In the previous chapter the Alter Rebbe explained why our Sages compare the performance of a mitzvah to a body, and one’s kavanah in performing the mitzvah to a soul.

He stated that kavanah can be classified into two categories, analogous to the two classes of creatures which possess a soul — animals and man.

The higher level of kavanah is that created by an intellectual appreciation of G‑dliness. Upon contemplating G‑d’s greatness, a love and fear of Him is born in one’s heart, which translates into a desire to cleave to Him. This desire in turn motivates one to fulfill the Torah and mitzvot, since they bind him to G‑d, and this motivation is the kavanah in his fulfillment of the Torah and mitzvot. Such kavanah, born of reason and produced by one’s own volition, is analogous to the soul of man, the intelligent being who determines his actions by choice.

The lower level of kavanah is that which stems from an arousal of the soul’s natural, instinctive love and fear of G‑d. Such kavanah is comparable to the soul of an animal, which is ruled by its natural instincts.

The Alter Rebbe now opens ch. 39 by stating that for this reason the angels, who fear and love G‑d by their very nature, are metaphorically called “animals”.

ומפני זה גם כן נקראים המלאכים בשם חיות ובהמות, כדכתיב: ופני אריה אל הימין וגו׳ ופני שור מהשמאל וגו׳

For this reason, too, the angels are called chayyot (“beasts”) and behemot (“animals”), as it is written,1 “and an angel with the face of a lion is to the right of the divine chariot... and the face of an ox is on the left....”

לפי שאינם בעלי בחירה, ויראתם ואהבתם היא טבעית להם, כמו שכתוב ברעיא מהימנא, פרשת פינחס

For they have no freedom of choice between good and evil, as man has. And their fear and love [of G‑d] is natural to them; they need not create fear and love of G‑d through intellectual contemplation of G‑d’s greatness, as is written in Ra‘aya Mehemna (Parshat Pinchas). Because their fear and love of G‑d are natural and instinctive to them, they are compared to animals.

ולכן מעלת הצדיקים גדולה מהם, כי מדור נשמות הצדיקים הוא בעולם הבריאה, ומדור המלאכים בעולם היצירה

Therefore, tzaddikim are on a higher level than them (the angels):2 the abode of the souls of tzaddikim is in the World of Beriah (Creation), whereas the abode of the angels is in the World of Yetzirah (Formation).*


והיינו בסתם מלאכים, אבל יש מלאכים עליונים בעולם הבריאה, שעבודתם בדחילו ורחימו שכליים


This is so [only] in the case of ordinary angels. There are, however, higher angels in the World of Beriah, whose service [of G‑d] is with intelligent fear and love.

כמו שכתוב ברעיא מהימנא שם, שיש שני מיני חיות הקדש, טבעיים ושכליים, וכמו שכתוב בעץ חיים

It is written so in Ra‘aya Mehemna, ibid., that there are two kinds of holy chayyot, instinctive and intelligent (i.e., those whose love and fear are instinctive, and those who create love and fear intellectually), as is also written in Etz Chayim.


The abode of ordinary angels, however, is in the World of Yetzirah; and they are thus lower than the souls of the tzaddikim, whose abode is in Beriah. The Alter Rebbe now explains how intellectually created love and fear are related to Beriah, and instinctive love and fear to Yetzirah.

וההבדל שביניהם הוא

The difference between [Beriah and Yetzirah] is as follows:

כי בעולם היצירה, מאירות שם מדותיו של אין סוף ברוך הוא לבדן, שהן אהבתו ופחדו ויראתו כו׳

In Yetzirah, only the middot of the Blessed Ein Sof radiate (i.e., only the Sefirot of Chesed (kindness), Gevurah (Severity), etc.) — meaning the love of Him (corresponding to Chesed), dread and fear of Him (corresponding to Gevurah), and so on (with the other four middot).

וכמו שכתוב בתקונים ועץ חיים דשית ספירין מקננין ביצירה

For it is thus written (in Tikkunei Zohar and in Etz Chayim) that the six Sefirot (i.e., the six middot, from Chesed through Yesod) “nest” in (i.e., pervade) the World of Yetzirah.

The four partzufim (lit., “countenances”; i.e., configurations of Sefirot) of the Sefirot of Atzilut (the World of Emanation) radiate in the four Worlds — Atzilut, Beriah, Yetzirah and (the World of Action, viz.,) Asiyah; one partzuf predominates in each World, representing the manifestation of G‑dliness in that World.

These partzufim are: (a) Chochmah (Wisdom); (b) Binah (Understanding); (c) Ze‘er Anpin (lit., “The Small Image”; i.e., the six middot); (d) Malchut (Sovereignty).

In Atzilut, Chochmah is the dominant partzuf. Atzilut is thus pervaded with an atmosphere of utter self-nullification before G‑d; for Chochmah, the dominant influence in that World, represents the perception that “Ein Sof is One alone, and there is naught besides Him” (as discussed in ch. 35).

In Beriah (also called the “World of the Throne”), Binah is the dominant partzuf. Beriah is therefore a World of intellect; the souls and angels of Beriah are distinguished by superior intellectual appreciation of G‑dliness.

Yetzirah is dominated by the six middot (which together constitute the partzuf of Ze‘er Anpin ). It is therefore a World of emotion; the creatures of Yetzirah serve G‑d with great emotional intensity.

Asiyah, the lowest World, is dominated by the partzuf of Malchut. G‑d’s attribute of Sovereignty evokes subservience in His subjects; therefore, in our service of G‑d in this World, the emphasis is on “accepting the yoke of heaven.”

To return to our subject: Middot are the dominant influence in Yetzirah.

ולכן זאת היא עבודת המלאכים, תמיד יומם ולילה לא ישקוטו, לעמוד ביראה ופחד וכו׳

Therefore, this is the service of the angels whose abode is in Yetzirah, as mentioned above, constantly, never ceasing day or night, to stand in fear and dread [of G‑d].

והיינו כל מחנה גבריאל, שמהשמאל

This refers to the entire host of [angels under] Gabriel, which is on the left. “Left” represents the middah of Gevurah, which evokes fear and awe. Therefore all these angels stand in constant fear of G‑d.

ועבודת מחנה מיכאל היא האהבה כו׳

The service of the host of [angels under] Michael, on the other hand, is love [of G‑d]; they stand in constant adoration of G‑dliness, corresponding to the middah of Chesed, and so on.

Thus, because middot constitute the dominant partzuf in Yetzirah, the service of the creatures of Yetzirah consists of emotion.

אבל בעולם הבריאה מאירות שם חכמתו ובינתו ודעתו של אין סוף ברוך הוא, שהן מקור המדות, ואם ושרש להן

But in the World of Beriah radiate the Chochmah, Binah and Daat of the Blessed Ein Sof (i.e., the upper three Sefirot — ChaBaD — of Atzilut), which are the source of middot, and their “mother” and root.

וכדאיתא בתקונים דאימא עילאה מקננא בתלת ספירן בכרסיא, שהוא עולם הבריאה

For it is written thus in Tikkunei Zohar, that Imma Ila‘ah (lit., “The Supernal Mother”; i.e., the Sefirah of Binah, described as “mother” of the World of Atzilut) “nests” (radiates) in “the Throne,” meaning the World of Beriah, with three Sefirot of Atzilut: Chochmah, Binah and Daat.

ולכן הוא מדור נשמות הצדיקים, עובדי ה׳ בדחילו ורחימו הנמשכות מן הבינה ודעת דגדולת אין סוף ברוך הוא

Because these three Sefirot — ChaBaD — of the Ein Sof radiate in the World of Beriah, it is therefore the abode of the souls of those tzaddikim who serve G‑d with a fear and love that stem from understanding and knowledge of G‑d’s greatness,

שאהבה זו נקרא רעותא דלבא, כנ״ל

this love being called re‘uta delibba (lit., “the heart’s desire,” i.e., a desire created by intellect, as opposed to desire that transcends intellect), as mentioned above.

