However, for extolling the Torah with this quality, saying, “[Your statutes] were songs for me,” he was punished.

אַךְ מַה שֶּׁהָיָה מִשְׁתַּבֵּחַ בִּתְהִלַּת הַתּוֹרָה בְּמַעֲלָתָהּ זוֹ, וְאָמַר: "זְמִירוֹת הָיוּ לִי כוּ'" נֶעֱנַשׁ עַל זֶה,

G-d reproved him: “You call them songs?!”

וְאָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא "זְמִירוֹת קָרִית לְהוּ"?!

Indeed, this quality [of the Torah], that all the worlds are nothingness compared to one detail of it,

מִשּׁוּם שֶׁבֶּאֱמֶת, מַעֲלָתָהּ זוֹ – שֶׁכָּל הָעוֹלָמוֹת בְּטֵלִים לְגַבֵּי דִּקְדּוּק אֶחָד מִמֶּנָּה,

is [but] of the hinderpart, the externality, of the profound supernal thought.

הִיא מִבְּחִינַת אֲחוֹרַיִים שֶׁל עוֹמֶק הַמַּחֲשָׁבָה,

This is explained elsewhere11 in the name of the Arizal on the teaching of our Sages, “The Torah is the withered vestige of supernal wisdom.”12

כְּמוֹ שֶּׁכָּתוּב בְּמָקוֹם אַחֵר בְּשֵׁם הָאֲרִיזַ"ל עַל מַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: "נוֹבְלוֹת חָכְמָה שֶׁלְּמַעְלָה תּוֹרָה".

However, the innermost core of the depth [of supernal thought], which is the innermost core of the Torah, is utterly fused with the [infinite] Ein Sof-light that is vested within the Torah in a perfect unity.

אֲבָל פְּנִימִית שֶׁבָּעוֹמֶק, שֶׁהוּא פְּנִימִית הַתּוֹרָה, הִיא מְיוּחֶדֶת לְגַמְרֵי בְּאוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא הַמְלוּבָּשׁ בָּהּ – בְּתַכְלִית הַיִּחוּד,

Relative to the Infinite One, all the worlds are as absolute naught, sheer nothingness, nonexistent,

וּלְגַבֵּי אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא, כָּל הָעוֹלָמוֹת כְּלֹא מַמָּשׁ וְאַיִן וָאֶפֶס מַמָּשׁ,

for “You were [the same] before the world was created, [You are the same since the world has been created].”13

כִּי "אַתָּה הוּא עַד שֶׁלֹּא נִבְרָא הָעוֹלָם וְכוּ'".

Being of absolutely no account relative to G-d, all the worlds effect no change in Him.

Hence, the internal aspect of the Torah too (which is wholly united with G-d) is not at all to be lauded as being the animating force of all the worlds, for relative to the internal aspect of the Torah, they are reckoned as nothingness itself.

וְהִלְכָּךְ, גַּם לִפְנִימִיּוּת הַתּוֹרָה – אֵין לְשַׁבְּחָהּ כְּלָל בִּתְהִלַּת חַיּוּת כָּל הָעוֹלָמוֹת, מֵאַחַר דְּלָא מַמָּשׁ חֲשִׁיבֵי,

In this inward aspect of the Torah, there can be no mortal heartfelt joy and delight

וּבִבְחִינַת פְּנִימִיּוּתָהּ אֵינָהּ שִׂמְחַת לְבַב אֱנוֹשׁ וְשַׁעֲשׁוּעָיו,

but rather, in a manner of speaking, the heartfelt joy and pleasure of the King, the Holy One, blessed be He, Who delights in it.

אֶלָּא כִּבְיָכוֹל, שִׂמְחַת לֵב וְשַׁעֲשׁוּעַ הַמֶּלֶךְ הַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא שֶׁמִּשְׁתַּעֲשֵׁעַ בָּהּ,

For [only] “G-d understands its way and knows its station”14 and quality

"כִּי אֱלֹקִים הֵבִין דַּרְכָּהּ וְיָדַע מְקוֹמָהּ" וּמַעֲלָתָהּ,

through His self-knowledge,15 as it were; knowing Himself, he also knows the Torah that is entirely one with Him.

בִּידִיעַת עַצְמוֹ כִּבְיָכוֹל,

This, however, is “concealed from all mortal eyes.”16

אֲבָל "נֶעֶלְמָה מֵעֵינֵי כָל חַי",

As it is written, “My Face—i.e., the innermost dimension of the Torah, its pnimiyut, as implied by the word panimshall not be seen,”17 as is explained there11 in the name of the Arizal.

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "וּפָנַי לֹא יֵרָאוּ", דְּהַיְינוּ בְּחִינַת פְּנִימִיּוּתָהּ, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר שָׁם בְּשֵׁם הָאֲרִיזַ"ל.

Hence, the verse, in which the Torah itself is the speaker, “I was…a delight unto Him,”18

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁאָמַר הַכָּתוּב: "וָאֶהְיֶה אֶצְלוֹ כוּ' שַׁעֲשׁוּעִים" –

specifically “unto Him.”

