Here below, however, this union is within the limits of time, for in this world, the soul is under the dominion of time, and the soul is united with G-d only while it is engaged in Torah study or in the performance of a mitzvah.

אֶלָּא שֶׁלְּמַטָּה, הוּא תַּחַת הַזְּמַן וּבְאוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה לְבַדָּהּ שֶׁעוֹסֵק בָּהּ בַּתּוֹרָה אוֹ בְּמִצְוָה,

For if he engages afterward in anything else, he becomes separated, here below, from this supernal union (—that is, if he occupies himself with absolutely unnecessary matters that are in no way useful in the service of G-d).

כִּי אַחַר כָּךְ, אִם עוֹסֵק בְּדָבָר אַחֵר – נִפְרָד מֵהַיִּחוּד הָעֶלְיוֹן לְמַטָּה, [וְהַיְינוּ, כְּשֶׁעוֹסֵק בִּדְבָרִים בְּטֵלִים לְגַמְרֵי, שֶׁאֵין בָּהֶם צוֹרֶךְ כְּלָל לַעֲבוֹדַת ה'.]

Nevertheless, when he repents and resumes his service of G-d through Torah study or prayer and he asks forgiveness of G-d for not having studied Torah at the time of his occupation in vain matters when he could have done so, G-d forgives him.

וְאַף־עַל־פִּי־כֵן, כְּשֶׁחוֹזֵר וְשָׁב לַעֲבוֹדַת ה' אַחַר כָּךְ, לְתוֹרָה וְלִתְפִלָּה, וּמְבַקֵּשׁ מְחִילָה מֵה' עַל שֶׁהָיָה אֶפְשָׁר לוֹ לַעֲסוֹק אָז בַּתּוֹרָה וְלֹא עָסַק, ה' יִסְלַח לוֹ,

As our Sages have said, “If one neglected to perform a positive precept and repented, he is pardoned forthwith”13 and is thus reunited, even here below, with G-d and His will.

כְּמַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: "עָבַר עַל מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה וְשָׁב לֹא זָז מִשָּׁם עַד שֶׁמּוֹחֲלִין לוֹ".

For this reason, i.e., because such a request for forgiveness is immediately effective in reuniting the soul to G-d so that it will not be parted from Him even momentarily, the Sages ordained that the blessing beginning “Forgive us…,” in which we beg forgiveness for the sin of neglecting the study of the Torah, be recited as often as three times daily, since no one escapes this sin even a single day.

וְלָזֶה, תִּקְּנוּ בִּרְכַּת "סְלַח לָנוּ" שָׁלֹשׁ פְּעָמִים בְּכָל יוֹם – עַל עֲוֹן בִּיטּוּל תּוֹרָה, שֶׁאֵין אָדָם נִיצּוֹל מִמֶּנּוּ בְּכָל יוֹם;

This [blessing] is like the daily burnt-offering sacrificed in the Holy Temple that atoned for neglect of the positive precepts.

וּכְמוֹ הַתָּמִיד – שֶׁהָיָה מְכַפֵּר עַל מִצְוַֹת עֲשֵׂה.

Yet it may be argued: Since this sin is repeated constantly, begging forgiveness for it is similar to saying, “I will sin and repent, sin and repent.” Our Sages have said14 that in such a case, G-d does not grant the sinner the opportunity to repent; why, then, should the request beginning “Forgive us…” be effective in the case of neglecting Torah study? The Alter Rebbe now differentiates between the two cases.

This is not the same as saying, “I will sin and repent, sin and repent,” unless at the very time when one commits the sin, he relies on subsequent repentance and sins because of it, as explained elsewhere.15

וְאֵין זֶה "אֶחֱטָא וְאָשׁוּב", אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן, שֶׁבִּשְׁעַת הַחֵטְא מַמָּשׁ, הוּא סוֹמֵךְ עַל הַתְּשׁוּבָה וּלְכָךְ חוֹטֵא, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּמָקוֹם אַחֵר:

Since he perverted the idea of repentance by using it as an excuse for sinning, he is not given the opportunity to practice it. However, in our case of the oft-repeated sin of neglecting to study Torah, the offender does not rely on teshuvah at the time of his sin, and he is therefore granted the opportunity to ask for forgiveness thrice daily in the blessing of “Forgive us.”

