The Alter Rebbe now returns to our subject of the light of the Shechinah, which rests upon man only through the mitzvot (which alone can serve as oil for this light). He points out that the effect of this light upon the person performing a mitzvah varies from one category of mitzvot to another.

Those mitzvot performed in one’s thought and speech cause the light of the Shechinah to rest upon the divine soul alone. Drawing this light upon the body and upon the animal soul requires the performance of mitzvot which involve action, where one harnesses the power of the animal, life-giving soul.5 In the Alter Rebbe’s words:

When a person studies Torah, using his powers of thought and speech, his neshamah, his divine soul with its two inner “garments” only, viz., the faculties of speech and thought—

וְהִנֵּה, כְּשֶׁהָאָדָם עוֹסֵק בַּתּוֹרָה, אֲזַי, נִשְׁמָתוֹ שֶׁהִיא נַפְשׁוֹ הָאֱלֹהִית, עִם שְׁנֵי לְבוּשֶׁיהָ הַפְּנִימִים לְבַדָּם, שֶׁהֵם, כֹּחַ הַדִּבּוּר וּמַחֲשָׁבָה,

Thought is obviously an internal “garment,” as it is connected to the soul itself. This is why thought functions ceaselessly; it is closely bound to the soul, and the soul’s presence is constant. Speech, too, is internal, when compared with action, which acts upon objects outside the soul—

are absorbed within the light of G-d, the Ein Sof, blessed be He, and are merged within it in perfect unity.

נִכְלָלוֹת בְּאוֹר ה' אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא, וּמְיוּחָדוֹת בּוֹ בְּיִחוּד גָּמוּר.

This constitutes the “resting of the Shechinah” on his divine soul; as our Sages have said: “When even one person applies himself diligently to Torah study, the Shechinah is with him,”6 meaning, in this case, that the Shechinah rests upon his divine soul and upon its faculties of thought and speech, which are engaged in the mental and oral study of the Torah.

וְהִיא הַשְׁרָאַת הַשְּׁכִינָה עַל נַפְשׁוֹ הָאֱלֹהִית, כְּמַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה שֶׁאֲפִילוּ אֶחָד שֶׁיּוֹשֵׁב וְעוֹסֵק בַּתּוֹרָה – שְׁכִינָה עִמּוֹ.

However, in order to draw the light and radiance of the Shechinah upon his body and animal soul as well, i.e., upon the vitalizing soul actually clothed in the body and providing for it a corporeal life-force,

אַךְ כְּדֵי לְהַמְשִׁיךְ אוֹר וְהֶאָרַת הַשְּׁכִינָה גַּם עַל גּוּפוֹ וְנַפְשׁוֹ הַבַּהֲמִית, שֶׁהִיא הַחִיּוּנִית הַמְלוּבֶּשֶׁת בְּגוּפוֹ מַמָּשׁ,

one must fulfill the practical mitzvot (i.e., commandments involving the faculty of action), which are performed with the body itself.

צָרִיךְ לְקַיֵּים מִצְוֹת מַעֲשִׂיּוֹת הַנַּעֲשׂוֹת עַל יְדֵי הַגּוּף מַמָּשׁ,

In this way, the actual power of the body engaged in this act e.g., when one dons tefillin, it is the physical strength in his arm that impels the motions that constitute the fulfillment of the mitzvah, and therefore, this bodily power is absorbed in the Divine light and will and merges with it in perfect unity.

שֶׁאָז – כֹּחַ הַגּוּף מַמָּשׁ שֶׁבַּעֲשִׂיָּה זוֹ, נִכְלָל בְּאוֹר ה' וּרְצוֹנוֹ וּמְיוּחָד בּוֹ בְּיִחוּד גָּמוּר,

This (power of the body) constitutes the third garment of the divine soul. As mentioned in ch. 4, the divine soul expresses itself in the faculty of action through performing the mitzvot.

וְהוּא לְבוּשׁ הַשְּׁלִישִׁי שֶׁל נֶפֶשׁ הָאֱלֹהִית.

When the faculty of action is absorbed within the Divine will, then in addition, the power of the vitalizing soul actually clothed within the body, the power of that soul derived from kelipat nogah,

וַאֲזַי, גַּם כֹּחַ נֶפֶשׁ הַחִיּוּנִית שֶׁבְּגוּפוֹ מַמָּשׁ שֶׁמִּקְּלִיפַּת נוֹגַהּ,

is transformed from evil to good and is actually absorbed into holiness exactly like the divine soul,

נִתְהַפֵּךְ מֵרַע לְטוֹב וְנִכְלָל מַמָּשׁ בִּקְדוּשָּׁה כַּנֶּפֶשׁ הָאֱלֹהִית מַמָּשׁ,

for it is the [power of the animal soul] that implements and performs the act that constitutes the mitzvah.

מֵאַחַר שֶׁהוּא הוּא הַפּוֹעֵל וְעוֹשֶׂה מַעֲשֵׂה הַמִּצְוָה,

True, the divine soul is the force motivating one’s observance of a mitzvah, yet the divine soul cannot directly activate the body to perform a physical action, to don the tefillin, for example. It can accomplish this only through the agency of the animal soul, which serves as a medium between the divine soul and the body. In the Alter Rebbe’s words:

For without this power of the animal soul, the divine soul would not affect the body at all, since it is spiritual and the body physical and corporeal, so that body and divine soul are antithetical, as are the spiritual and material dimensions generally.

שֶׁבִּלְעָדוֹ, לֹא הָיְתָה נֶפֶשׁ הָאֱלֹהִית פּוֹעֶלֶת בַּגּוּף כְּלָל, כִּי הִיא רוּחָנִיִּית, וְהַגּוּף – גַּשְׁמִי וְחוּמְרִי,

The intermediary between them is the vitalizing animal soul clothed in man’s blood, which is in his heart and throughout his body.

וְהַמְמוּצָּע בֵּינֵיהֶם, הִיא נֶפֶשׁ הַחִיּוּנִית הַבַּהֲמִית הַמְלוּבֶּשֶׁת בְּדַם הָאָדָם שֶׁבְּלִבּוֹ וְכָל הַגּוּף.

The nature of the animal soul is such that the coarsest, most material-like level of its spiritual substance is capable of clothing itself within the blood.

Since the animal soul is the divine soul’s medium of affecting the body, its active power is also absorbed into holiness when one performs a mitzvah.

Although the substance and essence of the animal soul in his heart, i.e., its evil middot (its evil emotional character), have still not been absorbed into holiness—

וְאַף שֶׁמַּהוּתָהּ וְעַצְמוּתָהּ שֶׁל נֶפֶשׁ הַבַּהֲמִית שֶׁבְּלִבּוֹ, שֶׁהֵן מִדּוֹתֶיהָ הָרָעוֹת, עֲדַיִין לֹא נִכְלְלוּ בִּקְדוּשָּׁה,