The Alter Rebbe now goes on to explain that in addition to this function of mitzvot as garments for the soul, they also serve to unite the sublime spiritual level of keter, with the physical objects with which the commandments are performed. As such, they resemble pillars that connect the highest part of a house with the lowest.

Now, the supernal will is termed and referred to by the Kabbalists40 as keter elyon (“the supreme crown”). In it, there are 620 pillars of light,41 620 being the numerical equivalent of the Hebrew word keter.

וְהִנֵּה, רָצוֹן הָעֶלְיוֹן בָּרוּךְ־הוּא מְכוּנֶּה וְנִקְרָא בְּפִי חַכְמֵי הָאֱמֶת בְּשֵׁם "כֶּתֶר עֶלְיוֹן", וּבוֹ תר"ך עַמּוּדֵי אוֹר וְכוּ'.

That is, by way of analogy, just as in a large brick house42 there are pillars standing in the ground and their apex is connected with the ceiling, thereby connecting the lowest part of the house with the highest,

פֵּירוּשׁ, דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל, כְּמוֹ שֶׁיֵּשׁ עַמּוּדִים בְּבֵית חוֹמָה גָּדוֹל, נִצָּבִים בָּאָרֶץ וְרֹאשָׁם מְחוּבָּר בַּתִּקְרָה,

precisely so, metaphorically speaking, the supernal keter transcends the level of chochmah, which is the first and highest of the inner sefirot.

כָּכָה מַמָּשׁ עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל, "כֶּתֶר עֶלְיוֹן" בָּרוּךְ־הוּא, הוּא לְמַעְלָה מִבְּחִינַת מַדְרֵגַת הַחָכְמָה,

[The word keter] is related to koteret (“capital”),43 for it surrounds and encompasses over the brain in the head, i.e., the faculties of ChaBaDthe faculties of chochmah, binah, and daat.

וְהוּא מִלְּשׁוֹן "כּוֹתֶרֶת", שֶׁהוּא מַכְתִּיר וּמַקִּיף עַל הַמּוֹחִין שֶׁבָּרֹאשׁ, שֶׁהֵם בְּחִינוֹת חָכְמָה־בִּינָה־דַּעַת.

This [supernal] will is vested in the 613 commandments of the Torah and the seven precepts of the Sages, practically all of which are operative commandments. I.e., their performance involves physical action, which represents the lower or corporeal aspect of the lowest of the four spiritual “worlds,” the World of Asiyah (“the World of Action”).

וְרָצוֹן זֶה נִתְלַבֵּשׁ בְּתַרְיַ"ג מִצְוֹת הַתּוֹרָה וְז' מִצְוֹת דְּרַבָּנָן, שֶׁרוּבָּם כְּכוּלָּם הֵן מִצְוֹת מַעֲשִׂיּוֹת.

And even those commandments (such as verbalized Torah study) that depend upon speech, nevertheless, even though speech is more spiritual than physical action, they too belong to the category of practical action—

וְגַם הַתְּלוּיוֹת בְּדִבּוּר –

for we have an accepted halachic principle that “the movement of one’s lips [in speech] is regarded as an act.”44

הָא קַיְימָא לָן דַּ"עֲקִימַת שְׂפָתָיו הָוֵי מַעֲשֶׂה".

And even those commandments relating to thought or to the heart—such as the commandments regarding the love and awe of G-d, are also considered as physical acts—

וְגַם הַתְּלוּיוֹת בַּמַּחֲשָׁבָה אוֹ בַּלֵּב –

the commandments45 were given only to physical man in this [physical] world,

הֲרֵי הַמִּצְוָה נִיתְּנָה לָאָדָם הַגַּשְׁמִי שֶׁבָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה דַּוְקָא,

because he has the choice to turn his heart to good, and so on.46 The soul without a body, however, need not be commanded about this.

שֶׁהוּא בַּעַל בְּחִירָה לְהַטּוֹת לְבָבוֹ לְטוֹב וְכוּ', מַה־שֶּׁאֵין־כֵּן הַנְּשָׁמָה בְּלֹא גוּף, אֵין צָרִיךְ לְצַוֹּתָהּ עַל זֶה.

Thus, it follows that the commandments, metaphorically speaking, are like pillars that stand [and connect] from the highest of levels, viz., the supernal will, to this material world.

וְנִמְצָא, שֶׁהַמִּצְוֹת – הֵן עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל כְּמוֹ הָעַמּוּדִים, נִצָּבִים מֵרוּם הַמַּעֲלוֹת, הוּא רָצוֹן הָעֶלְיוֹן בָּרוּךְ־הוּא, עַד הָאָרֶץ הַלֵּזוּ הַחוּמְרִית.

Metaphorically speaking, they are like hollow pillars that encompass and garb (with the garment of mitzvot) man’s neshamah, or ruach, or nefesh, when he fulfills the commandments.

