וכח זה ומדה זו, לקשר דעתו בה׳, יש בכל נפש מבית ישראל ביניקתה מנשמת משה רבנו, עליו השלום
This capacity and this quality of attaching one’s Daat to G‑d, so that he not only understands, but also feels G‑dliness and so becomes wholly united with Him, is present in every soul of the House of Israel, by virtue of its nurture (yenikah, lit., “suckling”) from the soul of our teacher Moses, peace unto him.
רק מאחר שנתלבשה הנפש בגוף, צריכה ליגיעה רבה ועצומה, כפולה ומכופלת
Only, since the soul has clothed itself in the body, it needs a great and mighty exertion, doubled and redoubled, in order to feel and be attached to G‑d.
While it is true that the soul has this capacity by dint of its being nurtured from the soul of Moses (for were the soul lacking this capacity, then even the greatest effort would be of no avail, for how can a created being possibly comprehend and feel its Creator? How can a soul enclothed in a body feel and be bound to G‑dliness?), nevertheless, even after possessing this capacity, it requires a prodigious effort to actually comprehend and feel G‑dliness.
האחת היא יגיעת בשר, לבטש את הגוף ולהכניעו, שלא יחשיך על אור הנפש
First is the “exertion of the flesh,” to throw off the bodily shackles, to pound the body, i.e., to weaken its corporeality, and gain its submission, so that it shall not obscure the light of the soul, thus making it possible for one to understand and feel G‑dliness,
כמו שנאמר לעיל בשם הזהר, דגופא דלא סליק ביה נהורא דנשמתא, מבטשין ליה, והיינו על ידי הרהורי תשובה מעומק הלב, כמו שכתוב שם
as has been mentioned above in the name of the Zohar, that “A body into which the light of the soul does not penetrate should be crushed,” this being accomplished by means of penitential reflections from the depths of the heart, as is explained there.
When one has weakened the grossness of the body, so that it hinders no longer, it becomes possible for the “light of the soul” to be manifest. This, then, is one manner of exertion, known as “exertion of the flesh.”
והשנית היא יגיעת הנפש, שלא תכבד עליה העבודה ליגע מחשבתה, להעמיק ולהתבונן בגדולת ה׳ שעה גדולה רצופה
And the second is the exertion of the soul — to reveal the powers of the soul, that the service of exerting one’s thought not be burdensome to it, to delve into and reflect upon the greatness of G‑d for a long and uninterrupted period,
כי שיעור שעה זו אינו שוה בכל נפש
for this measure of time necessary to immerse oneself in a G‑dly concept in order to arouse love or fear of G‑d is not the same for every soul. Some people require more time, others less.
יש נפש זכה בטבעה, שמיד שמתבוננת בגדולת ה׳, יגיע אליה היראה ופחד ה׳
There is the naturally refined soul which, immediately upon considering the greatness of G‑d, attains a fear and dread of Him.
כמו שכתוב בשלחן ערוך אורח חיים סימן א׳: כשיתבונן האדם שהמלך הגדול, מלך מלכי המלכים הקדוש ברוך הוא, אשר מלא כל הארץ כבודו, עומד עליו ורואה במעשיו, מיד יגיע אליו היראה וכו׳
As is written in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, sec. I, that “When a man reflects that the great King — the Supreme King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, with Whose glory the whole world is filled — stands over him and sees his actions, he will immediately be overcome with fear....”
And, as the Shulchan Aruch concludes, “he will be humbled and abashed before G‑d.” This is true of one whose soul is naturally refined; he is “immediately...overcome with fear,” without great effort or time required on his part.
ויש נפש שפלה בטבעה ותולדתה, ממקור חוצבה ממדרגות תחתונות די׳ ספירות דעשיה
Then there is a soul that is of lowly nature and origin, coming from the lower gradations of the Ten Sefirot of Asiyah,
Within the World of Asiyah itself, the lowest of all Worlds, this type of soul comes from the lowest of the Ten Sefirot. It is thus a soul of “lowly nature and origin,” which finds it difficult to conceptualize G‑dly matters.
ולא תוכל למצוא במחשבתה האלקות, כי אם בקושי ובחזקה
and it is unable to discover G‑dliness by contemplation except with difficulty and forceful insistence,
I.e., only by expending a great amount of effort and contemplating G‑dliness for a long stretch of time will it be able to secure a degree of G‑dly illumination, and conceptualize a notion of G‑dliness. Only then will this contemplation penetrate such a person so that he will be fearful of G‑d.
ובפרט אם הוטמאה בחטאת נעורים, שהעוונות מבדילים כו׳ כמו שכתוב בספר חסידים סימן ל״ה
especially if the soul is not only of a lowly nature, but in addition it had been defiled by the “sin of youth,” for one’s sins interpose [between a Jew and G‑d] (as is written in Sefer Chassidim, ch. 35).
