The Alter Rebbe will now explain that since this love of G‑d is such that the soul is on the verge of expiring, it cannot inspire one directly to serve G‑d through Torah and mitzvot.

והנה סדר העבודה בעסק התורה והמצות, הנמשכת מבחינת אהבה עזה זו, היא בבחינת שוב לבד

The order of one’s divine service through occupation with Torah study and mitzvot, a service deriving from this intense love, is possible only in a manner of retreat, i.e., when the soul withholds itself from expiring in order to fulfill the Divine intent, which can only be realized when the soul remains within the body.

כמו שכתוב בספר יצירה: ואם רץ לבך, שוב לאחד. פירוש ואם רץ לבך, היא תשוקת הנפש שבלב בחלל הימני, כשמתגברת ומתלהבת ומתלהטת במאד מאד, עד כלות הנפש ממש, להשתפך אל חיק אביה, חיי החיים ברוך הוא

As it is written in Sefer Yetzirah: “If your heart hastens, return to One.” “If your heart hastens” refers to the craving of the soul that is in the right side of the heart (the abode of the Divine soul), when this craving predominates and bursts into flame, and glows in such rapture that the soul is consumed with a desire (klot hanefesh) to pour itself out into the embrace of its Father, its Source, Who gives one life,

ולצאת ממאסרה בגוף הגופני וגשמי, לדבקה בו יתברך

and to leave its confinement in the corporeal and physical body to attach itself to Him, blessed be He.

When one is consumed with such an incontainable, rapturous love, seeking even at the cost of self-extinction to become attached to G‑d, there must now be a deliberate “return to the One.”

אזי זאת ישיב אל לבו, מאמר רז״ל: כי על כרחך אתה חי

Then one must take to heart the teaching of our Sages, of blessed memory:1 “Despite yourself you must live” — despite your craving for expiry in klot hanefesh, you must nevertheless remain alive,

בגוף הזה, להחיותו, כדי להמשיך חיים עליונים מחיי החיים ברוך הוא למטה, על ידי תורת חיים

in this body, to keep it alive, for the purpose of drawing down the higher life-force from the Life of life, blessed be He, through the life-giving Torah.

להיות דירה בתחתונים לאחדותו יתברך בבחינת גילוי

Through this, there will be a dwelling-place in the lower worlds and created beings for His blessed Oneness in a revealed state,

Just as in an ordinary dwelling, a person’s identity is totally revealed, so will the true essence of the Divine Oneness be then revealed among the beings of this lower world.

כמו שנתבאר לעיל

as explained above, that this is the ultimate Divine intent — that a human being’s service of G‑d should make of the world a dwelling-place for Him. And this is the meaning of “Return to the One”: retreat from your love of G‑d in a state of klot hanefesh, for the sake of the “One”, for the sake of revealing G‑d’s Oneness in the world.

וכמו שכתוב בזהר הקדוש: למהוי אחד באחד, פירוש: שהיחוד הנעלם יהיה בבחינת עלמא דאתגליא

And, as is explained in the holy Zohar: “That there be One in one,” meaning that the unity which is hidden — the “One” of a higher spiritual world or level — shall become an aspect of the “revealed world,” becoming manifest in the Oneness of a lower world or level.

וזהו שאומרים: לכה דודי וכו׳

And this is the meaning of the text:2 “Come, my Beloved, to meet the bride (kallah)” — denoting klot hanefesh (kallah and klot being etymologically related). In this form of the love of G‑d, one’s klot hanefesh should be expressed through causing “my Beloved” to “come” — i.e., through drawing down the Beloved One, G‑d Himself, so that G‑dliness will be revealed in this nether world.

ובזה יובן מאמר רז״ל: על כרחך אתה חי ועל כרחך וכו׳

With this one will be able to understand the saying of our Sages, of blessed memory: “Despite yourself, even against your will, you must live, and despite yourself you must die.”

From this saying, “Despite yourself you must live,” we learn that, in our service of G‑d, we should in the first instance desire the opposite of staying alive (klot hanefesh), and that remaining alive within the body has to be perforce, against our will. On the other hand, from the second saying, “Despite yourself you must die,” we learn that we should desire to remain alive, and that the opposite of life, klot hanefesh, should be against our will. If so, the question arises:

ואלא איך יהיה רצונו

What then should one’s desire be?

We can understand this according to what has been explained above: First one must come to the point where one can arouse within oneself such an intense love of G‑d that one desires klot hanefesh, while remaining alive is “despite oneself” — only for the purpose of fulfilling G‑d’s Will that one reveal G‑dliness and His Oneness in the world. This is the meaning of “Despite yourself you must live.”

Afterwards, though, when one is already in a state of “retreat”, then one should once more arouse within oneself the love of G‑d that surges ever forward in klot hanefesh. In this way, one injects into this state of “retreat” into the world a higher spiritual quality. Furthermore, in this state of withdrawing back into the world, one can possibly become drawn down into lowly mundane affairs. To forestall this possibility, one should once more arouse within oneself the sensation of “running forward,” loving G‑d to the extent of klot hanefesh. This is the meaning of “Despite yourself you must die” — i.e., against your will which is now in a state of “retreat”, the very opposite of klot hanefesh, which denotes expiring and leaving the body.

וכמו שנתבאר במקום אחר באריכות על משנה זו: על כרחך אתה חי, בעזרת חיי החיים ברוך הוא

[This is] explained elsewhere at length with reference to this Mishnah: “Despite yourself you must live” — with the help of the “Life of life,” blessed be He, Who enables one to cope with this “compulsion” to live “despite yourself.”

This means that when one’s love of G‑d is surging forward in klot hanefesh, one forces oneself against one’s will to remain “alive” within the body, in order to reveal down here in this world the “Life of life,” that divine force which gives life to the world.3