In the previous chapter the Alter Rebbe explained that fear of G‑d is a prerequisite to divine service. Every Jew is capable of attaining this level, by contemplating how “G‑d stands over him” and “searches his reins and heart [to see] if he is serving Him as is fitting.” This thought will lead him to bring forth at least some measure of fear in his mind. This in turn will enable him to study Torah properly, as well as to perform both the positive and negative commandments.
The Alter Rebbe also noted that this level of fear is known as yirah tata‘ah, “lower-level fear,” which is a preparatory step to the proper performance of Torah and mitzvot. This degree of fear must be manifest, if one’s Torah study and performance of the mitzvot are to be deemed avodah, divine service.
והנה במה שנתבאר לעיל בענין יראה תתאה
In the light of what has already been said on the subject of the lower level of fear, as summarized above,
יובן היטב מה שנאמר בגמרא על פסוק: ועתה ישראל מה ה׳ אלקיך שואל מעמך כי אם ליראה את ה׳ אלקיך, אטו יראה מילתא זוטרתי היא
one will clearly understand the Talmudic comment on the verse, “And now, Israel, what does the L‑rd your G‑d require of you? Only that you fear the L‑rd your G‑d.” The Gemara asks: “Is fear, then, such a small thing?”
אין: לגבי משה מילתא זוטרתי היא וכו׳
Answers the Gemara: “Yes, in the case of Moses it is a small thing,” and so forth.
Superficially, the answer seems to be that this was said by Moses to the Jewish people, and for him, fear of G‑d is indeed a simple thing.
דלכאורה אינו מובן התירוץ, דהא שואל מעמך כתיב
At first glance the answer of the Gemara is incomprehensible, for the verse asks, “What does [He] require of you?” — i.e., What does G‑d require of every Jew? For the majority of Jews, fear of G‑d is certainly no mean accomplishment. What, then, is the point of answering that for Moses it is a simple thing?
The Alter Rebbe now goes on to explain that the answer of the Gemara, that “in the case of Moses it is a simple thing,” does not refer to Moses alone, but to the “Moses” which is found in every Jew, for Moses imbues all Jews with the level of Daat (lit., “knowledge”), enabling them all to bind their own faculty of Daat to G‑dliness. It is concerning this level of Moses found within every Jew, that the statement is made, “...in the case of Moses it is a simple thing.” For when a Jew utilizes the power of Moses found within him, i.e., when he binds his Daat with G‑dliness, then fear of G‑d is indeed a simple thing and easy to attain, as shall presently be explained.
אלא הענין הוא כי כל נפש ונפש מבית ישראל יש בה מבחינת משה רבנו עליו השלום, כי הוא משבעה רועים
The explanation, however, is as follows: Each and every soul of the House of Israel comprises within it something of the quality of our teacher Moses, peace unto him, for he is one of the “seven shepherds”
הממשיכים חיות ואלקות לכללות נשמות ישראל, שלכן נקראים בשם רועים
who cause vitality and G‑dliness to flow to the community of the souls of Israel, for which reason they are called “shepherds”.
Just as a shepherd provides nourishment for his sheep, thereby supplying them with vitality, so too do the “seven shepherds” sustain Jewish souls with “vitality and G‑dliness,” each from his own spiritual level. Abraham provides the Jews with the spiritual faculty of Chesed and love, and so forth.
Chassidim relate that the Alter Rebbe pondered for a goodly number of weeks whether to write that the “seven shepherds” provide “G‑dly vitality” (חיות אלוקות), or whether he should write “vitality and G‑dliness” (חיות ואלוקות). He finally resolved to write the latter — “vitality and G‑dliness.” For “vitality” refers to love and fear of G‑d, since it is they that vitalize one’s performance of Torah and mitzvot; “G‑dliness” refers to self-nullification before G‑d. The “seven shepherds,” then, cause both “vitality and G‑dliness” to flow into Jewish souls.
ומשה רבנו, עליו השלום, הוא כללות כולם, ונקרא רעיא מהימנא, דהיינו שממשיך בחינת הדעת לכללות ישראל לידע את ה׳
Our teacher, Moses, peace unto him, comprises [aspects of] them all, and he is called “the faithful shepherd.” This means that he draws down the quality of Daat to the community of Israel, that they may know and be cognizant of the L‑rd, so that for them G‑dliness will be self-evident, and experienced by every Jew,
כל אחד כפי השגת נשמתו ושרשה למעלה
each according to the intellectual capacity of his soul and its root above, i.e., according to the height of the source of the soul as it exists above,
ויניקתה משרש נשמת משה רבנו, עליו השלום, המושרשת בדעת העליון שבי׳ ספירות דאצילות המיוחדות במאצילן, ברוך הוא
and according to [the degree of] its nurture from the root of the soul of our teacher Moses, peace unto him, which is rooted in the Daat Elyon (“Supernal Knowledge”) of the Ten Sefirot of Atzilut, which are united with their Emanator,
Just as G‑d is termed the Creator of created beings, so, too, is He called the Emanator of those entities found in the World of Atzilut, a World which, together with its beings, is an emanation of the Ein Sof.
