The Alter Rebbe now focuses on the distinctive quality inherent in the halachot of the Oral Torah. It is these halachot that reveal the Supernal Will, by defining what it actually requires of us in the performance of the mitzvot, in order thereby to draw down this lofty level of Divinity.

והנה מודעת זאת כי הנה רצון העליון ב"ה המלובש בתרי"ג מצות שבתורה שבכתב הוא מופלא ומכוסה טמיר ונעלם ואינו מתגלה אלא בתורה שבע"פ

Now, as is known, the Supernal Will as vested in the 613 commandments of the Written Torah, is hidden and covered, secreted and concealed. It is manifest only in the Oral Torah.1

כמו מצות תפילין עד"מ שנאמר בתושב"כ וקשרתם לאות על ידך והיו לטוטפות בין עיניך

For example, the precept of tefillin: In the Written Torah it is stated,2 "And you shall bind them for a sign on your hand, and they shall be for frontlets between your eyes."

והוא מאמר סתום ונעלם שלא פירש הכתוב איך ומה לקשור ומהו טוטפות והיכן הוא בין עיניך ועל ידך

This is an indistinct and obscure statement, for Scripture did not explain how and what to bind, nor what frontlets are, nor where is "between your eyes" or "on your hand,"

עד שפירשה תורה שבע"פ שצריך לקשור בית אחד על היד וד' בתים על הראש ובתוכם ד' פרשיות

until the Oral Torah explicates3 that one needs to bind a single box on the hand, and four boxes on the head, containing four Scriptural passages.

והבתים יהיו מעור מעובד ומרובעים דוקא ומקושרים ברצועות של עור שחורות דוקא

Moreover, the boxes are to be made of prepared leather, and necessarily square, and to be tied by means of leather straps which need to be black,4

וכל שאר פרטי הלכות עשיית התפילין שנאמרו בע"פ

with all the other detailed rulings governing the making of tefillin, that were stated orally, i.e., that are found in the Oral Torah.

ועל ידך היא הזרוע דוקא ולא כף היד ובין עיניך זה קדקוד ולא המצח

Also, "on your hand" refers only to the arm, and not to the palm of the hand;5 and "between your eyes" refers to the scalp, and not to the forehead.6

It is thus only the detailed halachot of the Oral Torah that enable us to perform this mitzvah in keeping with the Supernal Will.

וכן כל מצות שבתורה בין מ"ע בין מצות ל"ת אינן גלויות וידועות ומפורשות אלא ע"י תורה שבע"פ

Likewise all the commandments of the Torah, whether they be positive precepts or prohibitory precepts, are not revealed and known and made explicit except through the Oral Torah.

כמצות ל"ת שנאמר בשבת לא תעשה מלאכה ולא פי' מה היא מלאכה

For instance, the prohibitory precept that has been stated with respect to the Sabbath, "You shall do no work":7[the Written Torah] does not specify what constitutes work.

ובתורה שבע"פ נתפרש שהן ל"ט מלאכות הידועות ולא טלטול אבנים וקורות כבידות

In the Oral Torah, however, it is explicated8 to refer to the well-known 39 forms of work, and not (only) to the carrying of stones or heavy beams, which is only Rabbinically prohibited.9

Though carrying rocks and beams is more tiring than some of the39 prohibited forms of work, it does not fall into any of the categories of work that the Torah prohibits on Shabbat.

According to the alternative reading of our text ("and not only to the carrying of stones or heavy beams"), this work is prohibited by the Torah. Thus the Ramban on Parshat Emor10 states that the term Shabbaton ("a day of rest") that is used with regard to Yom Tov- and the same applies with regard to the commandment tishbot ("you shall rest") of Shabbat - refers also to those activities that do not formally fall within the 39 defined categories of prohibited work, but are nevertheless prohibited by the Torah since they rob a person of his rest and tranquillity.

In the first of his comments on this subject, the Maggid Mishneh argues that the Rambam11 also holds that "you shall rest "forbids even strenuous work that does not fall within any of the39 categories governed by the prohibition, "Do not do any work." (Though the Lechem Mishneh refutes this argument, this remains the view of the Maggid Mishneh.)

