Here's a great tip:
Enter your email address and we'll send you our weekly magazine by email with fresh, exciting and thoughtful content that will enrich your inbox and your life, week after week. And it's free.
Oh, and don't forget to like our facebook page too!
Printed from
All Departments
Jewish Holidays
Jewish.TV - Video
Jewish Audio
Kabbalah Online
Kids Zone
Contact Us
Visit us on Facebook
Thursday, 24 Nissan 5774 / April 24, 2014



Likutei Amarim, middle of Chapter 42

Show content in:

Likutei Amarim, middle of Chapter 42

In describing earlier the fear a Jew should possess for G‑d, the Alter Rebbe said that it should be similar to the fear felt “when one stands before a king,” for G‑d is omnipresent and observes all man’s actions.

A question arises: When one stands before a king, he is not only being seen by the king, but he is also looking at him, and this helps him to stand in fear of him. In the analogue, however, this is not the case: though G‑d, the King, sees him, he fails to see G‑d.

The Alter Rebbe will now respond to this question by saying that there is yet another means by which an individual may awaken within himself the fear of G‑d — by being able to “see” the King. For by observing heaven and earth and all the created beings that people them, and realizing that they all derive their life from G‑d, he will have fear of Him.

ועוד זאת יזכור כי כמו שבמלך בשר ודם, עיקר היראה היא מפנימיותו וחיותו ולא מגופו, שהרי כשישן אין שום יראה ממנו

In addition to this, one should remember that, as in the case of a mortal king, the fear of him relates mainly to his inner essence and vitality and not to his body — for when he is asleep, though his body does not change, there is no fear of him,

This is because while he sleeps his inner essence and vitality are in a state of concealment. Clearly, then, they are the main reason for fearing a king while he is awake.

והנה פנימיותו וחיותו אין נראה לעיני בשר, רק בעיני השכל

and, surely, his inner essence and vitality are not perceived by physical eyes, but only by the mind’s eye,

על ידי ראיית עיני בשר בגופו ולבושיו, שיודע שחיותו מלובש בתוכם

through the physical eyes‘ beholding his body and garments, and knowing that his vitality is clothed in them.

This in turn leads the beholder to fear him.

ואם כן

And if this is so, then surely in the analogue as well, not only is the king seeing him, but he is seeing the king as well, and this causes him to fear G‑d. Moreover,

ככה ממש יש לו לירא את ה׳ על ידי ראיית עיני בשר בשמים וארץ וכל צבאם, אשר אור אין סוף ברוך הוא מלובש בהם להחיותם

he must truly likewise fear G‑d when gazing with his physical eyes at the heavens and earth and all their hosts, wherein is clothed the [infinite] light of the blessed Ein Sof that animates them.*



The Alter Rebbe will now say that by looking at heaven and earth one not only becomes aware of their G‑dly vitalizing force, but also perceives how the world and all its inhabitants are truly nullified to the divine life-force. This can be perceived by observing the stars and planets, all of which travel in a westerly direction. In doing so they express their nullification to the Shechinah, the Divine Presence, which is in the west.

וגם נראה בראיית העין שהם בטלים לאורו יתברך בהשתחוואתם כל יום כלפי מערב בשקיעתם, כמאמר רז״ל על פסוק: וצבא השמים לך משתחוים, שהשכינה במערב

And it is also seen with a glance of the eye that they are nullified to His blessed light, by the fact that they “prostrate” themselves every day towards the west at the time of their setting. As the Rabbis, of blessed memory, commented on the verse:1 “...and the hosts of the heavens bow before You,” that the Shechinah abides in the west,

ונמצא הילוכם כל היום כלפי מערב הוא דרך השתחוואה וביטול

Hence, not only do the heavenly hosts show their self-abnegation when they set in the west, but their daily orbit westwards is a kind of prostration and self-nullification.

We find it written that if the sun, moon and planets were to follow their natural characteristics they would travel in an easterly, rather than in a westerly direction. That they do not do so testifies to their constant self-nullification to the Divine Presence which is found in the west. For the four points of the compass are rooted in the Supernal Sefirot, and Malchut — the level of the Shechinah — is in the west. Thus, even man’s eye observes the self-nullification of creation to the divine life-force.

והנה גם מי שלא ראה את המלך מעולם ואינו מכירו כלל, אף על פי כן, כשנכנס לחצר המלך

Even he who has never seen the king and does not recognize him at all, nevertheless, when he enters the royal court,

“There the king is not revealed at all: it is not the place of his royal throne and the like. (In the analogue this refers to the physical world, in which various proofs are necessary in order to bring about self-nullification to the King.)” — Note of the Rebbe.

ורואה שרים רבים ונכבדים משתחוים לאיש אחד

and sees many honorable princes prostrating themselves before one man,

“The person who enters and looks superficially is unable to detect a difference between him and the other men present.” — Note of the Rebbe.

תפול עליו אימה ופחד

there falls on him a dread and awe.