שהוא ודעתו אחד, והוא המדע כו׳
for He and His Knowledge are one, and “He is the Knowledge....”
As explained in ch. 2 above, G‑d’s knowledge and man’s are utterly dissimilar. On the human plane, the knower and the faculty of knowledge and that which is known, are three distinct and separate entities. However, concerning G‑d: “He is the Knowledge, He is the Knower, and he is That which is Known.” Thus, Supernal Knowledge is one with Him. And it is within this level of Daat that Moses‘ soul is rooted.
When a Jew receives the capacity for Daat from the soul of Moses, he is able to perceive G‑dliness in a truly knowing and internalized manner, so that he actually experiences Him. Utilizing this capacity enables every Jew to know and feel how “G‑d stands over him... and sees his actions.” It is therefore easy for him to summon up within himself a fear of G‑d.
However, all the above refers to the luminary aspect of Moses which is received by every Jew. The Alter Rebbe now goes on to say that there is an even higher level of Moses — a “spark” of Moses‘ soul, that is bestowed upon the spiritual leaders and sages of each generation. (A spark is an actual part of the flame, unlike rays of illumination which are not truly part of the luminary. So, too, the sparks of the soul of Moses found within the leaders and scholars throughout the generations, are a part of Moses’ soul.) The task of these leaders is to teach G‑d’s greatness to the Jewish people, so that they will serve G‑d with all their heart.
ועוד זאת, יתר על כן, בכל דור ודור יורדין ניצוצין מנשמת משה רבנו, עליו השלום, ומתלבשין בגוף ונפש של חכמי הדור, עיני העדה
In addition and beyond this pervasive influence to the community as a whole, there descend, in every generation, sparks from the soul of our teacher Moses, peace unto him, and they clothe themselves in the body and soul of the sages of that generation, the “eyes” of the congregation,
Because of the “spark” of Moses found within a spiritual leader he is called “Moses”, as in the Talmudic expression, “Moses, do you speak aright?” This spark is clothed not only in a leader’s soul, but also in his body. This is why chassidim say that one never tires of gazing at a rebbe, for within him is a spark of Moses. These sparks which are clothed in sages and spiritual leaders enable them —
ללמד דעת את העם, ולידע גדולת ה׳ ולעבדו בלב ונפש
to impart knowledge to the people, that they may know the greatness of G‑d and [hence] serve Him with heart and soul.
כי העבודה שבלב היא לפי הדעת, כמו שכתוב: דע את אלקי אביך, ועבדהו בלב שלם ונפש חפצה
For the service of the heart, i.e., one’s love and fear of G‑d, is according to the Daat, according to one’s degree of knowledge and understanding of G‑d’s greatness, as it is written, “Know the G‑d of your father, and serve Him with all your heart and with a longing soul.”
Thus, in order to “serve Him with all your heart and with a longing soul,” it is necessary to “know the G‑d of your father” — to know and comprehend His greatness. This is taught to the Jewish people by the scholars of each generation, within whom sparks of Moses are enclothed.
ולעתיד הוא אומר: ולא ילמדו איש את רעהו לאמר, דעו את ה׳, כי כולם ידעו אותי וגו׳
Only concerning the future [Messianic era] is it written: “And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the L‑rd,’ for they shall all know Me....”
Only at that time will a teacher be unnecessary. However, in our era, one needs to have a mentor impart knowledge of G‑d’s greatness if one is to know how to serve Him with heart and soul. And one’s dependence on Moses through the intermediary scholars of each generation (the “sparks” of Moses) is of the very essence of one’s divine service.
