In the previous chapter the Alter Rebbe explained that there are two broad categories in the love of G‑d, ahavah rabbah and ahavat olam. Ahavah rabbah cannot be attained by man unaided. It is granted as a gift from above when an individual merits it; reflection alone on G‑d’s greatness can in no way engender this level of love. Ahavat olam, however, results from intense and sustained meditation on the greatness of G‑d.

והנה כל מדרגת אהבה מב׳ מדרגות אלו, אהבה רבה ואהבת עולם, נחלקת לכמה בחינות ומדרגות לאין קץ, כל חד לפום שיעורא דיליה

Each of the two grades of love — ahavah rabbah and ahavat olam — is subdivided into limitless shades and gradations, in each individual according to his [spiritual] capacity,

כמו שכתוב בזהר הקדוש על פסוק: נודע בשערים בעלה, דא קודשא בריך הוא, דאיהו אתידע ואתדבק לכל חד לפום מה דמשער בלביה וכו׳

As it is written in the holy Zohar1 on the verse,2 “Her husband is known in the gates,” that “This refers to the Holy One, blessed be He, so called since He is the ”husband“ of the ”Congregation of Israel,“ Who makes Himself known and attaches Himself to every one according to the extent which one measures in one’s heart....”

Thus, two individuals may have the same general level of love of G‑d, yet their particular, individual levels of love will differ.

ולכן נקראים דחילו ורחימו: הנסתרות לה׳ אלקינו

Therefore, fear and love are called3 “the secret things [known] to the L‑rd our G‑d,” for people cannot know the varying degrees of love of G‑d harbored in the hearts of others,

ותורה ומצות הן הנגלות לנו ולבנינו לעשות כו׳

while the Torah and mitzvot are those things which are4 “revealed to us and to our children to do....”

They are found in all Jews equally,

כי תורה אחת ומשפט אחד לכולנו, בקיום כל התורה ומצות בבחינת מעשה

for we have all one Torah and one law, insofar as the fulfillment of all the Torah and mitzvot in actual performance is concerned. All Jews perform mitzvot in the very same manner; the greatest Jew and the smallest both put on the same tefillin.

מה שאין כן בדחילו ורחימו, שהם לפי הדעת את ה׳ שבמוח ולב

It is otherwise with fear and love, which vary according to the knowledge of G‑d in the mind and heart,

Here, Jews are not equal. He whose knowledge of G‑dliness is greater, will experience the love and fear of G‑d to a greater degree than his less knowledgeable colleague.

כנ״ל

as has been explained earlier, in ch. 42.

The Alter Rebbe explained in the previous chapter that ahavah rabbah cannot be attained alone, while ahavat olam can. He now goes on to explain that there is a manner of love of G‑d which incorporates the qualities of both ahavah rabbah and ahavat olam. It has the qualities of the former since it comes from above, and exists in the soul of every Jew in the form of an inheritance from the Patriarchs. However, in order for this love to be revealed, it is necessary for the individual to contemplate and comprehend G‑dliness, as is the case with ahavat olam, which is revealed through man’s service.

אך אחת היא אהבה הכלולה מכל בחינות ומדרגות אהבה רבה ואהבת עולם, והיא שוה לכל נפש מישראל, וירושה לנו מאבותינו

Yet there is one singular and unique love which incorporates something of all the distinctions and gradations of both ahavah rabbah and ahavat olam, and is found equally in every Jewish soul, as our inheritance from our Patriarchs.

והיינו מה שכתב הזהר על פסוק: נפשי אויתיך בלילה וגו׳

And that is what the Zohar says on the verse:5 “My soul, I desire You at night.”

The Zohar notes that the verse is grammatically anomalous. It should either say, “My soul desires You,” or alternatively, “I desire You.” Therefore the Zohar explains that “My soul” refers to G‑d, the Soul of all beings. In effect, the Jew says to G‑d: “You are my Soul, therefore I desire you.” And as the Zohar6 goes on to say:

דירחים לקודשא בריך הוא רחימותא דנפשא ורוחא, כמה דאתדבקו אילין בגופא, וגופא רחים לון וכו׳, וזהו שכתוב: נפשי אויתיך, כלומר: מפני שאתה ה׳ נפשי וחיי האמיתים, לכך אויתיך, פירוש: שאני מתאוה ותאב לך כאדם המתאוה לחיי נפשו, וכשהוא חלש ומעונה מתאוה ותאב שתשוב נפשו אליו

“One should love G‑d with a love of the soul and the spirit, as they are attached to the body and the body loves them....” This is the interpretation of the verse: “My soul, I desire You,” which means, “Since you, G‑d, are my true soul and life, therefore do I desire You.” That is to say, “I long and yearn for You like a man who craves the life of his soul, and when he is weak and exhausted he longs and yearns for his soul to revive in him (lit., ‘to return to him’).

Truly, the pleasure of living is the greatest pleasure of all, and a man will forgo all manner of pleasure in order to stay alive. Nevertheless we do not feel the pleasure of simply being alive because “a constant pleasure is not felt to be pleasurable.” However, when a person is weak and tired, and his life-force is not as manifest as it should be, then he feels the desire to live and senses the pleasure of simply being alive.

וכן כשהוא הולך לישן מתאוה וחפץ שתשוב נפשו אליו כשיעור משנתו, כך אני מתאוה ותאב לאור אין סוף ברוך הוא, חיי החיים האמיתיים, להמשיכו בקרבי על ידי עסק התורה בהקיצי משנתי בלילה, דאורייתא וקודשא בריך הוא כולא חד

“Likewise when he goes to sleep, at which time his life-force is in a state of concealment, for7 ‘Sleep is one sixtieth of death,’ he longs and yearns for his soul to be restored to him when he awakens from his sleep. So do I long and yearn to draw within me the infinite light of the blessed Ein Sof, the Life of true life, through engaging in the [study of the] Torah when I awaken during the night from my sleep”; for the Torah and the Holy One, blessed be He, are one and the same.

Thus, the individual’s love of G‑d will encourage him in his Torah study, since He realizes that this will enable him to draw down the infinite light of the Ein Sof and become united with G‑d. Just as creation is renewed continuously (8“In His goodness He renews each day, continuously, the work of Creation”), Torah, too,9 “should be viewed every day as if it were new.” So, too, regarding the love and yearning for G‑d brought about through the study of Torah: he should experience this just as one yearns and desires for the full restoration of his vitality — a desire which is both revealed and powerful.

כמו שכתב הזהר שם: דבעי בר נש מרחימותא דקודשא בריך הוא למיקם בכל לילא לאשתדלא בפולחניה עד צפרא כו׳

So the Zohar says, (ibid.), “Out of love for the Holy One, blessed be He, a man should rise each night and exert himself in His service until the morning....”

This, then, is the love expressed in the phrase, “My soul, I desire You,” the innate love that a Jew feels when he realizes that G‑d is his true soul and Source of life. This love must be revealed — by pondering deeply and often how G‑d is the Source of all life, as will be explained later on in this chapter.