אֶצְלוֹ דַוְקָא,

The order of the words in the original makes it clear that the Torah is G-d’s delight alone.

[Likewise, in the following phrase] which describes the Torah as causing G-d delight by “playing before Him,”

"מְשַׂחֶקֶת לְפָנָיו" –

the verse specifies the term “before Him”—lefanav, deriving from panim (“face”), which is related to pnimiyut (“inwardness”)—for this refers to the inwardness [of the Torah] that cavorts before the inwardness of the Infinite One.

לְפָנָיו דַּוְקָא, דְּהַיְינוּ בִּבְחִינַת פְּנִימִיּוּתָהּ,

The Alter Rebbe will now explain that this sublime level of Torah in which G-d alone delights descends to nurture the souls of the Jewish people. For this reason, the Midrash calls the Torah uman (lit., “a craftsman”), one who skillfully nurtures a young child.

Concerning this [innermost level of the Torah], it is written, “I was by Him amon (‘one who is nurtured’),”19 [and the Midrash comments], “Do not read amon but omain (‘one who nurtures’).”20

וְעַל זֶה אָמַר "וָאֶהְיֶה אֶצְלוֹ אָמוֹן" אַל תִּקְרֵי "אָמוֹן" אֶלָּא "אוֹמֵן" כוּ'.

This sublime and innermost level of the Torah descends to nurture Jewish souls, inasmuch as they transcend the world. The world, however, is vitalized not by this level of the Torah but by its externality.

It is with reference to the hinderpart (the external aspect of the Torah) that it is written, (and in this verse, the Torah describes itself as) “Playing in the world, His land; and my delights are with mortal men.”21

וְעַל בְּחִינַת אֲחוֹרַיִים אָמַר: "מְשַׂחֶקֶת בְּתֵבֵל אַרְצוֹ, וְשַׁעֲשׁוּעַי אֶת בְּנֵי אָדָם",

It is the external aspect of the Torah that brings delight to the world and to man.

For the Torah was given in states of both inwardness and externality;

כִּי הַתּוֹרָה נִיתְּנָה בִּבְחִינַת פָּנִים וְאָחוֹר,

as it is written concerning the “flying scroll” of Zechariah, “and it was written front and back.”22

כְּדִכְתִיב בִּמְגִילָּה עָפָה דִּזְכַרְיָה: "וְהִיא כְתוּבָה פָּנִים וְאָחוֹר".

Panim (“face” or “front”) is the root of pnimiyut (“inwardness”); achor (“back”) is the root of achorayim (“hinderpart,” i.e., externality).

Since David seized upon [and praised] the hinderpart [of the Torah],

וּלְפִי שֶׁתָּפַס דָּוִד בִּבְחִינַת אֲחוֹרַיִים,

A term such as “songs” relates to the merely external aspect of the Torah that relates to the world and animates it.

he was punished with forgetfulness, which derives from an attitude of externality.

לְכָךְ נֶעֱנַשׁ בְּשִׁכְחָה, הַבָּאָה מִן בְּחִינַת אֲחוֹרַיִים,

A person does not forget things that are truly internalized within him but only things which remain external to him.

He thus became momentarily oblivious to the verse concerning the Ark, “The sacred service is their duty; on the shoulder shall they carry it”—

וְנֶעְלַם מִמֶּנּוּ לְפִי שָׁעָה מַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב: "עֲבוֹדַת הַקֹּדֶשׁ עֲלֵיהֶם בַּכָּתֵף יִשָּׂאוּ"

in order to combine and unite the “shoulders,” which are akin to the hinderpart,

לְחַבֵּר וּלְיַחֵד אֶת הַ"כְּתֵפַיִים", שֶׁהֵן בְּחִינַת אֲחוֹרַיִים,

with the sacred service, viz., the supernal wisdom, which is also called “sacred,” in a manner that reflects inwardness,

אֶל "עֲבוֹדַת הַקֹּדֶשׁ", הִיא חָכְמָה עִילָּאָה, בִּבְחִינַת פָּנִים,

for this state [of inwardness] is the source of the Tablets in the Ark,

שֶׁמִּשָּׁם נִמְשְׁכוּ הַלּוּחוֹת שֶׁבָּאָרוֹן,

of which the verse states, “Written on both their sides…”23

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "כְּתוּבִים מִשְּׁנֵי עֶבְרֵיהֶם כוּ'",

and as explained in the Jerusalem Talmud, Tractate Shekalim,24 [the Tablets] did not have any front (panim) and back (achor)they were entirely panim, signifying pnimiyut (“inwardness”).

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בִּירוּשַׁלְמִי דִשְׁקָלִים, שֶׁלֹּא הָיְתָה בָּהֶן בְּחִינַת פָּנִים וְאָחוֹר,

The purpose of carrying the Ark on the shoulders was thus to connect the external aspect of man with the inwardness of the Torah.

Study that reference (in the Jerusalem Talmud) well.

עַיֵּין שָׁם: