Tanya Chapter 42: How fear of G-d is easily attainable

Chapter 42: How fear of G-d is easily attainable

24th Nissan/(LY) 19th Nissan

  1. Hashem demands fear of G-d from every Jew and doing so is easily attainable:
  • The natural fear of G-d contained in every Jew, as elaborated on in the previous chapter, sheds light onto the following cryptic Talmudic statement:
  • Fearing G-d is easy: The Talmud[1] brings the verse “Viata Yisrael, Mah Hashem Elokecha Shoel Meimcha Ki Im Leyirah Es Hashem Elokecha/And now, Israel, what does the L‑rd your G‑d require of you? Only that you fear the L‑rd your G‑d.” The Gemara asks on this verse “Is fearing G-d such a small feat etc.?” and the Talmud answers “Yes, regarding Moshe it is a small feat etc.”
  • The question: This Talmudic teaching seems puzzling and incomprehensible, as the verse states that the entire nation is demanded to fear G-d and not just Moshe, so how is the fact that Moshe can easily attain this fear answer for how this fear is no big deal for the rest of the Jewish people? The explanation is as follows:


  1. The natural fear of G-d contained in every Jew derives from Moshe Rabbeinu:
  • Every Jew has a Moshe in him: The soul of every single Jew contains an aspect of Moshe Rabbeinu, as he is from the seven shepherds who draw down a flow of vitality [i.e. love and fear of G-d[2]] and[3] G-dliness [i.e. nullification and Mesirus Nefesh[4]] to the general souls of Israel.
  • The function of a shepherd of Israel: It is for this reason that the seven leaders are called shepherds, as they provide the Jewish people with spiritual sustenance.
  • Moshe is the leading shepherd of Israel: Now, Moshe Rabbeinu is the leading shepherd who contains aspects of all of them and is referred to as the Raya Mehemna.
  • Moshe draws down Daas to the souls of Israel each to their level: This is because he is responsible for drawing down the level of Daas/knowledge to the general souls of Israel. The function of Daas is to have a cognitive grasp of G-d. Each and every soul contains a unique ability to intellectually grasp G-d in accordance to its level of comprehension, which is based on its soul root above, and its form of nurture from the root of the soul of Moshe Rabbeinu, which is rooted in the supernal Daas of the ten Sefiros of Atzilus, which in turn is united with Hashem, as He and His Daas are one.

  1. The sparks of the soul of Moshe Rabbeinu are found in the leaders of each generation:
  • Aside from the above ray from the soul of Moshe which is found within the soul of every Jew, there also exists a much greater and powerful revelation from the soul of Moshe in every generation, within the leaders of that generation.
  • A spark of Moshe: In each and every generation sparks from the soul of Moshe descend below and become invested in the body and soul of the sages and leaders of that generation.

  1. Knowing G-d and serving Him with emotions of the heart:
  • To teach the greatness of G-d to the masses: The purpose of this descent of sparks from Moshe into the leaders of the generation is for these individuals to teach Daas to the nation and help them know the greatness of G-d.
  • Serving G-d with one’s heart: This knowledge received from leaders of the generation will in turn then be used by the masses to serve G-d with a full heart and soul, as service of the heart is in accordance to one’s knowledge, as the verse states “know the G-d of your father and serve Him with a complete heart and a desiring soul.”
  • No more teaching in the future era: Regarding the future era, the verse states that no man will need to teach his friend the knowledge of G-d as everybody will know Me on their own.
  • Purpose of knowledge is to experience it emotionally: The main purpose and function of having knowledge in the greatness of G-d is not just the knowledge itself, for one to garner knowledge of the facts of the greatness of G-d from books and teachers. Rather, the main purpose of knowledge is for one to deepen his mind’s concentration on the greatness of G-d to the point that one solidifies his thoughts with thoughts of G-d, with a strong and powerful [energy that comes from his] heart and mind. This itself is done to the point that one’s thought becomes tied and connected with G-d with an unbreakable knot, similar to one who becomes entranced with a physical item which he sees with his physical eyes and contemplates it in depth. This concept is well known that the term Daas means connection, as it states in the verse that Adam knew his wife Eve.