ומכל מקום, בקושי ובחזקה, שתתחזק מאד מחשבתו באומץ ויגיעה רבה ועומק גדול, להעמיק בגדולת ה׳ שעה גדולה
Nevertheless, with difficulty and with forceful effort, when his thought greatly exerts itself with vigor and great toil and intense concentration, immersing [itself] in contemplation of the greatness of G‑d for a long time,
The previous Lubavitcher Rebbe of blessed memory once said in a talk that a “long time” means, “an hour today,... an hour tomorrow,” until ultimately the repetitiveness of intense concentration day after day will ensure that no matter how lowly the soul may be,
בודאי תגיע אליו על כל פנים היראה תתאה הנ״ל
there will certainly come to him at least the “lower-level fear” referred to above, i.e., enough to prevent him from doing something which is opposed to G‑d’s Will.
(With regard to the Alter Rebbe’s above assurance that no matter how lowly the soul and notwithstanding its previous sins, still with intense concentration on G‑d’s greatness it will surely attain the lower level of fear, the Rebbe comments: “We also understand from this that even before [attaining] this [level of fear], the person will surely succeed in undoing his separation [from G‑d] that was brought about through his sins; i.e., he will [regret his sins and] repent.”)
וכמו שאמרו רז״ל: יגעתי ומצאתי, תאמין
And, as the Rabbis of blessed memory have said: “[If a man says,] ‘I have labored and I have found,’ believe him.”
The Rebbe explains: One’s labor not only helps a person achieve something commensurate with the amount of labor, similar to payment received for doing a job, but moreover enables him to say, “I have found.” For in the case of a person who finds an object, his find is incomparably greater in value than the labor invested in finding it.
וכדכתיב: אם תבקשנה ככסף, וכמטמונים תחפשנה, אז תבין יראת ה׳
It is also written, with regard to the success one achieves when he labors to attain the fear of G‑d: “If you seek it like money, and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of G‑d.”
פירוש: כדרך שמחפש אדם מטמון ואוצר הטמון בתחתיות הארץ, שחופר אחריו ביגיעה עצומה
This means: In the manner of a person seeking a hidden treasure buried in the depths of the earth, for which he digs with tireless toil, for he knows that it is surely buried there,
כך צריך לחפור ביגיעה עצומה לגלות אוצר של יראת שמים הצפון ומוסתר בבינת הלב של כל אדם מישראל
so must one delve with unflagging energy in order to reveal the treasure of the fear of heaven, which lies buried and concealed in the understanding of the heart of every Jewish individual,
Since this treasure is surely concealed within every Jewish heart, all that needs to be done is to dig it out and seek to reveal it.
שהיא בחינה ומדרגה שלמעלה מהזמן
this “understanding of the heart” being of a quality and level transcending the limitations of time,
Hence it cannot be said that during a particular time this treasure is lacking and unattainable.
והיא היראה הטבעית המסותרת הנ״ל
and this is the natural, hidden fear referred to above.
A question now arises. If this fear is “natural” and is always found within a Jew’s heart, why then is it necessary to take measures involving profound contemplation of G‑d’s greatness in order to attain it? The Alter Rebbe therefore goes on to say, that since this fear is found in the recesses of the heart it does not affect one’s actions and enable him to refrain from sinning. It is thus necessary to take steps that will reveal this fear, and ensure that it will affect one’s actual deeds.
רק שכדי שתבא לידי מעשה בבחינת יראת חטא, להיות סור מרע במעשה דבור ומחשבה, צריך לגלותה ממצפוני בינת הלב שלמעלה מהזמן, להביאה לבחינת מחשבה ממש שבמוח
However, in order that it should be translated into action, in the sense of “fear of sin,” so that one will turn away from evil in deed, word and thought, one needs to bring it to light from the hidden depths of the understanding of the heart where it transcends time, and to place it within the realm of actual thought that is in the brain.
להעמיק בה מחשבתו משך זמן מה ממש, עד שתצא פעולתה מהכח אל הפועל ממש
[This means,] immersing his thought in it for a lengthy period of time until its effect will emerge from the potential into the actual, so that it affects the soul and body of man,
להיות סור מרע ועשה טוב במחשבה דבור ומעשה, מפני ה׳ הצופה ומביט ומאזין ומקשיב ומבין אל כל מעשהו, ובוחן כליותיו ולבו
so that he will turn away from evil and do good in thought, speech and action, because of G‑d who looks and sees, hears and listens, and perceives all his deeds, and searches his “kidneys and heart.”
When a man realizes that G‑d scrutinizes his innermost thoughts, he will surely refrain from sinning, and will seek instead to perform mitzvot.
וכמאמר רז״ל: הסתכל בשלשה דברים כו׳, עין רואה ואוזן שומעת כו׳
As the Rabbis, of blessed memory, said: “Reflect upon three things [and you will not come to sin: Know what is above you] — an Eye that sees, and an Ear that hears....”