In the previous chapter, the Alter Rebbe described yet another manner in which a person can perform Torah and mitzvot “with his heart”—with the love and fear of G-d—and that is by utilizing the attribute of Jacob, which is the quality of mercy. In this case, the individual arouses compassion within himself upon his exiled soul and upon its source, the Ein Sof, and in this frame of mind, he studies Torah and performs mitzvot. This endeavor extricates his soul from its spiritual exile (whither it has been banished by his own inappropriate thoughts, words, and deeds) and restores it to its source in the blessed Ein Sof.

In this chapter, the Alter Rebbe goes on to explain how very, very close it is for every Jew to reveal his hidden love of G-d. The approach explained in this chapter is novel (as the Rebbe clarifies) inasmuch as it utilizes the Jew’s very nature, thereby obviating the need for a specific manner of contemplation; a relatively general and tangible manner of contemplation will do, as will soon be explained. Indeed, the lower the spiritual level of the individual, the easier it is for him to awaken this hidden love—a paradox that will also be explained presently.

This manner of contemplation enables a Jew to serve G-d with fiery, passionate love, leading him to excel in his study of Torah and performance of mitzvot. It also enables him to overcome all obstacles, whether from within or from without, that seek to hinder his service of G-d.

Let a man think along these lines: It is in the nature of a human being that when he feels a strong emanation of love from his fellow, he will respond in kind. And if the manifestation of love is showered by an exalted personage upon a very lowly individual, the responsive chord of the lowly person’s love will be all the more vibrant.

In a like manner, but infinitely more so, should this apply when a human being is enveloped by G-d’s boundless love for him. Such is the case with the Jewish people. G-d showed His boundless love for His people by choosing them from all created beings from the highest level to the lowest. This love manifested itself by His taking them out of Egypt and bestowing the Torah and its mitzvot upon them alone. And so, too, does G-d show this love to every individual Jew at all times and in all places.

Such boundless love should surely awaken within a Jew an ardent reciprocal love for G-d. Moreover, just as G-d, because of His love for the Jewish people, “overcame all obstacles” which stood in the way of creating this world (as will be explained in ch. 49), so, too, should each Jew strive to overcome all obstacles that hinder his service of G-d.

There is yet another straight way i.e., simple and straightforward, that is equally applicable and suitable to every man, and this matter is very, very close, inasmuch as the technique involved is uncomplicated,

וְיֵשׁ דֶּרֶךְ יָשָׁר לִפְנֵי אִישׁ, שָׁוֶה לְכָל נֶפֶשׁ, וְקָרוֹב הַדָּבָר מְאֹד מְאֹד,

to arouse and kindle the light of the love that is implanted and concealed in his heart,

לְעוֹרֵר וּלְהָאִיר אוֹר הָאַהֲבָה הַתְּקוּעָה וּמְסוּתֶּרֶת בְּלִבּוֹ,

This love is already found in the heart of every Jew in a concealed state; utilizing the approach about to be described makes it very simple for every Jew to reveal and actualize it.

that it may shine forth with its intense light, like a flaming fire, in the consciousness of the heart and mind,

לִהְיוֹת מְאִירָה בְּתוֹקֶף אוֹרָהּ כְּאֵשׁ בּוֹעֲרָה בְּהִתְגַּלּוּת לִבּוֹ וּמוֹחוֹ,

ultimately enabling the person to surrender his soul to G-d together with his body and [material] possessions,

לִמְסוֹר נַפְשׁוֹ לַה' וְגוּפוֹ וּמְאוֹדוֹ

this being done with all his heart and all his soul and all his “might”—with the boundless devotion of his soul’s essence,

בְּכָל לֵב וּבְכָל נֶפֶשׁ וּמְאֹד,

from the depth of the heart, in absolute truth,

מֵעוּמְקָא דְלִבָּא בֶּאֱמֶת לַאֲמִיתּוֹ,

and especially, i.e., a most propitious time for the person to kindle this love in such a manner, is at the time of the recital of the Shema and its blessings, as will be explained later, on the particular connection of the Shema and its blessings to the arousal of this love.

וּבִפְרָט בִּשְׁעַת קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע וּבִרְכוֹתֶיהָ, כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר.

And this technique for revealing this love is,


to take to heart the meaning of the verse: “As water mirrors the face to the face, so does the heart of man to man.”1

כַּאֲשֶׁר יָשִׂים אֶל לִבּוֹ מַה שֶּׁאָמַר הַכָּתוּב: "כַּמַּיִם הַפָּנִים לַפָּנִים, כֵּן לֵב הָאָדָם אֶל הָאָדָם";

This means2 that as [in the case of] the likeness and features of the face which a man presents to the water, the identical face is reflected back to him from the water,

פֵּירוּשׁ, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכִּדְמוּת וְצוּרַת הַפָּנִים שֶׁהָאָדָם מַרְאֶה בַּמַּיִם, כֵּן נִרְאֶה לוֹ שָׁם בַּמַּיִם אוֹתָהּ צוּרָה עַצְמָהּ –

