The Alter Rebbe will now state that beyond the above-discussed superior quality of mitzvot requiring action (as well as the study of their laws), they are also essentially superior to the source of the soul, by virtue of their source.
Thus, the love and awe experienced by the soul, though spiritual in nature, pale in comparison to these mitzvot (even though they are performed with physical entities), not only because these mitzvot and the extraction of the sparks accomplished thereby are the ultimate purpose of creation, but in essence too they are superior to the source of the soul.
שבאמת הבירורין שבבריאה יצירה עשיה מרפ״ח, על ידי תורה ומצות, במחשבה דבור ומעשה
For the truth is that the purifications in Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah of the 288 [sparks of Tohu] by means of the Torah and mitzvot that man fulfills in thought, speech and deed,
גבוהין בשרשן מנפש רוח נשמה שבאדם
are superior in their source to the Nefesh-Ruach-Neshamah of man that possess the love and fear of G‑d.
כי הן מס״ג שבפנימיות אדם קדמון
For they derive from the Divine Name Sa’g of the internal aspect of Adam Kadmon,
ונפש רוח נשמה שכבר נתקנו על ידי מ״ה הוא יוצא מהמצח, הארה בעלמא
while the Nefesh-Ruach-Neshamah that has already been corrected through the Divine Name Ma’h issues (i.e., this Name issues) from the “forehead” [of Adam Kadmon], being a mere reflection [of it], but not of its essence.
The Divine Names Sa’g and Ma’h are two of the four Names that echo the varying numerical values which result when the names of the four letters that comprise the Name Havayah are spelled out in any of four different ways. For example, one possible spelling entails the repeated use of the letter vav, while another possible spelling entails the repeated use of the letter alef.
When the Hebrew names of the four letters yud and hei and vav and hei are written out with the full complement (milui) of the letter vav, the numerical equivalent of the letters used totals 63 (hence the Divine Name ס״ג). When it is written with the full complement of the letter alef, the numerical equivalent of the letters used totals 45 (hence the Divine Name מ״ה).
The Kabbalah explains how the Name Sa’g is related to the World of Tohu, while the Name Ma’h is related to the World of Tikkun, which is inferior to it.
The Alter Rebbe is thus stating here that the purifications of the action-related mitzvot find their source in the Divine Name Sa’g that derives from the internal aspect of Adam Kadmon, the primal Divine thought of creation that encompasses all subsequent stages and levels of creation.
By contrast, since the souls of Jews derive from the World of Tikkun (lit., “correction”), the Nefesh or Ruach or Neshamah is of a level at which it was already corrected by means of the Divine Name Ma’h. And this Name is but a glimmer that derives from the “forehead” of Adam Kadmon.
וזהו שכתוב: לפני מלך מלך כו׳
Hence it is written, “...before a king ruled [over the Children of Israel].”
The verse reads thus: “These are the kings who ruled in the land of Edom before a king ruled over the Children of Israel.” The Kabbalah understands these “kings” as a reference to the Sefirot in the World of Tohu who reigned before (i.e., on a superior level to) “a king who ruled over the Jews,” i.e., the World of Tikkun, which is the source of their souls. For the World of Tikkun is merely a glimmer of Adam Kadmon, while Tohu (from whence derive the exiled sparks and their purification) stems from the Divine Name Sa’g, which is rooted in the internal level of Adam Kadmon.
והאי טעמא שהאדם חי במזונות דומם צומח חי, ומבררן במ״ה שבו
For this reason man is sustained by food of the inorganic, vegetative, and living classes, and purifies them by the Ma’h within him,
Since the soul derives from the World of Tikkun and incorporates the Divine Name Ma’h, it is thereby able to extract and purify the sparks found within the inorganic, vegetative and living classes.
and lives through them,
Having refined these sparks that are found within the inorganic, vegetative, and living classes, and having drawn Divine energy upon them from their lofty source in Tohu, man in turn is then invigorated by them with an additional measure of spiritual vitality.
לפי שהם מס״ג
because they derive from Sa’g.
But is it not paradoxical that man, who is so far superior to the inorganic, vegetative and living classes, should derive his sustenance from them?
The teachings of Chassidut find the answer in the verse, “Not on bread alone does a man live, but on all that comes forth from G‑d’s mouth does a man live.” It is not the physical, vegetative bread alone that sustains man, but the creative Divine utterance that is found within the bread.
However, since man is provided with his ongoing existence by his own creative Divine utterance, viz., “Let us make man,” why does he need to be sustained by the creative word that sustains vegetative growth (or, for that matter, the inorganic and living classes of existence)?
The answer lies in the fact that the creative utterance that animates bread derives from a loftier source (the World of Tohu) than the source of the creative utterance that animates man (the World of Tikkun). In terms of the Divine Names, Sa’g transcends Ma’h.
