Divine service stemming from the approach of yichuda tata’ah is “the measure of all men.” For the Divine service of most of the souls of the present era centers on the bittul of yichuda tata’ah. This is the goal to which their efforts must be devoted, and they must endeavor that this true service be performed in a genuine manner. There are very few for whom the service of yichuda ila’ah is truly relevant. In general, “men of ascendancy are few,” 1 particularly in the present generation.

Nevertheless, as stated in Tanya, ch. 14, everyone should “fix times to cultivate counsel within his soul [so that] he will despise evil” and similarly, with regard to the other side of the spiritual spectrum, “to delight and rejoice in G‑d.”

And in ch. 41, the Tanya states:

A person should never separate himself from the community at large. Therefore he should intend to [focus on] the unity of G‑d and cling to Him, the source of his G‑dly soul and the source [of the souls of all Israel].... Although for this intent to be genuine within [a person’s] heart,... [he must have “great love” within his heart]. Nevertheless, every person should train himself in this intent....

Note [the full explanation of the concept] in that source.

On the surface, this passage requires explanation. Why should a person labor to train himself to reach a small degree of appreciation or an image (- although this image is not entirely genuine, i.e., his heart does not truly desire this, 2 this is not merely a flight of fancy -) of this level of Divine service and this [higher] unity, since this is not his true level? For everyone should recognize his own level. 3

[This difficulty can be resolved based on] the maamar entitled BaChodesh HaShelishi in Torah Or which explains that it is necessary for every individual [to experience] the Divine service [stemming from the awareness] of yichuda ila’ah. For with the Divine service [stemming from the awareness] of yichuda tata’ah alone, a person may fall from his rung [in Divine service] and become entirely self-conscious (a yesh). The Divine service [of such a person] focuses on the G‑dly energy which brings into being self-conscious existence (yesh) and enclothes itself in the yesh of the worlds and the created beings, the spiritual potential which enables G‑d [to] “reign over nations,” 4 i.e., the ray of His energy which is drawn down to the forces of evil to give them life as explained above.

In particular, [this is true] because all the veils and concealment stem from the concealment brought about by the name Elokim, i.e., the 120 permutations 5 of the name Elokim. For from the last 48 permutations, nurture is also granted to the lands of the children of Cham. (Note the explanation in the maamar entitled Ner Chanukah and its explanation in Torah Or.)

Because of this [orientation], this path of Divine service involves several obstacles and snags because of the material nature and the yeshus of the world as a whole and that of [the person’s own] body and animal soul in particular. More particularly, this involves concealment that stems from the powers of evil which create obstacles and snags.

[This is possible, because a person on this rung of Divine service has not nullified his own yeshus entirely, and he shares a connection to the yeshus within the world at large. Therefore his soul does not have the potential to confront all of the challenges and obstacles mentioned above and overcome them. On the contrary, the material and physical nature of his body and animal soul, and all of its elements overcome him, veil his soul even more, and cause him to be drawn after them without having the potential to escape.

In particular, this applies when the person’s soul has not been purified from sins. (The Hebrew word for sin, avon, shares an etymological connection to the word iyun meaning “crookedness,” i.e., the person makes his path crooked. This applies also with regard to the use of permitted matters for purposes other than the sake of heaven.)

As a result, “my strength has failed because of my sins.” 6 The power of the soul becomes weakened, creating a veil of separation, as it is written: 7 “Your sins... separate [between yourselves and G‑d].” They prevent a person from ascending and, on the contrary, compel him to descend.

For these reasons, it is necessary that everyone labor to come to the bittul of yichuda ila’ah which [is prompted by an awareness of] the Or Ein Sof which transcends the structure of the worlds. When compared to this level, all the worlds and the created beings are of absolutely no importance whatsoever; their existence is entirely batel. Thus from this level, [G‑d] cannot [as it were,] be “King of the nations.” This is explained in the Zohar (Vol. II, p. 96a) [which speaks of the names of G‑dliness as branching out into different paths and thus giving nurture to the worldly set,] “with the exception of the unique and distinct name,” the name Havayah.

From this level, [there is no room for the existence of negative factors,] on the contrary, “all workers of iniquity will be dispersed.” 8 All the obstacles and challenges that are created by the yeshus of the world, and which stem from the kelipah and sitra achra are totally nullified because of the revelation of this light. For this reason, this Divine service empowers and strengthens the soul, and weakens the power of the body, enabling [a person] to overcome the material orientation and coarseness of the body and the animal soul.

Although this Divine service is not genuine, i.e., the person has not [really] attained this level [of spiritual awareness, it is not entirely foreign to him]. For he understands the essence of the matter thoroughly. [Intellectually, he appreciates that] in truth Havayah and Elokim are all one, that the name Elokim does not veil or conceal the name Havayah. Instead, the revelation of the name Havayah shines through the medium of the name Elokim. Thus all the created beings in [the world] are utterly batel, as the radiation of the sun is batel within the sun itself.

The person has the potential to broaden his knowledge and understanding of this concept and to comprehend it thoroughly. And through deepening his knowledge of this concept and connecting his [thought] with it, he will be genuinely aroused within his heart at that moment. He will desire [to be part] of this unity and this bittul. Although this feeling is not entirely genuine [- for he has not refined himself to the point where this desire is continuous], to a limited extent, his heart genuinely desires this. [For his feelings are] abetted by the natural love for G‑d that exists within the heart of every Jew as explained in Tanya, ch. 41.

Thus at least at the moment [of contemplation], the person’s yeshus becomes batel. Similarly, throughout the day, whenever he remembers this level of unity and this bittul, this will cause his yeshus to be nullified in truth at that moment. Although [his personal state of bittul] is not entirely genuine, [as evidenced by the fact] that it ceases and he returns to a state of yeshus, nevertheless, at the time of contemplation, he is on the level of bittul of yichuda ila’ah.

[These tastes of the bittul of yichuda ila’ah] make it possible for the person’s Divine service on the level of yichuda tata’ah to be genuine. For [the taste of] the bittul [of yichuda ila’ah] weakens the material disposition and the coarseness of his body and his animal soul, and [his attraction to] all his worldly concerns. And it strengthens the power of his G‑dly soul, empowering it to overcome the body and the animal soul and subjugate them and refine them.

Synopsis: [This chapter] explains that although there are few who share a genuine appreciation of the Divine service of yichuda ila’ah, nevertheless, it is imperative that every Jew endeavor [to at least taste this spiritual rung]. For at the moment that [he contemplates this level], he has a genuine desire for it.

[This is necessary, because when a person’s] Divine service [is motivated solely] by yichuda tata’ah, he can easily fall from his spiritual level. For his meditation centers on the Divine energy that enclothes itself in the yesh [of our material existence], and the ray [of Divine light] that is drawn down [even] to the forces of evil. Divine service of this nature does not nullify [the person’s] yeshus entirely.