The last two essays explained how the observance of the commandments seeks out the exiled sparks hidden in this world and thereby suffuses it with G-dliness. They also pointed out that the same is true of the study of their laws. The present essay goes one step further and explains that the laws of the Torah transcend the world beyond any possible comparison.

When David triumphantly brought back the Ark from its captivity in the hands of the Philistines,1 it was placed on a wagon. David had momentarily forgotten the stipulation of the Torah, “On the shoulder shall they carry it.”2 Commenting on this episode, our Sages teach3 that David’s forgetfulness came as a punishment for his having referred to the laws of the Torah as “songs”: “Your statutes were songs for me in my place of terror.”4

Why should this expression be regarded as an offense, and in what way is it related to its punishment?

These are among the questions discussed in the essay before us, and at greater length in Likkutei Torah and Or Hatorah, and in Derech Mitzvotecha, Mitzvat Masa Ha’aron Bakatef.

“David! You call them songs?!”3

"דָּוִד, זְמִירוֹת קָרִית לְהוּ כוּ'".

Because he had referred to the laws of the Torah as “songs,” David was punished by being made to “stumble in a matter that even school children know”3—that the Ark is to be carried on the shoulders.

In the Zohar,5 we find the expression, “the praise of Torah and its song”—the Torah is a hymn and a song to G-d.

הִנֵּה בַּזֹּהַר: "שְׁבָחָא דְאוֹרַיְיתָא וּרְנָנָה כוּ'".

Let us understand, what is the praise of G-d when a particular object is forbidden or permitted?6

וּלְהָבִין, מַהוּ הַשֶּׁבַח לְהַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא כְּשֶׁזֶּה אָסוּר אוֹ מוּתָּר?

A similar concept is implicit [in the verse], “How great are Your works, O G-d, Your thoughts are very deep.”7

הִנֵּה הוּא עַל דֶּרֶךְ: "מַה גָּדְלוּ מַעֲשֶׂיךָ ה', מְאֹד עָמְקוּ מַחְשְׁבוֹתֶיךָ".

Why does the verse make the deed precede the thought? The Alter Rebbe will soon explain that from an appreciation of G-d’s great works, one begins to understand the depth of His thoughts.

As is known, all the worlds, the exalted and the lowly, are dependent on the meticulous performance of a single mitzvah.

כִּי הִנֵּה נוֹדָע, שֶׁכָּל הָעוֹלָמוֹת עֶלְיוֹנִים וְתַחְתּוֹנִים – תְּלוּיִם בְּדִקְדּוּק מִצְוָה אַחַת,

For example, if an altar offering is valid, then a supernal union in the sefirot is effected, and all the worlds are elevated to receive their life-force and spiritual sustenance.8

דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל: אִם הַקָּרְבָּן כָּשֵׁר – נַעֲשֶׂה יִחוּד עֶלְיוֹן, וְעוֹלִים כָּל הָעוֹלָמוֹת לְקַבֵּל חַיּוּתָם וְשִׁפְעָם:

However, if [the celebrant] altered the precise requirements of the law—if, for example, he received the blood of the offering with his left hand, or in an invalid vessel, or9 if there was a separation10

וְאִם שִׁינָּה – שֶׁקִּיבֵּל הַדָּם בִּשְׂמֹאלוֹ דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל, אוֹ שֶׁלֹּא בִּכְלִי שָׁרֵת כָּשֵׁר, אוֹ שֶׁהָיְתָה חֲצִיצָה,

then all the elevations of the worlds that would have been accomplished are nullified, as is the life-force and sustenance that they would have received from the Source of Life, the Ein Sof, blessed be He.

אֲזַי נִתְבַּטְּלָה עֲלִיּוֹת הָעוֹלָמוֹת וְחַיּוּתָם וְשִׁפְעָם מֵחַיֵּי הַחַיִּים אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא.

So, too, through the use of valid tefillin, there is revealed the supernal intellect of z’eyr anpin and nukva, i.e., za and malchut of Atzilut, the source of life for all the worlds.

