And this is the meaning of the teaching of our Sages, of blessed memory:21 “[In the World to Come—here meaning Gan Eden—there is no eating and drinking…, but the righteous sit] with their crowns on their heads, and they take delight [in the radiance of the Divine Presence].”22

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁאָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: "וְעַטְרוֹתֵיהֶם בְּרָאשֵׁיהֶם וְנֶהֱנִין כוּ'",

A crown (atarah) is something that encompasses and encircles,

"עֲטָרָה" הִיא בְּחִינַת מַקִּיף וְסוֹבֵב,

This refers to an illumination that neither contracts nor adapts itself so that it can be vested in varying degrees within created beings; rather, it descends to the worlds23 and encompasses them all equally.

and is called keter, as related to koteret, the capital which crowns a column,24 as in the Beit Hamikdash built by King Solomon (I Kings, ch. 7).

וְנִקְרָא "כֶּתֶר" מִלְּשׁוֹן "כּוֹתֶרֶת",

Atarah is thus a crown worn on the head25 while keter means (as well) the crown atop a column.

Since the illumination of light from the sefirah of keter that will be revealed in the World to Come results from the performance of the mitzvot that are likened to 620 (תר"ך) columns of light (corresponding to the 613 Torah commandments and seven Rabbinic commandments, numerically equal to the word כתר),26 the Alter Rebbe also explains the term “crown” as it applies to a column.

[The sefirah of keter] is an intermediary which joins the radiance and revelation of the Emanator, the blessed Ein Sof, to the emanated beings in the World of Atzilut,

וְהוּא בְּחִינַת מְמוּצָּע הַמְחַבֵּר הֶאָרַת הַמַּאֲצִיל אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא לְהַנֶּאֱצָלִים,

The Emanator is infinite while the emanated beings—which are within a world, and even the loftiest of worlds is bound by limitation—are finite. There must therefore be an intermediary between the two. It is the sefirah of keter that serves as this intermediary, for its internal dimension is related to the Emanator, and its external dimension is related to the emanated beings. It is thus through the sefirah of keter that the [infinite] Ein Sof-light is drawn into the World of Atzilut and to the emanated beings which populate it.

and in the future, it will radiate and become revealed in this world to all the righteous who will rise with the Resurrection,

וְלֶעָתִיד יָאִיר וְיִתְגַּלֶּה בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה לְכָל הַצַּדִּיקִים שֶׁיָּקוּמוּ בַּתְּחִיָּיה

(27“And Your people are all righteous…”28).29

("וְעַמֵּךְ כּוּלָּם צַדִּיקִים כוּ'").

This transcendent degree of Divine light will thus be revealed to the entire Jewish people.

Accordingly, the illumination that presently is received only by those beings that inhabit the World of Atzilut will radiate in the World to Come to this physical world as well. For unlike the indwelling illumination of Gan Eden that is dependent upon the level and comprehension of each recipient, this revelation is an encompassing light from the sefirah of keter, which does not undergo contraction but radiates to all equally.

This results in a state of total revelation, whereby the very Essence of Divinity is visually perceived (re’iyat hamahut), as it is written, “The glory of G-d shall be revealed, and together all flesh shall see….”30

And this is the meaning of the teaching of our Sages, of blessed memory: “In the future, the righteous will be lauded as holy,”31 as G-d is praised now,

וְזֶה שֶׁאָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: "עֲתִידִים צַדִּיקִים שֶׁיֹּאמְרוּ לִפְנֵיהֶם קָדוֹשׁ",

for “holy” signifies [lofty] separation;

כִּי "קָדוֹשׁ" הוּא בְּחִינַת מוּבְדָּל,

it is not subject to apprehension and knowledge

שֶׁאֵינוֹ בְּגֶדֶר הַשָּׂגָה וָדַעַת,

because it transcends by far the wisdom and knowledge which are attainable in Gan Eden,

כִּי הוּא לְמַעְלָה מַּעְלָה מִבְּחִינַת הַחָכְמָה וָדַעַת שֶׁבְּגַן עֵדֶן,

for Scripture states, “chochmah shall be found from ayin (‘naught’).”32

כִּי "הַחָכְמָה מֵאַיִן תִּמָּצֵא" כְּתִיב,

This refers to the supreme keter which, in the sacred Zohar,33 is called ayin,

הוּא בְּחִינַת "כֶּתֶר עֶלְיוֹן" הַנִּקְרָא "אַיִן" בַּזּוֹהַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ,

and the bestowal of its radiance is manifest, i.e., its essence is apprehended, only when, after the Resurrection, the soul is vested in a pure and clear body.

וְהַשְׁפָּעָתוֹ וְהֶאָרָתוֹ בִּבְחִינַת גִּילּוּי – הוּא דַוְקָא כְּשֶׁהַנְּשָׁמָה תִּתְלַבֵּשׁ בְּגוּף זַךְ וְצַח אַחַר הַתְּחִיָּה,

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to explain why in Gan Eden, when the soul is not encumbered by a body, the light of keter cannot be manifest, whereas—paradoxically—this revelation becomes possible only in the World to Come at the time of the Resurrection, when the soul is once again invested within a body.

(For, as is well known,34 the determining opinion is that of the Ramban,35 who states that the ultimate reward will be specifically at the time of the Resurrection, when the soul will again be found within a body.)

