A question arises: Since this love emanates from the Divine spark found within the soul of all Jews, why do they not all attain this level of Divine service?

The reason that not every person merits this rank in the service of the heart—service from the depth of the heart in a state of pnimiyut

וּמַה שֶּׁאֵין כָּל אָדָם זוֹכֶה לְמַדְרֵגָה זוֹ, לַעֲבוֹדָה שֶׁבַּלֵּב מֵעוּמְקָא דְלִבָּא בִּבְחִינַת פְּנִימִיּוּת,

is that within him, this faculty is in a state of exile and captivity,

הַיְינוּ, לְפִי שֶׁבְּחִינָה זוֹ הִיא אֶצְלוֹ בִּבְחִינַת גָּלוּת וְשִׁבְיָה,

and this is actually the state of the exile of the Shechinah,

וְהִיא בְּחִינַת גָּלוּת הַשְּׁכִינָה מַמָּשׁ,

for it is precisely the [Shechinah] which is the spark of Divinity that is in one’s Divine soul.

כִּי הִיא הִיא בְּחִינַת נִיצוֹץ אֱלֹהוּת שֶׁבְּנַפְשׁוֹ הָאֱלֹהִית.

Thus, when the “spark” is in exile, the Shechinah is in exile as well. Moreover, being in exile, the spark cannot rouse the soul to serve G-d with the loftier manner of love that stems from the innermost depths of the heart.

The cause of the exile of the Divine spark of the soul is,15 as in the words of our Sages, of blessed memory: “When [the Jewish people] were exiled to Babylon, the Shechinah went with them.”16

וְסִבַּת הַגָּלוּת, הוּא מַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה "גָּלוּ לְבָבֶל שְׁכִינָה עִמָּהֶם",

In terms of the individual sparks of the soul, this means that when a spark is in a state of “Babylon,” i.e., when an individual acts in a “Babylonian” manner, then the Shechinah is in exile together with him.

This is so because he has vested the innermost point of his heart in [that aspect of the universe which is] the opposing counterpart [to holiness],

דְּהַיְינוּ מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהִלְבִּישׁ בְּחִינַת פְּנִימִית נְקוּדַּת לְבָבוֹ בְּ"זֶה לְעוּמַּת זֶה",

namely, in the soiled garments—mundane matters and worldly desires—which are known as “Babylon.”

דְּהַיְינוּ בִּלְבוּשִׁים צוֹאִים דְּמִילֵּי דְּעָלְמָא וְתַאֲוֹת עוֹלָם הַזֶּה, הַנִּקְרָא בְּשֵׁם "בָּבֶל",

He has thereby banished the Divine spark within his soul, the personal Shechinah within himself, so to speak, to this all pervasive “Babylon.”

This [exile] corresponds to the “foreskin” that covers the covenant and the innermost point of the heart.

וְהִיא בְּחִינַת עָרְלָה הַמְכַסָּה עַל הַבְּרִית וּנְקוּדָּה הַפְּנִימִית שֶׁבַּלֵּב,

Of this it is written, “And you shall excise the foreskin of your heart.”17

וְעַל זֶה נֶאֱמַר: "וּמַלְתֶּם אֵת עָרְלַת לְבַבְכֶם".

In principle, the spiritual service of circumcision is that of repentance.18 With regard to exile, our Sages teach that “if Israel repent, they will be immediately redeemed.”19 Repentance thus leads to the redemption (on a personal scale) of the Divine spark within each individual soul, and (on a cosmic scale) of the Shechinah, from their respective exiles. In spiritual terms, the act of circumcision likewise removes a veil of concealment and allows the innermost point of the heart to be revealed.

Now, in circumcision, there are two stages: milah (“excision”) and periah (“uncovering”),

וְהִנֵּה, בַּמִּילָה יֵשׁ שְׁנֵי בְּחִינוֹת: מִילָה וּפְרִיעָה,

[which remove respectively] the coarse foreskin and the thin membrane.

שֶׁהֵן עָרְלָה גַסָּה וּקְלִיפָּה דַקָּה.

With respect to the “foreskin” of the heart, which the Torah commands us similarly to circumcise, there are likewise coarse and subtle desires, corresponding to the two grades of skin.

וְכֵן בְּעָרְלַת הַלֵּב יֵשׁ גַּם כֵּן תַּאֲוֹת גַּסּוֹת וְדַקּוֹת –

[These two grades of worldly desire respectively require] milah and periah,

מִילָה וּפְרִיעָה;

and “if one performed milah (‘circumcision’) without periah (‘uncovering’), it is as if he had not circumcised,”20

וּ"מָל וְלֹא פָרַע – כְּאִלּוּ לֹא מָל",

Just as this is the law with regard to actual circumcision, so, too, is it true when it comes to circumcising the desires of the heart: if a person removes only his coarse desires and does not proceed to remove the subtler ones as well, it is as if he had not circumcised his heart at all,

because, after all is said and done, the innermost point of the heart is still covered by a garment of thin sackcloth [of kelipah];

מִפְּנֵי שֶׁסּוֹף סוֹף עֲדַיִין נְקוּדַּת פְּנִימִית הַלֵּב הִיא מְכוּסָּה בִּלְבוּשׁ שַׂק דַּק,

it is in a state of exile and captivity.

בִּבְחִינַת גָּלוּת וְשִׁבְיָה.

There it will remain until the individual redeems it by performing a spiritual periah and removing his subtler desires as well.

Now, concerning the excision of the foreskin itself, it is written: “And you—yourselves—shall excise the foreskin of your heart.”

וְהִנֵּה, עַל מִילַת הָעָרְלָה מַמָּשׁ כְּתִיב "וּמַלְתֶּם אֵת עָרְלַת לְבַבְכֶם" אַתֶּם בְּעַצְמְכֶם.

