Faith Leads To Happiness

The following is a translation of a letter from Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of the Chabad Chassidic movement, to his followers regarding true and pure faith in God. The letter is printed in Igeret HaKodesh of Tanya, Chapter 11.

To enlighten you with understanding that this is not the way in which the light of Hashem dwells, i.e. in there being a desire for the “life of flesh,” children or sustenance, for regarding this our sages of blessed memory have stated: “nullify your will…”  In other words, one’s will should be utterly nullified, and he should have no will whatsoever for any worldly matters which are included in children, life, and sustenance, and as our sages of blessed memory have stated, “your life is an imposition upon you.”

The explanation of the matter is that it is only a true faith in the Yotzer Bereishit; that is, that the creation of being ex-nihilo (Yesh MeAyin) which is called Reshit Chochmah, i.e. His wisdom which is not graspable by any creature – this creation occurs constantly at every moment, i.e. He brings all creatures into existence in a manner of Yesh MeAyin – something from nothing from his blessed wisdom which animates everything.

And when man will contemplate in the depths of his understanding and imagine in his mind his coming into existence in a manner of something from nothing, literally at every moment, how can it arise in his mind to think that it is bad for him, or that he has any afflictions relating to children, life and sustenance, or any other worldly afflictions?  For, the Ayin – nothingness which is His blessed wisdom is the source of life, goodness and delight.  It is the Eden which transcends the world to come, except that, because it is not graspable it appears to him as sufferings or afflictions.  In truth, however, no evil descends from above and everything is good, though this is not graspable because of its immense and abundant goodness.

This then is the essence of the faith for which man was created, i.e. to believe that “There is no place void of Him” and “In the light of the King’s countenance there is life,” and therefore, “Strength and gladness are in His place,” since He is but good all the time.  Therefore, first of all, a person should be happy and joyous at all times and literally live by his faith in God who enlivens him and constantly bestows goodness upon him at every moment.

But he who is sad and grieves demonstrates that he has it somewhat bad and suffers, and is lacking some goodness.  This is like a heretic, Heaven forbid, and this is why the Kabbalists strongly distanced themselves from the trait of sadness.

The faithful, however, do not feel any affliction in the world, and with respect to all worldly matters “yes” and “no” are equal to him with a true equality. But he to whom they are not equal shows himself to be of the Erev Rav who act out of selfish motives, and he loves himself to the extent of removing himself from under the hand of Hashem to live a life of idolatry out of self worship.  He therefore desires the life of flesh and children and sustenance since it is good for him, but it would have been better had he not been created.

For the primary purpose in the creation of man in this world is in order to test him with these trials to determine what is in his heart, whether he will turn his heart towards foreign gods which are the bodily lusts which descend from the side of evil, and desires these, or whether his desire and wish is to live a life of truth which descends from the living God.  He should believe that he truly lives in this way, and that all of his needs and everything related to himself truly descend not from the side of evil but “From Hashem the footsteps of man are established” and “there is not a word etc.”  This being the case, everything is absolutely good, except that it is not grasped.

By truly believing this, everything becomes good even in a revealed manner.  For by such faith, that one believes that something which appears to be bad derives its entire life force from the Supernal Goodness which is His blessed wisdom which is ungraspable, and is the Eden which transcends the world to come, through this faith the imagined evil is truly absorbed and uplifted in the concealed Supreme Good.

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