Thursday, August 10, 2017

Good Shabbos
בְּחוֹרֶף תרנ"ב כַּאֲשֶׁר אַאַמוּ"ר לָמַד עִמִּי בְּסֵפֶר הַתַּנְיָא "וְנֶפֶשׁ הַשֵּׁנִית בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל הִיא חֵלֶק אֱלֹקַהּ מִמַּעַל מַמָּשׁ", הִסְבִּיר כִּי הַנּוֹשְׂאִים בְּתֵּיבַת מִמַּעַל וּבְתֵיבַת מַמָּשׁ הֵם הֲפָכִים. מִמַּעַל תּוֹאֲרוֹ רוּחָנִיּוּת שֶׁבְּרוּחָנִיוּת וּמַמָּשׁ תּוֹאֲרוֹ גַּשְׁמִיוּת שֶׁבְּגַשְׁמִיוּת. וַיְבַאֵר כִּי זֶהוּ מַעֲלַת נֶפֶשׁ הַשֵּׁנִית, שֶׁעִם הֱיוֹתָה רוּחָנִיוּת שֶׁבְּרוּחָנִיוּת פּוֹעֶלֶת בְּגַשְׁמִיּוּת שֶׁבְּגַשְׁמִיוּת.
In the winter of 5652 (1891),1 my revered father, the Rebbe [Rashab], taught me the statement in Tanya2 that “the second soul3 of a Jew is an actual part of G‑d Above.” He pointed out that the terms “actual” (mamash4 ) and “from above” (mimaal) are contradictory. “From above” alludes to the very highest levels of spirituality,5 whereas “actual” denotes the most palpable physicality.6
This, he explained, is the unique gift of the Divine soul.7 Though it is sheer ethereal spirituality, it impacts physicality at its most palpable.8

A Story with an Echo
A certain middle-aged American Jew was relocating in a new city. He had been attending Friday evening meals at the local Chabad House for several weeks, and soon began attending classes. His questions were intelligent and relevant, and while he enjoyed any subject that was meaty and intellectual, he was particularly drawn to Chassidus.
Suddenly he stopped attending not only classes, but even the convivial Friday evening meal. He had not left a phone number, and the Chabad House rabbis were unable to locate him.

Three weeks later he reappeared. He was wearing a kippah, his beard had begun to surface, and he enquired where he could purchase mezuzos, how he could kasher his home, and the like. When asked about this development, he explained that in the last class he had attended, he had learned something that made him feel challenged — the concept of the Jewish soul’s being “an actual part of G‑d.” If it was true, he sensed, he would have to develop an entirely different sense of identity from the one he had grown up with in secular America. He had had to wrestle with this issue — and do so alone.

Ultimately, he decided to identify with the Tanya’s image of a Jew. Having made that decision, the beard, the mezuzos, kashrus, and all the other mitzvos, came naturally. When the Torah became the source of his identity, the totality of Jewish observance followed as a natural consequence.
When the Rebbe Rayatz was eleven-and-a-half years old.
Ch. 2. See also the entry for 13 Kislev.
I.e., the nefesh Elokis — the Divine soul.
Mamash is related to mishush (“touching something palpable”) and to mamashus (“substantiality”). Cf. Rashi on Shmos 10:21.
In the original, ruchniyus sheberuchniyus.
In the original, gashmiyus shebegashmiyus.
In the original, “the second soul.”
Igros Kodesh of the Rebbe Rayatz, letter #1056, Heb. Vol. 4, p. 404.

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