In the previous chapter the Alter Rebbe described yet another manner in which a person can perform Torah and mitzvot “with his heart” — with the love and fear of G‑d — and that is, by utilizing the attribute of Jacob, which is the quality of mercy. In this case the individual arouses compassion within himself upon his exiled soul and upon its source, the Ein Sof, and in this frame of mind he studies Torah and performs mitzvot. This endeavor extricates his soul from its spiritual exile (whither it has been banished by his own inappropriate thoughts, words and deeds), and restores it to its source in the blessed Ein Sof.

In this chapter the Alter Rebbe goes on to explain how very, very close it is for every Jew to reveal his hidden love of G‑d. The approach explained in this chapter is novel (as the Rebbe clarifies), inasmuch as it utilizes the Jew’s very nature, thereby obviating the need for a specific manner of contemplation; a relatively general and tangible manner of contemplation will do, as will soon be explained. Indeed, the lower the spiritual level of the individual, the easier it is for him to awaken this hidden love — a paradox that will also be explained presently.

This manner of contemplation enables a Jew to serve G‑d with fiery, passionate love, leading him to excel in his study of Torah and performance of mitzvot. It also enables him to overcome all obstacles, whether from within or from without, that seek to hinder his service of G‑d.

Let a man think along these lines: It is in the nature of a human being that when he feels a strong emanation of love from his fellow he will respond in kind. And if the manifestation of love is showered by an exalted personage upon a very lowly individual, the responsive chord of the lowly person’s love will be all the more vibrant.

In a like manner, but infinitely more so, should this obtain when a human being is enveloped by G‑d’s boundless love for him. Such is the case with the Jewish people. G‑d showed His boundless love for His people by choosing them from all created beings, from the highest level to the lowest. This love manifested itself by His taking them out of Egypt and bestowing the Torah and its mitzvot upon them alone. And so too does G‑d show this love to every individual Jew at all times and in all places.

Such boundless love should surely awaken within a Jew an ardent reciprocal love for G‑d. Moreover, just as G‑d, because of His love for the Jewish people, “overcame all obstacles” which stood in the way of creating this world (as will be explained in ch. 49), so too should each Jew strive to overcome all obstacles that hinder his service of G‑d.

ויש דרך ישר לפני איש, שוה לכל נפש, וקרוב הדבר מאד מאד

There is yet another straight way i.e., simple and straightforward, that is equally applicable and suitable to every man, and this matter is very, very nigh, inasmuch as the technique involved is uncomplicated,

לעורר ולהאיר אור האהבה התקועה ומסותרת בלבו

to arouse and kindle the light of the love that is implanted and concealed in his heart,

This love is already found in the heart of every Jew in a concealed state; utilizing the approach about to be described, makes it very simple for every Jew to reveal and actualize it.

להיות מאירה בתוקף אורה, כאש בוערה, בהתגלות לבו ומוחו

that it may shine forth with its intense light, like a flaming fire, in the consciousness of the heart and mind,

למסור נפשו לה׳ וגופו ומאודו

ultimately enabling the person to surrender his soul to G‑d together with his body and [material] possessions,

בכל לב ובכל נפש ומאד

this being done with all his heart, and all his soul and all his “might” — with the boundless devotion of his soul’s essence,

מעומקא דלבא באמת לאמיתו

from the depth of the heart, in absolute truth,

ובפרט בשעת קריאת שמע וברכותיה, כמו שיתבאר

and especially, i.e., a most propitious time for the person to kindle this love in such a manner is, at the time of the recital of the Shema and its blessings, as will be explained later, on the particular connection of the Shema and its blessings to the arousal of this love.

והוא

And this technique for revealing this love is,

כאשר ישים אל לבו מה שאמר הכתוב: כמים הפנים לפנים, כן לב האדם אל האדם

to take to heart the meaning of the verse:1 “As water mirrors the face to the face, so does the heart of man to man.”