Another point in which the mitzvot requiring action are superior to the love and awe experienced by the soul:
The Alter Rebbe will now explain that since love and fear are essentially spiritual in nature, they resemble the mere glimmer (and not the essence) of the master’s own intellectual illumination that he imparts to his disciple. In contrast, a physical seminal drop is capable of creating a child — it imparts the entire essence. So much so, in fact, that it is possible for the “power of the child to outshine the power of his father,” so that gifts dormant within the father can become manifest in the child.
The Alter Rebbe will now use this analogy to explain the difference between love and awe, which are spiritual, and the action-related mitzvot, which are physical. Love and awe are “illuminations” (orot), like the illumination of intellect, while the practical mitzvot are “vessels” (kelim) that give forth the essence, similar to the physical drop that gives forth the entire essence of its source.
שהרי הדבור מדברי חכמה עילאה אינו מוליד
For verbalizing any phrase of the Supreme Wisdom does not procreate — imparting wisdom does not create any being ex nihilo,
והטפה שנמשכה מהכלי דחכמה עילאה, יש בה כח המוליד ומהווה יש מאין
whereas the drop drawn from the vessel of the Supreme Wisdom, like the drop that derives from the father’s brain, has the power to procreate and bring about existence ex nihilo.
וגם המשכת חכמה עילאה כלולה בה
Also, a flow of the Supreme Wisdom — an illumination which is paralleled by a person’s capacity for wisdom — is incorporated within it (i.e., within the drop that derives from the vessel of Supernal Wisdom).
והטעם, מפני שבה נמשך מהותה ועצמותה דחכמה עילאה
The reason is that into it there is drawn the essence and nature of the Supreme Wisdom.
All the above refers to the drop that derives from the vessels of wisdom.
מה שאין כן בדבור ומחשבה
This is not the case with thought and speech, where the intellect they draw forth does not possess the essence of the original wisdom,
ואפילו בהשכלת השכל באיזו חכמה
even in intellectual conception in any field of wisdom,
Though this is a rarefied level of conceptualization, transcending even the subtle articulation sketched by “letters of thought,” nevertheless:
הרי חכמה זו, רק הארה מתפשטת ממהות השכל שבנפש ועצמותו
this wisdom is a mere reflection that extends from the essence of intellect in the soul.
והארה זו היא רק לבוש למהותו ועצמותו של השכל
Then, too, this reflection is a mere garment for the very essence of the intellect,
והשכל הוא הארה ולבוש למהות הנפש
and the intellect in turn is but a reflection and garment for the essence of the soul.
Thus, the soul’s essence is not to be found even within intellectual conception — unlike the drop, which, though physical, comprises within it the essence of the soul, as the Alter Rebbe now goes on to say.
מה שאין כן, הטפה נמשך בה גם ממהות הנפש ועצמותה המלובשת במוחין
In contrast, there is also drawn into the drop something of the very essence of the soul which is clothed within the brain.
ולכן מולידה בדומה לה ממש
Hence it begets offspring precisely similar to itself, to the soul itself.
וזהו ההפרש בין עבודת המלאכים היוצאין מנשיקין
This is the difference between the divine service of angels, which are born of a spiritual kiss, and hence their divine service is likewise spiritual,
להנשמות היוצאין מהכלים
and that of souls, which issue from the “vessels” that contain an element of the “essence”, and which thus resemble the tangible product of the seminal drop which incorporates the entire essence of its source.
According to the above, however, it would seem that within the love and awe of souls as well, there should be an element of essence — whereas we learned above that the love and awe of souls are likened to the mere reflection (and not the essence) of his own illumination which a master imparts to his disciple.
The Alter Rebbe anticipates this query by explaining that since the vessels of Atzilut become a Neshamah to Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah, there are therefore two forms of issue from the soul itself: one is a radiation, which is intellectual love and fear; the other is an issue of essence, that finds expression in action-related mitzvot.
אך הכלים דאצילות נעשו נשמה לבריאה יצירה עשיה
But the vessels of Atzilut become the soul of Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah — and from this soul emanate two manners of issue.
והלכך, דחילו ורחימו שכליים הן כמלאכים דנשיקין, מהארת חיצוניות דחב״ד בבריאה יצירה עשיה
Therefore intellectual love and awe are comparable to the angels that issue from the spiritual kiss, which irradiates only the external aspect of ChaBaD — Chochmah, Binah and Daat, the three intellective Sefirot — in Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah.
Though it derives from the vessels of Atzilut, it is still not of the degree of essence.
והטעם, משום דפנימיות חב״ד ומהותו ועצמותו של אור פנימי אינו יכול להתגלות אלא על ידי הארת הכלים דוקא, היורדים למטה
The reason is that the innermost dimension of ChaBaD and the essential nature of the indwelling light (or pnimi) cannot be revealed except through the radiance of the vessels that descend below,
כטפת האדם ממוחין
as does the seminal drop of man issuing from the brain.
וכמו שכתוב: ופני לא יראו
As it is written, “My Face — My innermost dimension — shall not be seen.”
Not being manifest, it must therefore descend in a concealed manner, similar to the drop.