There is yet another common characteristic58 shared by all the laws of the positive and prohibitory commandments, including those that have no practical application.

אַךְ עוֹד זֹאת הַשָּׁוֶה בַּכֹּל,

For (in contradistinction) all intellectually generated fear and love experienced by the angels are created ex nihilo,

כִּי כָּל דְּחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ שִׂכְלִיִּים שֶׁל הַמַּלְאָכִים הֵן בְּחִינוֹת נִבְרָאִים מֵאַיִן לְיֵשׁ,

and they are the (created levels of) nefesh and ruach (and not the G-dly level of neshamah) of the Worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah.

וְהֵן בְּחִינוֹת נֶפֶשׁ רוּחַ דִּבְרִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה.

Now, if the intellectually generated awe and love experienced by mortals can likewise not be compared to the study of the laws, why does the Alter Rebbe here choose to speak of angels?

To explain: (a) The love and fear experienced by souls is different from the souls themselves, for souls are not actual created beings; (b) the love and fear experienced by souls is, after all, a mitzvah, while that of the angels is not. Thus, the angels’ love and fear better stresses their created aspect, and this enables us to understand that even with regard to souls, the essential aspect of love and fear is a created entity. The laws, by contrast, are G-dliness.

However, the detailed laws of the various mitzvot are drawn from the supreme wisdom of the Emanator, blessed be He, which is clothed in physicality within the physical objects to which a particular law applies, such as the law governing the case of “he who exchanges a cow for a donkey,”59 and the like.

אֲבָל פְּרָטֵי הַהֲלָכוֹת – הֵן הַמְשָׁכוֹת חָכְמָה עִילָּאָה דְהַמַּאֲצִיל בָּרוּךְ־הוּא הַמְלוּבֶּשֶׁת בְּגַשְׁמִיּוּת,

This investment of supreme wisdom in the physical aspects of the laws is not similar to the investment of supreme wisdom in intellectually generated fear and love,

וְהַלְבָּשָׁה זוֹ, אֵינָהּ כְּהַלְבָּשַׁת חָכְמָה עִילָּאָה בִּדְחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ שִׂכְלִיִּים,

Supreme wisdom is actually vested in all things, as is soon to be explained. This is especially so with regard to the love and awe which are aroused by intellectual activity, for the source of all such activity is supreme wisdom. In intellectually aroused love and awe, however, the vestiture takes on a different form.

for there, the garment conceals and completely obscures the supreme wisdom that is vested within it,

דְּהָתָם, הַלְּבוּשׁ הוּא מַעֲלִים וּמַסְתִּיר לְגַמְרֵי,

just as the material earth thoroughly conceals the supreme wisdom clothed within it,

כְּהֶסְתֵּר וְהֶעְלֵם הָאָרֶץ הַחוּמְרִיִּית לְגַבֵּי חָכְמָה עִילָּאָה הַמְלוּבֶּשֶׁת בָּהּ,

as it is written concerning all created beings, “All of them You made with Wisdom.”60

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "כּוּלָּם בְּחָכְמָה עָשִׂיתָ",

Supreme wisdom is thus vested within all physical things as well, even the earth—which, however, completely conceals it, just as intellectually aroused love and awe conceal the supreme wisdom vested in them.

This [supreme wisdom] is the externality of the externality of the vessels of malchut of Atzilut found in Asiyah that is absolutely hidden in the ruach-nefesh of Asiyah.

וְהַיְינוּ, חִיצוֹנִיוּת דְּחִיצוֹנִיּוּת דְּכֵלִים דְּמַלְכוּת דַּאֲצִילוּת שֶׁבַּעֲשִׂיָּה, שֶׁהִיא מְסוּתֶּרֶת לְגַמְרֵי בְּרוּחַ־נֶפֶשׁ דַּעֲשִׂיָּה,

Malchut of Atzilut with the externality of the externality of its vessels is wholly concealed in ruach-nefesh of Asiyah. Malchut of Atzilut itself, even the externality of the externality of its vessels, belongs to the realm of the neshamah and of Divinity proper—yet it is entirely hidden within nefesh-ruach, which belongs to the realm of created beings.

