The Alter Rebbe goes on to explain that it was our forefather Jacob whose entreaties secured an abundance of divine compassion for all Jews, throughout the generations. Even when their misdeeds cast them into exile, they are able through their study of Torah and performance of mitzvot to be raised from this state and become reunited with the Ein Sof.

וזהו שאמר הכתוב: וישק יעקב לרחל וישא את קולו ויבך, כי רחל היא כנסת ישראל, מקור כל הנשמות

This is the meaning of the verse:1 “And Jacob kissed Rachel and lifted up his voice and wept.” For Rachel is Knesset Israel, the community of Israel, the fount of all souls; Rachel represents the supernal attribute of Malchut of Atzilut, the source of all Jewish souls.

ויעקב, במדתו העליונה שהיא מדת הרחמים שבאצילות, הוא המעורר רחמים רבים עליה

And Jacob — with his supernal attribute, the attribute of Mercy of Atzilut — is the one who arouses great compassion for her, for Rachel, the source of all Jewish souls.

וישא את קולו: למעלה, למקור הרחמים העליונים

“And he lifted up his voice” — upwards, to the fount of the Higher Mercies, to the source of the Thirteen Divine Attributes of Mercy.

The Thirteen Divine Attributes of Mercy are far loftier than the supernal attribute of Mercy of Atzilut. For the latter is but an attribute of a spiritual world, and is hence bounded, while the Thirteen Divine Attributes of Mercy, transcending all worlds, are boundless. They are the fount of all mercies, including the level called the Mercy of Atzilut.

הנקרא אב הרחמים ומקורם

Indeed, they are called the “Father of Mercies,” and their source;

The supernal attribute of Mercy of Atzilut is known as Av Harachaman (“the Merciful Father”), while the Thirteen Divine Attributes of Mercy are called Av Harachamim (“the Father and source of Mercy”).2 (It is for this reason that on especially propitious occasions, the term Av Harachamim is used in the prayers, rather than Av Harachaman.)

This, then, is the meaning of “And Jacob lifted up...”: Jacob elevates his supernal attribute, the Mercy of Atzilut, to the level of the Mercies of the Thirteen Divine Attributes of Mercy. The verse goes on to say:

ויבך: לעורר ולהמשיך משם רחמים רבים על כל הנשמות, ועל מקור כנסת ישראל

“and he wept” — in order to awaken and draw from there, from the boundless Divine Mercies, abundant compassion upon all the souls and upon the fount of the community of Israel,

להעלותן מגלותן, ולייחדן ביחוד העליון, אור אין סוף ברוך הוא, בבחינת נשיקין

to raise them from their exile3 and to unite them in the Yichud Elyon (Higher Unity) of the light of the blessed Ein Sof, at the level of “kisses”,

שהיא אתדבקות רוחא ברוחא, כמו שכתוב: ישקני מנשיקות פיהו

which is “the attachment of spirit with spirit,” as it is written,4 “Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth,”

The community of Israel begs of the Almighty that He unite with them in a manner of “kisses”. In the case of “kisses of the mouth” there is not only an external union of mouth and mouth, but also a more internal union, that of “spirit” (breath) and “spirit” (breath). And so it is regarding this manner of unity of Jews with G‑d, which is brought about by Torah and mitzvot.

דהיינו: התקשרות דבור האדם בדבר ה׳, זו הלכה, וכן מחשבה במחשבה

which means the union of the word of man who studies Torah with5 “the word of G‑d, namely, the Halachah,” which is G‑d’s speech. This union resembles the “kisses of the mouth.” So too, through thinking Torah thoughts, mortal thought is united with divine thought,

ומעשה במעשה, שהוא מעשה המצות

and so too, mortal action is united with Divine action, through active observance of the commandments,

ובפרט: מעשה הצדקה וחסד

and, in particular, the practice of charity and lovingkindness.

דחסד: דרועא ימינא

For6Chesed (‘kindness’) is the [Divine] right arm,” and man’s kindness is a fitting vessel for G‑d’s kindness,7

והוא בחינת חיבוק ממש

and this is, as it were, an actual embrace,

Just as in physical terms an embrace manifests one’s love of the beloved, so too, so to speak, G‑d’s kindness embraces the Jew who performs acts of charity and lovingkindness.8

כמו שכתוב: וימינו תחבקני

as it is written:9 “And His right arm — Divine kindness — embraces me,”

ועסק התורה בדבור ומחשבת העיון הן בחינת נשיקין ממש

while one’s occupation in the Torah by word of mouth and concentrated thought constitutes the level of actual “kisses”.10

The unity of Jew and G‑d accomplished through speech and thought of Torah — “actual kisses” — is twofold: the external level of kisses, mouth to mouth, is attained through the words of Torah, while the internal level of kisses, spirit to spirit, is attained through concentrated thinking on one’s Torah studies.

והנה על ידי זה

In this way, through arousal of deep compassion for his soul, which brings about the study of Torah and the performance of mitzvot,

יכול לבוא לבחינת אהבה רבה בהתגלות לבו

one is able to attain the level of Ahavah Rabbah (“great love”) in the consciousness of his heart — his intense love of G‑d will be palpable,

כדכתיב: ליעקב אשר פדה את אברהם

as it is written,11 “Of Jacob, who redeemed Abraham,”

In the context of man’s spiritual service Abraham denotes man’s love of G‑d, while Jacob symbolizes the attribute of compassion. When “Abraham” — the individual’s love for G‑d — is hidden and must be “redeemed” and revealed, it is “Jacob” — the attribute of compassion — that brings about this redemption. The arousal of profound compassion for one’s soul enables his latent love of G‑d to become manifest,

כמו שנתבאר במקום אחר

as is explained elsewhere.