In the previous chapter, the Alter Rebbe explained that there are two broad categories in the love of G-d, ahavah rabbah and ahavat olam. Ahavah rabbah cannot be attained by man unaided. It is granted as a gift from above when an individual merits it; reflection alone on G-d’s greatness can in no way engender this level of love. Ahavat olam, however, results from intense and sustained meditation on the greatness of G-d.

Each of the two grades of love—ahavah rabbah and ahavat olam—is subdivided into limitless shades and gradations, in each individual according to his [spiritual] capacity,

וְהִנֵּה, כָּל מַדְרֵגַת אַהֲבָה מִבּ' מַדְרֵגוֹת אֵלּוּ: "אַהֲבָה רַבָּה" וְ"אַהֲבַת עוֹלָם" – נֶחְלֶקֶת לְכַמָּה בְּחִינוֹת וּמַדְרֵגוֹת לְאֵין קֵץ, כָּל חַד לְפוּם שִׁיעוּרָא דִילֵיהּ,

As is written in the holy Zohar1 on the verse, “Her husband is known in the gates,”2 that “This refers to the Holy One, blessed be He, so called since He is the “husband” of the “Congregation of Israel,” Who makes Himself known and attaches Himself to every one according to the extent which one measures in one’s heart….”

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּזֹּהַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ עַל פָּסוּק: "נוֹדָע בַּשְּׁעָרִים בַּעְלָהּ" – "דָּא קוּדְשָׁא־בְּרִיךְ־הוּא, דְּאִיהוּ אִתְיְדַע וְאִתְדַּבֵּק לְכָל חַד לְפוּם מַה דִמְשַׁעֵר בְּלִבֵּיהּ וְכוּ'".

Thus, two individuals may have the same general level of love of G-d, yet their particular, individual levels of love will differ.

Therefore, fear and love are called “the secret things [known] to the L-rd our G-d,”3 for people cannot know the varying degrees of love of G-d harbored in the hearts of others,

וְלָכֵן נִקְרָאִים דְּחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ – "הַנִּסְתָּרוֹת לַה' אֱלֹהֵינוּ",

while the Torah and mitzvot are those things which are “revealed to us and to our children to do….”3

וְתוֹרָה וּמִצְוֹת – הֵן "הַנִּגְלוֹת לָנוּ וּלְבָנֵינוּ לַעֲשׂוֹת כוּ'".

They are found in all Jews equally,

for we have all one Torah and one law insofar as the fulfillment of all the Torah and mitzvot in actual performance is concerned. All Jews perform mitzvot in the very same manner; the greatest Jew and the smallest both put on the same tefillin.

כִּי תּוֹרָה אַחַת וּמִשְׁפָּט אֶחָד לְכוּלָּנוּ, בְּקִיּוּם כָּל הַתּוֹרָה וּמִצְוֹת בִּבְחִינַת מַעֲשֶׂה,

It is otherwise with fear and love, which vary according to the knowledge of G-d in the mind and heart,

מַה־שֶּׁאֵין־כֵּן בִּדְחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ שֶׁהֵם לְפִי הַדַּעַת אֶת ה' שֶׁבְּמוֹחַ וָלֵב,

Here, Jews are not equal. He whose knowledge of G-dliness is greater will experience the love and fear of G-d to a greater degree than his less knowledgeable colleague.

as has been explained earlier, in ch. 42.

כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל.

The Alter Rebbe explained in the previous chapter that ahavah rabbah cannot be attained alone, while ahavat olam can. He now goes on to explain that there is a manner of love of G-d which incorporates the qualities of both ahavah rabbah and ahavat olam. It has the qualities of the former since it comes from above and exists in the soul of every Jew in the form of an inheritance from the Patriarchs. However, in order for this love to be revealed, it is necessary for the individual to contemplate and comprehend G-dliness, as is the case with ahavat olam, which is revealed through man’s service.

Yet, there is one singular and unique love which incorporates something of all the distinctions and gradations of both ahavah rabbah and ahavat olam and is found equally in every Jewish soul as our inheritance from our Patriarchs.

אַךְ אַחַת הִיא אַהֲבָה הַכְּלוּלָה מִכָּל בְּחִינוֹת וּמַדְרֵגוֹת "אַהֲבָה רַבָּה" וְ"אַהֲבַת עוֹלָם", וְהִיא שָׁוָה לְכָל נֶפֶשׁ מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל, וִירוּשָּׁה לָנוּ מֵאֲבוֹתֵינוּ.

