Until now the Alter Rebbe has explained the term “our portion.” He now goes on to explain the term “our lot” (in the above-quoted verse, ומה נעים גורלנו — “and how pleasant is our lot”), signifying something bestowed exclusively, and merited only by lot.

והנה אף שגילוי זה, על ידי עסק התורה והמצות, הוא שוה לכל נפש מישראל בדרך כלל

Though this manifestation [of light] through a person’s involvement in the Torah and the commandments is, generally, equal in every individual Jew,

כי תורה אחת ומשפט אחד לכולנו

for we all have1 “one Torah and one law,”

All Jews are equally obliged to study the Torah and to observe its mitzvot; generally speaking, the resultant illumination from Above is likewise drawn down equally to them all.

אף על פי כן, בדרך פרט, אין כל הנפשות או הרוחות והנשמות שוות בענין זה

nevertheless, in a more specific way, in regard to this manifestation of light that radiates through the study of Torah and the performance of the commandments, not every nefesh (the lowest level of the soul) and ruach (“spirit”, a higher level of the soul) and neshamah (a yet higher level of the soul) is equal,

לפי עת וזמן גלגולם ובואם בעולם הזה

for this depends on the period and time of their reincarnation and their coming into this world.

Most souls of present generations are incarnations of souls that had descended into this world in earlier times; they descended once again in order to rectify some aspect of their previous incarnation. The degree of radiation the soul receives from Above through the performance of a particular mitzvah depends upon the era in which the soul finds itself in this world.

וכמאמר רז״ל: אבוך במאי הוי זהיר טפי, אמר ליה: בציצית

Our Sages, of blessed memory, quote the question:2 “With what [commandment] was your father most careful?” To which the answer was, “With [the commandment of] tzitzit.”

This means that the performance of this commandment kindled within this man a particularly luminous revelation, and it was this G‑dly light that inspired his scrupulous performance. In the spirit of this teaching, and in view of the fact that the three root letters of the word זהיר (translated above as “careful”) also mean “luminous”, the above-quoted question has been under-stood [by the Mitteler Rebbe] as follows:3 “As a result of which commandment was your father most luminous?”

וכן אין כל הדורות שוין

Likewise, not all the generations4 are the same.

Not only do souls differ: generations differ as well. There have been generations whose primary spiritual challenge was the study of Torah; in other generations it was charity;5 and so on. The reason for this is that the souls of those generations were especially illuminated by the performance of those specific commandments.

כי כמו שאברי האדם, כל אבר יש לו פעולה פרטית ומיוחדת

For just as with the organs of man, each organ has its particular and distinctive function,

העין לראות והאזן לשמוע

the eye to see and the ear to hear,

כך בכל מצוה מאיר אור פרטי ומיוחד מאור אין סוף ברוך הוא

so, too, through each commandment — the commandments being known as the “Organs of the King”6 — there radiates a particular and distinctive light from the [infinite] Ein Sof-light.

ואף שכל נפש מישראל צריכה לבוא בגלגול לקיים כל תרי״ג מצות

And although every Jewish soul needs to be reincarnated in order to fulfill all 613 commandments,

How, then, can we say that a soul that descends to this world in a given period will receive its G‑dly illumination as an individualized bequest, thereby necessitating particular scrupulousness in specific commands?

מכל מקום לא נצרכה אלא להעדפה וזהירות וזריזות יתירה

this [heightened attention focused on a particular commandment] is necessary only for the sake of an addi-tional measure of vigilance and zeal,

ביתר שאת ויתר עז, כפולה ומכופלת

[a zeal] doubly and exceedingly elevated and powerful,

למעלה מעלה מזהירות שאר המצות

far surpassing one’s zeal in [the fulfillment of] the other commandments.

וזהו שאמר: במאי הוי זהיר טפי, טפי דייקא

Hence the word “most” used by the above-quoted individual when he asked, “With what [commandment] was [your father] most careful?”

For scrupulous observance indeed applies to all commandments: the question was only, which command earned his keenest attention.

והנה יתרון האור הזה הפרטי לנשמות פרטיות

Now, the superiority of this individual light [that is bestowed] upon individual souls through the performance of a particular commandment

אינו בבחינת טעם ודעת מושג

is not in the category of apprehensible reason,

אלא למעלה מבחינת הדעת

but transcends it.

שכך עלה במחשבה לפניו יתברך

For thus it arose in G‑d’s thought, so to speak — that certain souls be granted additional illumination through the performance of particular commandments.

ודוגמתו למטה הוא בחינת הגורל ממש

And its model below is truly the concept of a “lot”.

For the fact that one person wins a “lot” while others do not, is likewise not in the category of apprehensible reason. Rather, so has it been deemed from Above; as the verse indicates,7 “The lot is cast into the lap, and from G‑d is its disposition.”

This, then, is the meaning of “how pleasant is our lot.” The disposition of a particular degree of G‑dly illumination to a specific soul through the performance of a select command is wholly dependent upon a consideration that transcends logic: it is a “lot” determined from Above.