ומרעותא דלבא נעשה לבוש לנשמה בעולם הבריאה, שהוא גן עדן העליון, כדלקמן, וכמו שכתוב בזהר, ויקהל

From this re‘uta delibba a garment is formed for the soul in the World of Beriah, which is the Higher Garden of Eden, as will be discussed further, and as is written in the Zohar, Parshat Vayakhel. The Lower Garden of Eden is in Yetzirah, and the Higher Garden of Eden in Beriah.

Ultimately, the souls of those who serve G‑d with intellectual love and fear are privileged to abide in the Higher Garden of Eden — Beriah. For the reward given in the Garden of Eden (Paradise) is that the souls “delight in the radiance of the Shechinah,” i.e., they delight in their perception of G‑d’s glory. Since one’s reward is commensurate with his level of divine service, the delight in intellectual perception of G‑dliness is reserved for the souls of those who served G‑d with intellectual love and fear during their lifetime on earth.

At this point the Alter Rebbe qualifies his earlier statement: Only those tzaddikim whose souls are on the level of Neshamah (i.e., the highest of the three soul-levels — Nefesh, Ruach and Neshamah) abide in Beriah. Neshamah represents Mochin deGadlut — a “superior intellectual grasp” of G‑dliness; those on the level of Neshamah understand G‑dliness directly as it is, without recourse to analogy or anthropomorphic terms. Love and fear follow from such direct understanding of G‑dliness as its natural extensions; they are not products of intellect, a generation removed. In this case, in fact, the emotions may be considered as part of an intellectual process, rather than emotion proper.

אך היינו דווקא נשמות ממש

However this statement, that the abode of tzaddikim who serve G‑d with intellectual love and fear is in the World of Beriah, applies only to those souls which are actually on the level of Neshamah — the level of Neshamah being that of intellect, as the verse states,3 “The divine Neshamah will give them discernment” —

שהן בחינת מוחין דגדלות אין סוף ברוך הוא

and which represent a “superior intellectual perception” of the Blessed Ein Sof.

אבל בחינת הרוח של הצדיקים

But the tzaddikim who are at the level of Ruach,

וכן שאר כל נשמות ישראל, שעבדו את ה׳ בדחילו ורחימו המסותרות בלב כללות ישראל

and similarly all the other souls of Israel, who served G‑d with the natural fear and love hidden in the heart of all Israel, not with love and fear born of intellect,

אין עולות לשם רק בשבת וראש חודש לבד

ascend thereto (to Beriah) only on Shabbat and the New Moon when all creation ascends to a higher level (as it is written, “...every month, on the New Moon, and every week, on the Shabbat, all flesh will come to prostrate themselves before Me, says G‑d”); it is only then that these souls ascend to the World of Beriah, the Higher Garden of Eden,

דרך העמוד שמגן עדן התחתון לגן עדן העליון, שהוא עולם הבריאה, הנקרא גן עדן העליון

by means of the pillar that extends from the Lower Garden of Eden (Yetzirah) to the Higher Garden of Eden, i.e., the World of Beriah, which is called the Higher Garden of Eden.4

להתענג על ה׳ וליהנות מזיו השכינה

By means of this pillar, these souls ascend thereto to delight in G‑d, and to bask in the radiance of the Shechinah.

Such pleasure is the prerogative of the souls in Beriah, since the soul’s delight is from its understanding and appreciation of G‑dliness — to the extent that a soul is capable of such understanding.

כי אין הנאה ותענוג לשכל נברא אלא במה שמשכיל ומבין ויודע ומשיג בשכלו ובינתו

The intellect of a created being delights and derives pleasure only in that which it conceives, understands, knows (— corresponding to ChaBaD) and grasps with its intellect and understanding,

מה שאפשר לו להבין ולהשיג מאור אין סוף ברוך הוא, על ידי חכמתו ובינתו יתברך המאירות שם, בעולם הבריאה

as much as it can grasp of the Blessed Ein Sof-light, through His wisdom and His understanding which radiate there (in Beriah), enabling the soul to perceive G‑dliness. For, as mentioned earlier, the ChaBaD of Atzilut (to which the Alter Rebbe refers as “His wisdom,” “ His understanding”) radiate in Beriah, for which reason Beriah is the “World of understanding.”

