[In order to experience such a taste of yichuda ila’ah,] we were commanded to observe the mitzvah of reciting the Shema twice daily, in the morning and in the evening. The fundamental [requirement] is [that a person focus his] concentration during the recitation of the first verse [for that proclaims G‑d’s oneness. He must realize how] His oneness1 [permeates] the seven heavens and the earth, 2 and the four directions of this earth. 3

Our Sages 4 conclude - and this is cited in the Tur and the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim, sec. 61) - “Since you have established His Kingship in the higher realms, in the lower realms, and in all four directions, [nothing further is required].”

Even a person who has not attained the level [where this unity has permeated his understanding], is obligated to perform this mitzvah. From this, we can infer that it is within the capacity of every Jew to accept upon Himself G‑d’s unity and oneness. ([This is reflected in] the wording of Seforim: 5 “The mitzvah of the recitation of the Shema... in it, we accept upon ourselves His unity, His oneness, His sovereignty, that He is our G‑d, and that He watches over [every dimension of existence].” It is obvious that the concentration [required] should not be merely a superficial gesture without any [inner] connection to [the person praying], for that would not be considered concentration. Instead, the intent is to accept G‑d’s unity upon himself, that he should be batel and at one [with Him].)

This reflects the concepts explained above, that every person can understand and comprehend His unity, and can meditate upon it. By connecting his knowledge to this concept, he will nullify his yeshus entirely at that time, becoming one with G‑d’s unity, at the level of yichuda ila’ah.

These efforts will not be totally genuine [- for the person will not be able to maintain this connection]. Nevertheless, it is genuine at that moment, and [afterwards,] at every time that he recalls it.

This obligates everyone to strain himself and to attain this [rung]. Although the true service appropriate to [the person’s] level is the Divine service of yichuda tata’ah, he is obligated to attain the bittul of yichuda ila’ah, so that his Divine service of yichuda tata’ah will be perfect, and that he will not slip from his level [of commitment], heaven forbid. On the contrary, [this will] enable him to increase strength, power, and intensity so that his Divine service will be perfect. Without [the appreciation of] this bittul and this unity, it is impossible for his Divine service to be complete.

This is the intent of the verse: 6 “I am G‑d, your L-rd, who took you out of the land of Egypt.” Egypt, Mitzrayim, refers to the meitzarim, boundaries and limitations, that stem from the body and the animal soul. These constrain the soul, holding back and restraining its Divine service [and its] connection to G‑dliness. On the contrary, they cause it to descend and be drawn after them, as explained above. And as explained above, Mitzrayim is also identified with physical desire. For a person to leave Egypt, [he needs the influence of] “I am G‑d your L-rd.” [Each of the three terms referring to G‑d in the above verse indicates a different level of G‑dliness.] “I” (Anochi) [refers to the level which] can be called “I,” the very essence of the Or Ein Sof. [From that level, influence is] drawn down to the level of Havayah. For the name Havayah refers to [the manner in which] Anochi, the essence of Ein Sof contracts itself and enclothes itself in the four letters of the name Havayah. [And then the verse goes on to teach] Havayah (G‑d) is E-lohecha (“your L-rd”), that [all existence is] batel on the level of yichuda ila’ah. This brings about a spiritual “exodus from Egypt.”

When, by contrast, this [type of service] is lacking, even when a person carries out the service of yichuda tata’ah, it is impossible for there to be an “exodus from Egypt.” The Divine energy [upon which one is focusing] grants life to the existence of yesh, and enclothes itself in the yesh to grant it life, and a ray of this is drawn down to the seventy archangels [who govern the spiritual makeup of this material world]. Hence, when a person carries out this [lower level of] Divine service, he has a connection to the yeshus and to the material orientation of the body and the animal soul, and all that is involved with it. Therefore, through this level of service, he cannot leave the boundaries and limitations of the body and the animal soul.

True, the Divine service on this level involves utilizing all material entities only for the sake of heaven. [Nevertheless, it has an intrinsic limitation.] Even when this Divine service is genuine, i.e., the person does not desire any of the material entities [for their own sake], only for what is necessary for the existence of his body, and his intent will be for the sake of heaven and not for the sake of his own satisfaction, he will not have abandoned his own yeshus entirely. His yeshus will not have been nullified. He will only have attained the level of bittul hayesh. 7 His yeshus, his individual identity will still be important for him.

[Moreover, he will still have a connection to physical desire.] For example, while eating, he will appreciate the taste and the pleasure against his will. (For it is only perfect tzaddikim whose Divine service is actually on the level of yichuda ila’ah who do not feel any physical taste and pleasure from any material entities.

This concept is explained in other sources with regard to the mitzvah to take pleasure in Shabbos 8 through eating and drinking. For [on Shabbos], [the satisfaction one feels] is G‑dly delight and not physical delight. This concept is reflected in the verse: 9 “A righteous man eats for the satisfaction of his soul.”)

[When, by contrast, a person feels material pleasure,] this brings about a temporary [spiritual] descent, and he requires more effort to drive out the effects of this feeling.

{When, instead, he possesses even a very slight [experience of] the bittul of yichuda ila’ah, even when he feels the taste and the pleasure of the food (for his spiritual rung is that of yichuda tata’ah, although yichuda ila’ah is intermingled with it), it does not cause him to descend [spiritually], for it is not of that great concern to him. 10 To cite a parallel, it is explained in other sources 11 with regard to the concept “knowers of good and evil,” 12 that the intent is [that the awareness of evil in the sublime realms is] not firm knowledge and inner feeling. [Similarly, a person who has tasted yichuda ila’ah will never have inner feeling for material matters again.]} Thus even if a person’s Divine service is genuine on the level of yichuda tata’ah, he has not left the constraints of his yeshus entirely.

In truth, when a person has not tasted the bittul of his yeshus that stems from yichuda ila’ah, it is impossible for the Divine service on the level of yichuda tata’ah to be genuine, for he has not negated his desire for material entities. Even if he has nullified his desire during the time of prayer, this is merely a superficial impression. When he is confronted with a material entity, he forgets about this bittul - or cannot control himself. This refers to having a desire for material entities which he needs, and also for those which are unnecessary. Certainly, while he is involved with a material entity, e.g., while he is eating, he derives satisfaction and pleasure from it. If so, he is surely confined [within meitzarim, a figurative Egypt].

Thus the Divine service of yichuda tata’ah alone, lacking [any taste of] the bittul of yichuda ila’ah is bound and limited by the confines of the body and the animal soul. The person has certainly not left behind his yeshus entirely. Therefore, the yeshus and the material orientation of the body and the animal soul hold him back and impede his Divine service, causing him to descend lower and lower.

Synopsis: [This chapter] continues the explanation that it is only through [a taste of] yichuda ila’ah that [a person’s] Divine service in yichuda tata’ah will be complete and he will be able to depart from the confines of the body and the animal soul.