Chapter 42

פרק מב

In the previous chapter, the Alter Rebbe explained that fear of G-d is a prerequisite to divine service. Every Jew is capable of attaining this level by contemplating how “G-d stands over him” and “searches his reins and heart [to see] if he is serving Him as is fitting.” This thought will lead him to bring forth at least some measure of fear in his mind. This, in turn, will enable him to study Torah properly as well as to perform both the positive and negative commandments.

The Alter Rebbe also noted that this level of fear is known as yirah tataah, “lower-level fear,” which is a preparatory step to the proper performance of Torah and mitzvot. This degree of fear must be manifest if one’s Torah study and performance of the mitzvot are to be deemed avodah, divine service.

In the light of what has already been said on the subject of the lower level of fear, as summarized above,

וְהִנֵּה, בְּמַה שֶּׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְעֵיל בְּעִנְיַן יִרְאָה תַּתָּאָה,

one will clearly understand the Talmudic comment on the verse, “And now, Israel, what does the L-rd your G-d require of you? Only that you fear the L-rd your G-d.”1 The Gemara asks: “Is fear, then, such a small thing?”2

יוּבַן הֵיטֵב מַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב בַּגְּמָרָא עַל פָּסוּק "וְעַתָּה יִשְׂרָאֵל מָה ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ שׁוֹאֵל מֵעִמָּךְ כִּי אִם לְיִרְאָה אֶת ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ": "אָטוּ יִרְאָה מִילְּתָא זוּטַרְתִּי הִיא"?

Answers the Gemara: “Yes, in the case of Moses, it is a small thing,” and so forth.

"אִין, לְגַבֵּי מֹשֶׁה מִילְּתָא זוּטַרְתִּי הִיא וְכוּ'",

Superficially, the answer seems to be that this was said by Moses to the Jewish people, and for him, fear of G-d is indeed a simple thing.

At first glance, the answer of the Gemara is incomprehensible, for the verse asks, “What does [He] require of you?” I.e., what does G-d require of every Jew? For the majority of Jews, fear of G-d is certainly no mean accomplishment. What, then, is the point of answering that for Moses, it is a simple thing?

דְּלִכְאוֹרָה אֵינוֹ מוּבָן הַתֵּירוּץ, דְּהָא "שׁוֹאֵל מֵעִמָּךְ" כְּתִיב.

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to explain that the answer of the Gemara, that “in the case of Moses, it is a simple thing,” does not refer to Moses alone but to the “Moses” which is found in every Jew, for Moses imbues all Jews with the level of daat (lit., “knowledge”), enabling them all to bind their own faculty of daat to G-dliness. It is concerning this level of Moses found within every Jew that the statement is made, “…in the case of Moses, it is a simple thing.” For when a Jew utilizes the power of Moses found within him, i.e., when he binds his daat with G-dliness, then fear of G-d is indeed a simple thing and easy to attain, as shall presently be explained.

The explanation, however, is as follows: Each and every soul of the House of Israel comprises within it something of the quality of our teacher Moses, peace unto him, for he is one of the “seven shepherds”3

אֶלָּא הָעִנְיָן הוּא, כִּי כָּל נֶפֶשׁ וְנֶפֶשׁ מִבֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל יֵשׁ בָּהּ מִבְּחִינַת מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּינוּ עָלָיו הַשָּׁלוֹם, כִּי הוּא מִשִּׁבְעָה רוֹעִים

who cause vitality and G-dliness to flow to the community of the souls of Israel, for which reason, they are called “shepherds.”

הַמַּמְשִׁיכִים חַיּוּת וֶאלֹהוּת לִכְלָלוּת נִשְׁמוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל, שֶׁלָּכֵן, נִקְרָאִים בְּשֵׁם "רוֹעִים",

Just as a shepherd provides nourishment for his sheep, thereby supplying them with vitality, so, too, do the “seven shepherds” sustain Jewish souls with “vitality and G-dliness,” each from his own spiritual level. Abraham provides the Jews with the spiritual faculty of chesed and love, and so forth.

Chasidim relate that the Alter Rebbe pondered for a considerable number of weeks whether to write that the “seven shepherds” provide “G-dly vitality” (חַיּוּת אֱלֹקוּת) or whether he should write “vitality and G-dliness” (חַיּוּת וֵאלֹקוּת). He finally resolved to write the latter—“vitality and G-dliness.” For “vitality” refers to love and fear of G-d, since it is they that vitalize one’s performance of Torah and mitzvot; “G-dliness” refers to self-nullification before G-d. The “seven shepherds,” then, cause both “vitality and G-dliness” to flow into Jewish souls.

