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,2 “On the shoulder shall they carry it.” Commenting on this episode, our Sages3 teach that David’s forgetfulness came as a punishment for his having referred to the laws of the Torah as “songs”:4 “Your statutes were songs for me in my place of terror.”

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 HaAron BaKatef.

דוד, זמירות קרית להו כו׳

“David! You call them songs?!”5

Because he had referred to the laws of the Torah as “songs”, David was punished by being made to6 “stumble in a matter that even schoolchildren know” — that the Ark is to be carried on the shoulders.

הנה בזהר: שבחא דאורייתא ורננה כו׳

In the Zohar7 we find the expression, “the praise of Torah and its song” — the Torah is a hymn and a song to G‑d.

ולהבין מהו השבח להקב״ה, כשזה אסור או מותר

Let us understand, what is the praise of G‑d when a particular object is forbidden or permitted.8

הנה הוא על דרך: מה גדלו מעשיך ה׳, מאד עמקו מחשבותיך

A similar concept is implicit [in the verse],9 “How great are Your works, O G‑d, Your thoughts are very deep.”

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.

כי הנה נודע שכל העולמות, עליונים ותחתונים, תלוים בדקדוק מצוה אחת

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

דרך משל: אם הקרבן כשר, נעשה יחוד עליון, ועולים כל העולמות לקבל חיותם ושפעם

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.10

ואם שינה, שקיבל הדם בשמאלו, דרך משל, או שלא בכלי שרת כשר, או שהיתה חציצה

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, or11 if there was a separation12

אזי נתבטלה עליות העולמות, וחיותם ושפעם מחיי החיים, אין סוף ברוך הוא

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.

וכן בתפילין כשרות, מתגלים מוחין עליונים דזו״נ, שהם מקור החיים לכל העולמות

So, too, through the use of valid tefillin there is revealed the Supernal Intellect of Zu”n, Za and Malchut of Atzilut, the source of life for all the worlds.

ובדקדוק אחד נפסלין, ומסתלקין המוחין

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

וכהאי גוונא בדקדוקי מצות לא תעשה

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

והלכך המתבונן מה גדלו מעשי ה׳ שבריבוי העולמות וכל צבאם

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

ואיך כולם בטלים במציאות, לגבי דקדוק אחד מדקדוקי התורה

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

שהוא עומק מחשבה העליונה וחכמתו יתברך

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

אשר בדקדוק קל, עולים כל העולמות ומקבלים חיותם ושפעם, או להיפך, חס ושלום

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.

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

ומזה נתבונן גדולת עומק מחשבתו יתברך, שהוא בבחינת בלי גבול ותכלית

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

ומעלתה לאין קץ ותכלית על מעלות חיות כל העולמות

and which infinitely transcends the vitality of all the worlds.

שכל חיותם שופע מדקדוק אחד ממנה

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

שהוא נמשך ממקורו, הוא עומק מחשבתו יתברך

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

כמו שער האדם הנמשך ממוחו, על דרך משל

Analogously, man’s hair issues from his brain,

וכנודע מהתיקונים והאידרא רבה

as is known from Tikkunei Zohar and Idra Rabbah.

וזאת היתה שמחת דוד המלך, עליו השלום, שהיה מזמר ומרנן לשמח לבו בעסק התורה בעת צרתו

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.

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