On the basis of the above, we can understand the verse: 1“For a mitzvah is a candle, and the Torah is light.” The attribute of Malchus is associated with night, [following the pattern,] 2“at first darkness,” for Malchus involves a withdrawal of light, and [thus it is] uplifted as explained above. This leads to the creation yesh meiayin and a dimension of darkness.

It is through the Torah and its mitzvos that the revelation that exists in Atzilus is drawn down and brought to shine within the worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah. [This enables] also these realms to be [permeated] by the bittul and unity with the Or Ein Sof that exists in Atzilus, as is stated in Torah Or, in the explanation of the maamar entitled Ki KaAsher HaShamayim HaChadashim.

This [process is alluded to in the expressions]: 3
Halaylah Hazeh Leil Shimurim “This night is a night of guarding,” i.e., that in the night, there can be a revelation of the quality of zeh, which refers to revelation as it is written: 4zeh keili v'anveihu, “This is my G‑d and I will glorify Him,” i.e., an actual revelation of G‑dliness. Note the explanation in Likkutei Torah, Parshas Vaeschanan, with regard to the verse: “For a mitzvah is a candle, and the Torah is light.”

For the mitzvos are referred 5to as the 248 limbs of the King, while the Torah is referred to as the head and the intellect, for “the Torah emerged from Chochmah.” 6The light and the life-energy of the soul is revealed in the brain, and from the brain the life-energy intended for every organ is transmitted. 7The head is thus an intermediary which draws down [life-energy] from the soul to every organ. [Similarly, in a spiritual sense, Torah study serves as an intermediary, as indicated by] our Sages’ statements: 8“Great is Torah because it leads to deed,” and 9“the study of the Torah is equivalent to [the observance of all [the mitzvos].For this reason, the analogy of a candle, i.e., the revelation of a particular ray, is used to describe the mitzvos, while the Torah is described with the analogy of light, a general revelation equivalent to all the particulars.

It is possible to explain the difference in our Divine service between the mitzvos which stem from Za’er Anpin and the Torah which stems from Chochmah as follows: There are two levels of love. 10 The first is love that is prompted by distance. [It is prompted by] a person meditating on the concept that all the worlds are merely a ray and a glimmer of Or Ein Sof, as implied by the verse: 11“Your sovereignty (Malchus) is sovereignty over all the worlds.” [Implied is that the life-energy for all the worlds comes from the attribute of Malchus, and Malchus itself is merely a ray and a glimmer of Or Ein Sof, as explained above with regard to the concept of a name.] Moreover, as indicated by the phrase: 12“A king, his name {alone} is called upon them,” and the expression: 13“Blessed be the name of His glorious kingdom forever and ever,” [what is drawn down to the worlds is merely a glimmer of a ray]. 14

[This process of withdrawal made it possible 15for the existence of] worlds that are characterized by limitation and restrictions that bring about time and space. This [framework] brings into being the seven heavens and the earth with its four directions, and it defines space, which has six aspects, the four compass directions, up and down, and [time, which also is structured in six,] the six millennia of existence, which reflect the six sublime middos [emotional qualities].

[These qualities] bring about a multitude of divisions within every individual: both division with regard to time itself, and division with regard to every created being itself. For every created being is circumscribed and limited in the time and space [which it has been granted].

The source for these six aspects in this material realm is the six attributes [which exist] in the spiritual realms, i.e., the six sublime middos. They are also the source and root of time. As is well known, [even before creation,] there existed “an order for time,” [i.e., the six middos from which all time is derived].

[These six middos]are all batel to the Or Ein Sof to the extent that they are not significant at all, as implied by the verse: 16“Greatness and might,... are Yours, O G‑d.” 17Implied is that the entire concept of space - both space in the physical sense and its spiritual source - is batel to the Or Ein Sof.

This is indicated by [G‑d’s words]: 18“There is a place with Me,” i.e., that place is negated to Him. For before G‑d, neither the concept of time or space applies, for they are both creations that were brought into being meiayin liyesh, and they are characterized by limitation.

