The Alter Rebbe has thus far discussed two levels of union with the Divine Will, one analogous to the chariot and its rider, and the second, to the unity of body and soul. Both these levels of unity are achieved by performing the mitzvot. He now goes on to describe a third and higher level of unity, that is achieved through the study of the Torah.
אך המחשבה וההרהור בדברי תורה שבמוח, וכח הדבור בדברי תורה שבפה, שהם לבושים הפנימים של נפש האלקית
But the thought and meditation on the words of Torah, which is accomplished in the brain, and the power of speech engaged in the words of Torah, which is in the mouth — these being the innermost garments of the divine soul, and thus closer to the soul itself than the faculty of action, the “external” garment,
וכל שכן נפש האלקית עצמה המלובשת בהם
and surely the divine soul itself which is clothed in them i.e., in the thought and speech engaged in Torah study,
כולם מיוחדים ממש ביחוד גמור ברצון העליון, ולא מרכבה לבד
all of them are fused in perfect unity with the Divine Will, and are not merely a vehicle, a “chariot” for it, as are the mouth and brain in which the thought and speech of Torah study take place.
The term “perfect unity” indicates that the two become one and the same; unlike, for example, the unity of body and soul, which retain their separate identities even when they are joined together and form one unit. An example of a “perfect” unity can be found in the unity of the soul with its faculties, which are a part of it, and are thus completely united with it. In the same way the divine soul and its faculties of speech and thought are united with the Divine Will, when one thinks or speaks of matters of Torah.
The Alter Rebbe now goes on to explain how Torah study is able to effect this level of unity.
כי רצון העליון הוא הוא הדבר הלכה עצמה שמהרהר ומדבר בה, שכל ההלכות הן פרטי המשכות פנימיות רצון העליון עצמו
For the Divine Will is identical with the halachic subject of which one thinks and speaks, inasmuch as all the laws of the Halachah are particular expressions of the innermost Divine Will itself;
שכך עלה ברצונו יתברך, שדבר זה מותר או כשר, או פטור או זכאי, או להפך
for G‑d willed it thus — that a particular thing be deemed permissible or kosher, or that this person be found exempt and another innocent, or the reverse.
Since every halachah expresses the Divine Will, the unity which the study of the Halachah effects between the soul and the Divine Will surpasses even the unity of body and soul.
וכן כל צרופי אותיות תנ״ך הן המשכת רצונו וחכמתו המיוחדות באין סוף ברוך הוא בתכלית היחוד, שהוא היודע והוא המדע כו’
Similarly, all the letter combinations of the Pentateuch, Prophets and the Holy Writings (Ketuvim), are also expressions of G‑d’s Will and wisdom which are united with the blessed Ein Sof in a perfect unity — since He is the Knower, the Knowledge, and the [subject] Known.
Thus, when one studies the Torah, Prophets, and the Writings, he becomes united with the Divine Will and wisdom, which are absolutely one with G‑d Himself.
* * *
The difference between the two levels of unity with G‑d achieved through Torah and mitzvot respectively, may be clarified by the following analogy:
A king orders his servants to build a palace for him, and draws up a detailed blueprint for it. When they carry out his wishes, they are united with his desire as expressed in the palace. However, the palace walls themselves do not represent the king’s will and wisdom. But the blueprint does, and the architects who study it are actually involved in the study of the king’s will and wisdom.
So too in our case. The actual performance of the mitzvot, although dictated by G‑d’s Will, does not actually constitute this Will. Not so the wisdom of Torah, which is itself G‑d’s wisdom, and the halachic rulings are actually expressions of His Will; and thus, when one speaks or thinks words of Torah, he attains the greatest possible level of union with G‑d, Who is one with His Will and wisdom.
וזהו שכתוב דאורייתא וקודשא בריך הוא כולא חד, ולא אברין דמלכא לחוד כפיקודין
This is what is meant by the statement that “The Torah and G‑d are absolutely one” — they are not merely “organs” of the King, as are the mitzvot.
For, as explained above, the unity of the mitzvot with G‑d is like that of body and soul, where two separate entities are joined, whereas Torah is entirely one with G‑d.
ומאחר שרצון העליון המיוחד באין סוף ברוך הוא בתכלית היחוד, הוא בגילוי לגמרי ולא בהסתר פנים כלל וכלל בנפש האלקית ולבושיה הפנימים, שהם מחשבתה ודבורה, באותה שעה שהאדם עוסק בדברי תורה
Now, since the Divine Will, which is in perfect unity with G‑d Himself, stands completely revealed in the divine soul and in its inner garments — i.e., its thought and speech — while a person occupies himself with words of Torah, and there is nothing obscuring the Divine Will at that time, for when one studies Torah, the Divine Will and wisdom contained in it come into full expression in one’s soul and its faculties of thought and speech,
הרי גם הנפש ולבושיה אלו מיוחדים ממש באין סוף ברוך הוא באותה שעה בתכלית היחוד
it follows that at that time, the soul and these garments of thought and speech are also truly united with G‑d,
כיחוד דבורו ומחשבתו של הקב״ה במהותו ועצמותו כנ״ל
with a unity comparable to that of G‑d’s speech and thought with His essence and being as explained above.
כי אין שום דבר נפרד כי אם בהסתר פנים כנ״ל
For nothing is separate from G‑d, except insofar as His Countenance is concealed.
Only then can created beings perceive themselves as distinct entities (as explained in ch. 22). Since there is no such concealment when one studies the Torah, one attains thereby a perfect unity with G‑d — a unity comparable to that of G‑d’s speech and thought with Himself prior to their revelation as “speech” and “thought”, but as they are contained within Himself.
ולא עוד אלא שיחודם הוא ביתר שאת ויתר עז מיחוד אור אין סוף ברוך הוא בעולמות עליונים
Moreover, their unity i.e., the unity of the divine soul and its faculties with G‑d, that is attained through Torah study is even more exalted and more powerful than the unity of G‑d’s infinite light with the upper (spiritual) worlds.
מאחר שרצון העליון הוא בגילוי ממש בנפש ולבושיה העוסקים בתורה, שהרי הוא הוא התורה עצמה
For the Divine Will is actually manifest in the soul and its garments that are engaged in Torah study, since it is identical with the Torah being studied.
וכל העולמות העליונים מקבלים חיותם מאור וחיות הנמשך מהתורה שהיא רצונו וחכמתו יתברך, כדכתיב: כולם בחכמה עשית
All the worlds receive their vitality by way of the light and life derived from the Torah which is G‑d’s Will and wisdom; as it is written, “Through wisdom You have made them all.”
G‑d’s wisdom is thus the source of vitality for all the worlds.
ואם כן החכמה, שהיא התורה, למעלה מכולם
Thus it follows that G‑d’s wisdom, i.e., the Torah, transcends them all.
It must be above all the worlds, since it is their source.
והיא היא רצונו יתברך הנקרא סובב כל עלמין, שהיא בחינת מה שאינו יכול להתלבש בתוך עלמין, רק מחיה ומאיר למעלה בבחינת מקיף
In fact the Torah, G‑d’s Will, is described as “encompassing” all the worlds, meaning that it is at a level that cannot become clothed within the worlds, but rather animates and illuminates them as if from a distance, from above, in a transcending and “encompassing” manner,
והיא היא המתלבשת בנפש ולבושיה בבחינת גילוי ממש כשעוסקים בדברי תורה
and it is this level which transcends all the worlds that is clothed in a truly revealed form in one’s soul and his soul-garments, when he studies Torah,
ואף על גב דאיהו לא חזי כו‘ [ומשום הכי יכול לסבול משום דלא חזי, מה שאין כן בעליונים]
even although he does not see it. I.e., when one studies Torah he is unable to consciously experience the unity of his soul with G‑d which is attained thereby, yet his soul feels it.(In fact, this is precisely why he can endure such a unity with G‑d, precisely because he cannot feel it — unlike the supernal worlds where G‑dliness is not obscured as it is in this world, and they cannot therefore endure such a unity with G‑d without becoming completely nullified and losing their identities entirely.)