וְהֵן עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל כְּמוֹ הָעַמּוּדִים חֲלוּלִין, שֶׁמַּקִּיפִין וּמַלְבִּישִׁין נִשְׁמַת הָאָדָם אוֹ רוּחוֹ אוֹ נַפְשׁוֹ כְּשֶׁמְּקַיֵּים הַמִּצְוֹת,

By way of these pillars of the mitzvot, his nefesh, ruach, and neshamah ascend to the highest of levels to be bound up “in the bond of life with G-d,”47 that is, to be bound up and vested in the light of keter, which is the supernal will, the highest level of all the worlds.

וְדֶרֶךְ עַמּוּדִים אֵלּוּ עוֹלִין הַנֶּפֶשׁ־רוּחַ־נְשָׁמָה שֶׁלּוֹ עַד רוּם הַמַּעֲלוֹת, לִצְרוֹר בִּצְרוֹר הַחַיִּים אֶת ה', פֵּירוּשׁ לִהְיוֹת צְרוּרוֹת וּמְלוּבָּשׁוֹת בְּאוֹר הַכֶּתֶר, הוּא רָצוֹן הָעֶלְיוֹן בָּרוּךְ־הוּא,

And by means of this garment, they are able to behold the “pleasantness of G-d” and the “pleasurable thirst” which transcend the level of keter and, metaphorically speaking, are its pnimiyut. I.e., the “pleasantness of G-d” and the “pleasurable thirst” are the inner core of the light of keter, which transcends all worlds.

וְעַל־יְדֵי לְבוּשׁ זֶה – יוּכְלוּ לַחֲזוֹת בְּ"נוֹעַם ה'" וְ"צַחְצָחוֹת" שֶׁלְּמַעְלָה מִמַּעֲלַת הַכֶּתֶר, וְהֵן פְּנִימִיּוּתוֹ עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל.

(48Though it is explained elsewhere that the commandments are the pnimiyut (i.e., the innermost element) of the supernal will while here, it is explained that they are merely the external aspect of keter, i.e., the external aspect of the supernal will,

(וַהֲגַם שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּמָקוֹם אַחֵר, שֶׁהַמִּצְוֹת הֵן פְּנִימִיּוּת רָצוֹן הָעֶלְיוֹן בָּרוּךְ־הוּא

the students of the Kabbalah are well acquainted with the multitude of aspects and levels within every aspect and level among the various levels of holiness.

הִנֵּה מוּדַעַת זֹאת לְיוֹדְעֵי חֵן, רִיבּוּי בְּחִינוֹת וּמַדְרֵגוֹת שֶׁיֵּשׁ בְּכָל בְּחִינָה וּמַדְרֵגָה מִמַּדְרֵגוֹת הַקְּדוּשָּׁה,

There are numerous aspects of “face to face,” meaning (since panim is related to pnimiyut) that relative to a particular spiritual level, another level is even more “internal,” or nearer to the Essence, and there are numerous aspects of “externality to externality,” meaning the reverse, without end….)

כַּמָּה בְּחִינוֹת "פָּנִים" לְ"פָנִים", וְכַמָּה בְּחִינוֹת "אֲחוֹרַיִים" לַ"אֲחוֹרַיִים", לְאֵין קֵץ וְכוּ').

Thus, relative to the internal level of the supernal will spoken about here, mitzvot are only termed “external” whereas in another context, when compared to a lower level, they are deemed the “internal” aspect of the supernal will.

The Alter Rebbe above called the commandments the 620 pillars of light of keter. How does this agree with his previous statement, that the 613 garments of the mitzvot correspond to the 613 soul-powers?

The Alter Rebbe now answers that the seven commandments of the Sages (which bring the total to 620) are not self-sufficient mitzvot but are branches of the Scriptural commandments from which they respectively derive. The soul thus has 613 garments that derive from the 613 commandments, the Rabbinic mitzvot included. These garments garb the 613 powers of the soul.

Now, the seven precepts of the Sages are not counted as commandments in themselves, for it has been said, “You shall not add [to the commandments].”49

וְהִנֵּה, ז' מִצְוֹת דְּרַבָּנָן אֵינָן נֶחְשָׁבוֹת מִצְוֹת בִּפְנֵי עַצְמָן, שֶׁהֲרֵי כְּבָר נֶאֱמַר: "לֹא תוֹסֵף",

Rather, they derive and issue from the commandments of the Torah and are included in them in the sum of 613 [commandments], which garb the 613 aspects and powers in the nefesh, ruach, and neshamah of man.

אֶלָּא הֵן יוֹצְאוֹת וְנִמְשָׁכוֹת מִמִּצְוֹת הַתּוֹרָה וּכְלוּלוֹת בָּהֶן בְּמִסְפַּר תַּרְיַ"ג, לְהַלְבִּישׁ תַּרְיַ"ג בְּחִינוֹת וְכֹחוֹת שֶׁבְּנֶפֶשׁ־רוּחַ־נִשְׁמַת הָאָדָם,

It was previously stated that the mitzvot are like 613 hollow pillars that encompass and garb the neshamah, or ruach, or nefesh of the individual who performs the commandments. It is through these pillars that the soul rises to the greatest of heights and is bound up in the radiance of keter. Additionally, it is through the garment of the mitzvot that the soul is able to behold “the pleasantness of G-d” and to experience the “pleasurable thirst” that transcend even the pnimiyut of keter.