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The Land of Israel is known as "the land of G-d's desire"

Eyes on the Land

Eyes on the Land

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Eyes on the Land
The Land of Israel is known as "the land of G-d's desire"

Many of the letters in this section of the Tanya were written in order to rouse Jewry to contribute generously to tzedaka in general and in particular for the sake of settling the Holy Land. In this letter, the author places singular emphasis on the merit of giving tzedaka for the Holy Land. Every year, he declares, charity should be given with more vitality and in greater volume, thus echoing the rhythm of the annually-renewed life-force that emanates from On High to the Holy Land.

[This letter is written] to arouse the old love and fondness for the Holy Land, so that it burn like fiery flames from the inwardness of man and from the depths of his heart, as if this very day G‑d had set His spirit upon us, a spirit of generosity, so that people volunteer to consecrate themselves to G‑d with a full and generous hand, with one increase after another, from year to year, continually rising and excelling themselves. All this in keeping with the measure of [the level of divinity called] "Kodesh HaElyon" [Hebrew for "Supreme Holiness"], another name for the attribute of chochma, which radiates to the Holy Land and is constantly renewed [qualitatively] and increased [quantitatively], as it is written, "Forever are the eyes of the L-rd your G‑d upon it [the Land of Israel], from the beginning of the year to the end of the year" (Deut. 11:12).

As the Rebbe will soon say, the term "eyes" alludes to the divine attribute of chochma, or Kodesh HaElyon, which infuses the Land of Israel constantly, from the beginning of the year to its end. In order to explain how we derive from this verse that the level of chochma that radiates to the Holy Land is constantly renewed and increased, the Rebbe first raises the following query:

Now, this phrase "to the end..." appears to be problematic, for at the end of one year begins another year. Thus it should surely have said [that the eyes of G‑d are upon the Land of Israel] "everlastingly".

However, this matter will be understood by considering the verse "G‑d by chochma established the earth" (Proverbs 3:19). That is, the foundation of "the Higher Land" [i.e. the heavenly model of the terrestrial Holy Land], which is the mode of [creative divine influence which is immanent and therefore called] "Memalei Kol Almin"

This refers to the sefira of malchut of the world of Atzilut, called "land" for it is the last and [so to speak] lowest of the supernal sefirot, and it vests itself in created worlds and beings so as to vitalize them.

This radiation and efflux from Supreme Chochma, that irradiates the "land" at both these levels, is renewed annually by a truly new light….

And it is [likewise the foundation] of the nether [land], which is [the Land of Israel which is known as] "the land of [G‑d's] desire", which truly corresponds to it[s heavenly counterpart], viz. "the Higher Land", and is called by its name "the Land of Life" - [the foundation, then, of the higher and the lower lands] issues from the downward flow and radiation from the Supreme Chochma which is the source of supernal life; as it is written, "chochma animates those who possess it...." (Ecclesiastes 7:12)

"G‑d by chochma established the earth" thus means that the sefira of chochma diffuses its creative light upon "the Higher Land", i.e. malchut of Atzilut, as well as upon its terrestrial counterpart, the Land of Israel.

This radiation and efflux from Supreme Chochma, that irradiates the "land" at both these levels, is renewed annually by a truly new light. For G‑d (blessed be He) and His chochma are one, in an absolute unity which is called "the [infinite] Ein Sof-light", because there is no limit nor end to the quality and greatness of the light and vitality that issues forth from Him and from His chochma, in elevation upon elevation, to no end or limit, to the peak of the loftiest levels.

Since the life-giving light that issues from Supreme Chochma is infinite, it follows that whatever the intensity of the light drawn down in the previous year, it is still possible that a greater degree of light be drawn down in the new year.

Every year there descends and radiates a new and renewed light which has never yet shone….

And every year there descends and radiates a new and renewed light which has never yet shone, from the Supreme Chochma to the Higher Land.

The light that reaches down to this level is here described as "new and renewed", for in the first instance a new light radiates into chochma from the Ein Sof that transcends it, and then a new light issues from chochma and infuses the Higher Land.

For the light of every year withdraws to its source in the Essence of the Ein Sof on the eve of every Rosh Hashanah, "when the moon is covered".

Rosh Hashanah is known as "the holiday when the new moon is covered" (Rosh Hashanah 8a) and is not seen. In a spiritual context, this means that the sefira of malchut [represented in the Kabbala by the moon], the light that animates the worlds and created beings, is concealed and withdraws to its source.

Afterwards, by means of the sounding of the Shofar and by means of the prayers, a new and superior light is elicited, [a light] of a yet higher rank in the sphere of the Supreme Chochma, to radiate to the Higher Land and those who dwell upon it, i.e. to all the higher and lower worlds that receive their vitality from it, i.e. from the Ein Sof-light, and from [G‑d's] chochma which is vested in it, i.e. in "the Higher Land"; this is as it is written, "For with You is the source of life; in Your light shall we see light." (Psalms 36:10)

The slumber that G‑d brought upon Adam on the day of his creation…took place on the day of Rosh Hashanah….

Supreme Chochma, which is the source of life, is "with You", i.e., nullified and unified with the Ein Sof; "in Your light" - i.e. in the light that radiates from chochma to "the Higher Land" - "we shall see light", referring to the light that descends from the Higher Land and illumines all the created beings which receive their vitality from it.