25th Nissan/ (LY) 20th Nissan

  1. Takes great effort to reveal the natural fear one nurtures from the soul of Moshe:
  • Ability to connect comes from Moshe: This ability and attribute contained within every soul of Israel to connect his mind with G-d is nurtured from the soul of Moshe.
  • Not easy to achieve: Nonetheless, this does not mean that it is easy to achieve. Being that the soul [which contains this ability that comes from Moshe] has been invested in a physical body it therefore requires a great and intense and doubled effort in order to achieve this connection. We will now explain the two efforts and exercises required to be done for one to achieve this.

  1. Bitush-Breaking the body and animal soul:
  • The first effort and exercise are for one to strain his body, to mortify the body and subjugate it so it can no longer darken the light of the soul as explained earlier in chapter 29 that when a body is unable to experience the light of the soul than it is to be crushed.
  • Thoughts of repentance: This itself is accomplished through having thoughts of repentance from the depths of one’s heart, as explained there.

(LY) 21st Nissan

  1. Spending time in deep contemplation to arouse fear G-d:
  • The second effort and exercise is for one to exert his soul to deeply contemplate the greatness of G-d for a long and consecutive time period.
  • The amount of contemplation necessary to arouse fear of Hashem: Every person needs to dedicate some time for contemplation of G-d’s greatness in order to arouse fear of Heaven. This amount of time is not equal amongst all souls.
  • Souls who have an easier time: Some people have a naturally more refined soul, and as soon as they contemplate the greatness of G-d, they receive fear and trepidation of G-d. This follows the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch which states that as soon as a person contemplates that G-d, the great and mighty king of all kings who fills all the earth with His glory, is standing over the person and watching his actions, then he will immediately be overtaken by fear.
  • Souls who have a harder time: Other souls, however, which are low by nature and hereditarily, have a much harder time arousing fear of G-d. This is a result of the soul deriving from the lower aspects of the ten Sefiros of the lowest world of Assiya. This prevents their thoughts from finding G-dliness without great effort and toil.
  • People who have sinned: This difficulty in arousing fear of G-d especially applies to those people who have contaminated their souls with sins of their youth, as sins prevent the person from feeling fear of G-d.
  • With great effort, they too can arouse fear: Nonetheless, even the above said individuals can arouse a fear for G-d if they strengthen and focus their minds with great toil and effort to deeply contemplate G-d’s greatness with tremendous concentration and depth, for a very long time. Certainly, after doing so even they will eventually arouse and experience the lower level of fear [i.e. Yirah Tatah] at the very least, as our sages teach us that one who exerts effort and finds, you should believe him.


  1. Searching for the treasure of fear of Heaven:
  • Finding a physical treasure takes much digging: The verse states “And if you search for it like silver, and like treasures you shall search for it, then you will understand fear of G-d.” This verse is coming to say that just as a person must search for a hidden treasure which is found in the depths of the earth, through digging after it with great effort, so too regarding fear of G-d.
  • Digging into the soul to reveal fear of G-d: To achieve fear of G-d a person must dig with tremendous effort into his soul in order to reveal the treasure of fear of heaven which is hidden and concealed within the understanding of the heart of every single man amongst Israel.
  • Bringing the hidden fear to one’s conscious mind: This level of fear found within the heart of every Jew, is on a level that is above time and is the natural hidden love that every person contains on a constant basis. Nonetheless, in order for this fear to become expressed in action for the person to fear sin and actually avoid doing action speech and thoughts that are sinful, then he must reveal this fear from its hidden chambers within the heart. He must take it from its state of being above time, into his actual thought process which is in his mind. To accomplish this, he must dedicate some worthy amount of time to contemplate it in depth in his mind until this fear comes out from its potential state into a state of actuality.
  • Fearing to sin due to realization of G-d’s presence: This means that as a result of one’s revelation of the fear and his now conscious realization that G-d watches, listens, and discerns everything he does and thinks and feels, he will therefore abstain from doing evil, and will perform good, in his thought speech and action. This follows the saying of the sages that one should contemplate three things, that G-d has eyes which sees one’s actions, and ears that hears one’s speech.

