והנה ענין השראת השכינה

The “resting” of the Shechinah means i.e., when we single out a specific object from a world filled with the Shechinah, by saying that the Divine Presence “rests” upon that object, its uniqueness lies in

הוא גילוי אלקותו יתברך ואור אין סוף ברוך הוא באיזה דבר

the revelation of G‑dliness and the Ein Sof-light in that particular object.

והיינו לומר, שאותו דבר נכלל באור ה׳, ובטל לו במציאות לגמרי

This means to say that this object is comprised within G‑d’s light and is nullified out of existence toward Him (i.e., it has no separate identity);

שאז הוא ששורה ומתגלה בו ה׳ אחד

for [only] then can the One G‑d rest upon it (upon that object) and reveal Himself in it.

אבל כל מה שלא בטל אליו במציאות לגמרי, אין אור ה׳ שורה ומתגלה בו

But anything not completely nullified out of existence toward [the G‑dly light] cannot have G‑d’s light rest and reveal itself within it.

ואף צדיק גמור שמתדבק בו באהבה רבה, הרי לית מחשבה תפיסא ביה כלל באמת

Even a perfect tzaddik, who cleaves to Him with “abundant love” — a most lofty level of love and attachment to G‑d; yet even in the case of such a tzaddik “no thought can truly grasp Him at all.”

כי אמיתת ה׳ אלקים אמת הוא יחודו ואחדותו, שהוא לבדו הוא, ואפס בלעדו ממש

For the true implication of the phrase “G‑d is the true L‑rd,” is His Unity and Oneness, that He alone exists and there is absolutely nothing besides Him.

As explained in ch. 20, the statement “G‑d is one” means (not only that He is the sole G‑d, but also) that He is the only being that truly exists. All else is totally nullified before Him.

ואם כן, זה האוהב, שהוא יש ולא אפס, לית מחשבה דיליה תפיסא ביה כלל

If so, this person i.e., the above-mentioned tzaddik who loves [G‑d] and who is a [separate] “being” in his own self-perception (as is evident from the very fact that he loves G‑d), rather than a “nonentity”, no thought of his can grasp Him at all.

ואין אור ה׳ שורה ומתגלה בו, אלא על ידי קיום המצות שהן רצונו וחכמתו יתברך ממש, בלי שום הסתר פנים

Even the tzaddik cannot grasp G‑d and thereby become one with Him through the faculties of his own soul; therefore G‑d’s light does not abide or manifest itself in him except through the fulfillment of the mitzvot, which constitute His actual Will and Wisdom, without any “concealment of Countenance.”* Since the inner aspect of the Divine Will stands revealed only in the mitzvot, it is only by means of them that the light of the Shechinah rests upon man; not through spiritual devotion alone.

הגהה

וכאשר שמעתי ממורי עליו השלום, פירוש וטעם למה שכתוב בעץ חיים שאור אין סוף ברוך הוא אינו מתייחד אפילו בעולם האצילות, אלא על ידי התלבשותו תחלה בספירת חכמה

*NOTE

Concerning his aforementioned statement that the Ein Sof-light reveals itself only within that which is totally nullified before G‑d and absorbed within Him, the Alter Rebbe notes:

This accords with what I heard from my teacher (the Maggid of Mezritch), peace upon him, on the meaning of and the reason behind the statement of the Etz Chayim that the Ein Sof-light does not unite itself even with the World of Atzilut (Emanation) except by first vesting itself in the attribute of Chochmah (Wisdom).

The Maggid (a) explained the meaning of the Ein Sof’s vesting itself in Chochmah; (b) provided the reason that it does not unite with Atzilut except by way of Chochmah.

והיינו משום שאין סוף ברוך הוא, הוא אחד האמת, שהוא לבדו הוא, ואין זולתו, וזו היא מדרגת החכמה וכו׳

This is because the Ein Sof is “the true One”; which means that He alone exists, and there is naught besides Him; and this, in fact, is the level of Chochmah.

The attribute of Chochmah represents the perception of G‑dliness as the sole existing being. This, then, is the meaning of the Ein Sof’s “clothing” itself in the attribute of Chochmah: The revelation of Ein Sof as “One alone, with naught besides Him.” And for this reason the Ein Sof does not unite with any world or level except by way of Chochmah; for, as stated above, G‑d abides (“may be united with”) only where there is no sense of self or separation from Him, only in that which is pervaded with the spirit of “He alone... and naught besides him”; and this spirit constitutes the attribute of Chochmah, as stated.

(This note expresses a profound chassidic concept; after further study of the Tanya, we will understand it more clearly.)

END OF NOTE

The Alter Rebbe now returns to our subject of the light of the Shechinah which rests upon man only through the mitzvot (which alone can serve as oil for this light). He points out that the effect of this light upon the person performing a mitzvah, varies from one category of mitzvot to another.

Those mitzvot performed in one’s thought and speech, cause the light of the Shechinah to rest upon the divine soul alone. Drawing this light upon the body and upon the animal soul requires the performance of mitzvot which involve action, where one harnesses the power of the animal, life-giving soul.1 In the Alter Rebbe’s words: