We have been commanded concerning the above: To exert ourselves in meditation and deep contemplation about these concepts [until] we are aroused to the love and fear [of G‑d]. They are the wings [which elevate] 1 our involvement in the Torah and its mitzvos. Everyone must earnestly take to heart that it is within his potential to attain the love and fear [of G‑d] (through contemplation and deep thought), whether to a limited or great extent. [Each person] is obligated in this matter, whether because of the requirement to fulfill these mitzvos, 2 or because of his obligation to observe the Torah and its mitzvos in general which [is possible only] when motivated by [love and fear]. Thus he is obligated to exert himself and ultimately, [if he perseveres] he will attain these attributes.

When he studies concepts relevant to the love and fear [of G‑d] in Chassidus3 (- or in truth, whenever he studies any G‑dly concept that is relevant to a particular quality -), heaven forbid, that he should think that the concepts are not relevant to him and his Divine service, for he is not on that level. This is absolutely false. It is a complete mistake which causes him not to apply himself in his Divine service. [For such an approach will cause him to consider] his occupation in the Torah [and its mitzvos] and his Divine service as two separate matters, and [thus] neither of them will be at all genuine.

[When is a person’s knowledge genuine?] When he davens with a concept which he has learned once, twice, and a third time and contemplates and thinks deeply about the matter [until] he is aroused to the love and fear [of G‑d].

Even if at the outset he will have only a small taste of the good, he will increase, proceed, and ascend from level to level, “progressing steadily.” 4 When his soul will be illumined with the light of love and fear, he will ascend from his low and ignoble level, subduing his natural tendencies, and ascend to a higher rung.

As stated in ch. 16, “there are those who err and [with mistaken humility,] think: how can we demand love and fear from ourselves? [We know] our low [spiritual] level.” This is a wrong approach. On the contrary, their low spiritual level comes as a result of their lack of love and fear. When they will attain love and fear, they will ascend to [higher] levels.

As explained above, because a person loves G‑d and desires to cling to Him, he will distance himself from those entities which are opposed to G‑dliness. For the entire conception of love is that it is a movement and a transition from one’s initial place to [another]. [In this context,] this means that a person will move away from [involvement] with material and physical concerns and draw closer and cling to G‑dliness, as explained in other sources.

Certainly, this will cause his love [for G‑d] to be a source for his performance of good deeds and his fear [of G‑d], a source for his turning away from evil. This will also include subduing one’s natural potentials as explained in ch. 4 with regard to the prohibition against following one’s eyes and heart. And it includes the performance of good deeds based on fear in the manner of a servant as explained in ch. 19.

[In contrast,] when a person lacks the Divine service of love and fear, he is truly on a low and ignoble level. He is drawn after the animal soul and wants and desires all material things, and is drawn after them. For [after all], what will prevent this from happening? “A man is born like a wild donkey”; 5 his natural qualities are inherently strong, and they have a prior claim [to the person’s behavior]. 6 It is only through the love and fear [of G‑d] that a person can ascend from this low and ignoble rung, and cause his involvement in the Torah and its mitzvos to be as desired. And this is the path which will enable him to ascend from one spiritual level to another.

The outcome of all the above is that every person must demand from himself the service of love and fear and must exert himself [for this purpose]. At the outset, [he must labor] intellectually to comprehend these concepts well. And then he must contemplate and deepen his thought until he will elevate himself and attain these levels, each person according to his individual measure. This will initiate an upward spiral which will enable him to ascend level after level, rung after rung.

Synopsis: [This chapter develops] the conclusion that every individual is obligated to exert himself to arouse his love and fear [of G‑d]. Through love and fear, he will ascend from his low rung, level after level.