כי השכל שבנפש המשכלת כשמתבונן ומעמיק מאד בגדולת ה׳

For when the intellect in the rational soul deeply contemplates and immerses itself exceedingly in the greatness of G-d,

איך הוא ממלא כל עלמין

how He fills all worlds,

i.e., how G-d animates all of creation with an immanent divine light and life-force (just as the soul fills and gives life to every part of the body) — a life-force which clothes itself in and unifies itself with each creature, and which adapts itself to the individual needs of that creature,

וסובב כל עלמין

and when one further contemplates how He encompasses all worlds,1

He illuminates the worlds with a G-dly light and life-force that is far beyond the capacity of the worlds to receive internally; rather, it affects them in an encompassing manner.

וכולא קמיה כלא חשיב

Or, when one contemplates another aspect of G-d’s greatness, namely, how in His presence all creation is considered as naught, —2

נולדה ונתעוררה מדת יראת הרוממות במוחו ומחשבתו

Upon contemplating and immersing oneself in any of the above-mentioned aspects of G-d’s greatness the middah of awe for the Divine Majesty will be born and aroused in one’s mind and thought,

לירא ולהתבושש מגדולתו יתברך, שאין לה סוף ותכלית

to fear and be humble before His blessed greatness, which is without end or limit,

i.e., the fear will be coupled and permeated with humility, as in the awe one feels in the presence of a very wise or righteous person, which expresses one’s bashfulness and humility before him,

ופחד ה׳ בלבו

and there will also be born a dread of G-d in his heart.

This explains how contemplating G-d’s greatness arouses a fear and dread of Him — an expression of the attribute of Gevurah.

ושוב יתלהב לבו באהבה עזה כרשפי אש, בחשיקה וחפיצה ותשוקה ונפש שוקקה

Next his contemplation will give birth to the attribute of Chesed, expressed as a love of G-d, so that his heart will glow with an intense love of G-d like fiery flames, with a passion, desire and longing, and a yearning soul

לגדולת אין סוף ברוך הוא

(each of these expressions — “fiery flames,” “passion”, and so on, denoting a different grade of love) toward the greatness of the blessed Ein Sof.

והיא כלות הנפש, כדכתיב: נכספה וגם כלתה נפשי וגו׳, וכתיב: צמאה נפשי לאלקים וגו׳, וכתיב צמאה לך נפשי וגו׳

This is what is meant by the term kalot hanefesh (“a consuming passion of the soul”), as it is written:3 “My soul longs [for You]; indeed, it faints…,” and4 “My soul thirsts for G-d …,” and again,5 “My soul thirsts for You.”

So intense can one’s love become that the soul risks being consumed in the fiery flames of its love of G-d, and totally leaving the body. In fact, were one not to forestall this danger, and contain this great love, he would indeed expire. But he restrains himself so that his soul will remain clothed in his body — the only condition in which it is possible for him to fulfill his G-d-given mission.

והצמאון הוא מיסוד האש שבנפש האלקית

This loving thirst is derived from the element of Fire in the divine soul.

וכמו שכתבו הטבעיים, וכן הוא בעץ חיים, שיסוד האש הוא בלב

As students of natural science affirm, and so it is in Etz Chayim, the element of Fire is in the heart,

ומקור המים והליחות מהמוח

while the source of [the element of] Water and moisture is in the brain,

וכמו שכתוב בעץ חיים שער נ׳, שהיא בחינת חכמה שנקרא מים שבנפש האלקית

As explained in Etz Chayim, Portal 50, [the source of the element of Water] is the level of Chochmah which is called “the water of the divine soul.”

Inasmuch as the heart is the seat of the emotions — of warmth — we say that it is the abode of the element of Fire. In contrast, the brain — being the seat of “cold” intellect, calm and measured intelligence — is the source of the element of Water. One can readily observe this by comparing the demeanor of an emotional person to that of an intellectual.

So, too, with the intellect and emotions of the divine soul: the heat and passion of one’s love of G-d is expressed in the heart, ultimately leading him to expire in kalot hanefesh. The mind, however, remains cool. This capacity of the intellect for calm appraisal of a situation leads it to comprehend that G-d’s intent is that the soul remain clothed in the body so that it will be able to fulfill the Torah and its commandments. This realization cools the fiery ardor of the heart and thus prevents the soul from actually expiring in kalot hanefesh.

The Alter Rebbe’s discussion of the birth of middot from the intellect has thus far been centered on two emotions: love and fear of G-d. What of the others?

ושאר המדות כולן הן ענפי היראה והאהבה ותולדותיהן, כמו שכתוב במקום אחר

The rest of the remaining five middot are all offshoots and derivatives of fear and love (and obviously they, too, are born of Chochmah and Binah), as is explained elsewhere.

All the above explains why Chochmah and Binah are called the “father” and “mother” of the middot, for it is through the contemplation exercised by Chochmah and Binah that the middot are born. Chochmah is called the “father”. Just as the drop of semen which derives from the father’s brain comprises, in concentrated and concealed form, all the organs of the child’s body, similarly the seminal point of Chochmah contains, in a concealed manner, all the details of an idea, as explained above. And just as it is the mother who reveals the child’s organs from their concealed state, and brings them to a state of completion, similarly, Binah reveals, expands and elucidates the concept in all its details.

But what of Daat, the third of the intellectual faculties? Daat too, as explained earlier, is a “mother” and source of middot. What does it contribute to their birth? This issue is now addressed.

והדעת הוא מלשון: והאדם ידע את חוה, והוא לשון התקשרות והתחברות

Daat, whose etymology may be found in the verse,6 “And Adam knew (ידע) Eve,” implies attachment and union.

שמקשר דעתו בקשר אמיץ וחזק מאד, ויתקע מחשבתו בחוזק, בגדולת אין סוף ברוך הוא, ואינו מסיח דעתו

(As applied to Daat of the divine soul, this means) binding one’s mind with a very firm, strong bond and firmly fixing one’s thought on the greatness of the blessed Ein Sof, without diverting his mind from it (i.e., the subject matter conceived in Chochmah and developed in Binah is absorbed in the mind by concentration, Daat.)

כי אף מי שהוא חכם ונבון בגדולת אין סוף ברוך הוא, הנה אם לא יקשר דעתו ויתקע מחשבתו בחוזק ובהתמדה

For even one who is wise (by utilizing his faculty of Chochmah) and understanding (by exercising his faculty of Binah) in the greatness of the blessed Ein Sof, yet, unless he applies his Daat and fixes his thought firmly and diligently on his understanding of G-d’s greatness,

לא יוליד בנפשו יראה ואהבה אמיתית, כי אם דמיונות שוא

he will not produce in his soul true fear and love, but only vain fancies.

He will only imagine that he fears G-d and loves Him. True fear and love are attained only by way of Daat.

ועל כן הדעת הוא קיום המדות וחיותן

Thus, Daat provides the substance and vitality of the middot (and is therefore termed a “mother” of the middot, another parent side by side with Chochmah and Binah).

והוא כולל חסד וגבורה, פירוש: אהבה וענפיה ויראה וענפיה

It comprises Chesed and Gevurah; that is to say, love with those other middot that are its offshoots, and fear with its offshoots.

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