For the allotment of a reward is what takes place when G-d illuminates “the soul that seeks Him”21 with the light of His Torah, which is truly the covering in which G-d garbs Himself.

כִּי, קְבִיעַת שָׂכָר הוּא – שֶׁמֵּאִיר ה' "לְנֶפֶשׁ תִּדְרְשֶׁנּוּ", בְּאוֹר תּוֹרָתוֹ, שֶׁהוּא מַעֲטֵה לְבוּשׁוֹ מַמָּשׁ,

Through this garment, i.e., through the Torah, G-d illuminates the soul of the Jew who seeks Him. This search for Him can take place either during the service of prayer that precedes one’s study of Torah or during one’s actual study. As explained at the conclusion of ch. 37 of the Tanya, the Talmudic phrase קוֹרֵא בַּתּוֹרָה can mean not only “reading (i.e., studying) the Torah” but also “calling [G-d] through the Torah.” In this sense, when one studies Torah, one resembles a child who calls his father, asking him to come and be with him.

For this reason, the Torah is called “light,” as it is written,22 “He garbs Himself in light, as with a garment.”23

וְלָכֵן נִקְרֵאת הַתּוֹרָה "אוֹר", שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: "עוֹטֶה אוֹר כַּשַּׂלְמָה",

This verse refers to the degree of illumination (diffused by the Torah) which, like a garment, is finite.

Likewise, the faculties of the soul are inherently limited, both quantitatively and qualitatively. Since the light that emanates to the soul must be integrated within its faculties, this illumination itself must also be limited. In the words of the Alter Rebbe:

Now, the soul is limited and finite in all its faculties.

וְהַנֶּפֶשׁ הִיא בַּעֲלַת גְּבוּל וְתַכְלִית בְּכָל כֹּחוֹתֶיהָ,

Therefore, the light of G-d that radiates in it is also limited and contracted and vests itself within it.

לָכֵן גַּם אוֹר ה' הַמֵּאִיר בָּהּ הוּא גְבוּלִי, מְצוּמְצָם, וּמִתְלַבֵּשׁ בְּתוֹכָהּ,

This is why the hearts of those who seek G-d are ecstatically aroused at the time of prayer and the like.

וְעַל כֵּן יִתְפָּעֵל לֵב מְבַקְשֵׁי ה' בִּשְׁעַת הַתְּפִלָּה וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָהּ,

For their hearts rejoice in Him and exult “even with exultation and song,”24

כִּי בוֹ יִשְׂמַח לִבָּם, וְיָגִיל "אַף גִּילַת וְרַנֵּן",

and their souls delight in the pleasantness of G-d25 and His light

וְתִתְעַנֵּג נַפְשָׁם בְּנוֹעַם ה' [נוסח אחר: עַל ה'] וְאוֹרוֹ,

as it becomes revealed through the covering in which [G-d] garbs Himself, which is the Torah;

בְּהִגָּלוֹתוֹ מִמַּעֲטֵה לְבוּשׁוֹ שֶׁהִיא הַתּוֹרָה,

“and His arrow comes forth like lightning”26: from this garment, this illumination initially emanates to the soul with all the vigor of a lightning bolt.27

וְיָצָא כַבָּרָק חִצּוֹ,

This is the allotment of the reward for the [study of] Torah, which is always fixed in the soul that labors in it.

וְזוֹ הִיא קְבִיעַת שְׂכַר הַתּוֹרָה, הַקְּבוּעָה תָּמִיד בְּנֶפֶשׁ עֲמֵלָה בָּהּ.

Being fixed within the soul constantly, this reward is received by the soul not only in the World to Come—when the soul is enabled to apprehend rewards that are not to be obtained in this world28—but in this world as well. And since this kind of reward consists of a finite degree of illumination, it can be received by the soul even as the soul finds itself within the body.

This is why it is written that a reward awaits even one individual who studies Torah.

Indwelling, however, i.e., that degree of indwelling of which it is written that “the Shechinah dwells among them,”

אֲבָל הַהַשְׁרָאָה –

is an intense radiance from the light of G-d that radiates in it—within the soul itself and not within its inherently limited faculties—without limit or end.

הִיא הֶאָרָה עֲצוּמָה מֵאוֹר ה' הַמֵּאִיר בָּהּ בְּלִי גְבוּל וְתַכְלִית,

It cannot become vested (i.e., integrated and internalized) within a finite soul but encompasses it from above, like a transcendent (makif) light, “from its head to its foot,” so that all the levels and faculties of the soul, from the highest to the lowest, are surrounded by this infinite Divine light.

וְאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְהִתְלַבֵּשׁ בְּנֶפֶשׁ גְּבוּלִית, כִּי אִם מַקִּיף עָלֶיהָ מִלְמַעְלָה – מֵרֹאשָׁהּ וְעַד רַגְלָהּ,

As our Sages, of blessed memory, taught, “The Shechinah hovers over every gathering of ten Jews”29—over them, from above.

כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָמְרוּ חֲכָמֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: "אַכָּל בֵּי עֲשָׂרָה שְׁכִינְתָּא שַׁרְיָא", כְּלוֹמַר – עֲלֵיהֶם מִלְמַעְלָה,

Just as the Shechinah hovers over all Jews in an encompassing manner even when they are not studying Torah, so, too, even with regard to the indwelling of the Shechinah that is brought about by congregational Torah study: this illumination of the soul, being infinite, must be primarily transcendent.

Thus, it is written, “May the pleasantness of the L-rd our G-d be upon us; establish upon us the work of our hands”30;

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "וִיהִי נוֹעַם ה' עָלֵינוּ, וּמַעֲשֵׂה יָדֵינוּ כּוֹנְנָה עָלֵינוּ",

i.e., [we ask] that the pleasantness of G-d which has appeared through the work of our hands, in [our] involvement in the Torah and the commandments31

כְּלוֹמַר, כִּי "נוֹעַם ה'" אֲשֶׁר הוֹפִיעַ בְּ"מַעֲשֵׂה יָדֵינוּ", בְּעֵסֶק הַתּוֹרָה וְהַמִּצְוֹת,

for “the Torah and the Holy One, blessed be He, are entirely one”32

דְּ"אוֹרַיְיתָא וְקוּדְשָׁא־בְּרִיךְ־הוּא כּוּלָּא חַד" –

become established and rest upon us from above, in an encompassing manner,

יִתְכּוֹנֵן וְיִשְׁרֶה עָלֵינוּ מִלְמַעְלָה,

for it is without limit and end and does not become vested within our [finite] soul and intellect.

לִהְיוֹתוֹ בְּלִי גְבוּל וְתַכְלִית וְאֵינוֹ מִתְלַבֵּשׁ בְּנַפְשֵׁנוּ וְשִׂכְלֵנוּ,

This is why we do not apprehend with our intellect the delightfulness and sweetness of “the pleasantness of G-d” and the unlimited splendor of the Shechinah,

וְעַל כֵּן, אֵין אָנוּ מַשִּׂיגִים בְּשִׂכְלֵנוּ הַנְּעִימוּת וְהָעֲרֵיבוּת מִ"נּוֹעַם ה'" וְזִיו הַשְּׁכִינָה בְּלִי גְבוּל וְתַכְלִית,

that is established and rests upon us through the work of our hands in [our] joint study of the Torah and [our] joint fulfillment of the commandments.

אֲשֶׁר מִתְכּוֹנֵן וְשׁוֹרֶה עָלֵינוּ בְּ"מַעֲשֵׂה יָדֵינוּ", בְּתוֹרָה וּמִצְוֹת בָּרַבִּים דַּוְקָא.

An infinite order of illumination is elicited only by collective Torah study and performance of mitzvot.

And of this our Sages, of blessed memory, said, “In this world, there is no reward for the [performance of the] commandments.”33

וְעַל זֶה אָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: "שְׂכַר מִצְוָה בְּהַאי עָלְמָא לֵיכָּא",

Since this world is finite, it cannot be a receptor for the infinite revelation of Divine radiance that is called forth by the performance of the mitzvot.

For it is impossible for the world to attain it (i.e., the reward of infinite light) except when the soul is divested from the body and unencumbered by it,

כִּי אִי אֶפְשָׁר לָעוֹלָם לְהַשִּׂיגוֹ, כִּי אִם – בְּהִתְפַּשְּׁטוּת הַנֶּפֶשׁ מֵהַגּוּף.

and even then, [the soul is able to receive this light only] by way of grace, as it is written,34 “Kindness, O G-d, is Yours, for You render to every man according to his work.”35 I.e., granting every man an infinite degree of illumination according to his work in Torah and mitzvot‎ is an act of kindness on G-d’s part.

וְאַף גַּם זֹאת – עַל דֶּרֶךְ הַחֶסֶד, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "וּלְךָ ה' חָסֶד, כִּי אַתָּה תְּשַׁלֵּם לְאִישׁ כְּמַעֲשֵׂהוּ"

Thus, our Sages, of blessed memory, taught36 that the Holy One, blessed be He, gives the righteous the capacity [to receive their reward in the World to Come].

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁאָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה, שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא נוֹתֵן כֹּחַ בַּצַּדִּיקִים כוּ'.

Even then this gift is needed, for even after the soul divests itself of its body, it is finite, while the reward that it receives is infinite.

This is not so, however, with the angels,37 which are incapable of receiving an infinite degree of revelation;

מַה־שֶּׁאֵין־כֵּן בַּמַּלְאָכִים

as I heard from my masters, viz., the Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid of Mezritch, that if one38 angel39 were to stand in the presence of a gathering of ten Jews, even if there were no words of Torah between them, still, since the Shechinah rests upon every gathering of ten Jews,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁשָּׁמַעְתִּי מֵרַבּוֹתַי: כִּי אִילּוּ נִמְצָא מַלְאָךְ אֶחָד עוֹמֵד בְּמַעֲמַד עֲשָׂרָה מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל בְּיַחַד, אַף שֶׁאֵינָם מְדַבְּרִים בְּדִבְרֵי תוֹרָה –

such a boundless and infinite terror and dread would then befall him on account of the Shechinah that abides over them, that he would become utterly nullified.

תִּפּוֹל עָלָיו אֵימָתָה וָפַחַד בְּלִי גְבוּל וְתַכְלִית, מִשְּׁכִינְתָּא דְּשַׁרְיָא עֲלַיְיהוּ, עַד שֶׁהָיָה מִתְבַּטֵּל מִמְּצִיאוּתוֹ לְגַמְרֵי.

The sanctity of ten Jews congregating together, even if they are not engaged in Torah study, is so intense that an angel would become utterly nullified when confronting the indwelling of the Shechinah that abides in the presence of ten Jews.40

In Sefer Hasichot 5704,41 Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak relates that when his father taught him this letter for the second time and they came to the above theme of the superiority of souls over angels, he noted that “as I heard from my masters” refers to both the Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid of Mezritch; the phrase “I heard from my teacher” (in the gloss to ch. 35) refers to the Maggid of Mezritch.

Rabbi Shalom DovBer went on to tell him that this theme is one of the laws that are studied in Gan Eden.

Then, having shared with him eight narratives regarding the laws studied in Gan Eden, he concluded: “And all this is discussed in the Tanya in order to [encourage] the establishment of daily study groups in Ein Yaakov, concerning which the Alter Rebbe states that most of the secrets of the Torah are concealed in it and that moreover, it atones for man’s sins.”

At that time, too, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak relates,42 his father told him that Chasidim of old used to include as part of their indispensable daily study sessions—in addition to Mishnayot, a page of Gemara, and the Tanya—a passage of Ein Yaakov and at least one law (of two paragraphs) in Kitzur Shulchan Aruch.43 If a paragraph was long, it was studied as one law though usually, one law is divided there into two paragraphs.