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Tanya for Shabbos, 16 Av, 5782 - August 13, 2022

As Divided for a Leap Year

Tanya for 16 Meanchem Av

15 Av, 5782 - August 12, 202217 Av, 5782 - August 14, 2022

[Until this point the Alter Rebbe has explained the Talmudic teaching that the World to Come was created by the letter yud: the Sefirah of Chochmah, which this letter represents, is the spiritual source of Gan Eden which is in the World to Come. However, according to the above, since the letters of the Supernal creative speech derive from Chochmah, it would seem that this world, which was also created by the letters of Divine speech, was likewise created from the letter yud that represents Chochmah. Why, then, do our Sages teach that only the World to Come was created from the letter yud, while this world was created from the letter hei?

The Alter Rebbe therefore now goes on to explain that the letters of speech are composed of "matter" and "form" - the "body" and "soul" (or: the external and internal aspects) of the letters. While the "form" of the letters does indeed derive from Chochmah, the "matter" of the letters of speech merely derives from the heart.

So, too, Above: the internal aspect of the letters derives from Chochmah; from this aspect are created the higher spiritual beings which are able to apprehend G-dliness. However, the external aspect of the Supernal letters of speech derives from the "breath" - the hei of the Divine Name. It is from this lesser level that this physical world was created.

In the words of the Alter Rebbe:]

However, the letters exist on planes of "matter" and "form", which are also referred to as their "internal" aspect [i.e., the "form", which is their "soul"] and their "external" aspect [i.e., the "matter", which is their "body"].

Although their source is the primordial stage of the intellect and the will of the soul, for as soon as the soul desires to speak these letters are formed, as explained above, this is but the "form" of the differentiation in the pronunciation of the twenty-two letters.

The "matter" and "body" of their formation, however, i.e., the aspect of their "externality", is the breath issuing from the heart. From this breath is formed a simple sound which proceeds from the throat, and which is then divided into the twenty-two kinds of enunciation and expression of the twenty-two letters, [these divisions taking place] through the five known organs of speech: alef, chet, hei and ayin [18] through the throat; gimmel, yud, kaf and kuf through the palate, and so on; [e.g., beit, vav, mem and pei from the lips, and so on;] while the breath itself, [which has its own sound independent of the letter being spoken,] is uttered by the letter hei [19] - "the light letter...," inasmuch as it lacks the substance of a complete letter, which is the source of the "matter" and "body" of the letters before their division into twenty-two. [The hei is thus the source of each letter's "body".]

And that is why our Sages, of blessed memory, said that "this world was created by the hei": it was created by the external aspect, or "body", of the Supernal letters whose source is the hei of the Divine Name.

Now, though this is the "lower hei," the latter hei of the Four-Letter Name of G-d, [Supernal speech is of the level of Malchut, as alluded to in the verse, "The king's utterance reigns." [20] The hei that is the source of speech is thus the lower hei of the Tetragrammaton, the letter which denotes the level of Malchut.] while our Sages, of blessed memory, expounded this - [that the World to Come was created by the letter yud and this world by the letter hei] - from their reading of the verse, "For by yud-hei [did G-d create the worlds],"

[Since these are the first two letters of the Divine Name, how are we taught here that the statement that "this world was created by the letter hei" refers to the lower letter hei, the source of the breath of the letters of speech?] this is because its source and the beginning of its progress into a state of manifestation from the obscurity of the yud is influenced and drawn forth from the level of the upper hei.

[The obscurity of the yud of Chochmah is the source of every manner of revelation, both of the World to Come as well as of this world. As this relates to the letters: it serves as the source of revelation both for the "form" as well as the "matter" of the letters. It is only that in the resulting revelation of the letters, the "form" of the letters and the revelation of the World to Come emanate from the letter yud - from Chochmah - itself, while the revelation of the "matter" or external aspect of the letters emanates from the "breath of the heart," from the latter hei of the Divine Name.]

[The form or shape of the letter hei] has dimensions of length and width to indicate the faculty of Binah, [for the upper hei of the Divine Name denotes the level of Binah,] which is the expansion of the "concealed intellect" into a state of manifestation and apprehension, extending into Daat, and its diffusion - [the diffusion of the flow of Binah] - culminates in the heart.

Thus it is written in the Tikkunim [21] that "Binah is the heart, and by means of it the heart understands." [Thus, the diffusion of Binah takes place within the heart.]

From there issues the breath, the original manifestation of the "body" of the letters of speech which become revealed from the concealment of the yud through the five organs of speech.

The shape of the lower hei which, in its written form, also has dimensions of length and width, indicates the extension of [G-d's] blessed Sovereignty, "the sovereignty of all worlds," [22] which extends upward and downward, and in the four directions, [all these directions] extending and issuing from the letters of the "word of G-d"; as it is written in Kohelet, "The king's utterance reigns," as explained elsewhere.

[Just as a king of flesh and blood rules through his faculty of speech, by issuing commands, so too does Supernal speech extend G-d's reign in all the dimensions of the created universe.]

[23] [As for understanding somewhat the concept and nature of "letters of speech" in relation to Divinity, inasmuch as [G-d] has no form of a body, nor of a soul, heaven forfend, this has already been explained comprehensively yet concisely [24] (in Likkutei Amarim, Part II, chs. 11 and 12; see there).]



  1. (Back to text) The reason for the change in order (Alef, Ceht, Heh, Ayin, instead of the alphabetical order of Aleph, heh, chet, ayin, may be understood by reference to the statement in Zohar II, 123a. (See also Etz Chayim, Shaar Derushei HaTzelem, p. 2.) (Note of the Rebbe Shlita.)

  2. (Back to text) Akdamut Millin, verse 6 (Siddur Tehillat HaShem, p. 400).

  3. (Back to text) Kohelet 8:4.

  4. (Back to text) Introduction to Tikkunei Zohar.

  5. (Back to text) Tehillim 145:13.

  6. (Back to text) Brackets are in the original text.

  7. (Back to text) Parentheses are in the original text.

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