This is the intent of the expression: 19Hashem Echad “G‑d is one.” [The aleph of] echad, one, stands for ain sof, G‑d’s infinity; He is
alufo shel olam, “L-rd of the world.” The j is numerically equivalent to eight, referring to the seven heavens and our physical earth. And the s is numerically equivalent to four, referring to the four directions of our world. The eight, the heavens and the earth, and the four, the four directions of the earth, are all batel before Him. For all entities are of absolutely no importance at all in His presence. 20

When a person will meditate on all these concepts - how [all existence stems from] a mere ray and is of no comparison to G‑d’s essence at all, and is of no significance whatsoever- this will fire and charge his soul with flames of yearning and thirst to become one with the essence of the Or Ein Sof, as implied by the verse: 21“Whom do I [seek] in the heaven? [aside from being] with You, I have no desire on earth.” “The heavens” refer to spiritual pleasures; “earth” to physical pleasures. And yet one does not seek this at all. For everything is merely a ray that is of no comparison to Him. All of his desire and will is focused on being one with His essence.

The second level of love is love [which flows] like water. It is not characterized by excitement and thirst; on the contrary, it is exemplified by the complete and utter bittul that results from the revelation of Or Ein Sof on this physical plane as in the spiritual realms. As it is written: 22“You have been shown to know that G‑d (Y-H-V-H), Havayah) is the L-rd (Elokim); there is nothing else aside from Him.” For “Havayah and Elokim are all one”; 23 the revelation of Or Ein Sof actually shines on this physical plane until [it is consciously felt] that in truth there is nothing aside from Him and the time and space of this physical realm is not bound by the [ordinary] limitations of time and space.

[To cite an example:] In the Beis HaMikdash, the concept of space was above the limitations of space, as reflected by the fact that the measure of the Aron HaKodesh was not included in the total measure [of the span of the Kodesh HaKadoshim]. 24For in the Beis HaMikdash, the Or Ein Sof shone in overt revelation, as [implied by] the verse: 25“Certainly G‑d is manifest in this place,” as explained in another source. [This manifestation of G‑dliness] caused the truth to be revealed as it is - that even physical place is not limited by the boundaries of space.

Similarly, with regard to the concept of time, our Sages state: 26The Holy One, blessed be He, showed Adam, the first man, generation after generation, and the leaders of those generations. He showed him the entire span of the six millennia [of existence] in a short time. This is an example of how time exists above the boundaries of time, just like in the Beis HaMikdash, place existed above the boundaries of space.

In truth, similar concepts apply with regard to the world at large, except that with regard to the world at large, [G‑dliness is] hidden and concealed, and this light is not perceived. Therefore the limitations of time and space prevail. In truth, however, there is nothing that can bring about concealment before Him, and the Or Ein Sof shines in actual revelation on this earthly plane as well. Therefore there is no [true] concept of [independent] existence or limitation. 27

When a person feels the closeness and revelation of Or Ein Sof within his soul, he no longer feels thirst or flames of fire at all. Instead, his personal identity is totally nullified.

This quality is described with the analogy of water which cools and quenches the heat and fire. For since the person’s identity is totally nullified, as a natural consequence the warmth of the natural fire in his G‑dly soul and the thirst [for G‑d] which burns like a flame will be cooled. See the discussion of these concepts in Biurei Zohar, Parshas Tazria on the statements of the Zohar [Vol. III], p. 49a, on the verse: 28“Sprinkle upon them water from the sin offering.”

To cite a parallel: The love of a son for a father. When [the son] desires to come close to [his father], but he is still somewhat removed, his love is obvious. It is [not contained within] his heart [but] expressed [openly]. [He will] shout, “Father, Father,” with great excitement and yearning. When, by contrast, he is actually together with his father, his heart is permeated with love and yet, it does not become apparent, nor is it expressed outside the heart, for it is not characterized by activity or thirst at all. Instead, it is identified with closeness and essential connection. Therefore it is described with the analogy of water which cools fire. It is called ahavah bitaanugim, “the love of delight,” as explained in Tanya, ch. 9.