That image mirrors not only the person’s external features but also the nuances of facial expression that signify joy, sorrow, and so on, thus revealing not only his physical state but his mental state as well.

so indeed is also the heart of a man who is loyal in his affection for another person,

כָּכָה מַמָּשׁ, "לֵב הָאָדָם" הַנֶּאֱמָן בְּאַהֲבָתוֹ לְאִישׁ אַחֵר,

for this love which he has for the other awakens a loving response for him in the heart of his friend also so that they come to love each other loyally,

הֲרֵי הָאַהֲבָה זוֹ מְעוֹרֶרֶת אַהֲבָה בְּלֵב חֲבֵירוֹ אֵלָיו גַּם כֵּן, לִהְיוֹת אוֹהֲבִים נֶאֱמָנִים זֶה לָזֶה,

Even the love harbored in one’s heart arouses a reflected love in another.

especially when he sees his friend’s love for him freely revealed.

בִּפְרָט כְּשֶׁרוֹאֶה אַהֲבַת חֲבֵירוֹ אֵלָיו.

Such is the common nature in the character of every man, even when they are equal in status.

וְהִנֵּה, זֶהוּ טֶבַע הַנָּהוּג בְּמִדַּת כָּל אָדָם, אַף אִם שְׁנֵיהֶם שָׁוִים בְּמַעֲלָה.

How much more so is this the case if a great and mighty king, who rules over many lands, displays his great and intense love for a commoner who is despised and lowly among men, a disgraceful creature cast on the dunghill,

וְעַל אַחַת כַּמָּה וְכַמָּה, אִם מֶלֶךְ גָּדוֹל וְרַב, מַרְאֶה אַהֲבָתוֹ הַגְּדוֹלָה וְהָעֲצוּמָה לְאִישׁ הֶדְיוֹט וְנִבְזֶה וּשְׁפַל אֲנָשִׁים וּמְנֻוָּול הַמּוּטָּל בְּאַשְׁפָּה,

The king depicted here rules not over one land but over many; his love for the person is not only harbored in the heart but is manifest; the manner of love is not ordinary but “great and intense”; and the love is shown not to an ordinary person but to a truly despicable character. The Alter Rebbe goes on to state how his love is displayed:

yet, he the king comes down to him from the place of his glory, together with all his retinue,

וְיוֹרֵד אֵלָיו מִמְּקוֹם כְּבוֹדוֹ עִם כָּל שָׂרָיו יַחְדָּיו,

and raises him and exalts him from his dunghill and brings him into his palace—the royal palace, and within the palace itself, he leads him in the innermost chamber, a place such as no servant nor lord ever enters,

וּמְקִימוֹ וּמְרִימוֹ מֵאַשְׁפָּתוֹ, וּמַכְנִיסוֹ לְהֵיכָלוֹ הֵיכַל הַמֶּלֶךְ, חֶדֶר לִפְנִים מֵחֶדֶר, מָקוֹם שֶׁאֵין כָּל עֶבֶד וְשַׂר נִכְנָס לְשָׁם,

and there shares with him the closest companionship with mutual embraces and kisses and attachment of “spirit to Spirit,” with their whole heart and soul—

וּמִתְיַיחֵד עִמּוֹ שָׁם בְּיִחוּד וְקֵירוּב אֲמִיתִּי וְחִיבּוּק וְנִישּׁוּק וְאִתְדַּבְּקוּת רוּחָא בְּרוּחָא בְּכָל לֵב וָנֶפֶשׁ –

When a mighty king shows such great affection and companionship to such a lowly person, then,

how much more so will there be aroused, of itself, a doubled and redoubled love in the heart of this most common and humble individual for the person of the king,3 with a true attachment of spirit, from heart and soul, from the infinite depths of his heart.

עַל אַחַת כַּמָּה וְכַמָּה, שֶׁתִּתְעוֹרֵר מִמֵּילָא הָאַהֲבָה כְּפוּלָה וּמְכוּפֶּלֶת בְּלֵב הַהֶדְיוֹט וּשְׁפַל אֲנָשִׁים הַזֶּה אֶל נֶפֶשׁ הַמֶּלֶךְ, בְּהִתְקַשְּׁרוּת הַנֶּפֶשׁ מַמָּשׁ מִלֵּב וָנֶפֶשׁ מֵעוּמְקָא דְלִבָּא לְאֵין קֵץ,

Even if his heart be like a heart of stone and not easily roused to tender feelings of love for another, in such a situation, it will surely melt and become [like] water, and his soul will pour itself out like water with soulful longing for the love of the king.

וְאַף אִם לִבּוֹ כְּלֵב הָאֶבֶן – הִמֵּס יִמַּס וְהָיָה לְמַיִם, וְתִשְׁתַּפֵּךְ נַפְשׁוֹ כַּמַּיִם – בִּכְלוֹת הַנֶּפֶשׁ מַמָּשׁ לְאַהֲבַת הַמֶּלֶךְ: