But let us understand how an etrog, which derives from the 288 sparks that have not yet been purified,

אַךְ לְהָבִין, אֵיךְ הָאֶתְרוֹג שֶׁהוּא מֵרַפַּ"ח שֶׁלֹּא נִבְרְרוּ עֲדַיִין,

Since this physical fruit derives its life-force from kelipat nogah, it contains some element of the 288 sparks of Tohu which have not yet been elevated to Divinity.

and so, too, the parchment scroll of the tefillin, upon which the Torah passages are inscribed,

וְכֵן קְלַף הַתְּפִילִּין,

can elicit light into the vessels of z’eyr anpin and nukva of Atzilut that have already been purified and rectified through the [purifying] Name Mah so that they are a state of G-dliness.

יַמְשִׁיךְ אוֹר בְּכֵלִים דִּזְעֵיר אַנְפִּין וְנוּקְבָא דַּאֲצִילוּת, שֶׁכְּבָר נִבְרְרוּ וְנִתְקְנוּ עַל־יְדֵי שֵׁם "מַ"ה" לִהְיוֹת בְּחִינַת אֱלֹקוּת?

The analogy for this is the process of sowing and planting.

הִנֵּה הַמָּשָׁל לָזֶה – הִיא הַזְּרִיעָה וְהַנְּטִיעָה,

The seed stimulates the power of growth within the soil,

שֶׁהַגַּרְעִין מְעוֹרֵר כֹּחַ הַצּוֹמֵחַ שֶׁבָּאָרֶץ,

which is G-d’s command, “Let the earth sprout forth…fruit trees…”56

שֶׁהוּא דְּבַר ה': "תַּדְשֵׁא הָאָרֶץ כוּ', עֵץ פְּרִי כוּ'",

The actual growth is not from the seed but from the power of growth (as explained above in Epistle 20). The seed merely serves as an “arousal from below,” stimulating the particular aspect of the power of growth that finds expression within it. After the seed decomposes, this particular power becomes incorporated within the universal power of growth that is found in the ground.

It then stimulates the power of growth within the earth to produce the same sort of fruit tree as the seed that was implanted. The essence of the power of growth is the Divine decree, “Let the earth sprout forth…,” which is the ultimate source of all vegetative growth.

The G-d-given ability of the seed to rouse the power of growth acts:

through the elevation of mayin nukvin to its source.

עַל־יְדֵי הַעֲלָאַת "מַיִּין נוּקְבִין" לְשָׁרְשׁוֹ,

The seed, whose source is within the power of growth, serves as an “arousal from below,” from the recipient below to the benefactor. Although the seed that is planted can in no way compare to the power of growth, it can nevertheless arouse this power, for this is its source.

In this manner, the parchment of the tefillin and the etrog of the “Four Species” arouse unto the loftiest of levels; this is the Name Sag, which precedes (and transcends) the shattering of the vessels,

כָּכָה מְעוֹרְרִים הַקְּלָף וְהָאֶתְרוֹג – עַד רוּם הַמַּעֲלוֹת, שֶׁהוּא שֵׁם "סַ"ג" שֶׁלִּפְנֵי הַשְּׁבִירָה,

and which is the very essence of the lights of Adam Kadmon,

שֶׁהוּא מַהוּת וְעַצְמוּת אוֹרוֹת שֶׁבְּ"אָדָם קַדְמוֹן",

As explained above, Adam Kadmon is the first visage and thought of the infinite light as it encompasses all of creation. Here is to be found the essence of the visage and not merely a radiance. Thus, the Divine Name Sag relates to the essence of the illuminations of Adam Kadmon.

and not merely a reflection, as is the Name Mah, which issues from the “forehead.”

וְלֹא הֶאָרָה בְּעָלְמָא כְּמוֹ שֵׁם "מַ"ה" שֶׁמִּמִּצְחוֹ.

All this is accomplished through the actual performance of the commandments of the tefillin and the etrog.

Similarly, the study and careful examination of their laws, the laws regulating these mitzvot,

וְכֵן בְּלִימּוּד וְעִיּוּן הִלְכוֹתֵיהֶן

arouses the chochmah-binah-daat of the ten sefirot of the vessels of z’eyr anpin and nukva,

מְעוֹרֵר בְּחִינַת חָכְמָה־בִּינָה־דַּעַת שֶׁבְּעֶשֶׂר סְפִירוֹת דְּכֵלִים דִּזְעֵיר אַנְפִּין וְנוּקְבָא,

and so upward to the greatest heights, including chochmah-binah-daat of Sag of the inner dimension of Adam Kadmon issuing through the “eyes” [of Adam Kadmon].

וְעַד רוּם הַמַּעֲלוֹת גַּם כֵּן, בְּחִינַת חָכְמָה־בִּינָה־דַּעַת שֶׁבְּ"סַ"ג" דִּפְנִימִית "אָדָם קַדְמוֹן", הַיּוֹצֵא דֶּרֶךְ הָ"עֵינַיִם" כוּ'.

“Eyes,” signifying sight, denote an inner and essential level of Divinity, unlike the external aspect denoted by “forehead.”

In summary, practical mitzvot performed with physical objects arouse their source unto the loftiest of levels, unto the Divine Name Sag, the level that transcends the “breaking of the vessels.” This is also true with regard to studying the laws of these mitzvot; study likewise effects an elevation to this lofty level, for the study of a mitzvah is likened to its actual performance.

What, however, happens when one studies the laws of prohibitory commands? One cannot say that this study too is regarded “as if he performed them.” Particularly so, with regard to those instances that do not occur in practice at all. For with regard to those that can occur, we at least say that “if one remains passive and does not transgress, he is rewarded as if he had performed a positive command.”57 However, when the relevant opportunity does not occur at all, this obviously does not apply. Yet despite all this, it was stated above that one should study the laws to an even greater extent than one studies the order of Hishtalshelut, even though a study of the latter leads to a love and fear of G-d!

The Alter Rebbe now addresses this issue, explaining that there is a certain aspect of Torah study that is common to both positive and negative commandments: Simply studying a subject, even if it has no practical application, binds the individual to supernal wisdom, inasmuch as this is the source from which all the detailed laws emanate.

All the foregoing, i.e., as to how through observing the practical mitzvot and studying their laws one attains to the Divine Name Sag that transcends the “breaking of the vessels,”

וְכָל הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

concerns positive commandments but not, it would seem, the study of particulars of the prohibitions,

הוּא בְּמִצְוֹת עֲשֵׂה, אֲבָל לֹא בְּלִימּוּד פְּרָטֵי הִלְכוֹת אִיסּוּרֵי לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה לִכְאוֹרָה,

particularly those that do not occur in practice at all, for in these cases, we cannot even state that “if one remains passive and does not transgress, he is rewarded as if he had performed a positive command,”

וּבִפְרָט בִּדְלָא שְׁכִיחֵי כְּלָל

for example, the detailed laws of pigul and the like, which presently have no practical application.

כְּמוֹ פְּרָטֵי הִלְכוֹת פִּיגּוּל וּכְהַאי גַּוְנָא.

Why should these laws too be studied extensively, and in fact even more than one studies the order of hishtalshelut, which can rouse one to a love and awe of G-d?