Each and every Jew is able to remove this himself, for repentance tears down the veil with which his desires obscure the innermost point of his heart.

However, the removal of the thin membrane is a difficult matter for man,

אַךְ לְהָסִיר הַקְּלִיפָּה הַדַּקָּה, זֶהוּ דָּבָר הַקָּשֶׁה עַל הָאָדָם,

and of this, it is written that with the coming of Mashiach, “The L-rd your G-d will circumcise your heart…, to love the L-rd your G-d with all your heart and all your soul, for the sake of your life,”21

וְעַל זֶה נֶאֱמַר בְּבִיאַת הַמָּשִׁיחַ: "וּמָל ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֶת לְבָבְךָ כוּ', לְאַהֲבָה אֶת ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ בְּכָל לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל נַפְשְׁךָ לְמַעַן חַיֶּיךָ",

because G-d alone is literally your whole life.

כְּלוֹמַר – לְמַעַן כִּי ה' לְבַדּוֹ הוּא כָּל חַיֶּיךָ מַמָּשׁ,

In this state, the individual’s love of G-d will not be a mere manifestation of his soul but a love that constitutes his very life. And just as a person does not regard his life as being something apart from himself, so, too, will this love not be sensed as a distinct entity but as an intrinsic component of himself.

That is why this love, the love that follows the Divine excision of the heart’s thin membrane, stems from the depth of the heart, from the truly innermost point, as mentioned above, and transcends the faculty of daat.

שֶׁלָּכֵן אַהֲבָה זוֹ הִיא מֵעוּמְקָא דְלִבָּא – מִנְּקוּדָּה פְּנִימִית מַמָּשׁ כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל, וּלְמַעְלָה מִבְּחִינַת הַדַּעַת.

Therefore, too, Mashiach will come when Israel in general are “caught unawares.”22

וְלָכֵן מָשִׁיחַ בָּא בְּהֶיסַּח הַדַּעַת לִכְלָלוּת יִשְׂרָאֵל,

[His coming] is the manifestation of the innermost point which is universal [to all Jews],

וְהִיא גִּילּוּי בְּחִינַת נְקוּדָּה פְּנִימִית הַכְּלָלִית,

and [likewise], the emergence of the universal Shechinah [of the entire community of Israel] from exile and captivity forever more.

וִיצִיאַת הַשְּׁכִינָה הַכְּלָלִית מֵהַגָּלוּת וְהַשִּׁבְיָה, לָעַד וּלְעוֹלְמֵי עוֹלָמִים.

Just as each individual’s Divine spark—his personal Shechinah, so to speak—is redeemed from captivity through means that transcend reason and daat, in such a manner, too, will the universal Shechinah, and with it the entire House of Israel, be redeemed.

Thus, the ultimate circumcision of the heart, and in its wake the ultimate manifestation of the love of G-d, will take place when Mashiach comes. Nevertheless, it is possible even now to liberate one’s personal Shechinah—one’s Divine spark—at least on a temporary basis during the time of prayer. This the Alter Rebbe now goes on to say:

Similarly, every particular spark of the Shechinah, inherent in the soul of every individual Jew,

וְכֵן, כָּל נִיצוֹץ פְּרָטִי מֵהַשְּׁכִינָה שֶׁבְּנֶפֶשׁ כָּל אֶחָד מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל

emerges for the moment from exile and captivity

יוֹצֵאת מֵהַגָּלוּת וְהַשִּׁבְיָה לְפִי שָׁעָה,

during that “momentary life” which is prayer23

בְּ"חַיֵּי שָׁעָה" זוֹ תְּפִלָּה,

during the service of his heart, from the depth of his heart,

וַעֲבוֹדָה שֶׁבַּלֵּב מֵעוּמְקָא דְלִבָּא,

from the innermost point which becomes divested of the [concealing] “foreskin”—

מִבְּחִינַת נְקוּדָּה הַפְּנִימִית הַנִּגְלֵית מֵהָעָרְלָה,

and soars upward to cleave to Him with a fierce passion,

וְעוֹלָה לְמַעְלָה, לְדָבְקָה בוֹ בִּתְשׁוּקָה עַזָּה

in the spirit of the phrase, “for the sake of your life,” for the individual senses that G-dliness is his entire life.

בִּבְחִינַת "לְמַעַן חַיֶּיךָ".

And [in] this, too—in this momentary deliverance of the innermost point of the heart during the service of prayer—a man may be considered to be in a state of hessach daat, “unaware” or “absentminded,” so to speak,

וְהוּא גַם כֵּן בִּבְחִינַת הֶיסַּח דַּעַת הָאָדָם,

for this State, the state in which the Divine spark within man, his personal Shechinah, is momentarily revealed, transcends the daat of man and his meditation on the greatness of G-d.

כִּי בְּחִינָה זוֹ הִיא לְמַעְלָה מִדַּעַת הָאָדָם וְהִתְבּוֹנְנוּתוֹ בִּגְדוּלַּת ה',

Rather, it is a kind of gift granted by G-d from heaven

רַק הִיא בְּחִינַת מַתָּנָה נְתוּנָה מֵאֵת ה' מִן הַשָּׁמַיִם,

from the radiance of the supernal countenance,

מֵהֶאָרַת בְּחִינַת פָּנִים הָעֶלְיוֹנִים,

as it is written, “May G-d make His countenance shine upon you,”24

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב "יָאֵר ה' פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ",

and as it is written, “And the L-rd, your G-d, will circumcise i.e., remove the insensitivity of [your heart]”—and this is a state which exists even now on a temporary basis.

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "וּמָל ה' אֱלֹקֶיךָ" כוּ'.