אך עיקר הדעת אינה הידיעה לבדה, שידעו גדולת ה׳ מפי סופרים ומפי ספרים
However, the essence of knowledge which leads one to serve G‑d with his whole soul and heart, is not mere knowing alone, that people should know the greatness of G‑d from authors (i.e., sages and spiritual guides) and books,
אלא העיקר הוא להעמיק דעתו בגדולת ה׳, ולתקוע מחשבתו בה׳ בחוזק ואומץ הלב והמוח
but the essential thing is to immerse one’s own mind deeply into those things which explain the greatness of G‑d, and fix one’s thought on G‑d with strength and vigor of the heart and mind,
עד שתהא מחשבתו מקושרת בה׳ בקשר אמיץ וחזק, כמו שהיא מקושרת בדבר גשמי שרואה בעיני בשר ומעמיק בו מחשבתו
until his thought shall be bound to G‑d with a strong and mighty bond, as it is bound to a material thing which he sees with his physical eyes and upon which he concentrates his thought.
When one does so, he is mightily bound up with the object of his thoughts and is unable to free himself from them. Thinking about G‑d and His greatness should be done in the selfsame all-absorbing manner — and thereby the thinker will be truly bound up with Him.
כנודע שדעת הוא לשון התקשרות, כמו: והאדם ידע וגו׳
For it is known that Daat connotes union, as in the verse, “And Adam yada (lit., ‘knew’) Eve....” The word ידע in this verse connotes union. Thus, Daat entails knowing something to the point that one is completely united with it. The same is true regarding knowledge of G‑dliness. Although when one just knows G‑dliness, he is already fulfilling a mitzvah, still this does not suffice; it is necessary that one achieve the union of Daat by meditating deeply on G‑d’s greatness.
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....”
וגם כי אין לו דמות הגוף
And although He has no bodily likeness,
How, then, can we possibly say that G‑d possesses an “eye” and “ear”, organs that are part of a physical body?
הרי אדרבה, הכל גלוי וידוע לפניו ביתר שאת לאין קץ מראיית העין ושמיעת האזן, על דרך משל
yet, on the contrary: i.e., this is the very reason that everything is revealed and known to Him infinitely more than, for example, through the physical medium of sight and hearing.
When we say that G‑d does not possess any bodily likeness, we mean that He is not bounded by the frailties of a physical body. A physical eye can observe corporeality, but not spirituality; it can see only when there is adequate light, and only up to a given distance, and so on. Physical hearing is likewise limited. G‑d’s “seeing” and “hearing”, however, possess only the merits of these faculties, but none of their physical limitations. For it goes without saying that any quality possessed by created beings is surely possessed by their Creator.
רק הוא על דרך משל, כמו אדם היודע ומרגיש בעצמו כל מה שנעשה ונפעל באחד מכל רמ״ח איבריו, כמו קור או חום
By way of illustration, G‑d’s “seeing” and “hearing”, and the fact that everything is revealed to Him and known by Him, are like a man who knows and feels within himself all that is happening to and being experienced by each of his 248 organs, such as cold and heat,
ואפילו חום שבצפרני רגליו, על דרך משל, אם נכוה באור
feeling even the heat in his toenails, for example, as when he is scorched by fire;
וכן מהותם ועצמותם
so also their essence and substance,
I.e., not only is a person aware of all that is happening to his organs; he also feels the organs themselves.
וכל מה שמתפעל בהם יודע ומרגיש במוחו
and all that is affected in [ or: by] them, is known to the person and sensed in his brain.
One need not use his eyes or ears to see or hear what has happened to a limb of his body, such as the pain of a burned hand or foot, for he knows and senses it in his mind.
וכעין ידיעה זו, על דרך משל, יודע הקב״ה כל הנפעל בכל הנבראים עליונים ותחתונים, להיות כולם מושפעים ממנו יתברך, כמו שכתוב: כי ממך הכל
In a similar manner of knowledge, by way of analogy, G‑d knows all that befalls all created beings of both higher and lower worlds, because they all receive their flow of life from Him, as it is written: “For from You come all things.”
Just as the brain, which is the source of life for the whole body, knows what transpires within it, so too does G‑d, the Source of all life, know what is happening with all of creation.
וזה שאומרים: וגם כל היצור לא נכחד ממך
And this is the meaning of what we say: “...and no creature is hidden from You,” inasmuch as all created beings emanate from Him.
וכמו שכתב הרמב״ם [והסכימו לזה חכמי הקבלה, כמו שכתב הרמ״ק בפרדס]
And as Maimonides speaking as a philosopher has said (and this has been agreed to by the scholars of the Kabbalah, as Rabbi Moses Cordovero writes in Pardess),
שבידיעת עצמו, כביכול, יודע כל הנבראים הנמצאים מאמיתת המצאו וכו׳
that by knowing Himself, as it were, He knows all created things, whose source of existence is His true existence.