This refers to the light that radiates from Supreme Chochma, the source (and, as is known to the scholars of the Hidden Wisdom, i.e. the Tree of Life, every Rosh Hashanah the nesira takes place, and [the sefira of malchut] receives new, more sublime mochin [levels of consciousness], and so on.)

This is a Kabbalistic theme regarding the "rebuilding" of the sefira of malchut that takes place every Rosh Hashanah. The paradigm of this sequence is the slumber that G‑d brought upon Adam on the day of his creation (see Gen. 2:21), which took place on the day of Rosh Hashanah, and the subsequent excision ["nesira"] of the rib from which Eve was then formed.

The Kabbala explains that Adam is a terrestrial echo of Supernal Man, i.e. the bracket of sefirot known collectively as Zeir Anpin of the World of Atzilut. "Slumber" alludes to the withdrawal of the supernal intellectual attributes, or "mochin", from Zeir Anpin [just as man's intellect withdraws during sleep]. The new and more sublime mochin which are then drawn down into malchut are far superior to the mochin that Malchut had previously received from Zeir Anpin.

In a very specific way, this takes place every day. More sublime mochin are elicited by every morning-prayer, which are not the original mochin that withdrew after the prayer [of the previous day], but more sublime ones.

The Land of Israel, too, is illumined by chochma….

In general terms, with respect to the world as a whole during the six thousand years [of the world's existence], this occurs every Rosh Hashanah [and not only with regard to the daily elicitation of new mochin during prayer as experienced by an individual man].

And this is the meaning of the above-quoted verse, "Forever are the eyes of the L-rd your G‑d upon it", for "eyes" is an epithet for the efflux and radiation of the light of chochma, for which reason sages are referred to as "the eyes of the congregation" (See Num. 15:24), for they are illuminated by the light of chochma, which is known by the term "eyes". And this, too, is the meaning of the teaching "The atmosphere of the Land of Israel makes one wise" (Baba Batra 158b) - for the Land of Israel, too, is illumined by chochma.

As was stated above, "Forever are the eyes of the L-rd your G‑d upon it" refers to a constant illumination by chochma.

Now, this radiation and efflux, though it is continuous, nevertheless, it is not only on one and the same plane and level since the beginning of the world. Rather, every year there is a new and superior light, because the light which was generated and which shone on this Rosh Hashanah withdraws to its source on the eve of the next Rosh Hashanah.

This enables us to understand the verse that says that "the eyes of G‑d" are upon the Land "from the beginning of the year to the end of the year" only.

The verse does not state that they are there "eternally", for the efflux that descends on Rosh Hashanah lasts only to the end of the year, at which time it withdraws and makes way for the descent of a new and more sublime light.

At that time the innermost element of the world's vitality is in a state of withdrawal….

And that is why the word for "from the beginning" [in Hebrew, "meireishit"] is written without an alef: it alludes to the withdrawal of the light, signified by the alef, which withdraws on the night of Rosh Hashanah (see Zohar II:34a).

At that time the innermost element of the world's vitality is in a state of withdrawal due to the "ascent of Malchut", i.e. the innermost core of Malchut is then in a state of elevation and withdrawal.

This is until after the sounding of the Shofar, when there descends a new and more sublime light that has never yet shone since the beginning of the world. It vests itself and conceals itself in the Higher Land, which is above - i.e. in Malchut of Atzilut, the source of all worlds and created beings - and in the Higher Land, which is below, in the Land of Israel,

For the light that animates this world first passes through the Holy Land, and from there it is diffused throughout the world at large.

This is in order to animate all the worlds for the duration of that year. Its manifestation, however, depends on the actions of those below, and on their merits and penitence during the Ten Days of Penitence.

For the light became concealed in the Higher Land above and below, so that its further descent and the revelation of its creative life-force to the world and to all its created beings.

This will suffice for the initiated.

In summary, the Divine light issuing from the sefira of chochma in the World of Atzilut that radiates within the Land of Israel throughout the year, increases yearly both in quantity and in quality. Similarly, the tzedaka given for the Holy Land should be increased every year both quantitatively and qualitatively.

The conclusion of the above letter makes it clear that this mortal initiative makes an impact on the revelation of this light: the ever-increasing revelation of the light that descends in a concealed form is dependent on the ever-increasing contributions of tzedaka given for the sake if the Land of Israel.

[Elucidated by Rabbi Yosef Wineberg. Translated from
Tanya I: 14 from Yiddish by Rabbi Levy Wineberg and Rabbi Sholom B.Wineberg and edited by Uri Kaploun.
Lessons in Tanya is published and copyright by Kehot Publication Society
Posted in daily portions on Chabad.org.]

Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi (18 Elul 1745-24 Tevet 1812), known as "the Alter Rebbe," was one of the main disciples of the Maggid of Mezritch, and the founder of the Chabad Chassidism. He is the author of Shulchan Aruch HaRav and Tanya as well as many other major works in both Jewish law and the mystical teachings.
Rabbi Levy Wineberg is the dean of the Lubavitch Yeshiva Gedola of Johannesburg, South Africa
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