26th Nissan/ (LY) 22nd Nissan

  1. How Hashem has knowledge of all occurrences:
  • Sees what eyes cannot see, and hears what ears cannot hear: Now, although G-d does not have the figure of a body [and hence the concept of eyes and ears do not apply to Him in the literal sense], nonetheless, this does not mean that He does not have the ability to see and hear but rather on the contrary, everything is revealed and known before Him in an infinitely greater manner than that which is seen through the eyes and heard through the ear.
  • Like one who feels his own body: This knowledge of G-d of everything that happens is similar to a person who knows and feels everything that happens and is experienced within each one of his 248 limbs, such as heat and cold. He is even conscious of the heat being felt by the nails of his feet if they became scathed by a fire. Likewise, he is naturally conscious of the essence and core of his limbs, and everything that affects them he knows and feels in his mind.
  • Everything comes from G-d: Similar to this knowledge of the person with his own body, is the knowledge of G-d of anything and everything that happens with his creations, whether of the lower or higher worlds being that they all derive from Him [at each and every moment for their existence], as the verse states “and from You comes everything.” On this it states in the liturgy of the high holidays that “there is no creation that can hide from You.”
  • By knowing Himself He knows all others: This follows that which is written in the Rambam and agreed upon by the sages of Kabbalah, that G-d knows all of the creations through the knowledge that He knows of Himself, as everything comes from Him.
  • Not a truly symmetric parable: The above parable is only given so human ears can have some understanding of G-d’s knowledge, as in truth there is no symmetry at all between the parable of a person who knows the limbs of his body and the knowledge that G-d has of his creations.
  • All three souls of man are affected by occurrences that happen to his limbs: The soul of man, including even his intellectual and G-dly soul, becomes affected by the pain-and-suffering of the physical body. This is due to the fact that these souls are actually invested within the animal soul which in turn is invested in the actual body to give it life.
  • G-d is not affected by that which happens to his creations: This is in contrast to G-d, who is not affected, G-d forbid, from any of the occurrences and changes that occur to the world, and not from the world itself, as none of it cause any change to G-d heaven forbid.
  • The conclusion that G-d does not change is a faith that doesn’t require philosophical research: To properly understand this matter in one’s mind, the sages of Kabbalah have lengthily discussed this matter in their books. However, in truth all the Jewish people are believers the son of believers who do not need any research philosophy of the intellectual human mind to come to this conclusion, and indeed say every morning in the prayer liturgy that “you G-d are the same after the world’s creation as you were beforehand,” as explained in chapter 20.

27th Nissan/(LY) 23rd Nissan

  1. Quick re-contemplation can re-arouse the fear:
  • Every single Jew, be whoever he may be, when he contemplates daily and for a lengthy period of time how Hashem fills all the worlds, the upper and lower worlds, and His glory actually fills the entire earth, and He looks, stares, and evaluates mans every thought, speech, and action, and every step that he may take, then he will be able to establish fear in his heart for the entire day.
  • A short contemplation can re-arouse the fear: After doing the above exercise to arouse the fear, then even a short and slight contemplation of the above at any time throughout the day can re-arouse the fear.
  • A fear of sin: This fear will prevent man from committing evil, and promote him to do good, in his thought, speech, and action, in order so he does not rebel against G-d who fills the entire earth, as stated Rebbe Yochanon Ben Zakkai to his students, as stated above in chapter 41.
  • A fear that brings to fulfillment of the commands: It is the above quality of fear that is referred to in the verse which commands man to fear G-d and to follow G-d in all of his ways. This fear refers to the above form of fear which motivates man to fulfill the commands of G-d and abstain from performing evil and brings him to perform good. This level of fear is called Yirah Tatah.
  • Easily attainable by the aspect of Moshe found in every soul: This level of fear is very easily attainable by the aspect of Moshe and Daas that each Jew has incorporated within his G-dly soul, and hence is referred to as a small matter.
  • Daas makes one conscious of the subconscious: The reason for this is because the aspect of Daas has ability to attach that which is hidden in the heart with the revealed mind.