This [type of love] is reflected in the Shemoneh Esreh prayer which is recited silently. The Pesukei DeZimrah prayers arouse the love which burns like tongues of fire. For the person is still far from the King as it were. During Shemoneh Esreh, by contrast, it is as if he stands [directly] before the King and tells Him, “Blessed are You.” “Blessed” implies a transmission of influence, i.e., he draws down G‑d’s unity to the physical plane, that as he exists on this plane, he should be in a state of bittul. To express this [spiritual quality], our Sages ordained [the recitation of the prayer] Modim, “We thankfully acknowledge You....” This reflects a state of bittul as explained in other sources, as indicated by the bows [performed when reciting] this prayer. Therefore it is recited in a hushed tone.

A person can attain this level of love and bittul through occupying himself in Torah study, for “the Torah emerged from Chochmah” which is described by the analogy of water. For as is well known, 29Chochmah is koach mah, the power of mah, the quality of absolute bittul, the quality of love which is like water, which is drawn down from the level of Chochmah. Thus it is brought forth by the Torah which “emerges from Chochmah.” For as [the Torah] exists on this earthly plane, the Or Ein Sof actually rests within it. The proof is that even as it exists in the physical plane, it is not bound by the limitations of place or time. As reflected by [our Sages’ statement:] 30“Whoever occupies himself with the study of the laws of a burnt offering is considered as if he brought a burnt offering.” Therefore, through being occupied in Torah study, the level [of Chochmah] is drawn down in our souls.

Similarly, [in one’s daily Divine service,] after one reaches this level of love and bittul in the Shemoneh Esreh prayers, a person must seek counsel with regard to his soul in order for this aspect and level to be permanently affixed in his heart throughout the entire day so that it will not falter. For we see that after the Shemoneh Esreh prayers, the person’s feelings will return to their original state.

The study of the Torah and its halachos is the proper approach [that enables this purpose to be accomplished]. Although they are enclothed in material entities, for example, agricultural matters and festivals, they involve the ultimate unity and connection with G‑d, as stated in other sources. For with regard to this quality, the study of the Torah is equivalent to the Shemoneh Esreh prayers. It is possible for a remnant of the bittul experienced in the Shemoneh Esreh prayers to be established permanently and implanted in a person’s heart so that it will never falter throughout the day during his involvement in Torah study. All of this is explained in Likkutei Torah, in the maamar entitled Ushavtam, the maamar for Hoshaanah Rabbah, ch. 3. See also Torah Or, the maamar entitled Vichol HaAm Ro’im Es HaKolos.

In general, this is the difference between the mitzvos and the Torah. The mitzvos lead to the love that is like the flames of fire described above. For the mitzvos are related to the aspects of time and space. (It is possible to explain that they have their source in the 248 limbs of Za’er Anpin which is the source for the qualities of space and time.) Therefore their effect in our Divine service is to lead to this level of love, through the meditation on the nullification of time and space. This implies that space and time exist, both in a physical and spiritual sense, but they are batel to the Or Ein Sof. This leads to the love which is like flames of fire.

The Torah, by contrast, is above space and time. As a consequence of the revelation of Or Ein Sof on this physical plane, time and space are absolutely batel. This is the true oneness and connection which is established through the Torah as mentioned above.

This is the intent of the phrase “the candle of mitzvah.” As our Sages mentioned in the conclusion of the tractate of Sotah, a mitzvah protects merely for a short time, i.e., [it is under the restrictions] of time, relating to the first level of love. The Torah, by contrast, is light that protects for all time, relating to the second level of love.

Synopsis: [This chapter] explains that drawing down light to the [dimensions of existence] which are characterized as] yesh and darkness is accomplished through the Torah, which is associated with mochin, the aspects of intellect, which is a general ray. The mitzvos are, by contrast, the “limbs of the King,” particular rays. The mitzvos lead to the love which is like flames of fire, while the Torah leads to the love which is like water.

[The chapter] also explains the meditations which lead to these loves and [the parallels to these levels] in prayer: [that the love which is like flames of fire relates to the] Pesukei DeZimrah [prayers, while the love which is like water relates to the] Shemoneh Esreh.