אין ישראל נגאלין אלא בצדקה, שנאמר: ושביה בצדקה

“Israel shall be redeemed only by virtue of tzedakah,1 as it is written,2 “And her expatriates [shall be redeemed] through tzedakah.

Tzedakah, whose root connotes both “righteousness” and “charity”, thus brings about the redemption of the Jewish people from exile and their ultimate return to Zion. The same root appears in the next verse to be quoted:

כתיב: צדק לפניו יהלך

It is written:3Tzedek shall go (yehaleich) before Him.”

והוה ליה למימר: ילך

Now, one should have expected the verse to say yeileich.

Yehaleich, by contrast, is a causative form of the verb, seeming to imply that righteousness or charity causes some other entity to “go before Him.”

אך הענין על פי מה שכתוב: לך אמר לבי, בקשו פני

This concept may be understood by considering the verse,4 “In Your behalf my heart says, ‘Seek My face.’”

As Rashi explains it, the simple meaning of the verse is that “On Your behalf and as Your messenger my heart tells me to seek out Your face” (i.e., G‑d’s inwardness, or innermost essence, for the word פנים is related to both meanings, “face” and “interior”). And in this spirit the verse concludes: “Your countenance, G‑d, do I seek”; i.e., “I am indeed doing so: I am seeking Your countenance.”

However, if panai does in fact refer to G‑d’s countenance and inwardness, why would it be necessary to conclude, “Your countenance, G‑d, do I seek”? Surely it would suffice to say, “Your countenance do I seek,” since we have already been informed that we are speaking of G‑d’s countenance.

The Alter Rebbe therefore explains that the word panai (“my face”) refers to the inwardness of the Jewish heart, while panecha (“Your countenance”) refers to the inwardness of G‑d.

פירוש: בקשו פנימית הלב

This means [that man is being urged to] “seek the inwardness of the heart,” that hidden element within his own heart that must be sought after if it is to be revealed.

כי הנה בלהב יסוד האש האלקית שבלב

For in the flame of the Element of the Divine Fire that is in the heart, i.e., within the soul’s ardent love of G‑d which derives from the Element of Fire within the soul, as mentioned in Tanya, Part I, ch. 3,

(נוסח אחר: הנה בהלב [יסוד האש האלקית שבלב])

(5A variant reading: “For in the heart, the Element of Divine Fire within the heart,”)

יש ב׳ בחינות: בחינת חיצוניות ובחינת פנימיות

there are two aspects: the aspect of chitzoniyut (“outwardness”, i.e., externality, as opposed to essence) and the aspect of pnimiyut (“inwardness”).

חיצוניות הלב היא התלהבות, המתלהבת מבחינת הבינה והדעת בגדולת ה׳ אין סוף ברוך הוא

The chitzoniyut of the heart is the ardent [love] that flares up on account of one’s understanding and knowledge of the greatness of G‑d, the blessed Ein Sof,

[להתבונן] בגדולתו, ולהוליד מתבונה זו אהבה עזה כרשפי אש וכו׳

by meditating6 on His greatness, and from this contemplation giving birth to a strong love resembling7 “flashes of fire.”

This, then, is the chitzoniyut, the external level, of the G‑dly soul: a revealed love of G‑d in one’s heart which results from meditation on G‑d’s greatness.

ופנימיות הלב היא הנקודה שבפנימיות הלב ועומקא דליבא

And the pnimiyut of the heart is the innermost point in the heart — the depth of the heart,

שהיא למעלה מעלה מבחינת הדעת והתבונה, שיוכל האדם להתבונן בלבו בגדולת ה׳

which transcends by far the categories of knowledge and understanding with which man can meditate in his heart on G‑d’s greatness.

Unaided, man would never be able to achieve such a profound love through meditation alone; it is granted to the soul as a gift, as will soon be explained, and man’s task is to search and discover it within himself.

וכמו שכתוב: ממעמקים קראתיך ה׳, מעומקא דליבא

As it is written:8 “From out of the depths do I call unto You, O G‑d”; [i.e.,] from the depths of the heart.9

“Depths” appears in the plural, for the heart harbors depths, with yet profounder depths beyond.

(ועל דרך משל: כמו במילי דעלמא, לפעמים יש ענין גדול מאד מאד, שכל חיות האדם תלוי בו, ונוגע עד נקודת פנימיות הלב, ועד בכלל

(By way of analogy, there is a parallel in worldly matters. Sometimes there is an extremely important matter upon which a man’s entire vitality hinges; it touches him as far as — and including — the innermost point of his heart,

וגורם לו לפעמים לעשות מעשים ולדבר דברים שלא בדעת כלל)

causing him to do things and say things without any reason whatever),10 for it touches the essence of his soul that transcends logic and reason.

וזה לעומת זה

And11 “the one corresponds to the other”:

The spiritual realm corresponds to the physical. Just as worldly affairs sometimes touch a person so strongly that he acts without reason:

ככה הוא ממש בעבודה שבלב

It is precisely so with the “service of the heart.” A Jew’s love for G‑d may be so great that it touches his soul’s essence which utterly transcends logic and reason.

והיינו לפי שבחינת נקודת פנימית הלב היא למעלה מבחינת הדעת המתפשט ומתלבש במדות שנולדו מחב״ד, כנודע

As is known, this is because the innermost point of the heart transcends the faculty of reason which extends and vests itself in the emotive attributes born of ChaBaD, i.e., born of the three intellectual stages — wisdom, understanding, knowledge — that together constitute the intellectual process called ChaBaD.

רק היא בחינת הארת חכמה עליונה, שלמעלה מהבינה והדעת

Rather, [the pnimiyut of the heart] is a radiation from the supreme Chochmah, which transcends Binah and Daat,

ובה מלובש וגנוז אור ה׳ ממש

and in this [supreme Chochmah] there is vested and concealed the actual light of G‑d;

כמו שכתוב: ה׳ בחכמה גו׳

as it is written,12 “By wisdom (Chochmah) G‑d [founded the earth].”

The two quoted Hebrew words literally mean, “G‑d [is] in Chochmah”; i.e., G‑d’s infinite light is clothed in Chochmah.

והיא היא בחינת ניצוץ אלקות שבכל נפש מישראל

And this is precisely the spark of Divinity in every soul of Israel.13

It is this Divine spark, utterly transcending reason, that gives birth to the love of G‑d in the pnimiyut of the heart, that likewise transcends all reason.14

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?