For this reason, it has been said: “One hour of repentance and good deeds in this world is better than the whole life of the World to Come,”15

וְלָכֵן אָמְרוּ: "יָפָה שָׁעָה אַחַת בִּתְשׁוּבָה וּמַעֲשִׂים טוֹבִים בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה מִכָּל חַיֵּי עוֹלָם הַבָּא",

for the reward in the World to Come consists of enjoying the radiance of the Divine Presence;16 it is the pleasure derived from comprehension of G-dliness.

כִּי עוֹלָם הַבָּא הוּא שֶׁנֶּהֱנִין מִזִּיו הַשְּׁכִינָה, שֶׁהוּא תַּעֲנוּג הַהַשָּׂגָה,

Now no created being, even a spiritual being of the higher realms such as angels or souls, can comprehend any more than a glimmer of the Divine light,

וְאִי אֶפְשָׁר לְשׁוּם נִבְרָא, אֲפִילוּ מֵהָעֶלְיוֹנִים, לְהַשִּׂיג, כִּי אִם אֵיזוֹ הֶאָרָה מֵאוֹר ה',

for which reason the reward of the souls in the World to Come is referred to as “the radiance of the Divine Presence,” since it is no more than a remote gleam of the Divine light.

וְלָכֵן נִקְרָא בְּשֵׁם "זִיו הַשְּׁכִינָה";

But as for the essence and glory of the Holy One, blessed be He, “no thought can apprehend Him at all.”

אֲבָל הַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא בִּכְבוֹדוֹ וּבְעַצְמוֹ – לֵית מַחֲשָׁבָה תְּפִיסָא בֵיהּ כְּלָל,

Only when it apprehends and clothes itself in Torah and its mitzvot does it grasp and clothe itself in G-d Himself,

כִּי אִם כַּאֲשֶׁר תְּפִיסָא וּמִתְלַבֶּשֶׁת בַּתּוֹרָה וּמִצְוֹתֶיהָ, אֲזַי הִיא תְּפִיסָא וּמִתְלַבֶּשֶׁת בְּהַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא מַמָּשׁ,

for “Torah and the Holy One, blessed be He, are one and the same.”

דְּאוֹרַיְיתָא וְקוּדְשָׁא־בְּרִיךְ־הוּא כּוּלָּא חַד.

Hence the superiority of Torah and mitzvot in this world over the life of the World to Come. In the World to Come, the soul grasps only a glimmer of G-dliness; in this world, through Torah and mitzvot, it is united with G-d Himself.

Although the Torah has been clothed in lowly material things, and it is only these material things that man’s intellect grasps when studying Torah, not the essence of G-d’s will and wisdom,

וְאַף שֶׁהַתּוֹרָה נִתְלַבְּשָׁה בִּדְבָרִים תַּחְתּוֹנִים גַּשְׁמִיִּים –

it is, by way of illustration, like one who embraces a king.

הֲרֵי זֶה כִּמְחַבֵּק אֶת הַמֶּלֶךְ דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל,

There is no difference in the degree of his closeness and attachment to the king whether he embraces him when the king is wearing one robe or many robes,

שֶׁאֵין הֶפְרֵשׁ בְּמַעֲלַת הִתְקָרְבוּתוֹ וּדְבֵיקוּתוֹ בַּמֶּלֶךְ, בֵּין מְחַבְּקוֹ כְּשֶׁהוּא לָבוּשׁ לְבוּשׁ אֶחָד בֵּין שֶׁהוּא לָבוּשׁ כַּמָּה לְבוּשִׁים,

since the king’s body is in them.

מֵאַחַר שֶׁגּוּף הַמֶּלֶךְ בְּתוֹכָם.

Similarly, when a Jew “embraces” G-d’s wisdom in Torah study, the fact that His wisdom is clothed in material “robes” is irrelevant.

Another point understood from this analogy: in the study of Torah, man is also “embraced,” enveloped and encompassed by, G-d’s wisdom that the Torah contains—as the Alter Rebbe continues:

Similarly, when the king embraces one with his arm, though it be dressed in his robes.

וְכֵן אִם הַמֶּלֶךְ מְחַבְּקוֹ בִּזְרוֹעוֹ, גַּם שֶׁהִיא מְלוּבֶּשֶׁת תּוֹךְ מַלְבּוּשָׁיו,

To illustrate that Torah is analogous to a royal embrace, the Alter Rebbe quotes:

As it is written, “His (G-d’s) right hand embraces me,”17

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "וִימִינוֹ תְחַבְּקֵנִי",

which refers to Torah, called “the right hand” because Torah was given by G-d’s “right hand,”18

שֶׁהִיא הַתּוֹרָה שֶׁנִּתְּנָה מִיָּמִין,

for [Torah] is related to the attribute of chesed (“kindness”) and water.

שֶׁהִיא בְּחִינַת חֶסֶד וּמַיִם:

As explained in the Kabbalah, the right hand represents both chesed and water (and, as said earlier, Torah is compared to water), and the left hand represents gevurah (“severity”) and fire. When the verse states that G-d’s right hand “embraces me,” the intention is that G-d “embraces” and envelops the soul through Torah—G-d’s “right hand.”

Thus, the bond that Torah study creates between the soul and G-d is two-fold: The soul “embraces” G-d and is “embraced” by G-d. In this, Torah study is superior to other mitzvot, as discussed in the following chapter.