As explained in ch. 12, only in the case of tzaddikim are the evil middot themselves transformed into holiness. In others, only the animal soul’s garments—its faculties of expression by means of which a mitzvah is accomplished—are absorbed into holiness, not the middot, which constitute the animal soul’s essence. Nevertheless, this fact does not prevent the light of the Shechinah from suffusing the entire body, as the Alter Rebbe concludes shortly—

yet, because they (the evil middot) are subjugated to holiness and “against their will they say Amen,” agreeing and acceding to the performance of the mitzvah,

מִכָּל מָקוֹם, מֵאַחַר דְּאִתְכַּפְיָן לִקְדוּשָּׁה, וּבְעַל כָּרְחָן עוֹנִין אָמֵן, וּמַסְכִּימִין וּמִתְרַצִּין לַעֲשִׂיַּית הַמִּצְוָה,

through the strengthening of the divine soul in the brain, which masters the heart,

עַל יְדֵי הִתְגַּבְּרוּת נַפְשׁוֹ הָאֱלֹהִית שֶׁבַּמּוֹחַ שֶׁשַּׁלִּיט עַל הַלֵּב,

As discussed in ch. 12, although the emotions of the beinoni have not been transformed into good, he nevertheless has the power to control them by means of his mind through contemplating G-d’s greatness. In this way, the beinoni can direct his heart as he chooses insofar as the actual performance of the mitzvot is concerned.

and [the evil middot] are at such time when one exercises the natural mastery of brain over heart by contemplating G-d’s greatness, in a state of “exile” and “sleep” i.e., impotent as mentioned above in ch. 12,

וְהֵן בְּשָׁעָה זוֹ בִּבְחִינַת גָּלוּת וְשֵׁינָה, כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל,

therefore, this incorrigible nature of the animal soul’s evil middot does not prevent the Shechinah from resting on one’s body at this time.

וּלְכָךְ אֵין זוֹ מְנִיעָה מֵהַשְׁרָאַת הַשְּׁכִינָה עַל גּוּף הָאָדָם בְּשָׁעָה זוֹ.

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to explain how it is possible for one mitzvah to draw the Shechinah upon one’s entire body.

This “resting of the Shechinah means that the power of the animal soul clothed in the act that constitutes the mitzvah, e.g., the power in the hand donning tefillin,

דְּהַיְינוּ, שֶׁכֹּחַ נֶפֶשׁ הַחִיּוּנִית הַמְלוּבָּשׁ בַּעֲשִׂיַּית הַמִּצְוָה,

is actually absorbed into the divine light and merges with it in perfect unity.

הוּא נִכְלָל מַמָּשׁ בְּאוֹר ה' וּמְיוּחָד בּוֹ בְּיִחוּד גָּמוּר,

Thereby, one draws down a “ray” of the light, wherein the particular power has been absorbed upon the totality of the animal soul throughout the body and upon the [entire] body as well.

וְעַל יְדֵי זֶה מַמְשִׁיךְ הֶאָרָה לִכְלָלוּת נֶפֶשׁ הַחִיּוּנִית שֶׁבְּכָל הַגּוּף, וְגַם עַל הַגּוּף הַגַּשְׁמִי,

This “ray” of divine light illuminates one’s animal soul and his body in a manner of “encompassing from above,” surrounding them from head to foot.

בִּבְחִינַת מַקִּיף מִלְמַעְלָה מֵרֹאשׁוֹ וְעַד רַגְלָיו.

This explains the expression (appearing in the passage from the Zohar quoted at the beginning of this chapter): “The Shechinah rests upon his head,”7 specifically “upon” i.e., encompassing him “from above”;

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "דִּשְׁכִינְתָּא שַׁרְיָא עַל רֵישֵׁיהּ" – "עַל" דַּיְיקָא.

and in a similar vein, the expression upon every [assembly of] ten [Jews], the Divine Presence rests” means that the light of the Divine Presence does not permeate them but illuminates them “from above.”8

וְכֵן, "אַכָּל בֵּי עֲשָׂרָה שְׁכִינְתָּא שַׁרְיָא".

Heretofore, various levels in the “resting of the Shechinah” have been discussed: As it rests upon the divine soul; upon the specific faculty of the animal soul that performs a mitzvah;9 upon the animal soul as a whole and upon the body—the latter two only encompassed by, but not permeated with, the light of the Shechinah. As to the light of the Shechinah encompassing the body, within this level we find further subdivisions: that level which is the effect of a mitzvah; that which encompasses any gathering of ten Jews, even when not engaged in a mitzvah; and perhaps we may distinguish yet another level—that which rests upon even one individual Jew, even when he is not occupied with a mitzvah.

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to state that this variety of levels at which the Shechinah becomes manifest does not indicate any change or plurality in its light (G-d forbid). The variety means merely that the different objects of the light (the divine soul, the animal soul, the body, and so on) receive it in different ways.

In the Alter Rebbe’s words:

None of these various forms in which the light of the Shechinah is manifested, meaning the ways in which the Ein Sof-light is revealed,

וְהִנֵּה, כָּל בְּחִינַת הַמְשָׁכַת אוֹר הַשְּׁכִינָה, שֶׁהִיא בְּחִינַת גִּילּוּי אוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא,

G-d, the Ein Sof, is everywhere; it is only that He is concealed from His creatures. Thus, the uniqueness of the manifestation of the Shechinah lies in the revelation of the Ein Sof.

can be construed as a change in Himself or as a plurality.

אֵינוֹ נִקְרָא שִׁינּוּי חַס וְשָׁלוֹם בּוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ, וְלֹא רִיבּוּי,

The fact that the Shechinah manifests itself at some point (e.g., in one’s soul through the performance of a mitzvah), whereas it had previously not been manifest, does not point to any change in G-d, nor do the various forms of manifestation indicate plurality within Him.

As we find in the Tractate Sanhedrin,10 where it is recorded that a certain heretic said to Rabban Gamliel: “You say that the Shechinah rests on every assembly of ten. How many Shechinahs have you?”

כִּדְאִיתָא בְּסַנְהֶדְרִין, דְּ"אָמַר לֵיהּ הַהוּא מִינָא לְרַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל, אַמְרִיתוּ כָּל בֵּי עֲשָׂרָה שְׁכִינְתָּא שַׁרְיָא, כַּמָּה שְׁכִינְתָּא אִית לְכוּ"?

And Rabban Gamliel replied with an analogy of the sun’s light, which enters through many windows, etc.

וְהֵשִׁיב לוֹ מָשָׁל מֵאוֹר הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ הַנִּכְנָס בְּחַלּוֹנוֹת רַבִּים כוּ',

Despite the multitude of windows, there is but one light. The same holds true even where the light appears differently from place to place: sunlight shining through stained-glass windows of various hues remains nonetheless unchanged, though it takes on the multicolored appearance of the windows, as does also water in a colored glass—once removed from the glass, it appears in its pristine clarity.

So, too, with the various modes in which the light of the Shechinah is manifested: The light remains the same without change or division; any differences in manifestation are attributable only to the way the light is received by the object in which it is manifest.

And the intelligent will understand—and, as Chasidim would add, “The devout will perceive.”

וְהַמַּשְׂכִּיל יָבִין: