Tanya Chapter 4: The garments of the G-dly soul & how the soul bonds with G-d

Chapter 4: The garments of the G-dly soul & how the soul bonds with G-d

27th Kisleiv/(LY)29th Kisleiv

1. The Levushim of the G-dly soul:

  • The number of garments: In addition to the ten traits that are contained within every G-dly soul as explained in the previous chapter, the G-dly soul also possesses three garments.
  • What are the garments: The garments are:
    • Thought
    • Speech
    • Action
  • The Taryag Mitzvos: When in reference to the G-dly soul these garments find expression specifically when they are involved in the 613 commandments of the Torah, as we will now explain.

2. Connecting one’s entire soul to the Torah through the Levushim:

  • [Although in general the G-dly soul contains 10 aspects or traits, in detail it contained 613 spiritual limbs. Each of these 613 limbs yearn for, and require, a connection with G-d which is accomplished through the study and fulfillment of Torah. The Alter Rebbe will now explain how this can be wholesomely accomplished for the entire soul.
  • Using the garments to attach to G-d: Using his three G-dly soul garments of thought, speech, and action, a person is able to connect the entirety of his soul with the Torah. This is accomplished in the following way:
  • Though, speech and action of Torah: When a person uses his physical body to actively fulfill all the physical commandments [i.e. Action] and uses his mouth to verbalize the Halachic details of all the 613 commands [i.e. Speech], and uses his mind to understand to the best of his capability all of the aspects of the Torah in its four levels of Peshat, Remez, Derush and Sod, and all 613 limbs of his G-dly soul become invested in the 613 commands of the Torah.
  • [The Alter Rebbe will now break down this unity of one’s soul with the Torah into greater detail, dividing between the intellect and emotions of the G-dly soul.]

(LY)30th Kisleiv [in applicable years]

3. How one’s intellect is invested within the Levushim of the soul:

  • In detail, through doing the above, the intellectual attributes of Chochmah, Bina, and Daas [i.e. Chabad] of the G-dly soul become invested within the understanding of Torah, in whatever he is capable of comprehending.
  • Every person has different intellectual capabilities of Torah: The potential comprehension of Torah that every soul can achieve in its four levels of Peshat, Remez, Derush and Sod, is personally designed in accordance with that soul’s intellectual capability and its soul root above [in the Sefiros of Atzilus].

4. How one’s emotional attributes are invested within the Levushim of the soul:

  • The emotional attributes of the G-dly soul, which is fear and love and their offshoots, are invested within the physical fulfillment of the Mitzvos that are accomplished through action, and through Torah study, which is accomplished through speech, and is equivalent to all the commandments.

5. How love is invested in Mitzvah fulfillment:

  • [The Alter Rebbe will now break down exactly how the emotions of love and fear is invested within mitzvah fulfillment, first explaining how mitzvah fulfillment requires love for G-d, and how love for G-d is only truly expressed with mitzvah fulfillment.]
  • Mitzvahs need love-Love is the catalyst and binding of the 248 positive Mitzvas: Love of G-d is the root of all the 248 positive commands and is the springboard for all mitzvah fulfillments. Furthermore, [fulfilling mitzvahs due to one’s love for G-d is so important that] without this emotion of love for G-d, the mitzvah is not considered truly fulfilled by the person.[1]
  • Mitzvah fulfillment is in order to cleave to G-d: The reason [that the mitzvah is not considered truly fulfilled if it was not motivated by love for G-d is because the true intent of the commands is to cleave to G-d[2], and hence] it can only be considered that one has truly fulfilled the commands if he does so out of love for G-d and due to his desire to cleave to Him.
  • Cleaving to G-d is not possible without mitzvah fulfillment: Accordingly, a person who desires to cleave to G-d will fulfill the commands being that it is not possible to truly cleave to G-d without the fulfillment of the 248 commands which are referred to as the limbs of G-d [and hence by fulfilling the mitzvah’s it is likened to one who has taken hold of the “body” of G-d and is embracing with Him as an expression of his yearning and love].

6. How fear is invested in Mitzvah observance:

  • Fear is the catalyst of the 365 negative Mitzvas: Fear of G-d is the root of all the 365 negative commands and is the springboard for all its observance. This is expressed in one of two ways:
    • Fear: One fears rebelling against the king of all kings and hence observes the negative commands.
    • Shame/Busha: A deeper level of fear: One is ashamed to do something that is not in accordance with G-d’s will and cause him disappointment.
  • G-d hates the side of evil which live off the transgression of negative commands: The side of evil is despised by G-d and considered by Him as an abomination. Now, the side of evil receives its nurture through man’s transgressions of the negative commands, [and hence one who is ashamed to cause G-d disappointment, will avoid transgressing these negative commands which nurture the evil that G-d hates so much].

28th Kisleiv/(LY)1st Teves

7. The Levushim are higher than the actual G-dly soul:

  • Although the three garments of thought, speech, and action of Torah are referred to as mere garments of the G-dly soul, in truth they are infinitely higher than the G-dly soul itself.
  • G-d and His Torah are One: The reason for this is because G-d is one with His Torah, as the Torah is the will and wisdom of G-d with which G-d is united, as explained above in chapter 2.