פירוש: כמו שכדמות וצורת הפנים שהאדם מראה במים, כן נראה לו שם במים אותה צורה עצמה

This means2 that as [in the case of] the likeness and features of the face which a man presents to the water, the identical face is reflected back to him from the water,

That image mirrors not only the person’s external features, but also the nuances of facial expression that signify joy, sorrow, and so on, thus revealing not only his physical state but his mental state as well.

ככה ממש לב האדם הנאמן באהבתו לאיש אחר

so indeed is also the heart of a man who is loyal in his affection for another person,

הרי האהבה זו מעוררת אהבה בלב חבירו אליו גם כן, להיות אוהבים נאמנים זה לזה

for this love which he has for the other awakens a loving response for him in the heart of his friend also, so that they come to love each other loyally,

Even the love harbored in one’s heart arouses a reflected love in another.

בפרט כשרואה אהבת חבירו אליו

especially when he sees his friend’s love for him, freely revealed.

והנה זהו טבע הנהוג במדת כל אדם, אף אם שניהם שוים במעלה

Such is the common nature in the character of every man, even when they are equal in status.

ועל אחת כמה וכמה, אם מלך גדול ורב מראה אהבתו הגדולה והעצומה לאיש הדיוט ונבזה ושפל אנשים, ומנוול ומוטל באשפה

How much more so is this the case if a great and mighty king who rules over many lands displays his great and intense love for a commoner who is despised and lowly among men, a disgraceful creature cast on the dunghill,

The king depicted here rules not over one land but over many; his love for the person is not only harbored in the heart but is manifest; the manner of love is not ordinary but “great and intense”; and the love is shown not to an ordinary person but to a truly despicable character. The Alter Rebbe goes on to state how his love is displayed:

ויורד אליו ממקום כבודו עם כל שריו יחדיו

yet he the king comes down to him from the place of his glory, together with all his retinue,

ומקימו ומרימו מאשפתו, ומכניסו להיכלו, היכל המלך, חדר לפנים מחדר, מקום שאין כל עבד ושר נכנס לשם

and raises him and exalts him from his dunghill and brings him into his palace — the royal palace, and within the palace itself he leads him in the innermost chamber, a place such as no servant nor lord ever enters,

ומתייחד עמו שם ביחוד וקירוב אמיתי, וחיבוק ונישוק, ואתדבקות רוחא ברוחא בכל לב ונפש

and there shares with him the closest companionship with mutual embraces and kisses and attachment of “spirit to spirit,” with their whole heart and soul, —

When a mighty king shows such great affection and companionship to such a lowly person, then,

על אחת כמה וכמה שתתעורר ממילא האהבה כפולה ומכופלת בלב ההדיוט ושפל האנשים הזה אל נפש המלך, בהתקשרות הנפש ממש, מלב ונפש, מעומקא דלבא לאין קץ

how much more so will there be aroused, of itself, a doubled and redoubled love in the heart of this most common and humble individual for the person of the king,3 with a true attachment of spirit, from heart and soul, from the infinite depths of his heart.

ואף אם לבו כלב האבן, המס ימס והיה למים, ותשתפך נפשו כמים בכלות הנפש ממש, לאהבת המלך

Even if his heart be like a heart of stone, and not easily roused to tender feelings of love for another, yet, in such a situation, it will surely melt and become [like] water, and his soul will pour itself out like water, with soulful longing for the love of the king.

The Alter Rebbe goes on to explain that all the details mentioned in the parable of the king are infinitely more applicable with regard to the object of the parable — the relationship of G‑d with each and every Jew. For G‑d, the King of kings, showed his unending love of the Jewish people by taking them out of their nethermost level, in Egypt, and exalting them to the highest of levels by giving them the Torah. Through study of Torah and performance of mitzvot, Jews are united with G‑d to the utmost possible degree.

This was so not only at the time the Torah was given. But at all times, as shall soon be explained, contemplating this matter will arouse within every Jew — “as water mirrors the face to the face” — a parallel love of G‑d.