Reading the Tanya, ch.4 [ספר של בינונים]

Continuing on in my Reading & Blogging the Tanya series, chapter 4 is very focussed on the fulfilling of the commandments.  I will share three highlights here for me from this chapter:

1) He starts off by writing that the Godly soul has three garments: thought, speech and action, which are connected to the 613 commandments.  I have two questions: A) Why garments?  What do these garments do for people?  B) Why is this only applicable for the Godly soul, which, as we saw in chapter 1, is only for Jews (and not for Gentiles)?  Does this mean that gentiles cannot fulfill commandments?  Does this mean that they cannot wear these garments?  Rabbi Shneur Zalman does not explain this issue here.
אהבה יראה מצות
2) Rabbi Shneur Zalman makes a fascinating bifurcation about our connection to the types of commandments to be fulfilled: loving God is connected to performing actionable commandments (“האהבה היא שרש כל רמ”ח מצות עשה”), while awe of God is connected to holding back from transgressing prohibitive commandments (“היראה היא שרש לשס”ה לא תעשה”). I think this is really interesting.  However, he goes a bit further and says one can’t truly fulfill the actionable commandments without love (“בלעדה אין להן קיום אמיתי כי המקיימן באמת הוא האוהב את שם ה’ וחפץ לדבקה בו באמת”), which is interesting, which would mean that Lubavitch Hassidus requires or at least aspires to lovingly fulfill commandments.

3) Rabbi Shneur Zalman draws a really interesting connection between God and the Scriptures (as well as rabbinic literature) – that God constricted His wisdom and will into the 613 commandments, Scripture, and rabbinic literature (“צמצם הקדוש ברוך הוא רצונו וחכמתו בתרי”ג מצות התורה ובהלכותיהן ובצרופי אותיות תנ”ך ודרשותיהן שבאגדות ומדרשי חכמינו ז”ל בכדי שכל הנשמה או רוח ונפש שבגוף האדם תוכל להשיגן בדעתה ולקיימן כל מה שאפשר לקיים מהן במעשה דבור ומחשבה”).

Rabbi Shneur Zalman, in this chapter, writes a lot about how various faculties of our Godly soul enable us to perform commandments, which results in our souls being enclothed, although he does not state why clothing these souls are important….

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