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.

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.53

וְהִנֵּה מוּדַעַת זֹאת, כִּי הִנֵּה, רָצוֹן הָעֶלְיוֹן בָּרוּךְ־הוּא הַמְלוּבָּשׁ בְּתַּרְיַ"ג מִצְוֹת שֶׁבַּתּוֹרָה שֶׁבִּכְתָב, הוּא מוּפְלָא וּמְכוּסֶּה, טָמִיר וְנֶעְלָם, וְאֵינוֹ מִתְגַּלֶּה אֶלָּא בַּתּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה,

For example, the precept of tefillin: In the Written Torah, it is stated, “And you shall bind them for a sign on your hand, and they shall be for frontlets between your eyes.”54

כְּמוֹ מִצְוַת תְּפִילִּין, עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בַּתּוֹרָה שֶׁבִּכְתָב: "וּקְשַׁרְתָּם לְאוֹת עַל יָדֶךָ וְהָיוּ לְטוֹטָפוֹת בֵּין עֵינֶיךָ",

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,”

וְהוּא מַאֲמָר סָתוּם וְנֶעְלָם, שֶׁלֹּא פֵירֵשׁ הַכָּתוּב אֵיךְ וּמַה לִּקְשׁוֹר, וּמַהוּ "טוֹטָפוֹת", וְהֵיכָן הוּא "בֵּין עֵינֶיךָ" וְ"עַל יָדֶךָ",

until the Oral Torah explicates55 that one needs to bind a single box on the hand, and four boxes on the head, containing four Scriptural passages.

עַד שֶׁפֵּירְשָׁה תּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה, שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לִקְשׁוֹר בַּיִת אֶחָד עַל הַיָּד וְד' בָּתִּים עַל הָרֹאשׁ, וּבְתוֹכָם ד' פָּרָשִׁיּוֹת,

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,56

וְהַבָּתִּים יִהְיוּ מֵעוֹר מְעוּבָּד, וּמְרוּבָּעִים דַּוְקָא, וּמְקוּשָּׁרִים בִּרְצוּעוֹת שֶׁל עוֹר שְׁחוֹרוֹת דַּוְקָא,

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

וְכָל שְׁאָר פְּרָטֵי הִלְכוֹת עֲשִׂיַּית הַתְּפִילִּין שֶׁנֶּאֶמְרוּ בְּעַל פֶּה,

Also, “on your hand” refers only to the arm and not to the palm of the hand,57 and “between your eyes” refers to the scalp and not to the forehead.58

וְ"עַל יָדֶךָ" הִיא הַזְּרוֹעַ דַּוְקָא וְלֹא כַּף הַיָּד, וּ"בֵין עֵינֶיךָ" זֶה קָדְקוֹד וְלֹא הַמֵּצַח.

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

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.

וְכֵן כָּל מִצְוֹת שֶׁבַּתּוֹרָה, בֵּין מִצְוֹת עֲשֵׂה בֵּין מִצְוֹת לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה – אֵינָן גְּלוּיוֹת וִידוּעוֹת וּמְפוֹרָשׁוֹת אֶלָּא עַל־יְדֵי תּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה,

For instance, the prohibitory precept that has been stated with respect to the Shabbat, “You shall do no work”59: [the Written Torah] does not specify what constitutes work.

כְּמִצְוַת לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בְּשַׁבָּת: "לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה מְלָאכָה", וְלֹא פֵירֵשׁ מַה הִיא מְלָאכָה,

In the Oral Torah, however, it is explicated60 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.61

וּבַתּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה נִתְפָּרֵשׁ שֶׁהֵן ל"ט מְלָאכוֹת הַיְדוּעוֹת, וְלֹא טִלְטוּל אֲבָנִים וְקוֹרוֹת כְּבֵידוֹת.

Though carrying rocks and beams is more tiring than some of the 39 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 Parashat Emor62 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 tranquility.

In the first of his comments on this subject, the Maggid Mishneh argues that Maimonides63 also maintains that “you shall rest” forbids even strenuous work that does not fall within any of the 39 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 maintain64 that both readings are valid. Each corresponds to one side of a debate in the Jerusalem Talmud65 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.

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.

וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָהֶן הֵן כָּל הַמִּצְוֹת, בֵּין מִצְוֹת עֲשֵׂה בֵּין מִצְוֹת לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה, הֵן סְתוּמוֹת וְלֹא מְפוֹרָשׁוֹת וּגְלוּיוֹת וִידוּעוֹת, אֶלָּא עַל־יְדֵי תּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה.

This is why Scripture says66 of the Oral Torah, “And you shall not cast off the teaching of your mother,” as stated in the Zohar.67

וּמִשּׁוּם הָכֵי כְּתִיב עַל תּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה: "אַל תִּטּוֹשׁ תּוֹרַת אִמֶּךָ", כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּזֹּהַר,

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,

מִשּׁוּם שֶׁעַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּל אֵבְרֵי הַוָּלָד כְּלוּלִים בְּטִיפַּת הָאָב בְּהֶעְלֵם גָּדוֹל, וְהָאֵם מוֹצִיאָתוֹ לִידֵי גִּילּוּי בְּלֵידָתָהּ וָלָד שָׁלֵם בְּרַמַ"ח אֵבָרִים וְשַׁסַ"ה גִידִים,

This is an instance of the “superior measure of binah that was granted to woman,”68 the power to make latent gifts manifest and corporeal.

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,”

כָּכָה מַמָּשׁ כָּל רַמַ"ח מִצְוֹת עֲשֵׂה וְשַׁסַ"ה מִצְוֹת לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה בָּאִים מֵהַהֶעְלֵם אֶל הַגִּילּוּי בַּתּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה,

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.”

וְרֵישֵׁיהּ דִּקְרָא: "שְׁמַע בְּנִי מוּסַר אָבִיךָ" קָאֵי אַתּוֹרָה שֶׁבִּכְתָב, דְּנָפְקָא מֵחָכְמָה עִילָּאָה הַנִּקְרֵאת בְּשֵׁם "אָב".

This, then, is the meaning of the verse quoted at the outset of 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.

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "אֵשֶׁת חַיִל עֲטֶרֶת בַּעְלָהּ", כִּי הַתּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה הַנִּקְרֵאת "אֵשֶׁת חַיִל", הַמּוֹלִידָה וּמַעֲמֶדֶת חֲיָילוֹת הַרְבֵּה,

As it is written, “and alamot (‘maidens’) without number”69: Do not read alamot but olamot (‘worlds’),”70 [these innumerable worlds] alluding to the halachot that are without number, as stated in the Tikkunim.71

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "וַעֲלָמוֹת אֵין מִסְפָּר" אַל תִּקְרֵי "עֲלָמוֹת" אֶלָּא "עוֹלָמוֹת" – אֵלּוּ הֲלָכוֹת דְּלֵית לוֹן חוּשְׁבָּנָא, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּתִּיקּוּנִים.

All of these [halachot] are manifestations of the supernal will, which is hidden in the Written Torah.

וְכוּלָּן הֵן בְּחִינַת גִּילּוּי רָצוֹן הָעֶלְיוֹן בָּרוּךְ־הוּא הַנֶּעְלָם בַּתּוֹרָה שֶׁבִּכְתָב,

The Oral Torah is thus called a “woman of valor,” for it gives birth 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?

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.

וְרָצוֹן הָעֶלְיוֹן בָּרוּךְ־הוּא הוּא לְמַעְלָה מַּעְלָה מִמַּעֲלַת חָכְמָה עִילָּאָה, וּכְמוֹ כֶּתֶר וַעֲטָרָה שֶׁעַל הַמּוֹחִין שֶׁבָּרֹאשׁ,

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.

לָכֵן נִקְרְאוּ הַהֲלָכוֹת בְּשֵׁם "תַּגָּא" וְ"כִתְרָהּ שֶׁל תּוֹרָה",

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

וְ"הַשּׁוֹנֶה הֲלָכוֹת מוּבְטָח לוֹ שֶׁהוּא בֶּן עוֹלָם־הַבָּא",

by investing his nefesh, ruach, and neshamah in the supernal will,

עַל־יְדֵי הִתְלַבְּשׁוּת נֶפֶשׁ־רוּחַ־נְשָׁמָה שֶׁלּוֹ בָּרָצוֹן הָעֶלְיוֹן בָּרוּךְ־הוּא,

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.

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