Divinity. A desire for Divinity is thus aroused. This is especially true when one's divine service emanates from the inner dimension of the heart. [Though still] within the limits of intellectual reasoning, it stems from the inner dimension of one's mind and the attributes of the heart. In particular, this applies with regard to the revelation of reusa delibba, the heart's innermost spiritual desire.

This is the deeper meaning of the above-quoted phrase, "the exaltation of G-d is in their throats." Meditation on the wondrous and lofty nature of the Ein Sof, G-d's Infinity, produces a revelation of reusa delibba, which redirects one's innermost will toward Divinity.

As a corresponding result in the spiritual realms, G-d's innermost will, i.e., the inner dimension of the transcendent makkif light, is drawn down in an inward manner, [i.e., in a mode of pnimiyus, in which it can be consciously appreciated within the world]. As a result of this, the external dimensions of the transcendent light are also drawn down in an inward manner, for the external aspects are drawn after the internal aspects. As a consequence, the kelipah and the sitra achra cannot receive nurture from the transcendent light, for it has been drawn down inwardly.

This itself also prevents the kelipah and the sitra achra from receiving nurture from the numerous tzimtzumim. For, as is well known, when the transcendent light shines inwardly, there is a great revelation of light throughout all the inward levels of existence, even the lowest.

Thus [G-dly meditation] severs both sources of nurture for the kelipah and the sitra achra. They can neither be nurtured by the higher transcendent light, nor by the lower levels within the G-dly light's scheme of progressive descent. This is accomplished through the divine service of prayer, [whose direction, as was stated at the beginning of this chapter, is elevation (haalaah).]

Torah study, by contrast, represents the drawing down (hamshachah) [of G-dly light] from above, so that it should be revealed. In particular, this applies with regard to the pnimiyus of the Torah, which refines one's intellect. Toiling in the study of the pnimiyus of the Torah enables one to comprehend concepts which ordinarily could not be grasped by mortal intellect.


The spiritual level exemplified by [King] David was the Sefirah of Malchus (lit., "sovereignty"). His statement,[87] "I am [a man of] prayer," thus means, "I, the attribute of Malchus, am prayer." Nevertheless, his divine service focused on the pnimiyus of the Torah, through which he sought to refine [his environment].

[To explain these contrasting thrusts in divine service:] Prayer seeks to refine and elevate [worldly existence]: Torah study seeks to draw down and reveal [G-dly light]. When Torah study seeks to refine [the undesirable aspects of materiality, it does this by rejection. This is reflected in the verse,[88] "[This is the Torah...] to differentiate between the pure and the impure."

This is implied by our opening verse,1 "Your statutes were my songs when I dwelled in fear." With the power of the Torah, [David] would cut off [the forces of evil which are known as] "tyrants"; [i.e., he refined his environment] in the spirit of [the statement of our Sages,][89] "He glanced at him, and he became a pile of bones."

This, however, [is not G-d's intent in creation]: the world was not created for chaos, but in order that it be settled.[90] [This requires that man] involve himself with the tasks of refining [his environment] and drawing down G-dly light into the world. For this reason [David] was punished, [for ignoring this thrust and seeking to rise above worldly existence].

On this basis, [we can reconcile the queries raised at the outset regarding the verse,] "G-d is among those who help me." A person's true helpers are the elements [of worldly existence] which he has refined. Just as our Sages[91] refer to one's students as one's "children", the G-dly sparks [which a person] has refined [can be termed his "helpers"].

[Included in the Hebrew original of the verse, "G-d is among those who help me," is the phrase, Havayeh Li - lit., "G-d is for me." Hence:] When a person devotes himself in an orderly manner to his Divinely-appointed task of refinement, a revelation of Havayah shines forth upon him. Moreover, "G-d is among [lit., within] those who help me": Through a person's self-sacrifice in carrying out his divine service, he brings about a revelation of Havayah within all those who help him.

[As an automatic result of this revelation,] "I [will] witness [the downfall of] those who hate me." Just as in the verse,[92] "He swallowed wealth but will vomit it up," through his divine service man is able to extract the G-dly sparks [hidden in materiality], and then its evil trappings are automatically nullified.

[By way of a parallel, one may cite the mystical interpretation of the directive of the Haggadah concerning the gar, the wicked son]: Hakheh Es Shinov - "Blunt his teeth." [The last Hebrew word can also be understood to mean "his [letter] shin." Hence, "blunting the wicked son's teeth" involves] removing the a from the word gar, leaving the word Tara meaning "evil". [Since, as discussed in the Kabbalah, the letter shin conveys G-dly influence,[93] the wicked son's existence depends on it. When it is removed, the evil will automatically be nullified,] for evil cannot exist independently. [Similarly, through our labors in refining our physical environment, we liberate the G-dly sparks embedded there, and then the purely material (i.e., the evil) dimensions of existence are nullified.]

On this basis, we can also resolve our opening questions regarding the statement of our Sages,16 "A person who comes to purify [himself] is granted assistance." The plural form is used [for the verb "granted assistance"], to refer to the many G-dly sparks which he refines.

This also explains why the transitive form [of the infinitive rvyk] is used - for as a result of one's own self-refinement and the revelation of G-dly light in the world, one purifies others as well. In particular, this applies with regard to teaching Torah publicly, for[94] "the Torah is light," and this generates merit for the public.

This is the meaning of David's request, "May I witness [the downfall of] those who hate me." Although they included individuals such as Doeg and Achitofel who appeared to conduct their lives according to the Torah, David made this request with the intent that the truth be revealed - that these individuals hated G-d: they did not desire the revelation of G-dliness, and [more particularly,] the revelation of the Name Havayah, [which transcends the limits of nature]. They desired to live by the natural order and mortal reason. This is the direct opposite of the true unity expressed in the above-quoted statement,5 "Havayah and Elokim are all one."

We can now appreciate the juxtaposition of the two clauses of the verse: When "G-d is among those who help me," then "I [will] witness [the downfall of] those who hate me." The level of sight [is the level hinted at in the teaching,[95]] "Who is a wise man? - One who sees the future" [lit., "who sees that which is to be born," a phrase which allows for an extended meaning:[96] "who sees how every entity comes into existence from absolute nothingness"]. Perceiving G-d's sublime unity at this level is known as Yichuda Ilaah. And it is solely through [confronting] opposition [that this level can be attained].

When this takes place, "G-d [will be] among my helpers": All those who help a person will also be granted a revelation of the Name Havayah. Thus, too, it is written,[97] "If you extract the precious from the vulgar, you shall be as My mouth." [I.e., when a person succeeds in refining his environment by bringing out the precious G-dliness that is hidden in a vulgar setting, he comes to resemble G-d's "mouth", a vehicle for the expression of G-dliness].

As a result, the G-dliness which transcends nature will be revealed within the natural order, as in the phrase,[98] "to see the face of G-d." [Ponim, the Hebrew for "face", suggests Penimi'yus, meaning "the inner dimension."] The inner dimension of Elokim, [the Name of G-d which is manifest within the natural order,] is Havayah, the attribute of openly revealed compassion and kindness.

And every kindness which G-d grants a person should motivate him to be extremely humble,[99] and to seek abundant mercy for his soul, [requesting] that G-d grant him assistance to toil in the study of Torah and in the service of G-d, so as to fulfill His intent [in creation] - for "the Holy One, blessed be He, desired a dwelling in the lower realms."[100]



  1. (Back to text) [Tehillim 118:7. In Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXVIII, p. 149ff., the Rebbe explains why the Rebbe Rayatz based the maamar on this verse.]

  2. (Back to text) [Devarim 4:35.]

  3. (Back to text) [Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah 1:1.]

  4. (Back to text) [The term Havayah is a rearrangement of the letters of the Name v-u-v-h which, out of deference to its sanctity, is not pronounced as written.]

  5. (Back to text) [Zohar II, 26b.]

  6. (Back to text) [Tehillim 109:31.]

  7. (Back to text) [Tehillim 51:19.]

  8. (Back to text) [II, 86b; III, 9a.]

  9. (Back to text) [Sotah 5a.]

  10. (Back to text) [Yeshayahu 57:15.]

  11. (Back to text) [Cf. Mishlei 14:20.]

  12. (Back to text) [Tehillim 139:21.]

  13. (Back to text) [Tehillim 104:35.]

  14. (Back to text) [On the non-literal level of derush, reading the initial letter ches of Chataim as if it were vocalized with a chataf patach instead of with a patach; see Berachos 10a, and Rashi there.]

  15. (Back to text) [II Shmuel 16:10. See also Tanya - Iggeres HaKodesh, Epistle 25, in Lessons In Tanya, Vol. V, pp. 80-82.]

  16. (Back to text) [Shabbos 104a.]

  17. (Back to text) [Tehillim 119:54.]

  18. (Back to text) [Sotah 35a; see also Tanya - Kuntres Acharon, Essay Six, in Lessons In Tanya, Vol. V, p. 365ff.]

  19. (Back to text) [Bereishis Rabbah 1:1.]

  20. (Back to text) [II, 161b.]

  21. (Back to text) [Shmos Rabbah 21:6.]

  22. (Back to text) [II, 239a; III 26b.]

  23. (Back to text) [Vayikra 1:2, interpreted in Likkutei Torah, and in the maamar entitled Basi LeGani 5710 (English translation; Kehot, N.Y., 5750).]

  24. (Back to text) [On Vayikra 1:9.]

  25. (Back to text) [In the original, haalaah.]

  26. (Back to text) [In the original, hamshachah.]

  27. (Back to text) [Vayikra 1:9.]

  28. (Back to text) [In the original, Elokus.]

  29. (Back to text) [Avos 5:4.]

  30. (Back to text) [Chagigah 2a.]

  31. (Back to text) [Yoma 21a.]

  32. (Back to text) [Shmos 20:11.]

  33. (Back to text) [Tehillim 25:6.]

  34. (Back to text) [In the maamar entitled Issa BeMidrash T[eh]illim 5653 (English translation; Sichos In English, 5753), these concepts are explained at length.]

  35. (Back to text) [Shmos 31:17.]

  36. (Back to text) [Vayikra 23:43.]

  37. (Back to text) [Bamidbar 19:1.]

  38. (Back to text) [Siddur Tehillat HaShem, p. 70.]

  39. (Back to text) [I Shmuel 16:18. David's connection with the hidden dimension of the Torah becomes apparent later in the present chapter.]

  40. (Back to text) [Chavakuk 3:6.]

  41. (Back to text) [Megillah 28b.]

  42. (Back to text) [Bereishis 18:19.]

  43. (Back to text) [Tehillim 99:4.]

  44. (Back to text) [The particular source intended is not noted in the maamar. The reference appears to be to the statement in Vayikra Rabbah 26:2 (and other sources) that the knowledge of the Torah was very widespread in David's age. He would pray that the wickedness of many of his contemporaries would not affect the righteous.]

  45. (Back to text) [Tehillim 12:8.]

  46. (Back to text) [Cf. Rashi on Eruvin 53a.]

  47. (Back to text) [Torah Or, p. 71c, explains that the Hebrew name for Egypt, Mitzrayim, is almost identical with the word meitzarim, which means straits or limitations. In chassidic thought, Egypt is thus more than a geographic location: it refers to all limitations on the essential G-dliness that permeates the world, the Torah, and our souls.]

  48. (Back to text) [Cf. Tanya, ch. 5.]

  49. (Back to text) [Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, sec. 47, and commentary of Bach; Kuntreis Etz Chaim, pp. 42ff., 82ff.]

  50. (Back to text) [Tehillim 104:24.]

  51. (Back to text) [Ibid. 92:6.]

  52. (Back to text) [See I Shmuel, ch. 15.]

  53. (Back to text) [Bereishis 47:4.]

  54. (Back to text) [Devarim 1:17.]

  55. (Back to text) [Tehillim 34:5.]

  56. (Back to text) [Mishlei 3:18.]

  57. (Back to text) [Shir HaShirim 2:12; see Hemshech 5672, Vol. I, p. 346ff.]

  58. (Back to text) [In the course of its comment on the following verse.]

  59. (Back to text) [Cf. Yeshayahu 25:5.]

  60. (Back to text) [Literally, "shell"; hence, a metaphor in the Kabbalah for the forces of evil which obscure the G-dly core of materiality.]

  61. (Back to text) [Tehillim 149:6.]

  62. (Back to text) [I.e., the praise of G-d's loftiness. The use of this term is explained later in this maamar.]

  63. (Back to text) [I.e., stages in the self-limiting process of tzimtzum, by which G-d screens the extent of His revelation to make possible the existence of our material reality.]

  64. (Back to text) [Literally, "the Other Side," i.e., forces other than those of holiness; a euphemism for the forces of evil.]

  65. (Back to text) [Yirmeyahu 49:16.]

  66. (Back to text) [Mishlei 30:19.]

