Then follows the second blessing, which declares G-d’s great love of the Jewish people.

וְאַחַר־כָּךְ בְּרָכָה שְׁנִיָּה: –

Notwithstanding the lofty service and the subjugation of all the heavenly angels, G-d saw fit to set them all aside, as it were, choosing instead to delight in the service of His people below. This blessing begins:

“L-rd our G-d, You have loved us with everlasting love.” That is to say that He set aside all the supernal, holy hosts—the heavenly angels, for they are not the ultimate intent of creation,

"אַהֲבַת עוֹלָם אֲהַבְתָּנוּ ה' אֱלֹהֵינוּ", כְּלוֹמַר, שֶׁהִנִּיחַ כָּל צְבָא מַעְלָה הַקְּדוֹשִׁים,

and caused His Shechinah to dwell upon us, the Jewish people, so that He be called “our G-d” in the same sense that He is called “the G-d of Abraham…,”12 as explained earlier.13

וְהִשְׁרָה שְׁכִינָתוֹ עָלֵינוּ, לִהְיוֹת נִקְרָא "אֱלֹהֵינוּ", כְּמוֹ "אֱלֹהֵי אַבְרָהָם כוּ'" כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל.

Abraham was completely nullified to G-d. To the same degree that G-d is called “the G-d of Abraham,” He is also called “our G-d.” This is accomplished, as explained earlier, through the performance of Torah and mitzvot.

This is because “love impels the flesh.”

וְהַיְינוּ, כִּי אַהֲבָה דּוֹחֶקֶת הַבָּשָׂר,

Love effects concealment and contraction. So, too, did G-d’s love for His people bring about a certain contraction in that He chose the service of Jewish souls in the state in which they are found here below—enclothed in physical bodies and in the finite world.

Therefore, this love on G-d’s part is called ahavat olam, literally, “a love of the world,” for it refers to the “contraction” of His great and infinite light by assuming the garb of finitude, which is called olam (“world”)—the concept of “world” signifying the finitude of space and time. G-d brought about this “contraction”:

וְלָכֵן נִקְרָא "אַהֲבַת עוֹלָם" – שֶׁהִיא בְּחִינַת צִמְצוּם אוֹרוֹ הַגָּדוֹל הַבִּלְתִּי תַכְלִית, לְהִתְלַבֵּשׁ בִּבְחִינַת גְּבוּל הַנִּקְרָא "עוֹלָם",

for the sake of His love for His people Israel in order to bring them near to Him that they might be absorbed into His blessed Unity and Oneness through Torah and mitzvot.

בַּעֲבוּר אַהֲבַת עַמּוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל, כְּדֵי לְקָרְבָם אֵלָיו, לִיכָּלֵל בְּיִחוּדוֹ וְאַחְדּוּתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ.

This is also the meaning of what we say a little later on in the same blessing of Ahavat Olam and in connection thereto: “Exceedingly abounding compassion,” i.e., more than You have bestowed upon others, “have You bestowed upon us,”

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁאוֹמְרִים "חֶמְלָה גְדוֹלָה וִיתֵירָה",

namely, [a compassion] exceeding the nearness of G-d toward all the hosts above.

פֵּירוּשׁ, יְתֵירָה עַל קִרְבַת אֱלֹהִים שֶׁבְּכָל צְבָא מַעְלָה;

G-d’s nearness to them comes out of His sense of compassion for them. This can in no way compare to the compassion G-d feels for us, for which reason He draws us closer to Him. The same blessing of Ahavat Olam then goes on to say:

“And You have chosen us from among all nations and tongues”; this refers to the material body which, in its corporeal aspects, is similar to the bodies of the gentiles of the world.

"וּבָנוּ בָחַרְתָּ מִכָּל עַם וְלָשׁוֹן" – הוּא הַגּוּף הַחוּמְרִי הַנִּדְמֶה בְּחוּמְרִיּוּתוֹ לְגוּפֵי אוּמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם;

True freedom of choice can only come about when one has two completely equal choices. When two things, however, are unequal, one does not freely choose one over the other—the qualities found in one and lacking in the other compel the choice.

It is therefore impossible to say that “You have chosen us” refers to Jewish souls, for there can be no comparison between Jewish and non-Jewish souls inasmuch as a Jew’s soul “is truly part of G-d Above.”14 Rather, “You have chosen us” refers to the Jew’s material body, which in its corporeality is similar to the bodies of non-Jews.

G-d freely chose Jewish bodies to be the proper receptacle for Jewish souls, desiring that through the deeds performed by the body (for all physical mitzvot demand bodily participation), the Jew should become united with Him. This the Alter Rebbe now goes on to explain, first continuing to quote from Ahavat Olam:

“And you have brought us near…to give thanks…”—the interpretation of “thanks” will be given elsewhere, where the quality of abnegation found in thanksgiving will be explained—“…and proclaim your Oneness…,” which means to be absorbed in His blessed Unity, as has been explained above.

"וְקֵרַבְתָּנוּ וְכוּ' לְהוֹדוֹת וְכוּ'", וּפֵירוּשׁ הוֹדָאָה יִתְבָּאֵר בְּמָקוֹם אַחֵר; "וּלְיַחֶדְךָ כוּ'" – לִיכָּלֵל בְּיִחוּדוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ, כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל.