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I Will Write It In Their Hearts - Volume 1
Letters from the Lubavitcher Rebbe

An explanation of the statement in Tanya, ch. 1, that the souls of the gentiles do not possess any good

Translated by: Rabbi Eli Touger

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No. 95

The following letter was addressed to a group of young men involved in the study of both Nigleh and Chassidus in Ferndale, NY.
B"H, Monday, 29 Menachem Av, 5703
Greetings and blessings,

[In response to your letter,] where you question the intent of the statement at the conclusion of ch. 1 in Tanya that the souls of the gentile nations come from the three impure kelipos and "they contain no good at all." You raise doubts as to whether the gentiles possess at least a certain measure of good, as evident from the fact that they are commanded to observe the seven universal laws commanded to Noach and his descendants. Moreover, there are "pious gentiles" who have a portion in the World to Come (according to Rabbi Yehoshua,[1] whose opinion is quoted by the Rambam, [Mishneh Torah,] Hilchos Eidus, end of ch. 11; Hilchos Melachim, end of ch. 8). Or is the intent that they do not possess any good at all, as stated in Tanya?

Were we to look at the issue from the standpoint of logic, support can be found for either position.

  1. For example, if one were to postulate that they do possess a certain dimension of good and it has an effect on them, what then would be the difference between the three impure kelipos and kelipas nogah? Also, what is the intent of the statement "All charity performed by the gentiles is only to enhance their pride"? The question applies particularly in the light of Sanhedrin 97b which interprets the word beiso ("his household," Bereishis 18:19) as implying that the descendants of Noach are also obligated to give charity. Why then are the descendants of Noach considered as "totally impure and evil, without any good at all"?

  2. If one would postulate that they do not contain any good at all, how do they continue to exist? [Moreover,] even if the charity they perform is only for the sake of enhancing their pride, the deed they have performed is good, although their intent is undesirable. Thus how is it possible for them to perform a good deed if they do not contain any good at all?

The concept has, however, already been explained in Chassidus in the following manner: The Kitzur Tanya, authored by the Tzemach Tzedek (printed at the conclusion of Derech Mitzvosecha), ch. 6, states: " '[They are from] the three impure kelipos and contain no good at all.' (The intent is that in their essence, [there is no good]. Nevertheless, through the mode of exile, is [enclothed within] them Divine life-energy, a spark from the ten Sefiros of Asiyah in whose core are the Sefiros of Yetzirah, in whose core are...)"

The concept is explained in greater detail in the maamar entitled Padeh BiSholom, 5675, which states:

[With regard to] the Tanya's statements that the three impure kelipos do not possess any good at all, the intent is not that they do not possess a spark [of G-dliness] at all. For without a spark of good, it is impossible for any entity to exist. (Although their existence comes from an encompassing light; nevertheless, we are forced to say they possess some type of spark.)

This spark, however, has become so separated and darkened, that it is as if it is evil, i.e., it has no feeling at all for G-dliness.

Similar statements are found in the maamar entitled Ner Chanukah, 5670. Note also the maamar entitled Vayigdilu HaNaarim, 5665, which states: "The good is transformed into bad, in a manner which parallels the law:[2] 'The piece becomes considered as carrion.'"

See also Tanya, ch. 24, and Iggeres HaKodesh, Epistle 25. Note also Kuntres U'Mayon, maamar 4, which explains the statements in Tanya, ch. 24, quoting the phrase "Even though they do not see," and adds, "i.e., it is without their sensing it."[3] See also the maamar entitled Re'eh Rei'ach B'ni in Torah Or, which explains that [the entities stemming from the three impure kelipos] receive life-energy [from the realm of holiness] in an external manner - i.e., in a manner which they do not feel - and in an internalized manner - that [the G-dly energy] is swallowed up, as it were. [The meaning of "swallowing up" in this case is described] in the maamar entitled Pasach Eliyahu, 5702.

Lengthier treatment could be given to all these points, but since [you appeared anxious for] a speedy reply, I did not wish to hold back the letter [any longer].

With wishes for great success in your study and in your deeds.

With the blessing "Immediately to teshuvah, immediately to Redemption,"

Chairman of the Executive Committee

The maamar entitled Vichol Banaiech, Likkutei Torah, Devarim, p. 30b, states that in the Future, even the gentile nations will be refined, for "I will remove the spirit of impurity from the earth" (Zechariah 13:2).

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) [Sanhedrin 105a.]

  2. (Back to text) Yoreh De'ah 92:4 explains that when a kosher piece of meat is cooked with milk, we do not say that it is merely that the kosher meat has absorbed a non-kosher substance. Instead, the piece of meat itself becomes fobidden. It is as if that kosher meat itself was non-kosher. [Although according to Rabbinic law, the concept:] "the piece becomes carrion" [applies with regard to other prohibitions, and kosher meat may become forbidden if it absorb a non-kosher substance], in essence, it applies only with regard to milk and meat. This is understood on the basis of the Zohar, Vol. II, p. 125a, that [a mixture of] milk and meat grants nurture to the sitra achra (the kabbalistic term for evil). See also Moreh Nevuchim, Vol. III, ch. 48, which explains that the combination of milk and meat is associated with the worship of false deities.

  3. (Back to text) [The intent in ch. 24 is that "even though they do not see," entities stemming from the three impure kelipos receive life-energy from the realm of holiness. In Kuntres U'Mayon, the Rebbe Rashab adds that these entities are not conscious that their life-energy stems from holiness.]


  A exposition on the subject of Hashgachah Peratis, Divine Providence, explaining the uniqueness of the Baal Shem Tov's approach to this subjectTable of contentsDisseminating the publications of Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch  


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