The theme of the previous chapter was teshuvah ilaah and how it finds expression in the “cleaving of spirit to Spirit”—through Torah study, tzedakah, and acts of lovingkindness.

This higher level of teshuvah, the cleaving of spirit to Spirit through the study of the Torah and the performance of acts of kindness,

וְהִנֵּה, תְּשׁוּבָה עִילָּאָה זוֹ, דְּאִתְדַּבְּקוּתָא דְרוּחָא בְּרוּחָא עַל־יְדֵי תּוֹרָה וּגְמִילוּת חֲסָדִים,

comes as a downward thrust from Above,

הִיא בִּבְחִינַת הַמְשָׁכָה מִלְמַעְלָה לְמַטָּה,

Neither Torah study nor acts of lovingkindness elevate a person solely as a result of his own initiative and Divine service. Rather, he is aided from Above to reach an infinitely higher level than he would have attained alone.

so that the word of G-d shall actually be in one’s mouth,

לִהְיוֹת דְּבַר ה' מַמָּשׁ בְּפִיו,

This too is a Divine gift.

as Scripture states, “I have placed My words in your mouth.”1

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "וָאָשִׂים דְּבָרַי בְּפִיךָ",

Torah study thus accomplishes much more than what man could attain on his own.


“His right hand embraces me,”2 through [man’s] acts of kindness,

"וִימִינוֹ תְּחַבְּקֵנִי" בִּגְמִילוּת חֲסָדִים,

for “kindness is the [supernal] right arm….”3

דְּ"חֶסֶד דְּרוֹעָא יְמִינָא וְכוּ'".

With every act of lovingkindness, one draws down Divine benevolence: one is embraced by a far loftier level of holiness than he could possibly aspire to by dint of his own spiritual service.

However, mortal man must ascend from stage to stage

אֲבָל אָדָם הַתַּחְתּוֹן צָרִיךְ לֵילֵךְ מִמַּדְרֵגָה לְמַדְרֵגָה מִמַּטָּה לְמַעְלָה,

toward this higher level of teshuvah and this “cleaving of spirit to Spirit” through the heart’s devoted worship,

הִיא בְּחִינַת תְּשׁוּבָה עִילָּאָה וְאִתְדַּבְּקוּת רוּחָא בְּרוּחָא, בְּכַוָּונַת הַלֵּב בִּתְפִלָּה,

particularly during Shema and its blessings,

וּבִפְרָט בִּקְרִיאַת־שְׁמַע וּבִרְכוֹתֶיהָ,

so that he might in perfect truth say during the recitation of the Shema, “You shall love [the L-rd your G-d] with all your heart and with all your soul….”4

כְּדֵי לוֹמַר: "וְאָהַבְתָּ וְגוֹ' בְּכָל לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל נַפְשְׁךָ וְגוֹ'", בֶּאֱמֶת לַאֲמִיתּוֹ:

Likewise: “These words [which I command you today] shall be [upon your heart]…. And you shall speak of them….”5

וְכֵן: "וְהָיוּ הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה וְגוֹ', וְדִבַּרְתָּ בָּם וְגוֹ'",

All the above verses speak of the study of the Torah.6

The word of G-d must truly be in his mouth, which is the case when one’s mouth serves as a vessel for G-d’s word,

לִהְיוֹת דְּבַר ה' בְּפִיו בֶּאֱמֶת,

and7 “there is no truth [but Torah].”8

"וְאֵין אֱמֶת וְכוּ'":

He must also perform all the mitzvot,

וְכֵן לְקַיֵּים כָּל הַמִּצְוֹת,

as it is written, “He has sanctified us with His commandments.”9

כְּמוֹ שֶׁאוֹמְרִים: "אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו",

This [sanctification] has the same sense as in the phrase, “You are sanctified unto me”10i.e., separate from all others and wholly sanctified unto G-d through the performance of His commandments.

כְּמוֹ: "הֲרֵי אַתְּ מְקוּדֶּשֶׁת לִי",

This is the level of kodesh ha’elyon (“supernal holiness”), which one draws upon himself through the performance of the mitzvot.

הִיא בְּחִינַת קֹדֶשׁ הָעֶלְיוֹן,

“kodesh” (translated holiness”) connotes something apart, or transcendent,

לְשׁוֹן פְּרִישׁוּת וְהַבְדָּלָה,

that cannot be contained within the created worlds, permeating each of them with Divine life-force commensurate with its particular capacity,

שֶׁאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְהִתְלַבֵּשׁ תּוֹךְ עָלְמִין,

since “everything is considered as naught before Him.”11

מִשּׁוּם דְּ"כוּלָּא קַמֵּיהּ כְּלָא חֲשִׁיב",

Relative to this transcendent level, the differing levels of spirituality of the various created beings are of no consequence.

Rather, this is a level [of holiness] that transcends (lit., “encompasses”) all worlds, and hence affects them all equally from afar, so to speak;

אֶלָּא בִּבְחִינַת סוֹבֵב כָּל עָלְמִין,

this is [the level of] the supreme will, and so on, which is drawn down into this world through the performance of mitzvot,

הוּא רָצוֹן הָעֶלְיוֹן בָּרוּךְ־הוּא וְכוּ',

as discussed in the first part of the Tanya, Likkutei Amarim, ch. 46.

כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּלִקּוּטֵי־אֲמָרִים פֶּרֶק מ"ו.

After prayer as well we say, “To You, O G-d, I lift my soul,”12 referring to the initiative of the worshipper below in raising his soul upward to its Source,

וְגַם אַחַר הַתְּפִלָּה אוֹמְרִים: "אֵלֶיךָ ה' נַפְשִׁי אֶשָּׂא",

so that through the performance of mitzvot, spirit will cleave to Spirit throughout the day….

דְּהַיְינוּ, לְאִתְדַּבְּקָא רוּחָא בְּרוּחָא כָּל הַיּוֹם וְכוּ'.

All this is brought about through meditation on the grandeur of the Infinite One,

וְכָל זֶה, עַל־יְדֵי הַהִתְבּוֹנְנוּת בִּגְדוּלַּת אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא

concentrating the mind deeply during the two blessings preceding Shema and during the preparatory hymns of praise known as Pesukei Dezimrah, as is known.

בְּהַעֲמָקַת הַדַּעַת, בִּ"שְׁתַּיִם לְפָנֶיהָ" וּבִ"פְסוּקֵי דְזִמְרָה", כַּנּוֹדָע.

Meditating in this fashion gives birth to a love for G-d, which is translated into the study of the Torah and the performance of mitzvot. This form of Divine service is teshuvah ilaah that takes the direction called מִלְמַטָה לְמַעֲלָה: it works its way upward from the initiative taken by the enterprising worshipper, who elevates himself by his own bootstraps.