For “Their beginning (i.e., the loftiest initial level) is wedged in their end.”36

כִּי "נָעוּץ תְּחִלָּתָן בְּסוֹפָן" דַּוְקָא,

This is explained in the teachings of Chasidut37 as follows: “Beginning” refers to a level of Divinity that utterly transcends the evolvement of any created worlds. This level of Divinity is wedged in the last level preceding the creation of the evolving worlds, the sefirah of keter. Keter is revealed only in the “end” of all worlds—i.e., within this physical world—during the time of the Resurrection. Gan Eden, by contrast, is incapable of receiving this transcendent level of revelation in an internalized manner.

Thus, while the lesser radiance that is muted to match the respective limitations of the evolving worlds can be absorbed by the soul (in Gan Eden) in its disembodied state, the transcendent radiance issuing from keter is revealed to the soul only when it is clothed within a body.

Likewise, as is known, “The final deed—i.e., the last stage of creation: this physical world—was first in thought….”38

וְ"סוֹף מַעֲשֶׂה בְּמַחֲשָׁבָה תְּחִלָּה כוּ'", כַּנּוֹדָע.

Thought and creation both have aspects that are “first” and “last”; the “last” (i.e., lowest) level of creation, which is this world, is rooted in the “beginning” (i.e., in the highest level) of the Divine thought.

This is why specifically the deeds performed in this “last” world of creation, while the soul is clothed in a physical body, are able to elicit and draw down the radiance of keter. As explained here by the Alter Rebbe, this refers to the mitzvah of tzedakah, as well as to mitzvot in general, all of which are termed “tzedakah.”39

For it is the performance of physical mitzvot in this material world that arose first in G-d’s thought and will, at the level of the Divine keter, for the physical mitzvot are the ultimate purpose of creation.

Returning to the earlier discussion: It is now clear why in future time, the righteous (and “Your people are all righteous”) will be lauded as holy: they will all have revealed to them that Divine radiance that is “holy” in the sense that it transcends apprehension. Moreover, they will become so unified with this revelation that the term “holy” will apply to them as well.

However, it is impossible to attain this level of being able to absorb the transcendent light of sovev kol almin until one has first been in Gan Eden,

אַךְ אִי אֶפְשָׁר לְהַגִּיעַ לְמַדְרֵגָה זוֹ, עַד שֶׁיְּהֵא בְּגַן עֵדֶן תְּחִלָּה,

to apprehend a degree of the supernal chochmah,40 each41 according to his measure.

לְהַשִּׂיג בְּחִינַת חָכְמָה עִילָּאָה (כוּ') [אפשר צריך להיות: כָּל חַד] כְּפוּם שִׁיעוּרָא דִילֵיהּ,

For, as explained earlier, the lesser Divine light that radiates in Gan Eden is received by each soul according to its own particular degree.

(The Rebbe adds here that the soul will then rise at the time of the Resurrection of the Dead through the “dew of the Torah,” for, as our Sages teach, “[Whoever engages in the study of the Torah,]) the dew of the Torah revives him [at the time of the Resurrection].”42

וְ"טַל תּוֹרָה מְחַיֵּיהוּ",

The verse upon which our Sages base this teaching reads: “Your dead shall be resurrected…; those who lie in the dust shall awaken and sing joyful praises, for the Dew of Lights shall be your dew….”43 It is thus clear that the revival effected by “the dew of the Torah” refers to the Resurrection of the Dead.

(The Rebbe adds: Thereafter,) “When you will awaken, it (i.e., the Torah) will cause you to Speak…,”44 and this promise, as expounded in Avot,45 refers to the time of the World to Come. This will suffice for the discerning.

"וַהֲקִיצוֹתָ הִיא תְשִׂיחֶךָ כוּ'", וְדַי לַמֵּבִין.

In order to attain the level of sovev kol almin at the time of the Resurrection, the soul must first be in Gan Eden and apprehend supernal chochmah according to its particular degree and level. For though in Gan Eden, the soul apprehends no higher than the lesser, permeating Divine light called memalei kol almin, its perception is nevertheless augmented by the light of keter, which also illumines it. The soul indeed apprehends the latter enlightenment only to the extent of yediat hametziut (lit., “a knowledge of its existence”; i.e., by the “encompassing” perception known as makif), rather than with the penetrating revelation of hasagat hamahut (lit., “an understanding of its essence”).46 Nevertheless, this added illumination enables the soul at the time of the Resurrection to comprehend the essence of the revelation of sovev kol almin.

Since, as stated above, the soul in Gan Eden apprehends indwelling lights, its experience of Gan Eden consists of the revelation of the Torah within the soul, so to speak, for the Torah is likened to “food” (as in the verse, “for Your Torah is within my inward parts”47)—i.e., something that affects one from within, as explained at length above, in Part I, ch. 5. However, Gan Eden is also illumined by a glimmering of the radiance that results from the performance of mitzvot, and these act as “garments” and “encompassing lights” for the soul in Gan Eden, as mentioned in the above letter.

At the time of the World to Come, at the time of the Resurrection, the superior light of sovev kol almin will be revealed chiefly as a result of one’s present performance of mitzvot. This comes about through and together with the “dew of the Torah” that “revives him” and “causes [him] to speak.”