And that is what the Zohar says on the verse: “My soul, I desire You at night.”4

וְהַיְינוּ, מַה שֶּׁכָּתַב הַזֹּהַר עַל פָּסוּק: "נַפְשִׁי אִוִּיתִיךָ בַּלַּיְלָה וְגוֹ'" –

The Zohar notes that the verse is grammatically anomalous. It should either say, “My soul desires You,” or alternatively, “I desire You.” Therefore, the Zohar explains that “My soul” refers to G-d, the Soul of all beings. In effect, the Jew says to G-d: “You are my Soul; therefore, I desire you.” And as the Zohar goes on to say:

“One should love G-d with a love of the soul and the spirit as they are attached to the body and the body loves them….”5 This is the interpretation of the verse: “My soul, I desire You,” which means, “Since you, G-d, are my true soul and life, therefore do I desire You.” That is to say, “I long and yearn for You like a man who craves the life of his soul, and when he is weak and exhausted, he longs and yearns for his soul to revive in him (lit., ‘to return to him’).

"דְּיַרְחִים לְקוּדְשָׁא־בְּרִיךְ־הוּא רְחִימוּתָא דְנַפְשָׁא וְרוּחָא כְּמָה דְאִתְדַּבְּקוּ אִילֵּין בְּגוּפָא וְגוּפָא רָחִים לוֹן וְכוּ'". וְזֶהוּ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "נַפְשִׁי אִוִּיתִיךָ", כְּלוֹמַר, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאַתָּה ה' "נַפְשִׁי" וְחַיַּי הָאֲמִתִּים, לְכָךְ – "אִוִּיתִיךָ", פֵּירוּשׁ, שֶׁאֲנִי מִתְאַוֶּה וְתָאֵב לְךָ כְּאָדָם הַמִּתְאַוֶּה לְחַיֵּי נַפְשׁוֹ, וּכְשֶׁהוּא חַלָּשׁ וּמְעוּנֶּה – מִתְאַוֶּה וְתָאֵב שֶׁתָּשׁוּב נַפְשׁוֹ אֵלָיו,

Truly, the pleasure of living is the greatest pleasure of all, and a man will forgo all manner of pleasure in order to stay alive. Nevertheless, we do not feel the pleasure of simply being alive because “a constant pleasure is not felt to be pleasurable.” However, when a person is weak and tired and his life-force is not as manifest as it should be, then he feels the desire to live and senses the pleasure of simply being alive.

“Likewise, when he goes to sleep, at which time his life-force is in a state of concealment, for ‘Sleep is one sixtieth of death,’6 he longs and yearns for his soul to be restored to him when he awakens from his sleep. So do I long and yearn to draw within me the infinite light of the blessed Ein Sof, the Life of true life, through engaging in the [study of the] Torah when I awaken during the night from my sleep”, for the Torah and the Holy One, blessed be He, are one and the same.

וְכֵן כְּשֶׁהוּא הוֹלֵךְ לִישֹׁן – מִתְאַוֶּה וְחָפֵץ שֶׁתָּשׁוּב נַפְשׁוֹ אֵלָיו כְּשֶׁיֵּעוֹר מִשְּׁנָתוֹ, כָּךְ, אֲנִי מִתְאַוֶּה וְתָאֵב לְאוֹר אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא, חַיֵּי הַחַיִּים הָאֲמִתִּיִּים, לְהַמְשִׁיכוֹ בְּקִרְבִּי עַל יְדֵי עֵסֶק הַתּוֹרָה בַּהֲקִיצִי מִשְּׁנָתִי בַּלַּיְלָה, דְּאוֹרַיְיתָא וְקוּדְשָׁא־בְּרִיךְ־הוּא כּוּלָּא חַד.

Thus, the individual’s love of G-d will encourage him in his Torah study, since He realizes that this will enable him to draw down the infinite light of the Ein Sof and become united with G-d. Just as creation is renewed continuously (“In His goodness, He renews each day, continuously, the work of creation,”7) Torah, too, “should be viewed every day as if it were new.”8 So, too, regarding the love and yearning for G-d brought about through the study of Torah: he should experience this just as one yearns and desires for the full restoration of his vitality—a desire which is both revealed and powerful.

So the Zohar says (ibid.), “Out of love for the Holy One, blessed be He, a man should rise each night and exert himself in His service until the morning….”

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתַב הַזֹּהַר שָׁם: "דְּבָעֵי בַּר נַשׁ מֵרְחִימוּתָא דְקוּדְשָׁא־בְּרִיךְ־הוּא לְמֵיקַם בְּכָל לֵילָא, לְאִשְׁתַּדְּלָא בְּפוּלְחָנֵיהּ עַד צַפְרָא כוּ'".

This, then, is the love expressed in the phrase, “My soul, I desire You,” the innate love that a Jew feels when he realizes that G-d is his true soul and Source of life. This love must be revealed by pondering deeply and often how G-d is the Source of all life, as will be explained later on in this chapter.