Since supreme wisdom is vested in malchut of Atzilut, and malchut of Atzilut illumines Asiyah with its ten sefirot, containing as they do the element of Wisdom as well, we thus have supreme wisdom entirely concealed within the physical earth.

So, too, in Beriah, it is completely hidden in the ruach-nefesh [of Beriah],

וְכֵן בִּבְרִיאָה הִיא מְסוּתֶּרֶת לְגַמְרֵי בְּרוּחַ־נֶפֶשׁ,

which are beings that are created by the concealment and hiding of the Creator from the created.

שֶׁהֵם בְּחִינוֹת נִבְרָאִים בְּהֶסְתֵּר וְהֶעְלֵם הַבּוֹרֵא מֵהַנִּבְרָא.

We thus have here an element of supreme wisdom concealed within intellectually aroused love and fear, the source of which is the World of Beriah, the realm of comprehension.

This is not so, however, with regard to the laws, in which a radiance of the wisdom illuminates them manifestly; they do not conceal it.

מַה־שֶּׁאֵין־כֵּן הַהֲלָכוֹת, הֲרֵי הֶאָרַת הַחָכְמָה מְאִירָה בָּהֶן בְּגִילּוּי,

The garment of Asiyah serves merely as a passage,

וּלְבוּשׁ הָעֲשִׂיָּה הוּא דֶּרֶךְ מַעֲבָר לְבַד,

Though the laws vested in the physical things of this world (the physical World of Asiyah) are thus subject to the concealment that pervades Asiyah, they are not garbed in it to the point that the garment essentially affects the wearer, for they merely pass through the garment of Asiyah.

just as on the festivals, when chesed of Atzilut, which is completely clothed in chesed of Beriah, vivifies this physical world,

כְּמוֹ בְּיוֹם טוֹב, שֶׁחֶסֶד דַּאֲצִילוּת הַמְלוּבָּשׁ לְגַמְרֵי בְּחֶסֶד דִּבְרִיאָה מְחַיֶּה עוֹלָם הַזֶּה הַגַּשְׁמִי,

by passing through the chesed of Yetzirah and of Asiyah;

עַל־יְדֵי מַעֲבַר חֶסֶד דִּיצִירָה וַעֲשִׂיָּה,

this [passage] is also called investment,61

הַנִּקְרָא גַּם כֵּן הִתְלַבְּשׁוּת,

for otherwise, it would not affect the physicality of This World.

שֶׁאִם לֹא כֵן, לֹא הָיָה פּוֹעֵל בְּגַשְׁמִיּוּת עוֹלָם הַזֶּה.

Thus, just as with regard to the festivals, though the animating light first passes through Yetzirah and Asiyah, it is still considered to be an illumination of chesed of Beriah; so, too, with regard to the laws: The light within the laws merely “passes through” the physicality with which they deal; it always retains a radiance of supreme wisdom.

Now, though the physicality of This World as discussed in the law unquestionably conceals completely even the chesed of Asiyahand surely, then, it conceals the diffusion of supreme wisdom,

וְאַף שֶׁגַּשְׁמִיּוּת עוֹלָם הַזֶּה וַדַּאי מַסְתִּיר לְגַמְרֵי אֲפִילוּ הַחֶסֶד דַּעֲשִׂיָּה,

still, the law proper is not actually physical;

מִכָּל מָקוֹם, הַהֲלָכָה עַצְמָהּ – אֵינָהּ גַּשְׁמִיּוּת מַמָּשׁ,

it is the Divine will, drawn from the supreme wisdom, for leniency or severity.

שֶׁהִיא בְּחִינַת רָצוֹן הַנִּמְשָׁךְ מֵחָכְמָה עִילָּאָה לְהָקֵל אוֹ לְהַחֲמִיר,

G-d’s wisdom affirms that it be His will that a particular legal ruling be either lenient or strict.

It is only that this [will] descends and illuminates in revealed fashion in the realm of the physical, just as water descends from a high place, and so on.

רַק שֶׁיּוֹרֵד וּמֵאִיר בִּבְחִינַת גִּילּוּי בְּגַשְׁמִיּוּת, כְּמַיִם הַיּוֹרְדִים מִמָּקוֹם גָּבוֹהַּ כוּ',

It is the very same water that is now to be found in a low place.

The physical object itself which the law discusses does, in fact, utterly obscure,

וְהַדָּבָר הַגַּשְׁמִי עַצְמוֹ שֶׁבּוֹ מְדַבֶּרֶת הַהֲלָכָה, בֶּאֱמֶת – הוּא מַסְתִּיר לְגַמְרֵי,

as, for example, in the law of “one who exchanges a cow for a donkey,”59 or the laws concerning flesh that is pigul, or is not pigul and is kosher.

כְּמוֹ "הַמַּחֲלִיף פָּרָה בַּחֲמוֹר", וְכֵן בְּשַׂר הַפִּיגּוּל אוֹ לֹא פִיגּוּל וְכָשֵׁר.

The actual cow or donkey or flesh do in fact completely conceal the radiance from the supreme wisdom.

In contrast, it was stated above that when holding a physical etrog, one is grasping the G-dly essence of Atzilut. The difference lies in the fact that the etrog is part of the mitzvah. As such, it has no identity other than G-dliness and thus does not conceal it. Since, by contrast, the physical cow or donkey are not part of the law, they can conceal G-dliness. With regard to the human intellect, however, which studies this law, since the “intellectual” cow and donkey are part of the law, they in fact do not act as a concealment.

Only the legal ruling itself with its revealed rationale are from malchut of Beriah (i.e., the reasoning of the Gemara) and of Yetzirah (i.e., the rulings of the Mishnah), of the State of neshamah,

רַק הַהֲלָכָה בְּעַצְמָהּ עִם הַטַּעַם הַנִּגְלֶה, הִיא מִבְּחִינַת מַלְכוּת דִּבְרִיאָה וִיצִירָה דִּבְחִינַת נְשָׁמָה,

which is G-dliness that vivifies and brings into being the nefesh-ruach of Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah, which are in the category of created beings,

שֶׁהוּא אֱלֹקוּת, הַמְחַיֶּה וּמְהַוֶּה נֶפֶשׁ־רוּחַ דִּבְרִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה,

and which are the awe and love of angels and souls and their ChaBaD, i.e., the contemplation of G-d’s greatness that leads to love and fear—all this is created and vivified ex nihilo, as are all created beings.

שֶׁהֵן דְּחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ שֶׁל הַמַּלְאָכִים וְהַנְּשָׁמוֹת וְחָכְמָה־בִּינָה־דַּעַת שֶׁלָּהֶם, מֵאַיִן לְיֵשׁ.

As to this radiance of supreme wisdom that descends through malchut of Beriah and Yetzirah, in the form of Torah as it is found in those worlds prior to its descent below, it therefore slakes [the] thirst of the souls and angels in the Worlds of Beriah and Yetzirah,

וְלָכֵן הִיא מְרַוָה צִמְאוֹנָם

before its descent into This World like descending waters….62

קוֹדֶם שֶׁיָּרְדָה לָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה, כְּמַיִם הַיּוֹרְדִים כוּ'.

Even after it descends into Asiyah, it transcends by far ChaBaD of Asiyah, even of the state of neshamah, which is G-dliness.

וְגַם אַחַר שֶׁיָּרְדָה לַעֲשִׂיָּה, הִיא לְמַעְלָה מַּעְלָה מִבְּחִינַת חָכְמָה־בִּינָה־דַּעַת דַּעֲשִׂיָּה, אֲפִילוּ דִּבְחִינַת נְשָׁמָה – שֶׁהִיא אֱלֹקוּת.

For this is G-dliness of Asiyah while the illumination of supreme wisdom within the laws is the G-dliness of Atzilut.