Contact Us
We must constantly meditate with proper intention

2:4 Fulfill the Will

2:4 Fulfill the Will

 Email
2:4 Fulfill the Will
We must constantly meditate with proper intention

"Fulfill His will as you would your own will, so that He may fulfill your will as though it were His will…." (Avot 2:4)

Two Instructions - at Different Times

"Fulfill His will as you would your own will": This instruction applies at the time of prayer.

"Set aside your will": This instruction applies throughout the day, after the hour of prayer. Whereas the human will is a product of man's intellectual faculties, the Supernal will transcends intellect. Accordingly: Meditate on the most effective means of fulfilling the Supernal will…

"Fulfill His will as you would your own will": When you begin your daily divine service, with the morning prayers, cause the Supernal will to be revealed in this world. How is this achieved? Through meditation in prayer. When you wish to fulfill your own will, you use your intellect and reasoning, and meditate on the most effective means of achieving this. In the same way, during prayer, you should use your intellect and reasoning, and meditate on the most effective means of fulfilling the Supernal will. And through such divine service, the Holy One, blessed is He, will "…fulfill your will as though it were His will", because you are worthy of it. He will grant you great, unlimited love, of which the verse in the Shema states, "You shall love the Lord your G‑d…with all your might". This type of love is far beyond anything man can generate through intellectual awareness and meditation.

"Set aside your will…" - throughout the remainder of the day, when you are occupied with your business and the love of G‑d you felt during prayer has waned. At this time a person is required to nullify all those alien desires which spring from his physical appetites, and from the material world, when they oppose the will of the Creator.

"So that He may set aside the will of others": "Others" signifies evil and the "Other Side" of holiness (i.e. unholiness), which are referred to in Torah as "alien gods". And "He will set aside the will of others before your will" so that they will be forced to bless your deeds. [Ma'amerei Admor HaZaken 5667 p.173 (3)]

Two Levels of Service

"Fulfill His will": This refers to the type of service known in Kabbala as "Itkafia" - subjugating yourself and your will in order to "turn away from evil and do good".

"Set aside your will": This could also be rendered as "absolutely nullify your will". And refers to the type of service known in Kabbala as "It'hapcha ", where a person has reached such an elevated level of divine service that he does not need to force himself to do G‑d's will. He has transformed his will completely, so that his will and G‑d's will are not two separate things. Rather, he cherishes G‑d's mitzvot and delights in them to such an extent that his only will is G‑d's will. [Tzemach Tzedek, Or HaTorah, Naso, p.230 (3)]

Fulfill His Will

The Mishna instructs us to fulfill the will of G‑d, which is beyond human comprehension, just as we fulfill our own will, which is a product of our intellectual faculties. And this applies both to spiritual service, which involves meditation, and to fulfilling the practical mitzvot. His meditation on the greatness of G‑d must also cause a certain level of ecstasy which transcends human understanding…

When a person meditates on the greatness of G‑d, he must apply his intellectual faculties to thinking deeply and profoundly on what is essentially beyond human comprehension. In addition, his meditation on the greatness of G‑d must also cause a certain level of ecstasy which transcends human understanding. Similarly, the mitzvot, which are the will of G‑d, also transcend human intellect, and yet they must be fulfilled as if they were your own will, with the love and awe which are a product of understanding and appreciation.

When a person fulfills G‑d's will as he would his own will, the aspect of great love, which transcends human intellect, will become revealed in his soul. This took place once before, when the Holy One, blessed is He hung Mount Sinai over the heads of the Jewish people, as if it were a barrel, which chasidut interprets as meaning that G‑d revealed this supernal infinite love from above. [Rabbi Shalom-Dovber Shneersohn, Ma'amorim 5666 p. 262 (3)]

Set aside your will…

By setting aside your will in order to fulfill G‑d's will, you transform your nature from bitter to sweet. This applies to "turning away from evil", by completely rejecting those things which oppose G‑d's will, as well as to "do good", learning to want what one does not want naturally, and learning not to want what one naturally wants. By nullifying your will to His will, you will drive out the evil from within yourself. [Rabbi Shneur-Zalman, Likutei Torah, Naso, 24c]

…Because of His will

In order that the innermost will of the Holy One, blessed is He, can become revealed to you, you must first completely set aside your will, so that you have no other will than His. [Rabbi Shneur-Zalman, Likutei Torah, Reeh 32]

The Proper Will

The subject of the entire tractate of Avot is "matters of piety", referred to by our Sages as "middot Chasidut", which go beyond the latter of the law. Hence it is clear that the author does not intend to teach us that the law demands that we conduct ourselves according to G‑d's will, for this much is obvious, and our tractate is not the forum for such instructions. Rather, Rabban Gamliel intends to inform us what a person's will should be.

According to middot Chasidut, it is not sufficient that all of a person's actions are as G‑d wishes them to be. Rather, a person should aspire to making the will of the Creator his own will - "make His will your own", so that not only your actions, but also your will and your desires are those of G‑d. When you fulfill the will of the Creator in a practical sense, by acting the way G‑d wishes you to, and yet this is only by subduing your own will, then "set aside your will because of His will". In other words, see to it that you transform your will so that it conforms to G‑d's will. [Lubavitcher Rebbe, Hitva'aduyot 5747, vol.3, p.321 (3)]

[Adapted from the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe in Biurim l'Pirkei Avos]

Rabbi Yekutiel Green has published many explanantions of Chassidic texts, especially in English, presenting concepts to those with minimal background.
Based on the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
 Email
Start a Discussion
1000 characters remaining
Related Topics

The larger, bold text is the direct translation of the classic text source.

The smaller, plain text is the explanation of the translator/editor.
Text with broken underline will provide a popup explanation when rolled over with a mouse.