So, too, the self-nullification before G‑d shown by the awesome creatures, such as the heavenly bodies, enables one to be in fear and awe of Him.


However, the question may be asked: When one gazes at the body of a physical king, he sees before him beyond a shadow of a doubt the king himself. He therefore can extrapolate intellectually about the inner essence and vitality of the king and come to fear him. This is not so, however, with regard to physical creatures. The divine life-force is so concealed within them through so many garbs of concealment, that it is quite possible for one to gaze at them and fail to be aware that their bodies are but garments to the divine life-force they contain.

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to say, that it is therefore important for a person who observes physical created beings to cultivate the habit of immediately recalling that within the concealment of their external trappings and garments, there is to be found the G‑dliness that animates them. By doing so, one is then able to perceive the divine life-force found within the world.

ואף שהוא על ידי התלבשות בלבושים רבים

And although many garments are involved in this vestiture, so that when one gazes at created beings, one does not perceive that they are but garments to their divine life-force,

הרי אין הבדל והפרש כלל ביראת מלך בשר ודם, בין שהוא ערום, ובין שהוא לבוש לבוש אחד, ובין שהוא לבוש בלבושים רבים

there is no difference or distinction at all in the fear of a mortal king, whether he be naked,2 or clothed in one or many garments.

It is the realization that the king is found within the garments that creates the fear of him. And the same, the Alter Rebbe will conclude, is true here. When a person becomes accustomed to remember that when he gazes upon created beings he is in reality gazing upon the King’s garments, he will then come to fear Him.

אלא העיקר הוא ההרגל, להרגיל דעתו ומחשבתו תמיד, להיות קבוע בלבו ומוחו תמיד, אשר כל מה שרואה בעיניו, השמים והארץ ומלואה, הכל הם לבושים החיצונים של המלך הקב״ה

The essential thing, however, is the training to habituate one’s mind and thought continuously, so that it always remain imprinted in his heart and mind, that everything one sees with his eyes — the heavens and earth and all they contain — constitutes the outer garments of the king, the Holy One, blessed be He.

ועל ידי זה יזכור תמיד על פנימיותם וחיותם

In this way he will constantly remember their inwardness and vitality, which is G‑dliness. This will create within him a fear of G‑d.

The Rebbe explains that what now follows answers a question: How can we possibly say here that the nullification of the world to G‑d is a concept that can be perceived intellectually, when in ch. 33 the Alter Rebbe explained that this was a matter of faith? In this chapter too, we have learned that it is a matter of faith — “that all Jews are believers, descendants of believers,” and so on. Faith and intellect are not only distinct entities, they are antithetical; for example, when something is understood, faith is not necessary.

The Alter Rebbe therefore now goes on to explain that this intellectual perception is also implicit in the word emunah (“faith”). For this word is etymologically rooted in the word uman (“artisan”). In order for an artisan with a talent for painting, creating vessels, or whatever, to be successful, he must habituate and train his hands; only then will they reveal the latent talents of the artistry found in his soul.

The same is true here: The soul of every Jew possesses the abovementioned faith. However, in order for this faith to be actualized, so that one’s actions will be in consonance with it, one must habituate and train himself to realize that all he sees — heaven and earth and all of creation — are but G‑d’s external garments. By constantly remembering that their inwardness is G‑dliness, the soul’s essential faith will be revealed and will affect one’s actions. His bodily organs will then follow the dictates of his faith.

וזה נכלל גם כן בלשון אמונה, שהוא לשון רגילות, שמרגיל האדם את עצמו, כמו אומן שמאמן ידיו וכו׳

This is also implicit in the word emunah (“faith”), which is a term indicating “training” to which a person habituates himself, like a craftsman who trains his hands, and so forth.

The Rebbe notes that “who trains his hands” means: “He is cognizant of the craft in his soul; he has a natural talent for it, but needs only to train his hands, so that it will find tangible expression in his actions (be it through art, or fashioning vessels, or the like).”

Thus, the analogue contains both aspects: The king sees the individual, and he sees the king, as it were, by looking at created beings and perceiving through them the divine life-force that vitalizes them.

* * *

1. Bava Batra 25a.
2. The Rebbe notes: “Cf. Mishnah, Sanhedrin, end of ch. 2.”

Translated from Yiddish by Rabbi Levy Wineberg and Rabbi Sholom B. Wineberg. Edited by Uri Kaploun.
Published and copyright by Kehot Publication Society, all rights reserved.
לעילוי נשמת הרה"ח הרה"ת
ר' יוסף ב"ר זאב הלוי ע"ה וויינבערג
Daily Quote
There are three places regarding which the nations cannot accuse Israel and say, "You have stolen them": the cave of Machpeilah, as it is written: "And Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver" (Genesis 23:16); the Temple Mount, as it is written, "So David gave to Ornan for the place six hundred shekels of gold" (I Chronicles 21:25); and Joseph's tomb -- "And [Jacob] bought the parcel of land for a hundred pieces of silver" (Genesis 33:19)
  –Midrash Rabbah, Bereishit 33:19
This page in other languages