  67. (Back to text) [Tehillim 139:12.]

  68. (Back to text) [Sotah 5a.]

  69. (Back to text) [By definition, spiritual light transcends the limitations of any realm in which it radiates. If it is to be revealed and perceived, it must first be garbed in a receptor (a "vessel") which limits it and adapts it to the specific realm in which it will be revealed.]

  70. (Back to text) [Amos 2:9.]

  71. (Back to text) [See Rashi and Ramban on Bereishis 1:1.]

  72. (Back to text) [Yeshayahu 45:12.]

  73. (Back to text) [Bava Metzia 114b.]

  74. (Back to text) [Yechezkel 34:31.]

  75. (Back to text) [Sanhedrin 37a.]

  76. (Back to text) [Yeshayahu 5:15, translated above to echo the mystical context of the maamar rather than the plain meaning of the verse.]

  77. (Back to text) [Yechezkel 1:26.]

  78. (Back to text) [Nechemiah 9:6.]

  79. (Back to text) [Chullin 60b (cited by Rashi on Bereishis 1:16) states that though the moon was originally created the same size as the sun, it complained: "How can two kings share a single crown?" In response, G-d answered, "Go and diminish yourself."

    The moon denotes the Sefirah of Malchus, as explained in Etz Chayim.]

  80. (Back to text) [See the maamar entitled Adam Ki Yakriv (Sefer HaMaamarim 5666, p. 192).

    A simple analogy for the presence or absence of a real limitation: If a person wants to enter a room, and his entry is blocked by a closed door or another person, he must stay outside; if, however, the door is open, the decision whether or not to enter is his alone: there is no limitation upon him.

    One problem with this mortal analogy is that though the person can enter the room at will, until he actually enters he is outside. Nevertheless, this concept is used to explain how G-d is present within our material reality despite the limitations of our existence.

    This difficulty can be resolved by analyzing the analogy. The room exists apart from the person; i.e., the very nature of the framework in which they both exist creates a separation between the two. With regard to G-d and the world, by contrast, nothing exists apart from Him; He is not operating within an existing framework. Therefore, when He establishes a limited framework, that limitation is only apparent, for there is no force or being requiring it. In essence, He is present within the limited framework of existence as well.]

  81. (Back to text) [Berachos 43b; in this context, "upright posture" implies arrogance.]

  82. (Back to text) [Sotah 11a.]

  83. (Back to text) [Devarim 32:9.]

  84. (Back to text) [Tanya, Iggeres HaTeshuvah, ch. 6.]

  85. (Back to text) [Keilim 3:5; see Torah Or, Parshas Terumah, p. 79d; Sefer HaMaamarim 5709, p. 79, and notes there.]

  86. (Back to text) [Cf. Tehillim 73:28. Chassidic thought explains that although this person senses the positive nature of being connected with G-dliness, his feelings are somewhat self-oriented: being close to G-d "is good for him." Ideally, one's bond with G-d should lift him entirely above feelings of self-concern.]

  87. (Back to text) [Tehillim 109:4, and see Ibn Ezra and Metzudas David.]

  88. (Back to text) [Vayikra 11:[46-]47.]

  89. (Back to text) [Berachos 58a; Shabbos 34a.]

  90. (Back to text) [Cf. Yeshayahu 45:18.]

  91. (Back to text) [Prologue to Esther Rabbah, sec. 11, quoted above in the maamar entitled VeKibeil HaYehudim, sec. 1.]

  92. (Back to text) [Iyov 20:15.]

  93. (Back to text) [Zohar I, 2b; see also Basi LeGani, ch. 6.]

  94. (Back to text) [Mishlei 6:23.]

  95. (Back to text) [Tamid 32a.]

  96. (Back to text) [Tanya, beginning of ch. 43.]

  97. (Back to text) [Cf. Yirmeyahu 15:19.]

  98. (Back to text) [Cf. Tehillim 42:3.]

  99. (Back to text) [See Tanya - Iggeres HaKodesh, Epistle 2.]

  100. (Back to text) [Midrash Tanchuma, Parshas Bechukosai, sec. 3; see Tanya, chs. 33 and 36.]

  Maamar Yehi Havayah Elokeinu Imanu 5687 [1927]Maamar Baruch HaGomel LaChayavim Tovos 5687 [1927]  
     Sichos In English -> Books -> Mysticism -> Defiance And Devotion

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