Humility is the key to unlocking true greatness, just as the tiny yud holds the secrets of the World to Come within its humble form. * On Tanya for 14 Menachem Av.
In the hidden depths of the Hebrew alphabet lies a profound secret: the tiny letter yud, representing chochmah (wisdom), is not just the smallest of the letters but also the key to understanding the World to Come. Delve with me into the mystical teachings of the Tanya, as we explore the enigmatic connection between the humble yud and the spiritual essence concealed within the physical world.
In the Tanya, the Alter Rebbe enlightens us about the different aspects of the Divine letters of speech and their role in creation. While the spiritual source of Gan Eden (Heaven) is rooted in the letter yud, symbolizing chochmah, the World to Come, the physical world, was created using the letter hey. These letters have both internal and external aspects, representing their "form" and "matter," respectively.
HUMILITY AND SUBTLETY:
The letter yud's humility teaches us a profound spiritual lesson. Like the yud, true greatness often hides in the subtle and concealed aspects of life. Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, in Likutei Moharan (2:78), urges us to embrace humility by saying, "If you look inside yourself, you will find no one to respect." This recognition of our limitations leads us to a deeper connection with the Divine.
ALLUSION TO INFINITY
The yud's diminutive size alludes to the infinite nature of God and the World to Come. Maimonides, in his "Guide for the Perplexed" (1:58), discusses the concept of divine infinity, stating, "God's existence is absolute, and there is no possible doubt about it. His existence is necessary in the truest sense of the word." Chassidic texts, such as Tanya (Part I, ch. 22), describe God's infinite essence, "His greatness is without end, as the verse states: 'Great is our Lord, and abundant in might, there is no limit to His understanding.'" This infinite aspect is reflected in the spiritual realm beyond physical limitations.
PARADOX OF GREATNESS
The yud's paradoxical role as the smallest letter signifying the greatest spiritual realm reflects the profound notion of spiritual greatness in humility. In Pirkei Avot (4:4), it is written, "Who is wise? One who learns from every person. Who is strong? One who overpowers their inclinations. Who is rich? One who is satisfied with their lot. Who is honorable? One who honors others." The Baal Shem Tov, in "Tzava'at Harivash" (1), elaborates on the significance of simple faith and genuine service to God, "One must serve God with happiness and joy...without worry and fear, as if they were truly standing before God Himself." This simplicity leads to the highest form of greatness.
The journey of exploring the humble yud leads us to uncover the spiritual essence concealed within the physical world. As we meditate on the yud's profound symbolism, embracing humility, recognizing the spiritual seed within all of creation, contemplating divine infinity, and embracing the paradox of greatness, we draw closer to the sublime World to Come while traversing this physical realm with awe and purpose. May we embark on a transformative journey of spiritual growth and connection with the Divine, guided by the wisdom of the humble yud.