With this the Alter Rebbe concludes his statement that on Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh the souls of other Jews (who had not served G‑d with intellectual love and fear) ascend to Beriah.

ומה שזוכות נשמות אלו לעלות למעלה מהמלאכים, אף שעבדו בדחילו ורחימו טבעיים לבד

These souls (who served G‑d with natural love and fear) are privileged to rise occasionally to Beriah, higher than the angels, whose abode is in Yetzirah, as mentioned above, never rising to Beriah, although they too, like the angels, served G‑d only with natural fear and love; why, then, is their service of G‑d considered superior to that of the angels?

היינו מפני שעל ידי דחילו ורחימו שלהם, אתכפיא סטרא אחרא המלובשת בגופם

because through their fear and love, the sitra achra clothed in their body is subdued,

בין בבחינת סור מרע, לכבוש התאוות ולשברן

whether (in the case of fear) in the realm of “turning away from evil” (refraining from doing evil, and thereby) conquering and crushing their desires through not giving their illicit desires expression in thought, speech and action,

ובין בבחינת ועשה טוב, כנ״ל

or whether (in the case of love) subduing the sitra achra in the realm of “doing good” as mentioned above, i.e., actively pursuing the observance of the mitzvot out of love for G‑d, despite the contrary desire of the animal soul which is rooted in the sitra achra.

והם היו בעלי בחירה, לבחור ברע, חס ושלום

These souls, while in the physical world, had freedom of choice; they might have chosen evil, G‑d forbid,

ובחרו בטוב, לאכפיא לסטרא אחרא, לאסתלקא יקרא דקודשא בריך הוא כו׳ כיתרון האור כו׳, כנ״ל

yet they chose good — to subdue the sitra achra, so that G‑d’s glory be elevated... [in all Worlds], with an elevation similar to the superiority of light... [emerging from the darkness] over ordinary light, as mentioned above. By dispelling the darkness of sitra achra, these souls added to the light of holiness.

Thus, although these souls served G‑d as angels do, with love and fear that are natural, not intellectual, yet their service ranks higher than that of an angel; for the soul acts out of free choice, while the angel is a creature of compulsive instinct (albeit holy instinct). Therefore it is occasionally granted to the soul, unlike the angel, to rise to the Higher Garden of Eden in Beriah.

In the following paragraphs, the Alter Rebbe will differentiate between the respective stations of the souls on the one hand, and of their divine service (i.e., the actual Torah and mitzvot that the soul studies and observes) on the other. But before examining his words, an introduction is in order:

Although we spoke above of the Sefirot of each of the Four Worlds, it must nevertheless be understood that the Sefirot of each World do not constitute that World itself. The Sefirot represent, rather, the G‑dliness inherent in each World — its divine life-force. The World itself, on the other hand, is a Yesh, a separate being, which comes about through the Sefirot.

The significance of this distinction with regard to our discussion is as follows: The Alter Rebbe spoke above of the abode of the soul in either the World of Yetzirah or the World of Beriah (depending on the level of its divine service). The emphasis here is on the word “World”: the soul’s abode is in the World of Beriah or Yetzirah (also described as the heichalot (“Chambers”) of these Worlds), not in the Sefirot of these Worlds.

The soul’s divine service, on the other hand, ascends to the Sefirot (of the appropriate World); this means, in effect, that it is absorbed in the Ein Sof.

In fact, the soul’s reward in the Garden of Eden, described before as the pleasure of “basking in the radiance of the Shechinah,” is actually the radiance of the Torah and mitzvot that the person observed while in this physical world, which have ascended to the supernal Sefirot.

In the Alter Rebbe’s words:

והנה כל זה הוא במדור הנשמות ומקום עמידתן

All the aforesaid concerns the abode and station of the souls. (The Rebbe notes: “Station” is not necessarily synonymous with “abode”; a soul whose abode is in Yetzirah may rise periodically (on Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh) to a temporary station in Beriah, as said above.)