וְכֵן בִּתְפִלִּין כְּשֵׁרוֹת, מִתְגַּלִּים מוֹחִין עֶלְיוֹנִים דִּזְעֵיר אַנְפִּין וְנוּקְבָא, שֶׁהֵם מְקוֹר הַחַיִּים לְכָל הָעוֹלָמוֹת,

Yet, through [the omission of] one required detail they are invalidated, and the intellect departs.

וּבְדִקְדּוּק אֶחָד נִפְסָלִין וּמִסְתַּלְּקִין הַמּוֹחִין.

The same applies to the detailed requirements of the prohibitory commandments—a single detail affects all the worlds.

וּכְהַאי גַּוְנָא בְּדִקְדּוּקֵי מִצְוֹת לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה.

Let one therefore ponder how great are the works of G-d in the multiplicity of worlds and all their hosts,

וְהִלְכָךְ, הַמִּתְבּוֹנֵן מַה גָּדְלוּ מַעֲשֵׂי ה' שֶׁבְּרִיבּוּי הָעוֹלָמוֹת וְכָל צְבָאָם,

and how all of these are literally null, relative to any one of the specific requirements of the Torah,

וְאֵיךְ כּוּלָּם בְּטֵלִים בִּמְצִיאוּת לְגַבֵּי דִּקְדּוּק אֶחָד מִדִּקְדּוּקֵי תוֹרָה,

for it is the profundity of the supreme thought and the Divine wisdom.

שֶׁהוּא עוֹמֶק מַחֲשָׁבָה הָעֶלְיוֹנָה וְחָכְמָתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ,

For through [the observance of] one minor specification, all the worlds ascend and receive their life-force and spiritual sustenance—or the reverse, G-d forbid.

אֲשֶׁר בְּדִקְדּוּק קַל עוֹלִים כָּל הָעוֹלָמוֹת וּמְקַבְּלִים חַיּוּתָם וְשִׁפְעָם, אוֹ לְהֵיפֶךְ חַס וְשָׁלוֹם,

In the case of a detailed requirement of a prohibitory commandment, transgression brings about (G-d forbid) a descent in all the worlds.

From this, we may ponder the prodigious profundity of G-d’s thought, which is boundless and endless,

וּמִזֶּה נִתְבּוֹנֵן גְּדוּלַּת עוֹמֶק מַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ, שֶׁהוּא בִּבְחִינַת בְּלִי גְבוּל וְתַכְלִית,

and which infinitely transcends the vitality of all the worlds.

וּמַעֲלָתָהּ לְאֵין קֵץ וְתַכְלִית עַל מַעֲלוֹת חַיּוּת כָּל הָעוֹלָמוֹת,

For their entire vivifying power issues from a minor requirement of [G-d’s thought],

שֶׁכָּל חַיּוּתָם שׁוֹפֵעַ מִדִּקְדּוּק אֶחָד מִמֶּנָּה,

[this requirement being] drawn from its source, namely the depth of G-d’s thought that specified it.

שֶׁהוּא נִמְשָׁךְ מִמְּקוֹרוֹ – הוּא עוֹמֶק מַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ,

Analogously, man’s hair issues from his brain,

כְּמוֹ שְׂעַר הָאָדָם הַנִּמְשָׁךְ מִמּוֹחוֹ עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל,

as is known from Tikkunei Zohar and Idra Rabbah.

וְכַנּוֹדָע מֵהַתִּיקּוּנִים וְהָאִדְרָא רַבָּא.

This was the delight of King David, may he rest in peace, as he sang to gladden his heart in his Torah study during his time of anguish.

וְזֹאת הָיְתָה שִׂמְחַת דָּוִד הַמֶּלֶךְ עָלָיו־הַשָּׁלוֹם, שֶׁהָיָה מְזַמֵּר וּמְרַנֵּן לְשַׂמֵּחַ לִבּוֹ בְּעֵסֶק הַתּוֹרָה בְּעֵת צָרָתוֹ.

He was overjoyed when he contemplated how the entire world is of no account relative to one minor specific detail of the Torah.