It is known that “The Patriarchs are truly the Divine Chariot.”1

וְהִנֵּה, מוּדַעַת זֹאת שֶׁ"הָאָבוֹת הֵן הֵן הַמֶּרְכָּבָה",

Throughout their lives, they did not cease even momentarily from binding their mind and soul to the Master of the universe,

שֶׁכָּל יְמֵיהֶם לְעוֹלָם, לֹא הִפְסִיקוּ אֲפִילוּ שָׁעָה אַחַת מִלְּקַשֵּׁר דַּעְתָּם וְנִשְׁמָתָם לְרִבּוֹן הָעוֹלָמִים –

with the aforementioned absolute surrender to His unity.

בַּבִּיטּוּל הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל לְיִחוּדוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ.

I.e., their constant awareness of G-d’s unity led them to be continuously in a state of self-nullification before G-d, and, as explained more fully in ch. 23, this self-nullification is what is meant by the term “chariot,” a vehicle submissive to the will of its pilot.

After them came all the prophets, who similarly nullified themselves before G-d’s unity in varying degrees, each according to the level of his soul and his understanding.

וְאַחֲרֵיהֶם כָּל הַנְּבִיאִים, כָּל אֶחָד לְפִי מַדְרֵגַת נִשְׁמָתוֹ וְהַשָּׂגָתוֹ,

The rank of our teacher Moses, peace be upon him, surpassed them all; of him, our Sages said: “The Shechinah (the Divine Presence) spoke out of Moses’ throat.”2

וּמַדְרֵגַת מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּינוּ עָלָיו הַשָּׁלוֹם הִיא הָעוֹלָה עַל כּוּלָּנָה, שֶׁאָמְרוּ עָלָיו: "שְׁכִינָה מְדַבֶּרֶת מִתּוֹךְ גְּרוֹנוֹ שֶׁל מֹשֶׁה",

His was such a total surrender to G-dliness that the very words he uttered were Divine speech; the relation of Moses’ throat to Divine speech was that of one’s throat to his own speech.

At Mount Sinai, Israel was privileged to experience a glimmer of this level of self-nullification.

וּמֵעֵין זֶה זָכוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּמַעֲמַד הַר סִינַי,

But they could not endure it; as our Sages have said, “At every Divine utterance, their souls took flight,”3 and G-d resurrected them each time. This flight of their soul actually represents the self-nullification spoken of previously.4

רַק שֶׁלֹּא יָכְלוּ לִסְבּוֹל, כְּמַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה, שֶׁעַל כָּל דִּיבּוּר פָּרְחָה נִשְׁמָתָן כוּ', שֶׁהוּא עִנְיַן בִּיטּוּל בִּמְצִיאוּת הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל.

Therefore, because they were unable to live with this feeling of self-surrender before G-d, He commanded them immediately to erect for Him a Sanctuary, in which would be the Holy of Holies, wherein His presence would dwell; i.e., there, His unity would be revealed, as will be explained further.5

לָכֵן, מִיָּד אָמַר לָהֶם לַעֲשׂוֹת לוֹ מִשְׁכָּן וּבוֹ קָדְשֵׁי הַקֳּדָשִׁים – לְהַשְׁרָאַת שְׁכִינָתוֹ, שֶׁהוּא גִּילּוּי יִחוּדוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ, כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר לְקַמָּן.

The Alter Rebbe points out below that when one specific place is singled out as an abode for G-d’s presence, despite the fact that “His glory fills the entire earth,” the uniqueness of this site lies in the revelation of G-dliness which occurs there. In contrast to the rest of the world, where G-d’s unity as the sole existing being stands concealed, in “the abode of G-d’s presence,” it is clearly apparent that “there is naught besides Him.” We thus see that the revelation of G-d’s unity which the Jewish people experienced at Mount Sinai, but which they could not endure, was continued by means of the Sanctuary.

Ever since the Temple was destroyed, “the four cubits of the Halachah”—i.e., study of Jewish law—is the only sanctuary and abode which the Holy One, blessed be He, has in His world; i.e., Torah is the only abode for the revelation of His unity.

