Tanya Chapter 43: The two loves and two Fears

Chapter 43: The two loves and two Fears

29th Nissan/(LY) 26th Nissan

  1. Yirah Tata’ah-The lower fear:
  • Necessary for Torah observance: The lower fear is necessary in order to bring a person to fulfill the Torah and Mitzvahs, so he turn away from evil and do good. This fear is the gateway for fulfillment of Torah and Mitzvahs.
  • If no fear no wisdom: It is regarding this lower fear that the statement of “if there is no fear, then there is no wisdom” applies.
  • Minor and major fear: This fear itself contains a minor versus a major level. [The minor level is when the fear comes as a result of the natural fear that one has within his heart. The major level within this type of fear comes as a result of contemplation in G-d’s greatness, as will be explained, although nonetheless it remains a lower level of fear.]
  • The fear comes from contemplation of G-d’s greatness in creation: The reason it is referred to as a lower and external fear is because this fear comes as a result of contemplating the greatness of G-d in this world, and how He fills the world, and how there are 500 years between this physical world and the heavens and also between each heaven, and how the Angels are above all of these levels. Likewise, one contemplates the chain descent of all the worlds all the way up to the highest level.
  • Why it’s called a lower and external fear: Now, since the fear comes as a result of the contemplation of G-d’s world, which are the garments that He garbs and concealed Himself in, in order to give them life and existence as something from nothing, therefore the fear is also considered external.
  1. Yirah Ilaah-The higher fear:
  • Fear of shame: The higher fear is a fear of shame and an inner fear which derives from the inner part of G-d that is invested within the worlds.
  • If no wisdom, no fear: On this fear the verse states that if there is no wisdom then there is no fear, and wisdom in this sense refers to Koch Mah, as Chochma comes from nothingness.
  • Contemplating that everything comes from nothingness and is nullified to G-d: This fear comes as a result of a wise man contemplating the Penimiyus of worlds, and how everything comes into being from nothingness as a result of G-d’s speech, and how therefore everything is completely nullified in their existence to G-d and are considered like absolute naught like the ray of the sun within the sun itself.
  • Contemplating one’s own nullification: One is likewise to contemplate the fact that he himself, his body and soul, are completely nullified to the word of G-d and the word of G-d is completely unified with His thought, as explained in length in the parable from the soul of man, that one word of speech and thought is like nothing in comparison to its source.
  • It is for this reason that the sages state that the fear of G-d is wisdom.
  • Must attain lower fear to attain higher fear: A prerequisite for attaining this higher level of fear is that one first preface it with the lower level of external fear, as it is not possible to attain this higher level of fear and wisdom without first fulfilling the Torah and Mitzvahs due to the lower and external level of fear. On this the sages state that if there is no fear then there is no wisdom.


30th Nissan

  1. The two levels of love:
  • Just as there exist two levels of fear of G-d, as explained above, so too love of G-d also contains two levels: Ahava Raba/Great love, and Ahavas Olam/world love.

  1. The love of Ahavah Raba:
  • A love of ecstasy: The love defined as Ahava Raba is a love of delightfulness and ecstasy. [It is not a yearning and desire to attach to G-d, but rather the act of bonding/Dveikus itself that is the result of desiring Him.]
  • For whom-A fiery love as a gift from above for one who has perfected his awe G-d: This love is a fiery flame that comes spontaneously without the result of one’s own effort. It comes as a gift from above for the individual who has perfected his fear of G-d.
  • Perfection of awe draws this form of love: This plays on the statement of the Sages “It is the way of the man to pursue the woman.” Metaphorically, love of G-d is referred to a man or male, as the verse states “Zachar Chasdo,” while fear is referred to a female, as the verse states “Veisha Yiras Hashem. [Hence, the Sages are hinting to the fact that the male/love is revealed from above to one who has perfected his fear/female aspect.]
  • Without awe this love cannot be attained: Without preceding the fear, it is not possible to reach this love of Ahava Raba.
  • The reason this love comes from Atzilus: As this love comes from the world of Atzilus in which there is no separateness from G-d, Heaven forbid. [Accordingly, for one to merit this love, he must spiritually reach the state of Atzilus in his service of G-d and be completely nullified to Him.]

  1. The love of Ahavas Olam:
  • The love of Ahavas Olam comes from understanding and contemplation in G-d’s greatness, that He fills all worlds and encompasses all worlds, and that all is like naught before Him like the nullification of one word of speech in the intellectual soul while it is still within one’s thought or desire of the heart.
  • Transforming love of the self and physical pleasures for love of G-d: The above contemplation helps remove one’s lusts and love for worldly matters and transforms it to a lust and passion for G-d. This means that he will not invest his love in any pleasure and enjoyment of the physical or spiritual and rather will only dedicate his love to love G-d. He will not desire at all any matter related to the world except for G-d alone who is the source of life of all the pleasures. All the pleasures of the world are nullified in their existence before G-d and are as if they do not exist at all without there being any comparison between then, just as there’s no comparison between absolute nothingness and eternal life. This is expressed in the verse which states, “Who was with me in the heavens and with you I do not desire on earth, my heart yearns for You.”
  • One who has no worldly loves or passions: Even one who has no lusts and passions invested at all in any physical or spiritual matter can arouse a love and fiery passion for G-d that reaches all the way to the heavens through the above contemplation.

1st Iyar/(LY) 27th Nissan

  1. Preceding loving Hashem to fearing Hashem:
  • At times, the above lower love described as Ahavas Olam precedes fear of G-d. This is dependent on the quality of the contemplation which founded it.
  • Chasadim can descend before Gevuros: Contemplation [of G-d’s greatness], called Daas, incorporates both Chesed and Gevurah [and arouses the feeling of] both love and fear, as Chesed is love while Gevura is fear. Now, at times the Chasadim descend and become revealed prior to the Gevuros.

  1. The love of a Baal Teshuvah:
  • Precedes his fear of G-d: Due to the above ability for love to occasionally precede fear, it is possible for a Rasha, and one who has sinned, to perform repentance through love that is aroused within his heart upon him remembering Hashem his G-d.
  • The revealed love includes fear in a concealed manner: Nonetheless, consequently fear is also included within this love, although it is found in a state of minuteness and concealment, meaning that his fear is limited to simply fearing the sin, as he fears to commit rebellion against Him [and not that there is an actual fear of G-d Himself]. However, [only] the love is found in a conscious state within his heart and mind [while the fear is in his subconscious, and in a state of unawareness].

  1. The proper order to follow is to first arouse fear:
  • Preceding love is not the norm: The above ability to precede love to fear is a rare occurrence that is prescribed only in specific scenarios through Divine providence, [who plants within the penitent sinner thoughts of love to help motivate his repentance].
  • Elazar Ben Durdaya: A case example of this occurred with Rebbe Elazar Ben Durdaya[1] [who lived his entire life as a sinner, visiting every harlot known to man, until he was stricken with an arousal of Teshuvah due to love, and died within his passion and ecstasy of repentance love].
  • The norm-To first arouse fear: However, the normal order to be followed by all people, and that is within the power of each individual to choose, is to first arouse fear, the lower fear, in at least its state of minuteness so he separate himself from evil and perform good through shining his G-dly soul with the light of Torah and Mitzvos. Afterwards he is to shine it with the light of love.
  • Hint in word Veahavta: This is hinted to in the fact that the word “Veahavta” is twice the numerical value of Or, [implying that it includes two lights; first the light that shines to the soul through performing Torah and Mitzvos, and second the light of love].


[1] See Avoda Zara 17a

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