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Tanya for Sunday, 29 Elul, 5782 - September 25, 2022

As Divided for a Leap Year

Tanya for 29 Elul

28 Elul, 5782 - September 24, 20221 Tishrei, 5783 - September 26, 2022

Epistle 19

Part (II)

[The Epistle that follows, beginning "The Letters that are Revealed," is one of the Epistles that was appended to the edition of Tanya published in Vilna in the year 5660 (1900), these additions being noted by R. Asher of Nikolayev in his introductory declaration there. [51]

This relevance of this Epistle to the previous one may be found in the following parallel:

The previous Epistle explains how only the Netzach-Hod-Yesod-Malchut (i.e., the lower Sefirot) of the Emanator extend to the recipient. The conclusion of the present Epistle likewise explains [52] that only the hindmost aspect and externality of the Netzach-Hod-Yesod of the higher realm enter the lower one.]

The letters [53] that are revealed to us exist in action, speech, and thought. Pertaining to the plane of action are the visual forms [54] of the letters in the Assyrian script of the Torah scroll. [55]

[The very validity of the scroll depends on the scrupulous observance of the numerous detailed laws governing the writing of these twenty two letters. As is explained in the Note to ch. 12 of Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah, each letter reflects the flow of a unique life-force and spiritual energy: its distinct shape suggests the form taken by the flow of light and energy revealed in that letter.]

The letters pertaining to speech are engraved in the breath and voice, which is divided into twenty-two parts, one differing from the other with respect to their form, i.e., the enunciation and utterance of the twenty-two letters in any language. [56]

For there is no difference between the Holy Tongue and the other languages with respect to the nature of the letters' enunciation, only with respect to their combinations. [57]

The letters of thought are - again, in any language that a person may think in - the words and letters of that language and its letters, which number twenty-two only.

Now in thought there are three kinds of letters. For when one sees the visual forms of the letters in the Torah-scroll they are pictured in his thought.

This is called the "action in thought," [i.e., the manner in which thought envisions the letters of actual handwritten script. In terms of the spiritual Worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah, "action in thought" relates to the lowest World - Asiyah, the World of Action.]

Likewise, when one hears the letters of speech, they become inscribed in his thought and he meditates upon them. This is called the "speech in thought," [i.e., thinking about the letters of speech], and it relates to Yetzirah.

The letters of thought alone, without any meditation on the letters of speech, are called the "thought in thought," and relate to Beriah. [In general terms, thought, speech and action correspond to Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah, respectively. More particularly, "action in thought" corresponds to "Asiyah within Beriah," "speech in thought" to "Yetzirah within Beriah," and "thought in thought" to "Beriah within Beriah."]

Now, the letters of actual speech come into being and receive their life-force from those very same letters that are in thought. Though sometimes a person may speak [of one thing] while thinking of another, [This would tend to indicate that the letters of speech do not receive their life-force from the letters of thought; in such an instance] he can speak only such words and combinations that he has already spoken previously and that were in his thought a great many times.

Thus in those words and combinations there remains the vestige of the thought that entered into them many times, [and this serves as the life-force of the letters of his speech.]

And this, in terms of the Sefirot, is the hindmost aspect and the externality of the Netzach-Hod-Yesod of the Visage of the higher realm that enters into the lower one, serving it as the intellective faculty of mochin [lit., "brains"] and life-force, as is known.



  1. (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita: It will have been noted that the Alter Rebbe himself added letters to Iggeret HaKodesh (Sefer HaMaamarim 5708, p. 170, et al.).

  2. (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita: For example: In keeping with the teaching that "from my flesh do I behold G-dliness," [the above levels are here discussed] as found within man - in thought, speech and action.

  3. (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita: In all that follows, cf. Imrei Binah, Shaar HaKriyat Shema, sec. 32; the slight differences in the mode of explanation may be resolved without great difficulty.

  4. (Back to text) Hebrew text emended above according to the Glosses and Emen- dations of the Rebbe Shlita.

  5. (Back to text) Cf. Sanhedrin 21b.

  6. (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita: In this respect, "letters of speech" and "letters of thought" are superior (to "letters of action," whose visual forms vanish [when depicted in another language], as they are superseded by its differing visual forms).

  7. (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita: What possible connection between the combinations and the enunciations [of the letters] prompted [the Alter Rebbe] to negate it? Possibly he is here anticipating the assumption that since [the letters of other languages] are not holy, they must perforce be on a lower level than those of the Holy Tongue (and surely - different). Hence he explains that the [difference between the letters of the Holy Tongue and those of other languages lies only] in their combinations.

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