Tanya’s Heresy V


Moshe Ben-Chaim



Reader: I have and read what you have to write about the Tanya. The question in the column has already been answered - especially after so many people responded with sources etc. I will only add some additional sources: 


1. Jerusalem Talmud (Bikurim 3:3) “G-d in His holy chamber” - and a name of a sage is quoted as a reference for this passage.  

2. Medrash Rabbah (Bereishis chap. 99) “listen to your father Yaakov (E-l Yisroel avichem), the same way that G-d creates worlds, the same way your father Yaakov is creating worlds.”


I really think that if you would really live to your word that you officially stand for “Mesora” - I am obligated according to the Mesora (tradition) of our Torah to tell you what you are really revealing about yourself.  A sefer (the Tanya) that has been compiled and written for 20 years (!) by a Great Tzaddik and Gaon in the revealed part of the Torah (compiling a Shulchan Aruch) and a luminary in the hidden parts of the Torah, and amongst his books stands, first and foremost the “Holy Tanya”. Parts of the Tanya are also found in Reb Chaim Volozin’s books, and have in the course of seven generations had hundreds of books commenting and explaining the insights of the Tanya, including a lengthy commentary from the Rebbe the Tzemach Tzedek, a popular posek (judge) in his time. The (same) Tzemach Tzedek has once commented on the Baal Hatanya: “Our thoughts in comparison to his, is considered null in comparison to Kodshei kodeshim” (Responses Tzemach Tzedek - Yoreh Deah 63 chapt. 8) and yet, none of the G’dolei Yisroel in 7 generations has found any problem with the beginning of Perek 2 in Tanya.

In addition:  Who in their clear mind would ever consider to label a “Sefer Kodosh” that has in 7 generations strengthened the belief and love and fear of Hashem in thousands of Jews with the label that you are referring to? I can only say and since the Talmud (Bava Metzia 83b) says it, so it is then lesson for all - “when one conducts himself in a very disrespectful way (chutzpa)…this clearly indicates that the person is an evil person.

The Rambam who is the tradition we follow writes Hilchos Teshuva 3:14: “One that puts shame on a Talmid Chachom (learned man) does not have a share in the world to come.”


Umsayimin b’Tov,


Rabbi Michoel



Mesora: Your first two quotes are incomprehensible; I have no idea what you are writing or trying to communicate.


Unfortunately, you follow the pattern of all others complaining about our critique of the Tanya, offering no rational explanation for your position:


1) You offer no explanation for “Umah Chelek Elokim M’maal”, “...and what portion shall I have with God above [if I sin]?” Quoted from the book of Job, this refers to man’s inheritance of God’s ultimate good for mankind...not that God has “chalekim” (parts). Rambam states in his Yesodei HaTorah and in his Ikarim (13 Fundamentals), “God has no parts”, thus, He cannot “partition” Himself into pieces and give every man a piece...what you think is man’s soul.


2) You disagree with our “Elohay Nishama” prayer in our Siddur (prayer book) which states, “My God, the soul...that You created.” It does not say as you falsely suggest, that God “partitioned pieces of Himself”. It says God “created” the human soul. Just as creation in Genesis refers to matter from nothingness, God also created man’s soul from nothingness, and not from Himself. To suggest God has parts is heretical.


3) God tells Moshe (Exod. 33:20) “Ki lo yirani h’adam v’Chai”, “For man cannot know me while alive.” You violate these words of God, as you feel you CAN know God - enough to make such a statement that he partitions Himself.


4) You do not explain Isaiah’s statement, “To what shall your equate Me that I should be similar?” so says G-d.” (Isaiah, 40:25) If God says we cannot equate anything to Him, this includes the phenomenon of division; we cannot say God may be subject to division of His essence, and give man a ‘piece’ of Himself.


We know nothing about God. God told this to Moses. Moses, the greatest prophet, knew nothing positive about God. Get this idea clear. Yet you claim you know how God created man, that He took a piece of Himself, and placed it into man?! You think God “breathed” life into man in a literal sense…you think that God breathes? Do you feel as others who critique our position - that of Rambam - that just as a breath is where one takes something in himself and transfers it externally, God too transferred “part” of himself into man?! Is this how we are to understand Genesis when God “breathed” into man a soul? Or, shall we follow Rambam’s intelligent approach of applying metaphors when necessary? His son Abraham and the Rabbis all concur that God uses metaphor to teach man. Rambam writes in his introduction to the Guide: “My primary object in this work is to explain certain words occurring in the prophetic books. Of these some are homonyms, and of their several meanings the ignorant choose the wrong ones; other terms which are employed in a figurative sense are erroneously taken by such persons in their primary signification.” Rambam continues: “I have also spoken in similes by the Prophets” (Hosea xii. 10): and also the verse, “Put forth a riddle and speak a parable"”(Ezek. xvii. 2). And because the Prophets continually employ figures, Ezekiel said, “Does He not speak parables?” (xxi. 5). Again, Solomon begins his book of Proverbs with the words, “To understand a proverb and figurative speech, the words of the wise and their dark sayings” (Prov. i. 6)


Now, as you quoted Rambam, why do you not quote his 13 Principles and his Fundamentals where he denounces that God has parts? You seem to pick and choose that which can aid your defense of Tanya, and ignore reason and other quotes from God, Rambam and Isaiah that expose your view as heretical.


Your greatest crime, and the crime of others that have written us sharing your opinion, is the collective absence of any intelligent argument. The reason for this absence is the same reason why in darkness, there cannot exist light: in both cases, one assumes the ‘impossible’. Just as darkness means “the absence of light”, by definition, so too, God means the absence of any physical phenomenon, by definition. God is not subject to “division”. Get it clear: “For man cannot know Me while alive.” Listen to God’s words, not those written by man in a book if reason is thereby contradicted. God says you cannot know Him. So cease from making statements about God; about He who is unknowable.


We learn (Ethics, 5:17) that the arguments of Hillel and Shammai were “for the sake of heaven, and will be sustained.” Meaning, arguments with the objective of arriving at truth are praiseworthy, and are proper to engage in. I am satisfied that I follow in their footsteps with my arguments on Tanya.


However, you call me evil, and claim I have no share in the world to come. Do you apply this critique to Rambam too? I ask you, “Who is defaming a Talmid Chocham today; you or I?” Real evil is spreading falsehood, and misleading others, especially when you have no reasoning at all behind your words. It matters none that these words are found in print.


The real ‘good’ is exposing falsehood, and showing through reason what must be true; what must be false, what God teaches, and what the Prophets taught.


God created the world with intelligence of the highest magnitude. It continues to function by intelligent laws. Your words are bereft of reason, and therefore, cannot be describing God’s world, but your own imagination.