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Tanya for Shabbos, 12 Tamuz, 5780 - July 4, 2020

As Divided for a Regular Year

Tanya for 12 Tamuz

11 Tamuz, 5780 - July 3, 202013 Tamuz, 5780 - July 5, 2020

Nevertheless, [though it has just been stated that in contemporary generations when excessive fasting causes illness and pain, the fasts of penance should be substituted by charity], every man of spirit who desires to be close to G-d, to amend his nefesh [9] (his soul), to restore it to G-d with the finest and most preferred repentance, should be stringent with himself.

He should complete, at least once during his lifetime, the number of fasts for every grave sin incurring death at least, if only death by divine agency.

For example, for wasteful emission [he should undergo the series of] eight-four fasts once in his life.

He may postpone the fasts until the short winter days and fast some ten days or less, for example, in one winter, and complete the series of eighty-four in nine or more years, according to his stamina.

[10] (Besides, he may also eat a little about three hours before sunrise, and this would still be considered a fast, if he so stipulated.)

For the completion of the above-mentioned 252 fasts - [three times eighty-four, this being the accepted arbitration in the above difference of opinion, so that one undertakes three times the number of fasts prescribed for this specific sin, even if it was committed many times] - he may fast another four times eighty-four only until past noon; this, too, the Talmud Yerushalmi [11] considers a fast. In this context, moreover, two half-days are reckoned as one full day.

This approach applies to other, similar sins as well, for each heart knows its own anguish and desires its vindication. [And this vindication is enhanced by fasting.

Until now the Alter Rebbe addressed himself to those sins which at least incur death by divine agency. The Alter Rebbe now goes on to say that this approach also applies to sins which do not incur such a harsh penalty but are similarly grave "" simi lar sins'" such as those which are actually comparable to idolatry, murder, and so on, as mentioned in ch. 7 below. Concerning these sins as well, the Alter Rebbe is saying here, one should be stringent and undertake the required number of fast s at least once in his lifetime].

However, there still remain the fasts in excess of [for example] the 252, [i.e., whatever number exceeds three times the prescribed number of fasts for any particular sin], that one ought to fast in deference to the more stringent opinion insisting on the appropriate number of fasts for every violation committed, as noted above.

He may redeem them all by charity to the value of eighteen "gedolim Polish" for each fast-day.

So, too, [charity may redeem] all other fasts that he should have undergone for sins not entailing death, and even for neglecting a positive command, whether explicit in the Torah or Rabbinically ordained, and for [neglect of the positive command of] [12] "Torah study, which is equivalent to them all," according to the number of fasts prescribed by the penances of the AriZal.

[13] (Most of these are noted in Mishnat Chassidim, Tractate Teshuvah.)

All of these fasts, then, he may redeem as explained above, if he cannot mortify himself.

Though this might amount to a very considerable sum, he need not fear violating the injunction that [14] "one should not extravagantly distribute more than one fifth [of one's property to charity]," for this kind of giving cannot be termed "extravagant distribution," since he does it to redeem himself from fasting and affliction.

This is no less necessary than healing his body or his other needs, [in which one does not restrict one's spending to a fifth of his means].

Since the number of fasts enumerated in the above-mentioned penances of the AriZal is exceedingly great, all who revere the word of G-d are now accustomed to being unstintingly generous with charity, [which is given in place of fasting], for the prevalent lack of stamina prevents them from mortifying themselves to this extent.

[15] (A comment is made elsewhere on this subject on the words, [16] "The kindnesses of G-d, for they are not concluded.")

[The last three Hebrew words, here translated "for they are not concluded," may also be interpreted to mean "for we are not perfect."

Accordingly, in Epistle 10 of Iggeret HaKodesh, the Alter Rebbe explains the verse thus: Since "we are not perfect," burdened as we are by sins that plead for rectification, we are in need of G-d's infinite kindness and charity.

And in order to elicit kindness and pardon of an infinite order, man for his part must exceed the conventional, finite bounds of charity.



  1. (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita: "In this and all similar contexts, the term specifically used is nefesh [as distinct from the other four terms for the various levels of the soul] possibly in view of the statement in the Zohar III (24b) and Sefer HaGilgulim, et al., that `it is specifically the level of nefesh that sins."

  2. (Back to text) Parentheses are in the original text.

  3. (Back to text) Nedarim 8:1.

  4. (Back to text) Peah 1:1.

  5. (Back to text) Parentheses are in the original text.

  6. (Back to text) Ketubbot 50a.

  7. (Back to text) Parentheses are in the original text.

  8. (Back to text) Eichah 3:22.

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