8. The descent of the infinite light of G-d into the Torah:

  • Humility: Although G-d himself is infinite, as well as His will and wisdom, and thus His greatness is unfathomable, He chose to humble Himself into a tangible level of greatness which give creations the ability to grasp His will and wisdom.
  • Contractions: This was accomplished through contractions of His will and wisdom until it formed the 613 commands of the Torah and its details, as well as the words of Tanach and all of their teachings.

9. The ability to unite with G-d as a result of the above descent:

  • Human comprehension: The purpose of this descent and contraction is to enable the souls that are within the body of every person to comprehend and fulfill G-d’s will and wisdom in thought speech and action, each person in accordance with his capability and potential.
  • Unity with G-d: Through doing so, the soul will be able to invest all of its 10 soul aspects and its three soul garments within the will and wisdom of G-d and hence become united with G-d.

 (LY)2nd Teves

10. The descent of the Torah below is like water:

  • The Torah is compared to water. The reason for this is because just as water travels downwards from a higher elevation to a lower elevation, so too the Torah descended from its original place of glory, which is the pure will and wisdom of G-d, which is not comprehensible by creations, to below into a spectrum of comprehension.
  • The journeys of the Torah to receive a connotation of physical mitzvahs: To reach this level of comprehension by creation, the Torah have to travel from its original state and descent through various mystical levels, one after the other, until it finally was able to become invested within physical matters and the dealings of this world, which make up majority, if not all, of the content of all of the mitzvah’s of the Torah and their laws.
  • The journey of the Torah into Tanach: This travel was also necessary in order to invest the original Torah and will and wisdom of G-d within the physical letters of ink that are written in a Torah scroll and the 24 books of Tanach, in order so every mind can comprehend it.
  • Speech and action: As a result of the above descents and journeys of the Torah, it became possible for even the speech and action of man which is much lower than the level of thought grasp the Torah and G-d.

29th Kisleiv

11. How the Jew is completely bound to G-d when learning Torah and doing Mitzvos

  • As a result of the fact that the Torah descended to a level that it can be grasped by the 10 aspects of the soul and all of the 613 limbs, from its head to its feet, it is possible for the entire soul to be bound with G-d himself, and for the literal light of G-d to encompass the soul from its head until his feet.

(LY)3rd Teves

12. A Jew below attaches to G-d even more than the souls in Olam Haba:

  • The advantage of this world over the next one: Our sages teach us that one moment of repentance and good deeds in this world is greater than all of the world to come.
  • The world to come contains limited comprehension of G-d: The reason for this is because the experience of pleasure in the world to come is a result of the comprehension of G-dliness that the soul obtains in that world. Now, it is not possible for any creation even of the most sublime level to comprehend more than a mere glimmer of the light of G-d and hence their experience in the world to come is limited to a mere ray and glimmer of G-d.
  • In this world one can connect with G-d himself: G-d in His essential state cannot be comprehended, as He is beyond the grasp of any mind, with exception to when G-d is grasped through his Torah and mitzvah’s in which case one actually grasps and becomes invested within G-d Himself as G-d and his Torah are one. Hence, in this physical world there is an advantage over the world to come, as in this world one can connect and attach to G-d himself while in the world to come one can only attach to a mere glimmer of His glory.

13. How attaching to the physical connotations of Torah and Mitzvos can be viewed as grasping G-d:

  • Embracing a king who is enclothed in his garments: Although the Torah as it is found in this world has descended into lowly corporal matters, and hence its original holiness is not consciously felt and experienced during its study and fulfillment, nonetheless, this is similar to a garment that is worn by the king, in which there is no difference between one who embraces the king while he wears one garment or wears many garments, as the king himself is within it.
  • Likewise, if the king embraces him with his arm, one pays no attention to the fact that his arm has a garment on it and nonetheless still experiences the same attachment to the king.
  • Embracing G-d when enclothed in Physical Torah: Similarly, even when studying and fulfilling the Torah in this physical world with its physical connotations, one is still embracing and uniting with G-d himself who is invested within it, and the physical connotations are mere garments that do not demote or affect the unity accomplished. Indeed, the Talmud states that the Torah was given with G-d’s right, and on this Scripture states that His right side embraces me, hence hinting to the above unity experienced when a king embraces his subjects irrelevant of how many garments the king is wearing at the time of the embrace.



[1] The words in the text is “Ein Lahen Kiyum Amiti” which can be translated as we stated above, or can be translated to simply mean that without love the Mitzvah fulfillment of the person will not be stable and everlasting, as when done for ulterior motives, a person is bound to stop doing it when the motives are no longer relevant.

[2] Just as the true reason for why a wife desires flowers from her husband is due to the love it expresses, so too the true reason G-d desires the fulfillment of mitzvah’s is due to the love it expresses for Him. A mitzvah without emotion is as empty as flowers without feelings.

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