28th Nissan/(LY) 24th Nissan

  1. Seeing G-d in the world around you instills fear:
  • A person should contemplate the following additional message in order to help him arouse fear of G-d.
  • Fear of a king is of his spiritual presence and not of his body: The main fear of a king is from his soul and spiritual presence and not from his physical body, as can be seen from the fact that if he were to be sleeping one would not have any fear of him at all. Now, the soul and spiritual presence of the individual cannot be seen with physical eyes and can only be recognized with the eyes of the intellect, through a person using his physical eyes to see the body and his garments and hence recognizing that the king’s soul is invested within them.
  • Fearing G-d even though one cannot see Him: The same exactly applies regarding the fear of G-d. A person should bring himself to have fear of Hashem through using his physical eyes to see the heavens and the earth and all of their legions, in which the infinite light of G-d is invested within them in order to enliven them. [Thus, one should fear G-d due to the existence of Hashem’s spirit, which is found in all creations to enliven them, and the heavens and legions above, as can readily be seen.]
  • The fear of a person is not affected by the amount of garments he wears: Although one can argue that Hashem is hiding within many garments of the physical creations, nonetheless, in truth there is no difference in the natural fear one has towards a king of flesh and blood, whether the king is without garments at all, or wearing a single garment, or wearing many garments, as the main factor which inspires the fear is the presence of the king.
  • Customizing oneself to contemplating G-d’s presence to instill fear: The most important ingredient necessary in order to bring oneself to fear G-d through the above contemplation is for one to accustom his thought and intellect to constantly set upon his heart and mind that everything which he sees with his eyes in heaven and earth, and all that inhabit it, are all the external garments of Hashem, and through doing so one will remember always their inner vitality, which comes from G-d.
  • The Mitzvah of Emuna: The above said exercise is included in the term [and Mitzvah] of Emuna, which also means to train oneself [in the above perception of creation] similar to a craftsman who trains his hands in handiwork.

  1. Gloss-Seeing the heavenly legions bow to G-d instills fear in the heart:
  • We readily witness that the sun travels and sets towards the west on a daily basis, hence signifying its bowing, and nullification, to the Shechinah which is in the west.
  • Now, even one who has never seen a king and does not recognize him at all, nevertheless when he enters the courtyard of the king and sees many aristocrats and ministers bowing to this one person, he will naturally be overtaken by fear and trepidation. [Accordingly, the same applies regarding fear of G-d, that witnessing the sun go down towards the direction of G-d should instill fear in one’s heart just as one would naturally fear an individual whom everyone is bowing down to.]


(LY) 25th Nissan

  1. Constant acceptance of the yoke of heaven:
  • Placing a king upon yourself: In addition to the constant need to contemplate G-d’s presence in order to instill fear in one’s heart, one should also constantly remember the command of the sages for a person to accept the yoke of Heaven, which is similar in idea to accepting a king over oneself, as explained elsewhere [in chapter 41].
  • G-d chose to become our king and requires our acceptance of Him: Hashem chose to forgo the higher and lower worlds and bestow His kingship specifically on our world, and we therefore in turn must accept the heavenly yoke.
  • The acceptance of the yoke of heaven in prayer: It is due to the above reason that we verbally accept the yoke of Heaven in Shema, and then go ahead to accept the yoke of heaven in actual deed through bowing in the course of the prayer of the Amidah.


[1] Brachos 33b

[2] Lessons in Tanya, edited by the Rebbe

[3] It is stated that the Alter Rebbe spent several weeks pondering whether to write this and or to simply write vitality G-dliness.

[4] Lessons in Tanya, edited by the Rebbe

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles

Leave A Comment?

You must be logged in to post a comment.