Apter Piece on Partzuf

Reb Zalman sends a translation of a teaching by the Apter Rebbe, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel of Apt in which the Apter says it so nicely about why theologians have trouble with prayer and something for the radical monists that don’t want to agree that anybody else is listening.  In order for there to be itaruta d’l’eyla and itaruta d’l’tata (stirring from above and stirring from below), you need to believe that someone is listening.  As the Apter says, there’s a kindness of Hashem to allow us to create something like an interface.  Hashem decides to be a Partzuf relating to us.  (Hebrew text included below. Translation edited by Gabbai Seth).

Our master, Rabbi  Tzvi of Zydichov, writes in his book Ateret Tzvi on the portion of Achrey as follows:

As I have heard from my holy master, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel of Apt, (may God grant him long life and years in goodness and serenity):

“The interpretation of the sentence:

‘And now, Israel! מה / Mah / what does the Lord your God ask of you?’

And he said, explaining the secret meaning:

‘Know מה / Mah / what is above is from you!’

[NOTE: מה / Mah = 45 = adam / אדם]

“The meaning of this is as follows:

“For it is said:

‘And on the likeness of the throne was a likeness like the appearance of adam / a man upon it above.’

“Behold, in truth, it is also said:

‘”To whom will you compare Me such that I should be like this one,” says the Holy one.’

‘And what ascription can you project on Him?’

“However, from our side of the service of the heart, this is true:  We can ascribe to our Creator a likeness. We are, as it were, shaping Him (may He be blessed and may His name be blessed), assigning the ascriptions in a likeness of a human being in a manner of an analog.

“When a person offers an act of kindness to another person, through this, he makes and establishes a right hand for the Holy One blessed be He and his Divine presence. And so, too, when a person is involved in waging a battle for God, rejecting evil, he establishes a left arm, (as it were), for the Creator of all worlds.

“And for these ways and other similar ones, the sages, in the Midrash Shochar Tov said,  ‘You have given Me ears’ – the divine ears have only been installed for me, just to absorb my prayer. Go forth and study the literature of the devout, the holy Zohar and the two Idrot are based and founded on this and so too is the wisdom of Solomon in the Song of Songs.

“And this is the secret the rabbis z’l hinted: ‘Know Mah / that which is above you – [it is] from you – Mah in gematria is 45 which is also Adam / human – i.e. that which is above over the throne is ‘from you’!

“Thus it is necessary – i.e., that for the fulfillment of the Torah and her mitzvot, we must, so to speak, make a shape for the Creator who is totally abstract and beyond shape, as it is written:

‘For You have seen no shape.’

“And we are making Him and comparing Him to be in the shape of a person, as it is said:

‘And the visage of YaH he will see, the hand of YaH, the ear of YaH,’

“And similarly, all aspects of humanity are also ascribed to Him although He is not human and totally abstract of all substance and shapings of human thought, unknowing and unknown, blessed be He and the name be blessed for evermore in eternity.

“And so:

‘It is personhood which Yah your God requires of you in secrets of the service and fulfilling of the Torah and the commandments’ — through this phrase (Mah), it is as though the Creator, so to speak, is described as an Adam / a person= 45 = Mah.

Up to here are the words of our master and teacher, may the lips that spoke these words be kissed.

בעט”צבי לרבינוּ צבי מזידיטשוֹב בפ’ אחרי וז”ל “וכאשר שמעתי ממוֹרי הקדוֹש מוּהרא”י העשל אבד”ק אפט יאריך ה’ ימיו וּשנוֹתיו בטוֹב וּבנחת פירוּש הפסוּק ”ועתה ישראל! מה ה’ אלוֹקיך שוֹאל מעמך” – ואמר בסוֹד מאמרם: ‘דע מ”ה למעלה ממך; הרצוֹן בזה: כי נאמר “ועל דמוּת הכסא דמוּת כמראה אדם עליו מלמעלה.” – והנה באמת נאמר “אל מי תדמיוּני ואשווה אמר קדוֹש וּמה דמוּת תערכוּ לוֹ?” אבל זה מצדנוּ בעבוֹדה בלב אמת לדמוֹת לבוֹראנוּ, אנוּ עשים כביכוֹל אוֹתוֹ ב”ה וּב”ש דמוּת אדם דרך משל; אם אדם גוֹמל חסד עוֹשה וּמתקן יד ימין להקב”ה וּשכינתיה. וכן כשלוֹחם מלחמוֹת ה’ לדחוֹת הרע מתקן יד שמאל לבוֹרא כל עלמין, וּכדוֹמה לזה אמרוּ ז”ל במדרש שוֹחר טוֹב ” אוֹזנים כרית לי”, אין אוֹזנים שלמעלה כרוּיוֹת אלא בשבילי, לשמוֹע תפילתי. צא וּלמד מספרי יראים והזוֹה”ק וּשני האדרוֹת, ע”ז בנוּים וּמיוּסדים וחכמת שלמה בשיר השירים. וזה הסוֹד רמזוּ ז”ל: דע מה למעלה – ממך , מ”ה בגימ’ אד”ם – היינוּ שלמעלה על הכסא הוּא ‘ממך’!. כן צריך להיוֹת ע”י קיוּם התוֹרה ומצווֹתיה אנוּ עוֹשים כביכוֹל להבוֹרא אשר הוּא מוּפשט מכל רעיוֹן וּתמוּנה כאמוּר “כי לא ראיתם כל תמוּנה,” ואנוּ עוֹשין אוֹתוֹ וּמדמין להיוֹת תמוּנת אדם כאמוּר, וּתמוּנת ה’ יביט, ידי ה; אזני ה’ וכן כל תוֹארי אדם, הגם כי לא אדם הוּא וּמוּפשט מכל חוֹמר וצוּרת רעיוֹן אדם; לא ידע ולא אתידע ב”ה וּב”ש לעלם וּלעוֹלמי עלמין. וכן מ”ה ה’ אלוֹקיך [עד”ז שהבוֹרא כביכוֹל מתוּאר בתמוּנת אד”ם] שוֹאל מעמך בסוֹד עבוֹדה וקיוּם התוֹרה והמצווה. עכ”ל אדמוֹ”ר וּשפתים יוּשק עכ”ל.

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