Having discussed the various “abodes” of souls — three Worlds in which the souls receive a reward commensurate with the level of their divine service during their life on earth — the Alter Rebbe now returns to the theme begun in ch. 38. There he noted that kavanah in mitzvot (which is the “soul” of the mitzvot) can be classified into various categories, corresponding to the different levels of soul found in living beings — the souls of animals, of man, and so on. A kavanah which consists of intellectual love and fear is like the volitional soul of man; a kavanah consisting of natural love and fear, like the instinctive soul of an animal.

To support this contention, he discussed the various levels of “abodes” where souls receive their reward commensurate with their divine service on earth.

Returning now to his original theme, the Alter Rebbe points out that from the varying levels of reward, we can deduce the respective levels of divine service motivated by the different levels of kavanah.

והנה שכר מצוה מצוה

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

Unlike wages paid to a laborer, for example, which are no index of the nature of the work performed, the reward for a mitzvah — i.e., the revelation of G‑dliness experienced by the soul that performed the mitzvah — is actually the fruit of the mitzvah itself; the revelation consists of a ray of the G‑dly light emitted by the mitzvah.

פירוש, שמשכרה נדע מהותה ומדרגתה

This means that we can know the essential nature and rank [of the mitzvah] by its reward (by the nature of the light generated by the mitzvah, and revealed to the soul as its reward).

ואין לנו עסק בנסתרות

Now, we will not concern ourselves with explaining hidden matters,

שהם צדיקים הגדולים שהם בבחינת מרכבה

meaning the great tzaddikim who are at the level of a “chariot”, whose divine service comes under the heading of “hidden matters” because it transcends understanding,

רק הנגלות לנו, שאחריהם כל אדם ימשוך

but only with those matters revealed to us, to which every man must aspire i.e., only with those levels of divine service which may — and ought to — be attained by every Jew; as follows:

לידע נאמנה מהות ומדרגת עבודת ה׳ בדחילו ורחימו בהתגלות לבו

One must know with certainty that the essential nature and rank of divine service with fear and love revealed in the heart,

הנמשכות מן הבינה ודעת בגדולת אין סוף ברוך הוא

derived from understanding and knowledge of the greatness of the Blessed Ein Sof, and of which it was said earlier that the reward for divine service motivated by such love and fear is on the level of the World of Beriah, —

מקומה בי׳ ספירות דבריאה

from this reward we know that its place i.e., the level of such service — of mitzvot performed with such motivation, is in the Ten Sefirot of Beriah;

ועבודה בדחילו ורחימו הטבעיים שבמוחו

and the service motivated by natural fear and love hidden in one’s mind (not emotions experienced in the heart, but mental awareness of one’s inborn love and fear of G‑d), of which it was said earlier that such service is rewarded in the World of Yetzirah, —

בי׳ ספירות דיצירה

from this reward we know that its place is in the Ten Sefirot of Yetzirah.

אבל עבודה בלי התעוררות דחילו ורחימו, אפילו במוחו בבחינת גילוי

But divine service performed without arousing one’s fear and love to a revealed state even in one’s mind,

דהיינו לעורר האהבה הטבעית המסותרת בלב, להוציאה מההעלם והסתר הלב

meaning that the service is done without arousing the natural love hidden in one’s heart so that it will emerge from the hidden recesses of the heart,

אל הגילוי אפילו במוחו ותעלומות לבו על כל פנים

to be revealed at least in one’s conscious mind and in the latency of his heart, so that it might evoke (if not passionate fervor, then at least) a mental resolve to cleave to G‑d by fulfilling the mitzvot;

רק היא נשארת מסותרת בלב כתולדתה, כמו שהיתה קודם העבודה

if instead, the love remains hidden in the heart as in its native state, as it was before the divine service when it was surely concealed, not expressing itself in divine service; if the love is similarly hidden when he engages in divine service, and the mitzvot that he does are in no way affected by the love, then —

הרי עבודה זו נשארת למטה, בעולם הפירוד, הנקרא חיצוניות העולמות

such service remains below in this “World of Separation,”1 in the level called the externality of the worlds2 (as opposed to the Sefirot which are the internal aspect of the Worlds);

ואין בה כח לעלות וליכלל ביחודו יתברך, שהן עשר ספירות הקדושות

it has not the power to rise and to be absorbed in G‑d’s Unity, meaning the ten holy Sefirot,

וכמו שכתוב בתקונים, דבלא דחילו ורחימו לא פרחא לעילא, ולא יכלא לסלקא ולמיקם קדם ה׳

as is written in Tikkunei Zohar, that “Without fear and love it does not fly upward, and it cannot rise to stand before G‑d.”

As explained at length further, love and fear are the “wings” of one’s divine service; lacking the wings, it cannot soar aloft.