In the previous chapter the Alter Rebbe discussed the verse,1 “For this thing is very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it” (i.e., it is simple for you to fulfill the mitzvot with your heart, with love and awe of G‑d). He explained that through contemplating G‑d’s greatness every person can come to experience such love and awe. Not every man, to be sure, is a tzaddik, with his heart under his control. But everyone’s mind is under his control, and he can focus his mind in meditation on any subject he chooses. Even if the love and awe produced by such meditation do not make themselves felt in the heart in a revealed way, they will at least appear in his mind, and in the recesses of his heart, as an attitude of love and awe. Even this detached form of love and awe is sufficient to motivate one to observe the mitzvot, and will enable the mitzvot so motivated to soar heavenward as though he had observed them with a true love and awe of G‑d actually felt in the heart.

But it cannot truly be said of love and awe which must be created by way of meditation, that their attainment is “very near” to everyone. Meditation requires knowledge of the subject at hand, and intellectual predisposition. If one’s understanding of G‑d’s greatness is scant, or if he lacks the intellectual capacity for meditation, how is it “very near” to him to observe the mitzvot with love and awe of G‑d?

In the following chapters the Alter Rebbe will therefore explain an alternative method of attaining the love and awe of G‑d, a method that may be used even by one with the aforementioned shortcomings. It consists of arousing the natural love of G‑d that lies hidden in the heart of every Jew, a love that is his birthright, his inheritance from our Patriarchs. No meditation is needed to arouse it; all that is required of him is to recall and to make himself aware of this love — and he will be motivated by this recollection to observe the mitzvot. Since no meditation is required to create them, such love and awe of G‑d are indeed “very near.” They are accessible to all.

ולתוספת ביאור באר היטב מלת מאד שבפסוק: כי קרוב אליך הדבר מאד וגו׳

To explain more clearly and more precisely the word “very” in the verse,2 “For this thing is very near to you…,”

The word “very” indicates that it is an extremely simple matter to serve G‑d “with one’s heart” — with love and fear of G‑d. In the previous chapter the Alter Rebbe explained that a love of G‑d is readily attainable through meditation on G‑d’s greatness, whereby one can generate at least an “intellectual love” — tevunah. Yet it cannot be said of profound meditation that it is “very near to you.”

צריך לידע נאמנה כי אף מי שדעתו קצרה בידיעת ה׳, ואין לו לב להבין בגדולת אין סוף ברוך הוא

one should recognize with certainty that even the person who has only a limited understanding of G‑d’s greatness, so that he lacks the materials necessary for meditation, and he has no heart to comprehend the greatness of the blessed infinite G‑d — his mind and heart are not suited to meditation, so that he lacks the tools of meditation,

להוליד ממנה דחילו ורחימו, אפילו במוחו ותבונתו לבד

to produce, through meditation, a fear and love even in his mind and understanding alone — how much more so is he unable to produce a vibrant, fervent love and fear:

אף על פי כן קרוב אליו הדבר מאד לשמור ולעשות כל מצות התורה, ותלמוד תורה כנגד כולן

yet it is a “very near thing” for him to guard himself from transgressing the prohibitive commandments, through a fear of G‑d, and to practice the positive commandments, which require a love of G‑d — these together comprising all the commandments of the Torah, and in particular the study of Torah which counterbalances them all.

בפיו ובלבבו ממש, מעומקא דלבא באמת לאמיתו, בדחילו ורחימו

He can fulfill all this in his mouth and in his heart — in the true sense of “heart” — that is, not only in the superficial sense of the word “heart,” which means to say “in his thoughts”; but in the true sense of “with heart” — namely, “with feeling,” from the depths of his heart, in absolute sincerity, with love and fear, as opposed to the tevunah-emotions, which cannot properly be called love and fear; they are so designated only insofar as they motivate one’s actions.

The love and fear of which the Alter Rebbe will now speak are emotions in the fullest sense of the word. But how can one acquire a true love and fear of G‑d if he is incapable of meditation? In answer, the author continues:

שהיא אהבה מסותרת שבלב כללות ישראל שהיא ירושה לנו מאבותינו

This is the hidden love present in the heart of all Jews, which is an inheritance to us from our Patriarchs.

Since every Jew already possesses this love as an inheritance, he need not create it through meditation; all that is required of him is that he arouse it and implement it in his observance of the mitzvot. In order to explain how one goes about doing so, the author first discusses the characteristics of this love.

רק שצריך לבאר ולהקדים תחלה באר היטב שרש אהבה זו ועניינה

But we must first preface a clear and precise explanation of the origin of this love, i.e., which level of the soul it stems from, and its character, i.e., what sort of striving this love constitutes.

There is a love of G‑d which seeks a unity with G‑d while still remaining a separate entity — a soul clothed in a body; there is another kind of love which is a yearning for self-extinction; and so forth. What drive is contained in this love which is our inheritance?

ואיך היא ירושה לנו, ואיך נכלל בה גם דחילו

Also, how did this love become our inheritance? How does one inherit a love? And how is fear also incorporated in it?

For, as stated previously, observance of the prohibitive commandments requires a fear of G‑d. Therefore, the statement that the hidden love in every Jew will lead him to observe all the commandments, implies that this love also contains an element of awe.