וּמִשֶּׁחָרַב בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ – אֵין לְהַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא בְּעוֹלָמוֹ מִשְׁכָּן וּמָכוֹן לְשִׁבְתּוֹ, הוּא יִחוּדוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ, אֶלָּא אַרְבַּע אַמּוֹת שֶׁל הֲלָכָה,

For the halachot set out before us are the actual embodiment of G-d’s will and wisdom, which are one with G-d; the halachic ruling represents the Divine will, and what underlies it is Divine wisdom. Hence, in the Torah, G-d’s unity stands revealed.

שֶׁהוּא רְצוֹנוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ וְחָכְמָתוֹ הַמְלוּבָּשִׁים בַּהֲלָכוֹת הָעֲרוּכוֹת לְפָנֵינוּ.

Therefore, after one meditates deeply, according to his ability, on the subject of this abovementioned self-nullification, let him reflect in his heart as follows:

וְלָכֵן, אַחַר שֶׁיַּעֲמִיק הָאָדָם מַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ בְּעִנְיַן בִּיטּוּל הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל כְּפִי יְכָלְתּוֹ, זֹאת יָשִׁיב אֶל לִבּוֹ:

“The capacity of my intelligence and of my soul’s root is too limited to constitute a chariot and an abode for G-d’s unity in perfect truth,

"כִּי מִהְיוֹת קָטָן שִׂכְלִי וְשֹׁרֶשׁ נִשְׁמָתִי מֵהָכִיל, לִהְיוֹת מֶרְכָּבָה וּמִשְׁכָּן לְיִחוּדוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ בֶּאֱמֶת לַאֲמִיתּוֹ,

for my thought cannot grasp or apprehend His unity at all with any degree of comprehension in the world,

מֵאַחַר דְּלֵית מַחֲשָׁבָה דִילִי תְּפִיסָא וּמַשֶּׂגֶת בּוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ כְּלָל וּכְלָל שׁוּם הַשָּׂגָה בָּעוֹלָם,

not an iota, in fact, of that which was grasped by the Patriarchs and Prophets, who were G-d’s chariot and abode by virtue of their awareness of G-d’s unity, as they grasped it.

וְלֹא שֶׁמֶץ מֶנְהוּ מֵהַשָּׂגַת הָאָבוֹת וְהַנְּבִיאִים,

“This being so, I will make Him a sanctuary and an abode by studying Torah at fixed times by day and by night, to the extent of my free time,

אֵי לָזֹאת, אֶעֱשֶׂה לוֹ מִשְׁכָּן וּמָכוֹן לְשִׁבְתּוֹ, הוּא הָעֵסֶק בְּתַלְמוּד תּוֹרָה כְּפִי הַפְּנַאי שֶׁלִּי, בִּקְבִיעוּת עִתִּים בַּיּוֹם וּבַלַּיְלָה,

as stipulated by the law governing each individual’s situation, set forth in the Laws of Torah Study.

כְּדָת הַנִּיתְּנָה לְכָל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד בְּהִלְכוֹת תַּלְמוּד תּוֹרָה,

“As our Sages say, ‘Even one chapter in the morning [and one at night…]’6 suffice, for one who can manage no more, for him to be regarded as ‘engaging in Torah study day and night.’ Therefore, by fulfilling this minimal quota, I, too, will become an abode for G-dliness.”

וּכְמַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: 'אֲפִילוּ פֶּרֶק אֶחָד שַׁחֲרִית כוּ''"

Thereby, his heart shall rejoice; he shall be glad and offer joyous thanks for his fortune

וּבָזֶה יִשְׂמַח לִבּוֹ וְיָגִיל, וְיִתֵּן הוֹדָאָה עַל חֶלְקוֹ בְּשִׂמְחָה וּבְטוּב לֵבָב,

in meriting to be “a host to the Almighty”7 through his study of Torah, which causes him to be a “sanctuary” for G-d twice each day, according to the extent of his available time and according to the capacity which G-d has granted him.

עַל שֶׁזָּכָה לִהְיוֹת אוּשְׁפְּזִיכָן לַגְּבוּרָה פַּעֲמַיִם בְּכָל יוֹם, כְּפִי הָעֵת וְהַפְּנַאי שֶׁלּוֹ, כְּמִסַּת יָדוֹ אֲשֶׁר הִרְחִיב ה' לוֹ: