In the letter that follows, the Alter Rebbe urges Chasidim to devote the daily interval between Minchah and Maariv to the group study of Ein Yaakov and to the laws in the Shulchan Aruch that have frequent and practical application. He introduces this appeal by explaining how sublime is the Divine Presence that dwells within Jews when they study Torah publicly. Indeed, only in the World to Come can this lofty level of Divinity be manifestly received as a reward—except when it abides over Jews and within Jews when, in this world, they study Torah together.

“This statement is made by decree of the wakeful [angels] and by the word of [those] holy ones,”

"בִּגְזֵירַת עִירִין פִּתְגָמָא וּמַאֲמַר קַדִּישִׁין",

This phrase1 is used by the Sages2 (and here by the Alter Rebbe) to denote eminent Torah scholars, who are likened to ministering angels;3 specifically—

the Mishnaic Sages, peace be upon them,

חַכְמֵי הַמִּשְׁנָה עֲלֵיהֶם־הַשָּׁלוֹם,

who taught in their Mishnah: “If ten people sit together and engage in the study of the Torah, the Divine Presence (the Shechinah) rests among them.”4

שֶׁשָּׁנוּ בְּמִשְׁנָתָם: "עֲשָׂרָה שֶׁיּוֹשְׁבִין וְעוֹסְקִין בַּתּוֹרָה שְׁכִינָה שְׁרוּיָה בֵינֵיהֶם",

A similar teaching—“The Shechinah hovers over every gathering of ten Jews”5—means only that the Divine Presence hovers over them in a transcendent (lit., “encompassing”) manner, as explained at the end of the Tanya, Part I, ch. 11. In this instance, however, where ten Jews are studying Torah together, the Shechinah rests “among them”—in an internalized manner.

“For this is the whole [purpose] of man.”6 As the Gemara interprets this verse: “The entire world was created solely for this purpose.”7

"כִּי זֶה כָּל הָאָדָם".

Moreover, [the soul’s] very descent to this world was for the purpose of this ascent, which is accomplished through public Torah study,

וְאַף גַּם זֹאת הָיְתָה כָּל יְרִידָתוֹ בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה לְצוֹרֶךְ עֲלִיָּה זוֹ,

and no [possible] ascent is higher than this.

אֲשֶׁר אֵין עֲלִיָּה לְמַעְלָה הֵימֶנָּה.

The ultimate ascent of the soul, the reason for which the soul initially descended, is attained not only after it completes its descent, after it leaves the body; rather, through public Torah study, while the soul is still within the body, it causes the Shechinah to rest in this nether world and is thereby elevated more than by any other means.

For the Shechinah of [G-d’s] might, which is in the supernal heights and Whose awesomeness “the heavens and the heavens of the heavens cannot contain,”8

כִּי שְׁכִינַת עוּזּוֹ אֲשֶׁר בְּגָבְהֵי מְרוֹמִים, וְ"הַשָּׁמַיִם וּשְׁמֵי הַשָּׁמַיִם לֹא יְכַלְכְּלוּ" אֵימָתָהּ –

dwells and becomes magnified among the Children of Israel, as it is written, “For I, G-d, dwell among (תּוֹךְ) the Children of Israel,”9

תִּשְׁכּוֹן וְתִתְגַּדֵּל בְּתוֹךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "כִּי אֲנִי ה' שׁוֹכֵן בְּתוֹךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל",

as a result of [their] study of the Torah and observance of the commandments in groups of [at least] ten, for ten Jews constitute a congregation.

עַל־יְדֵי עֵסֶק הַתּוֹרָה וְהַמִּצְוֹת בַּעֲשָׂרָה דַוְקָא,

For, as our Sages, of blessed memory, said, “We infer a conclusion from [two appearances of] the word toch.”10

כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: "אַתְיָא תּוֹךְ תּוֹךְ כוּ'".

