Until here, the Alter Rebbe has discussed the superiority of Torah study over other mitzvot in terms of its greater influence on the soul. He now begins to describe a far greater quality found in Torah study. Of all the mitzvot, only Torah study is described as “calling to G-d, as one calls to his friend, and as a son calls his father,” as the Alter Rebbe will state shortly. Whereas mitzvot have the effect of drawing the light of G-d (i.e., of His will) upon the soul, Torah study “calls” G-d’s essence to man as is implied in the analogy of one who calls to his friend: the friend will turn with his entire “essence” to face his caller.

Furthermore: As a means of “calling” G-d, Torah study is superior even to prayer. For this reason, in the verse, “G-d is near to all who call Him, to all who call Him in truth,” the first part of the verse refers to prayer and the latter to Torah.

The difference between the two forms of “calling G-d” is that prayer effects a change in material matters: healing, prosperity, etc., whereas the effect of Torah is in the soul, on the spiritual plane.

In the Alter Rebbe’s words:

This influence and illumination generated by one’s Torah study, which man draws from the radiance of the Ein Sof-light upon his soul and upon the souls of all Israel,

וְהִנֵּה, הַמְשָׁכָה וְהֶאָרָה זוֹ שֶׁהָאָדָם מַמְשִׁיךְ וּמֵאִיר מֵהֶאָרַת אוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא עַל נַפְשׁוֹ, וְעַל נַפְשׁוֹת כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל,

(meaning, as will be explained later, that the light is drawn into the spiritual level known as “the Shechinah, Knesset Yisrael”—the source of all the souls of Israel—and thereby, the Ein Sof light reaches not only the soul of the person studying Torah but also that of every Jew)

הִיא הַשְּׁכִינָה, כְּנֶסֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל, מְקוֹר כָּל נִשְׁמוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר לְקַמָּן,

This illumination which one draws through his Torah study is referred to as “calling” [as in the Talmudic expression] (concerning a Torah student) קוֹרֵא בַּתּוֹרָה (usually translated as “one who reads (studies) the Torah” but reinterpreted here as “one who calls [G-d] through the Torah”).

עַל יְדֵי עֵסֶק הַתּוֹרָה – נִקְרֵאת בִּלְשׁוֹן "קְרִיאָה" –

Just as calling in its usual sense means that the caller causes the person being called to come to him, to turn to him with his entire being, similarly in the context of “calling through Torah”:

This [phrase] means that in Torah study, one calls G-d to come to him, so to speak,

"קוֹרֵא בַּתּוֹרָה", פֵּירוּשׁ, שֶׁעַל יְדֵי עֵסֶק הַתּוֹרָה קוֹרֵא לְהַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא לָבוֹא אֵלָיו, כִּבְיָכוֹל,

as a man calls to his friend to come to him or as a child will call his father to come and join him and not to part from him, leaving him alone, G-d forbid.

כְּאָדָם הַקּוֹרֵא לַחֲבֵירוֹ שֶׁיָּבֹא אֵלָיו, וּכְבֵן קָטָן הַקּוֹרֵא לְאָבִיו לָבֹא אֵלָיו לִהְיוֹת עִמּוֹ בְּצַוְותָּא חֲדָא, וְלֹא לִיפָּרֵד מִמֶּנּוּ וְלִישָּׁאֵר יְחִידִי חַס וְשָׁלוֹם.

The former analogy pertains to those Jews designated as “brethren and friends” of G-d; when they study Torah, they call their “friend.” The latter analogy pertains to those designated “children of G-d”; when they study Torah, they are calling their “father.”

This is the meaning of the verse: “G-d is near (a)22 to all who call Him, (b) to all who call Him in truth,”23 and “There is no truth but Torah,”24 indicating that [one “calls G-d with truth”] as opposed to simply “calling G-d,” only by calling G-d through Torah study,

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "קָרוֹב ה' לְכָל קוֹרְאָיו לְכֹל אֲשֶׁר יִקְרָאוּהוּ בֶאֱמֶת" – "וְאֵין אֱמֶת אֶלָּא תּוֹרָה", דְּהַיְינוּ, שֶׁקּוֹרֵא לְהַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא עַל יְדֵי הַתּוֹרָה דַּוְקָא,

in contrast to one who does not call Him through Torah study but merely cries: “Father, Father!”

לְאַפּוּקֵי – מִי שֶׁקּוֹרֵא אוֹתוֹ שֶׁלֹּא עַל יְדֵי עֵסֶק הַתּוֹרָה, אֶלָּא צוֹעֵק כָּךְ: אַבָּא! אַבָּא!

This refers to the service of prayer, in which one calls G-d out of love for Him, saying “Father…!” Such a call is not considered “calling with truth,” and thus, the illumination of G-dly light generated by this call cannot compare with that generated by Torah, as explained above.

Over he who thus calls G-d the prophet laments: “There is none who calls by Your Name,”25 as explained elsewhere.

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁקּוֹבֵל עָלָיו הַנָּבִיא: "וְאֵין קוֹרֵא בְשִׁמְךָ כוּ'", וּכְמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּמָקוֹם אַחֵר.

Since he does not say simply: “There is none who calls You,” his intention must be that although there are indeed those who “call” G-d, yet they do not do so “by His Name,” meaning through Torah, “whose words throughout are the Names of G-d” (Ramban, Introduction to his commentary on the Torah, based on the Zohar).

By dwelling on this matter, the intelligent person will derive means of drawing upon himself a great awe [of G-d] when he engages in Torah study, as explained above (in ch. 23).26

וּמִזֶּה יִתְבּוֹנֵן הַמַּשְׂכִּיל, לְהַמְשִׁיךְ עָלָיו יִרְאָה גְדוֹלָה בִּשְׁעַת עֵסֶק הַתּוֹרָה, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְעֵיל [פֶּרֶק כ"ג]:

There it is stated that one’s Torah study must be permeated with awe of G-d (despite the apparent incompatibility between the intellectual boldness that characterizes study and the constraint engendered by awe); this awe, moreover, is the goal of Torah study, while study is merely the “gateway.”

The thought that in Torah study, one “calls” G-d to himself, just as, for example, one calls his friend to come to him, will surely arouse in the student a feeling of intense awe of G-d.