The Alter Rebbe had stated earlier that a person’s intention while performing Torah and mitzvot should be that his soul cleave to G‑d.

He now goes on to say that a Jew’s spiritual service also includes the goal of becoming one with all the Jewish people. For this reason his intentions should not be limited to having his own soul cleave to G‑d, but also that the source of his soul and the source of all the souls of Israel cleave to Him.

By doing so the individual brings about the union (yichud) of the higher and lower levels of G‑dliness known respectively as Kudsha Brich Hu (“the Holy One, blessed be He”) and His Shechinah (“the Divine Presence”), for the former is the source of Torah and mitzvot and the latter is the source of all Jewish souls.

This explains the concluding phrase of the formula recited before the performance of certain mitzvot: “For the sake of the union of Kudsha Brich Hu with His the name of all Israel.” As the Rebbe notes: “In the name of all Israel” implies that the union achieved through the performance of the mitzvah is for the sake of, and in the name of, all of Israel. For it is with the Shechinah that Kudsha Brich Hu is united and the Shechinah is the source of all Jewish souls.

In the Alter Rebbe’s words:

אך אמנם אמרו רז״ל: לעולם אל יוציא אדם עצמו מן הכלל

Yet in fact, the Sages, of blessed memory, have said1 that “a man should never separate himself from the community.”

לכן יתכוין ליחד ולדבקה בו יתברך, מקור נפשו האלקית ומקור נפשות כל ישראל

Therefore he should intend to unite and attach to Him, blessed be He, the source of his divine soul and in addition the source of the souls of all Israel,

שהוא רוח פיו יתברך, הנקרא בשם שכינה על שם ששוכנת ומתלבשת תוך כל עלמין להחיותן ולקיימן

[this source] being the spirit of His mouth, called by the name ‘Shechinah’ because it dwells (shochenet) and clothes itself in all worlds, animating them and giving them existence,

והיא היא המשפעת בו כח הדבור הזה שמדבר בדברי תורה, או כח המעשה הזה לעשות מצוה זו

and it is the Shechinah which imbues him with the power of speech to utter his current words of Torah, or with the power of action to perform the particular commandment at hand.

One should thus intend to become united with the infinite Ein Sof-light through speaking words of Torah or performing a commandment. For it is the Shechinah which is the source of his power of speech and action, as well as the source of his divine soul and the souls of all Israel.

ויחוד זה הוא על ידי המשכת אור אין סוף ברוך הוא למטה, על ידי עסק התורה והמצות שהוא מלובש בהן

This union of the source of Jewish souls with G‑d is attained through drawing forth the light of the blessed Ein Sof here below, by being occupied in the Torah and the commandments wherein it (the light of the Ein Sof) is clothed.

ויתכוין להמשיך אורו יתברך על מקור נפשו ונפשות כל ישראל לייחדן

And he should be intent on drawing His blessed light over the source of his soul and of the souls of all Israel, so as to unite them with Him.

וכמו שכתוב לקמן פירוש יחוד זה באריכות, עיין שם

The meaning of this union will be discussed at length later on; note there.

וזהו פירוש לשם יחוד קודשא בריך הוא ושכינתיה בשם כל ישראל

This, then, is the meaning of the words we recite before performing various commandments: “For the sake of the union of Kudsha Brich Hu with his the name of all Israel.”*

That is to say, one’s observance of the commandments unites Kudsha Brich Hu (the source of Torah and mitzvot) with the Shechinah — in the name of all the Jewish people, for the Shechinah is the source of the souls of them all.



The Alter Rebbe now notes that much more than the union of divine souls and G‑d is accomplished by the study of Torah and the performance of mitzvot. These activities also bring about hamtakat hadinim, the tempering (lit., “sweetening”) of harsh judgment and Gevurot, and their transformation into kindness and Chassadim.

This is effected through the coalescing of the supernal Sefirot of Chesed and Gevurah (kindness and severity). These Sefirot, which by nature are opposites, are fused into one through the revelation and diffusion of a divine light which is spiritually superior to them both.

This light is the Supernal Will drawn down upon these two attributes through the performance of Torah and mitzvot, for inasmuch as Torah and mitzvot are expressions of the Divine Will, their spirituality far surpasses the spirituality of the Sefirot of Chesed and Gevurah.

When the Divine Will — the source of Supernal kindness — is revealed through the study of Torah and the performance of mitzvot, the attributes of kindness and severity are united, and severity is transformed into kindness.

In the Alter Rebbe’s words:

וגם על ידי זה יתמתקו גם כן הגבורות בחסדים ממילא

Thereby, i.e., through the performance of Torah and mitzvot, the Gevurot will, of themselves, also be sweetened by the Chassadim through the coalescence of the middot and their union,

על ידי גילוי רצון העליון ברוך הוא, המתגלה למעלה באתערותא דלתתא

by means of the revelation of the Supernal Will, which is revealed on high through the stimulus from below,

הוא גילוי למטה בעסק התורה והמצוה, שהן רצונו יתברך

namely, its revelation here below in one’s occupation in the Torah and commandments, for they are His blessed Will.

Thus, when a Jew reveals and draws down G‑d’s Will into this world as a result of his spiritual activities, the Divine Will will also be revealed in the Supernal Sefirot, resulting in the unification and coalescing of the middot, so that the Gevurot are sweetened by and transformed into Chassadim.

וכמו שכתוב באדרא רבא ובמשנת חסידים מסכת אריך אנפין פרק ד׳

Thus it is written in Idra Rabba and in Mishnat Chassidim, Tractate Arich Anpin, ch. 4,

שתרי"ג מצות התורה נמשכות מחיורתא דאריך אנפין, שהוא רצון העליון מקור החסדים

that the 613 commandments of the Torah are derived from the “whiteness” — the Chassadim — of Arich Anpin, which is the Supernal Will, the source of the Chassadim.

Although this is stated in Kabbalistic terms, the intent is clear: Kindness and benevolence are drawn down into the world through the study of Torah and the performance of mitzvot.