Our teacher, Moses, peace unto him, comprises [aspects of] them all, and he is called “the faithful shepherd.”4 This means that he draws down the quality of daat to the community of Israel, that they may know and be cognizant of G-d so that for them, G-dliness will be self-evident and experienced by every Jew,

וּמֹשֶׁה רַבֵּינוּ עָלָיו הַשָּׁלוֹם – הוּא כְּלָלוּת כּוּלָּם, וְנִקְרָא "רַעְיָא מְהֵימְנָא", דְּהַיְינוּ, שֶׁמַּמְשִׁיךְ בְּחִינַת הַדַּעַת לִכְלָלוּת יִשְׂרָאֵל, לֵידַע אֶת ה',

each according to the intellectual capacity of his soul and its root above, i.e., according to the height of the source of the soul as it exists above,

כָּל אֶחָד כְּפִי הַשָּׂגַת נִשְׁמָתוֹ וְשָׁרְשָׁהּ לְמַעְלָה,

and according to [the degree of] its nurture from the root of the soul of our teacher Moses, peace unto him, which is rooted in the daat Elyon (“supernal knowledge”) of the ten sefirot of Atzilut, which are united with their Emanator,

וִינִיקָתָהּ מִשֹּׁרֶשׁ נִשְׁמַת מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּינוּ עָלָיו הַשָּׁלוֹם, הַמּוּשְׁרֶשֶׁת בְּדַעַת הָעֶלְיוֹן שֶׁבְּי' סְפִירוֹת דַּאֲצִילוּת, הַמְיוּחָדוֹת בְּמַאֲצִילָן בָּרוּךְ־הוּא,

Just as G-d is termed the Creator of created beings, so, too, is He called the Emanator of those entities found in the World of Atzilut, a World which, together with its beings, is an emanation of the Ein Sof.

for He and His knowledge are one, and “He is the knowledge….”

שֶׁהוּא וְדַעְתּוֹ אֶחָד וְ"הוּא הַמַּדָּע כוּ'".

As explained in ch. 2 above, G-d’s knowledge and man’s are utterly dissimilar. On the human plane, the knower, the faculty of knowledge, and that which is known are three distinct and separate entities. However, concerning G-d: “He is the Knowledge, He is the Knower, and He is That which is Known.” Thus, supernal knowledge is one with Him. And it is within this level of daat that Moses’ soul is rooted.

When a Jew receives the capacity for daat from the soul of Moses, he is able to perceive G-dliness in a truly knowing and internalized manner so that he actually experiences Him. Utilizing this capacity enables every Jew to know and feel how “G-d stands over him…and sees his actions.” It is therefore easy for him to summon up within himself a fear of G-d.

However, all the above refers to the luminary aspect of Moses, which is received by every Jew. The Alter Rebbe now goes on to say that there is an even higher level of Moses—a “spark” of Moses’ soul that is bestowed upon the spiritual leaders and sages of each generation. (A spark is an actual part of the flame, unlike rays of illumination, which are not truly part of the luminary. So, too, the sparks of the soul of Moses, found within the leaders and scholars throughout the generations, are a part of Moses’ soul.) The task of these leaders is to teach G-d’s greatness to the Jewish people so that they will serve G-d with all their heart.

In addition and beyond this pervasive influence to the community as a whole, there descend, in every generation, sparks from the soul of our teacher Moses, peace unto him, and they clothe themselves in the body and soul of the sages of that generation, the “eyes” of the congregation,5

וְעוֹד זֹאת יֶתֶר עַל כֵּן, בְּכָל דּוֹר וָדוֹר יוֹרְדִין נִיצוֹצִין מִנִּשְׁמַת מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּינוּ עָלָיו הַשָּׁלוֹם וּמִתְלַבְּשִׁין בְּגוּף וְנֶפֶשׁ שֶׁל חַכְמֵי הַדּוֹר "עֵינֵי הָעֵדָה",

Because of the “spark” of Moses found within a spiritual leader, he is called “Moses,” as in the Talmudic expression, “Moses, do you speak aright?”6 This spark is clothed not only in a leader’s soul but also in his body.7 This is why Chasidim say that one never tires of gazing at a rebbe, for within him is a spark of Moses. These sparks which are clothed in sages and spiritual leaders enable them—

to impart knowledge to the people that they may know the greatness of G-d and [hence] serve Him with heart and soul.

לְלַמֵּד דַּעַת אֶת הָעָם, וְלֵידַע גְּדוּלַּת ה', וּלְעָבְדוֹ בְּלֵב וָנֶפֶשׁ,

For the service of the heart, i.e., one’s love and fear of G-d, is according to the daat, according to one’s degree of knowledge and understanding of G-d’s greatness, as it is written, “Know the G-d of your father and serve Him with all your heart and with a longing soul.”8

כִּי הָעֲבוֹדָה שֶׁבַּלֵּב – הִיא לְפִי הַדַּעַת, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "דַּע אֶת אֱלֹהֵי אָבִיךָ וְעָבְדֵהוּ בְּלֵב שָׁלֵם וְנֶפֶשׁ חֲפֵיצָה",

Thus, in order to “serve Him with all your heart and with a longing soul,” it is necessary to “know the G-d of your father”—to know and comprehend His greatness. This is taught to the Jewish people by the scholars of each generation, within whom sparks of Moses are enclothed.

Only concerning the future [Messianic era] is it written: “And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, [and every man his brother,] saying, ‘Know G-d,’ for they shall all know Me….”9

וְלֶעָתִיד הוּא אוֹמֵר: "וְלֹא יְלַמְּדוּ אִישׁ אֶת רֵעֵהוּ לֵאמֹר דְּעוּ אֶת ה', כִּי כוּלָּם יֵדְעוּ אוֹתִי וְגוֹ'".

Only at that time will a teacher be unnecessary. However, in our era, one needs to have a mentor impart knowledge of G-d’s greatness if one is to know how to serve Him with heart and soul. And one’s dependence on Moses through the intermediary scholars of each generation (the “sparks” of Moses) is of the very essence of one’s divine service.

However, the essence of knowledge which leads one to serve G-d with his whole soul and heart is not mere knowing alone, that people should know the greatness of G-d from authors (i.e., sages and spiritual guides) and books,

אַךְ עִיקַּר הַדַּעַת, אֵינָהּ הַיְדִיעָה לְבַדָּהּ, שֶׁיֵּדְעוּ גְּדוּלַּת ה' מִפִּי סוֹפְרִים וּמִפִּי סְפָרִים,

but the essential thing is to immerse one’s own mind deeply into those things which explain the greatness of G-d and fix one’s thought on G-d with strength and vigor of the heart and mind,

אֶלָּא הָעִיקָּר הוּא, לְהַעֲמִיק דַּעְתּוֹ בִּגְדוּלַּת ה', וְלִתְקוֹעַ מַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ בַּה' בְּחוֹזֶק וְאוֹמֶץ הַלֵּב וְהַמּוֹחַ,

until his thought shall be bound to G-d with a strong and mighty bond, as it is bound to a material thing which he sees with his physical eyes and upon which he concentrates his thought.

עַד שֶׁתְּהֵא מַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ מְקוּשֶּׁרֶת בַּה' בְּקֶשֶׁר אַמִּיץ וְחָזָק, כְּמוֹ שֶׁהִיא מְקוּשֶּׁרֶת בְּדָבָר גַּשְׁמִי שֶׁרוֹאֶה בְּעֵינֵי בָשָׂר וּמַעֲמִיק בּוֹ מַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ,

When one does so, he is mightily bound up with the object of his thoughts and is unable to free himself from them. Thinking about G-d and His greatness should be done in the selfsame all-absorbing manner—and thereby, the thinker will be truly bound up with Him.

For it is known that daat connotes union, as in the verse, “And Adam yada (lit., ‘knew’) Eve….”10 The word יָדַע in this verse connotes union. Thus, daat entails knowing something to the point that one is completely united with it. The same is true regarding knowledge of G-dliness. Although when one just knows G-dliness, he is already fulfilling a mitzvah, still, this does not suffice; it is necessary that one achieve the union of daat by meditating deeply on G-d’s greatness.

כַּנּוֹדָע, שֶׁדַּעַת הוּא לְשׁוֹן הִתְקַשְּׁרוּת, כְּמוֹ: "וְהָאָדָם יָדַע וְגוֹ'".