אך תורתן ועבודתן נכללות בי׳ ספירות, שהן בחינת אלקות, ואור אין סוף מתייחד בהן בתכלית היחוד

Their Torah and divine service, however, are actually absorbed in the Ten Sefirot, which are a manifestation of G‑dliness, and with which the Ein Sof-light unites, in perfect unity i.e., the Ein Sof-light radiating in each World is completely unified with the Sefirot of that World.

והיינו בי׳ ספירות דבריאה על ידי דחילו ורחימו שכליים, ובי׳ ספירות דיצירה על ידי דחילו ורחימו טבעיים

Specifically, this means that one’s Torah and divine service ascend to the Ten Sefirot of Beriah, when generated by intellectual fear and love, and to the Ten Sefirot of Yetzirah when prompted by natural fear and love.

ובתוכן מלובשות י׳ ספירות דאצילות, ומיוחדות בהן בתכלית

Now, within them (within the Sefirot of Beriah and Yetzirah) are clothed the Ten Sefirot of the World of Emanation Atzilut, and they are completely unified with them: the Sefirot of Atzilut are clothed in, and completely unified with, the Sefirot of Beriah and Yetzirah.

וי׳ ספירות דאצילות מיוחדות בתכלית במאצילן, אין סוף ברוך הוא

The Ten Sefirot of Atzilut are, in turn, perfectly united with their Emanator, the Blessed Ein Sof. It follows, then, that by ascending to the Sefirot of Beriah or Yetzirah, the soul’s Torah and divine service actually unite with the Ein Sof.

מה שאין כן הנשמות אינן נכללות באלקות די׳ ספירות

The souls, on the other hand (in contrast with their Torah and divine service), are not absorbed into the G‑dliness of the Ten Sefirot,

אלא עומדות בהיכלות ומדורין דבריאה או יצירה

but stand instead in the “chambers” and “abodes” of Beriah or Yetzirah, which are the Worlds of Beriah and Yetzirah, separate beings that are not united with G‑d as are the Sefirot.

ונהנין מזיו השכינה, הוא אור אין סוף ברוך הוא, המיוחד בי׳ ספירות דבריאה או דיצירה

There [the souls] delight in the radiance of the Shechinah, meaning the Blessed Ein Sof-light [as it is] unified with the Ten Sefirot of Beriah or Yetzirah;

והוא זיו תורתן ועבודתן ממש (עיין זהר, ויקהל, )דף ר״י

and this radiance that they enjoy is actually a “ray” of [the light of] their own Torah and divine service (see Zohar, Parshat Vayakhel, p. 210),

כי שכר מצוה היא מצוה עצמה

for “The reward of a mitzvah is the mitzvah itself.

A “ray” issuing from the mitzvot that they have performed, and that have become united with the Ein Sof, shines forth upon the tzaddikim in the Garden of Eden; it is the revelation of this ray that delights the soul.

From this we may catch a glimpse of the stature of a mitzvah performed in this world. From a mere glimmer of the light radiated by a mitzvah, a soul in Paradise derives pleasure so exquisite that, as our Sages say, all the suffering of Purgatory — a suffering so acute that one moment of it is worse than enduring seventy years of Job’s afflictions — is worthwhile, so long as it enables one subsequently to experience the boundless delight of Paradise.

In fact, were the soul when in Paradise to apprehend the essence of the mitzvah instead of a mere ray of it, it would expire — it would dissolve out of existence in the intensity of its light.

This is the meaning of the Mishnah,5 “Better one hour of repentance and good deeds in this world, than all the life of the World to Come.” For in the World to Come the soul has only a glimmer of the light of mitzvot, whereas in this world we have the essence of mitzvot, whereby we are united with G‑d Himself.

The soul’s great pleasure in Paradise is due only to its clear perception of the ray of light given off by the mitzvah, a perception that we lack in this physical world; wherefore the Mishnah concludes, “Better one hour of bliss in the World to Come, than all the life of this world” — better even than the bliss of fulfilling the Torah and mitzvot in this world, for true bliss can be experienced only in Paradise, where the soul actually perceives and grasps the G‑dliness of the Torah and mitzvot.