In certain specified cases, the Sages draw an analogy from one expression in the Torah to the identical expression in a different context. A comparison of this kind (a gezeirah shavah) is made between two appearances of the above word. One verse states, “I will become sanctified in the midst (toch) of the Children of Israel”11 while another verse, referring to ten of the spies dispatched by Moses, states, “…from the midst (toch) of this congregation.”12 From this, we learn that the congregational recital of a davar shebikedushah, a text involving the sanctification of G-d’s Name, requires a quorum of ten.

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, asks: Of all the possible contexts, why do our Sages derive this rule from the evil assemblage of the spies, concerning whom the above-quoted verse in fact states, “Separate yourselves from the midst of this congregation”?13

Answering his own question, the Rebbe explains that with these words, Moses sought to insulate the people from the makif of evil, from the transcendent [and most intense] dimension of evil. (As far as the pnimi of evil was concerned, the permeating [but less intense] dimension of evil, Moses was able to rectify it.) Now, since everything in the realm of holiness has its counterpart in kelipah, in the forces of evil,14 it follows that the level of holiness referred to here is the transcendent level. Thus, when a congregation of at least ten participants engages collectively in prayer or in Torah study or in the observance of a mitzvah, they elicit a response from a transcendent level of Divine light, from an or makif, that is utterly superior to the light called forth by a group of fewer than ten.

Concerning this, it is written, “The Holy One is within you.”15

וְעַל זֶה נֶאֱמַר: "בְּקִרְבְּךָ קָדוֹשׁ",

This means to say that a level of Divinity which is holy in the sense that it is initially distinct from this world is thereby drawn down and integrated within the ten or more people involved.

As the Rebbe explains in the abovementioned talk, the Alter Rebbe had spoken earlier of the transcendent degree of illumination that merely encompasses one; at this point, he cites the phrase “The Holy One is within you” to indicate that this encompassing illumination can also become internalized within a Jew.

Likewise, “[the congregational recital of] a davar shebikedushah, a text involving the sanctification of G-d’s Name, requires a quorum of ten,” as quoted above.16

וְ"אֵין דָּבָר שֶׁבִּקְּדוּשָּׁה בְּפָחוֹת מֵעֲשָׂרָה".

Thus, in order that the holiness be “within you,” it is necessary that the Torah be studied in groups of at least ten.

This also explains why our Sages, of blessed memory, had to derive from Scripture [an answer to their question], “From where do we know that even one person who sits and engages in the study of the Torah, [the Holy One, blessed be He, sets a reward for him]?”17

וּמִשּׁוּם הָכֵי נַמֵי, אִצְטְרִיךְ לְהוּ לְרַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה לְמֵילַף מִקְּרָא: "מִנַּיִן שֶׁאֲפִילוּ אֶחָד שֶׁיּוֹשֵׁב וְעוֹסֵק בַּתּוֹרָה כוּ'".

The Mishnah derives its answer from the verse, “He sits alone and [studies] in stillness; indeed, he takes [the reward] unto himself.”18 Evidently, then, a proof text was needed to show that even individual study is rewarded.

And even so [the Sages] did not find in Scripture support for that, i.e., they did not find support for the proposition that an individual can bring about the previously mentioned indwelling of G-d’s holiness but only for the allotment of a reward to the individual, proportionate to himself [and]19 in proportion to the many.

וְאַף גַּם זֹאת, לֹא מָצְאוּ לוֹ סְמַךְ מִן הַמִּקְרָא אֶלָּא לִקְבִיעַת שָׂכָר בִּלְבַד, לְיָחִיד לְפִי עֶרְכּוֹ לְפִי [נוסח אחר: וּלְפִי] עֵרֶךְ הַמְרוּבִּים,

If there are fewer than ten individuals, the reward is divided equally among them. According to the version “[and] in proportion…,” the more individuals who participate, the greater the reward for each of them.

But as to causing an indwelling of G-d’s holiness,20 [the individual] cannot be compared to [the congregation] at all.

אֲבָל לְעִנְיַן הַשְׁרָאַת קְדוּשַּׁת הַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא – אֵין לוֹ עֵרֶךְ אֲלֵיהֶם כְּלָל.

The sanctity drawn down through group study of the Torah is immeasurably more sublime.