However, G‑d provides creation with life in a different manner than the manner in which the soul provides life to the body. The soul must garb itself in the body in order to provide it with life. By doing so it is affected by the body (for “enclothing” implies that the clothed object undergoes a change). G‑d, however, is of course not subject to change when He provides life to creation. Hence:
רק שמשל זה אינו אלא לשכך את האזן, אבל באמת אין המשל דומה לנמשל כלל
This analogy of soul and body, however, is only to “calm the ear” — to make it possible for man’s ear and intellect to perceive how one may know about something without having to actually see or hear it. In truth, however, the analogy of soul and body bears no similarity at all to the analogue of G‑dliness and creation.
כי נפש האדם, אפילו השכלית והאלקית, היא מתפעלת ממאורעי הגוף וצערו מחמת התלבשותה ממש בנפש החיונית המלובשת בגוף ממש
For the human soul, even the rational and the divine soul, is affected by the events which transpire with the body and its pain, by reason of its (the rational and divine soul’s) being actually clothed within the vivifying soul (i.e., the soul which provides the body with physical life) which in turn is clothed in the body itself.
אבל הקב״ה אינו מתפעל, חס ושלום, ממאורעי העולם ושינוייו, ולא מהעולם עצמו
G‑d, however, is not (heaven forbid) affected by the events of the world and its changes, nor by the world itself,
He is not affected by the existence (the essence and being) of the world;
שכולם אינן פועלים בו שום שינוי, חס ושלום
none of them effect any change in Him, G‑d forbid, nor in His absolute unity; just as He was One and Unified before He created them, so, too, does He remain One and Unified after their creation.
והנה כדי להשכיל זה היטב בשכלנו, כבר האריכו חכמי האמת בספריהם
In order to help us understand this well with our intelligence, the Scholars of Truth (i.e., the Kabbalists) have already treated it at length in their books, and an explanation will be found there.
אך כל ישראל מאמינים בני מאמינים, בלי שום חקירת שכל אנושי, ואומרים: אתה הוא עד שלא נברא העולם וכו׳
However, all Jews as descendants of the Patriarchs who believed in G‑d, are “believers, descendants of believers,” without any speculation of mortal intellect whatever, and they declare: “You were [the same] before the world was created,” and so forth,
The passage concludes: “You are [the same] since the world has been created”; thus, all Jews firmly believe that the world’s creation causes no change in G‑d,
כנ״ל פרק כ׳
as has been explained above in ch. 20.
והנה כל אדם מישראל, יהיה מי שיהיה, כשיתבונן בזה שעה גדולה בכל יום, איך שהקב״ה מלא ממש את העליונים ואת התחתונים, ואת השמים ואת הארץ ממש מלא כל הארץ כבודו ממש
Now, therefore, each individual Jew, whoever he may be, i.e., whatever his spiritual state, when he ponders upon this for a considerable time each day — how G‑d is truly omnipresent in the higher and lower [worlds], and the actual heaven and earth (i.e., not only the spiritual heaven and earth, the Supernal Sefirot, but the actual heaven and earth itself) is truly filled with His glory,
וצופה ומביט ובוחן כליותיו ולבו וכל מעשיו ודבוריו, וכל צעדיו יספור
and that He looks, seeks and searches his “kidneys and heart” (i.e., his inner thoughts and emotions) and all his actions and words, and counts his every step —
אזי תקבע בלבו היראה לכל היום כולו, כשיחזור ויתבונן בזה אפילו בהתבוננות קלה
then fear will be implanted in his heart throughout the day, even when he is occupied with other matters and cannot contemplate the above, when he will again meditate on this, even with a superficial reflection that does not demand a particular effort and a set time;
בכל עת ובכל שעה יהיה סור מרע ועשה טוב במחשבה דבור ומעשה, שלא למרות חס ושלום עיני כבודו אשר מלא כל הארץ
at any time or moment, he will thus turn away from evil and do good, (i.e., he will refrain from transgressing negative commands and perform positive commands) in thought, speech and deed, so as not to rebel, G‑d forbid, in the sight of His glory whereof the whole world is filled.
וכמאמר רבן יוחנן בן זכאי לתלמידיו כנ״ל
This is in accord with the statement of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai to his disciples, quoted above, viz., “May it be G‑d’s Will that the fear of heaven be upon you [and keep you from sinning] like the fear of a human being [who by observing your actions keeps you from sinning].”
וזה שאמר הכתוב: כי אם ליראה את ה׳ אלקיך, ללכת בכל דרכיו
This, then, is the meaning of the verse: “[G‑d demands of you] only to fear the L‑rd your G‑d, to walk in all His ways.”
The question arises: Is attaining the fear of G‑d such an easy thing that the verse says, “only to fear Him”? The answer which is given (“For Moses it is a simple matter”) is difficult to comprehend, for the verse speaks of what “G‑d demands of you” — of every Jew. The explanation is as follows: the verse is referring here to a level of fear which is indeed simple for every Jew to reach, that level being fear that leads one to “walk in all His ways.”
שהיא יראה המביאה לקיום מצותיו יתברך, בסור מרע ועשה טוב, והיא יראה תתאה הנ״ל
For this is the fear that leads to the fulfillment of G‑d’s commandments, which involve turning away from evil and doing good. This is the “lower-level fear” which has been discussed earlier.
Accordingly, the Gemara’s answer (“For Moses it is a simple matter”) is now understandable. It means:
ולגבי משה, דהיינו, לגבי בחינת הדעת שבכל נפש מישראל האלקית, מילתא זוטרתי היא, כנ״ל
As it applies to “Moses”, that is to say, in relation to the quality of Daat that is in the divine soul of every Jew, this quality being the quality of Moses found within “you”, within each Jewish soul, this is indeed a minor thing, as has been stated above — that when a Jew reflects with his Daat upon matters that arouse fear of G‑d, he will surely succeed in attaining it,
שהדעת הוא המקשר מצפוני בינת הלב אל בחינת גילוי במחשבה ממש, כידוע ליודעי ח״ן
(for Daat is [the faculty] which connects the hidden understanding of the heart with revelation in actual thought, as is known to those who are familiar with the Esoteric Discipline).
As mentioned earlier, all Jews possess a “hidden treasure of fear of heaven” in their hearts. Through the faculty of Daat, this fear of heaven is revealed and felt in one’s thought, and also affects his speech and actions.
* * *
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.
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: “...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.
END OF NOTE
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, 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.
* * *
The Rebbe notes that the reason the Alter Rebbe now goes on to say “There should also be etc.” is that until now it has been explained how a Jew generates the fear of heaven through intellectual contemplation. The degree of fear he arouses will correspond exactly to the extent of his contemplation; the deeper the contemplation, the greater his fear. It also depends on how much each individual is governed by his intellect. Furthermore, it is too much to expect that all people constantly achieve a state of intellectual awareness — yet all people are obliged to stand in constant fear of heaven. The Alter Rebbe therefore now goes on to elaborate on a frame of mind which can and must exist constantly — “acceptance of the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven.” This is not attained through contemplation. Rather it comes as a result of faith alone — and this state can exist constantly in all individuals.
וגם להיות לזכרון תמיד לשון חז״ל: קבלת עול מלכות שמים, שהוא כענין: שום תשים עליך מלך
There should also be a constant remembrance (it is constant because it does not depend on prior contemplation, but rather on pure faith) of the dictum of the Sages, of blessed memory, “acceptance of the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven,” which parallels the injunction, “You shall appoint a king (i.e., G‑d) over you,”
כמו שכתוב במקום אחר וכו׳
as has been explained elsewhere, and so on.
This is also what the Alter Rebbe says earlier in Tanya (beginning of ch. 41): “Even though after all this [meditation] no fear or dread descends upon him in a manifest manner in his heart,” still he should accept upon himself G‑d as his king, and accept upon himself the yoke of the heavenly Kingdom. As the Alter Rebbe explains there, this attribute is found within every Jew in a sincere manner, because of the nature of Jewish souls not to rebel against G‑d, the King of kings. This level of fear can therefore always be present.
כי הקב״ה מניח את העליונים והתחתונים ומייחד מלכותו עלינו וכו׳, ואנחנו מקבלים וכו׳
For G‑d, blessed be He, forgoes the creatures of the higher and lower worlds, i.e., they are not the ultimate intent of creation, and uniquely bestows His kingdom upon us, ...and we accept [the heavenly yoke].
וזהו ענין ההשתחוואות שבתפלת שמונה עשרה, אחר קבלת עול מלכות שמים בדבור בקריאת שמע
And this is the significance of the obeisances in the prayer of the Eighteen Benedictions, following the verbal acceptance of the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven in the Reading of Shema, when we say, “...the L‑rd is our G‑d, the L‑rd is one,” and so on,
לחזור ולקבל בפועל ממש במעשה וכו׳, כמו שכתוב במקום אחר
whereby one accepts it once again in actual deed, and so on (for by bowing in the course of the prayer of Shemoneh Esreh one shows one’s acceptance in actual deed of one’s self-nullification to G‑d), as is explained elsewhere.