Others hold12 that both readings are valid. Each corresponds to one side of a debate in the Yerushalmi13 as to whether or not the Torah prohibits certain forms of work during the Sabbatical year (and by extension, during Shabbat as well) because it is a time of rest, even when there is no additional specific prohibition.

וכיוצא בהן הן כל המצות בין מ"ע בין מל"ת הן סתומות ולא מפורשות וגלויות וידועות אלא ע"י תורה שבע"פ

And as it is with these - [with the above examples of tefillin and Shabbat] - so it is with all the commandments, whether they be positive precepts or prohibitory precepts: they are indistinct, and are explicated and revealed and known only through the Oral Torah.

ומשום הכי כתיב על תושבע"פ אל תטוש תורת אמך כמ"ש בזהר

This is why Scripture says14 of the Oral Torah, "And you shall not cast off the teaching of your mother," as stated in theZohar.15

משום שעד"מ כמו שכל אברי הולד כלולים בטיפת האב בהעלם גדול והאם מוציאתו לידי גילוי בלידתה ולד שלם ברמ"ח אברים ושס"ה גידים

Metaphorically speaking, just as all the organs of a child are comprised, very latently, in the sperm of the father, and the mother brings this out into a state of manifestation when giving birth to a child complete with 248 organs and 365 sinews,

This is an instance of the16 "superior measure of Binah that was granted to woman," the power to make latent gifts manifest and corporeal].

ככה ממש כל רמ"ח מ"ע ושס"ה מל"ת באים מההעלם אל הגילוי בתושבע"פ

exactly so, do the 248 positive precepts and the 365 prohibitory precepts emerge from obscurity to manifestation through the Oral Torah, which is therefore called the "teachings of your mother."

ורישי' דקרא שמע בני מוסר אביך קאי אתורה שבכתב דנפקא מחכמה עילאה הנק' בשם אב

Whereas the beginning of the verse, "Heed, my son, the admonitions of your father," alludes to the Written Torah, which derives from the Supernal Chochmah which is called "father".

וז"ש אשת חיל עטרת בעלה כי התורה שבע"פ הנק' אשת חיל המולידה ומעמדת חיילות הרבה

This, then, is the meaning of the verse [quoted at the outsetof the present Epistle], "A woman of valor is the crown of her husband." For the Oral Torah is termed a "woman of valor" who gives birth to, and raises many legions.

כמ"ש ועלמות אין מספר אל תקרי עלמות אלא עולמות אלו הלכות דלית לון חושבנא כמ"ש בתיקונים

As it is written,17 "and alamot ('maidens') without number": Do not read alamot but olamot ('worlds'),"18 [these innumerable worlds] alluding to the halachot that are without number, as stated in the Tikkunim.19

וכולן הן בחי' גילוי רצון העליון ב"ה הנעלם בתושב"כ

All of these [halachot] are manifestations of the Supernal Will which is hidden in the Written Torah.

The Oral Torah is thus called a "woman of valor," for it givesbirth to multitudinous legions of laws.

The Alter Rebbe will now answer one of his opening questions: Why is it that specifically halachot are referred to as the "crown of the Torah"? Also, why is the individual who studies specifically halachot every day assured of a share in the World to Come?

ורצון העליון ב"ה הוא למעלה מעלה ממעלת חכמה עילאה וכמו כתר ועטרה שעל המוחין שבראש

The Supernal Will which belongs to the Sefirah of Keter, lit., "crown" is exceedingly more sublime than the level of the Supernal Chochmah, just as a crown or wreath is higher than the brains in the head.

לכן נקראו ההלכות בשם תגא וכתרה של תורה

This is why the halachot are referred to as a "crown" and the "crown of the Torah," for they reveal the Supernal Will, which is at the level of Keter.

והשונה הלכות מובטח לו שהוא בן עוה"ב

Likewise, "Whoever studies [specifically] halachot is assured of a share in the World to Come,"

ע"י התלבשות נר"נ שלו ברצון העליון ב"ה

by investing his Nefesh, Ruach and Neshamah in the Supernal Will,


as stated above - that the garments for the soul in the World to Come are the mitzvot; these embody the Supernal Will, which is clarified and delineated by the halachot.