Differing with Tanya II


Moshe Ben-Chaim



Jack: Out of all the replies I am sure you have received, have you received any replies on the Tanya subject that were any kind of explanation, that made any rational or logical sense?





Moshe Ben-Chaim: No one had any rational explanation for Tanya. Had they, I would have reprinted it. But there cannot be any rational explanation for that which violates reality.



Jack: My take on the section in question is that the author, at least the author of the notes, takes great effort to ensure that you take the words literally. In fact he explains a case in which one would surely understand words allegorically and then states that this is not the case with the words in question. He states that they are to be taken literally:


“The second, uniquely Jewish soul is truly part of G-d above.”

“A part of G-d above” is a quotation from Scripture (Job, 31:2). The Alter Rebbe adds the word “truly” to stress the literal meaning of these words. For, as is known, some verses employ hyperbolic language. For example, the verse describing “great and fortified cities reaching into the heavens” is clearly meant to be taken figuratively, not literally. In order that we should not interpret the phrase “ a part of G-d above” in a similar manner, the Alter Rebbe adds the word “truly”, thus emphasizing that the Jewish soul is quite literally a part of G-d above.” (Lessons In Tanya,” published by “Kehot” [mainstream Lubavitcher Press] with a “Preface” by the Rebbe.)


 Thus, the question arises: if one takes the words literally, must one believe that the Creator is composed of parts and therefore God is not incorporeal?


Am I wrong?


Shalom, Jack


Moshe Ben-Chaim: You are correct, and what that writer wishes to say is that “God possesses parts”, and he says as you pointed out that these words are to be taken “quite literally.” However, as Maimonides explains, such an idea is heresy, and against all reason.