At any rate, we see that the union of the soul with G-d that is effected through the mitzvot is eternal. When one considers that he would gladly give up his life so as not to be (even momentarily) parted from G-d by practicing idolatry, he will realize that he surely ought to exert himself in performing the mitzvot which bind him to G-d forever.

The Alter Rebbe has thus demonstrated how being aware of one’s willingness to sacrifice his life for G-d affects both the areas of “turning away from evil” and “doing good,” i.e., the observance of the negative and positive commandments, respectively. It follows that this awareness should constantly be on one’s mind so that he will always be ready to apply it to his performance of the mitzvot.

ln light of the above, it will be understood why Moshe Rabbeinu, peace be upon him, commanded in the Book of Deuteronomy (—not in the earlier books of the Torah addressed to the generation of Jews who wandered in the desert,16 but) to the generation that entered the Holy Land that they (too and not only the subsequent generations15) recite the Shema twice daily, the intention in the Shema being to acknowledge the Kingdom of Heaven with self-sacrifice; i.e., the Shema teaches us to accept martyrdom for the sanctification of G-d’s Name.

וּבָזֶה יוּבַן, לָמָּה צִוָּה מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּינוּ עָלָיו הַשָּׁלוֹם, בְּמִשְׁנֵה תוֹרָה, לַדּוֹר שֶׁנִּכְנְסוּ לָאָרֶץ, לִקְרוֹת קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע פַּעֲמַיִם בְּכָל יוֹם, לְקַבֵּל עָלָיו מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם בִּמְסִירַת נֶפֶשׁ,

Now one may ask: Why was it necessary for our forefathers to prepare themselves for martyrdom? Had they not been promised that “G-d will lay the fear and dread of you [upon all the inhabitants of the land]”?17

וַהֲלֹא הִבְטִיחַ לָהֶם: "פַּחְדְּכֶם וּמוֹרַאֲכֶם יִתֵּן ה' וְגוֹ'";

They had no reason to fear that anyone would attempt to force them to deny the Kingdom of Heaven, necessitating self-sacrifice to resist such efforts. In this sense, they were as well protected as the Jews who traveled the desert with Moses (who were not commanded to recite the Shema).18 We must therefore conclude that preparation for martyrdom is necessary not only to ensure that it will be put into practice if and when necessary,

but because the fulfillment of the Torah and its commandments is contingent on one’s being constantly aware of his readiness to surrender his life to G-d for the sake of His unity, i.e., that a person remember that he would be willing to sacrifice his life for the sake of G-d’s unity if the situation would warrant it—which is the message contained in the Shema; he must therefore recite it twice daily, morning and evening, so that this awareness will be fixed permanently in his heart and will not depart from his memory night and day.

אֶלָּא, מִשּׁוּם שֶׁקִּיּוּם הַתּוֹרָה וּמִצְוֹתֶיהָ, תָּלוּי בָּזֶה שֶׁיִּזְכּוֹר תָּמִיד עִנְיַן מְסִירַת נַפְשׁוֹ לַה' עַל יִחוּדוֹ, שֶׁיִּהְיֶה קָבוּעַ בְּלִבּוֹ תָּמִיד מַמָּשׁ, יוֹמָם וָלַיְלָה לֹא יָמִישׁ מִזִּכְרוֹנוֹ,

In this way, one is able to withstand his evil inclination and to vanquish it at every time and every moment, even after Moses’ passing, whenever Jews are engaged in an intense struggle with the evil inclination, as it is written:19 “G-d said to Moses, ‘Behold, you are about to sleep with your fathers, and this people will rise up and stray…,’”18

כִּי, בָּזֶה יוּכַל לַעֲמוֹד נֶגֶד יִצְרוֹ לְנַצְּחוֹ תָּמִיד בְּכָל עֵת וּבְכָל שָׁעָה, –

as explained above—that when one remembers that he would be prepared to suffer martyrdom for his love of G-d and his belief in G-d’s unity, he will surely be able to overcome his evil inclination and perform all the mitzvot.

כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל: