To explain the concept further: Each and every Jew becomes a debtor [to G‑d] by virtue of the descent of his soul into his body.1 His obligation is to observe the mitzvos, occupy himself in Torah study and prayer, and, [in this way,] illuminate the world. [This is the very purpose of Creation, as reflected in the opening verse of the Torah:]2 “In the beginning, G‑d created….” [The term בראשית, “In the beginning,” can divided as ב ראשית,] “two firsts,” and is interpreted as referring to the Jewish people and the Torah who are both referred to as “firsts.”3 Implied is that the purpose of Creation is that the Jewish people illuminate the world through the Torah. For this reason, the soul is called a “lamp.”4 Just as a lamp illuminates a house, the soul is intended to illuminate the world.

When the soul descends [and becomes enclothed in the body,] it becomes a debtor [to G‑d]. The beginning of its service involves refining and purifying the material substance [of his own animal soul and body] so that it will be able to receive the light of the Torah, for the ultimate intent is that the animal soul will also come to love G‑d.5 Since the animal soul is materially oriented, the first stage of one’s Divine service is to break its thick [shell] of material and base [orientation]. In terms of our Divine service, [this can be compared to the kabbalisticconcept referred] to as the nesirah, [literally, “cutting away.”]6 This [process of personal change] follows the guidelines of the Torah, for all of a person’s affairs should be determined by the Torah.

It is written:7 “Torah is light.” Through Torah study, and particularly through establishing fixed times for Torah study, one illuminates the world. (Indeed, the very establishment of fixed times for Torah study is an important matter. [One’s study sessions] should be held in a fixed place and at a fixed time. Doing so demonstrates that Torah study is established firmly in one’s soul, that it is the person’s primary and ultimate purpose.) By acting in the above manner, one illumines the world.

On this basis, we can understand the verse:8 “Last and first have You formed me.” Man [was “first” in G‑d’s thought. In thought,] he preceded the entire Creation, embodying as he does the fundamental purpose and the ultimate intent of Creation. [Indeed,] all of Creation is for his sake. Therefore, he was [also] “last,” [actually] brought into being after the entire Creation so that he would find everything prepared for him.

Just as this is so in a physical sense, it is also so in a spiritual sense. Everything is prepared for man. All the revelations and light that exist in the higher spiritual planes exist for the sake of the soul of man — that he be able to fulfill the intent and purpose of Creation.

[This concept is reflected in our Sages’ statement9 that before the soul descends to this earth,] it is given an oath. [In Chassidus,10 it is explained that the intent of this oath] is that the soul will be satiated (i.e., in addition to mashbi’in, “the soul is given an oath,”the soul is also musba, “satiated”). It is satiated [with an extra measure of spiritual potential,] including the power to bring about a refinement and purification of his soul and his portion of the world.

For this reason, a person should not be depressed [if he feels that he is faced with inordinate spiritual challenges]. A person may know his animal soul well, recognize [its tendencies], and realize that he is, Heaven forbid, in an undesirable situation. Not only is his animal soul materially oriented and concerned with corporeal matters, it also lures and tempts him towards undesirable matters. (At times, it even succeeds, Heaven forbid, which he knows as [a result of] his private [reflections].) Such a person must know that he has the power to [overcome these challenges]. He has the potential to refine [his animal soul] and purify it, verily transforming it from one nature to another.

[Our Sages have taught:]11 “A camel is loaded according to its strength.” When a person’s body is coarse and his animal soul is exceedingly crude, it follows logically that his G‑dly soul is very lofty and has been fortified with additional power so that it can affect even such a crude animal soul.

This is the concept of the nesirah in our Divine service: [that one] breaks the material orientation and crudeness of his animal soul and brings about a refinement and a purification of his body. Afterwards, [he is able to shine forth] the light of Torah, illuminating his soul and his portion of the world. (Through the enclothement of the G‑dly soul in the animal soul, [and through] constant labor [on the part of his G‑dly soul]) he causes the animal soul to be motivated to love G‑d as well. In doing so, [and by illuminating his animal soul and portion in the world with G‑dliness,] he fulfills G‑d’s intent in Creation — [fulfilling] G‑d’s desire for a dwelling in the lower realms.12


The maamar proceeds to explain that every Jew is “a debtor,” obligated to carry out the Torah and its mitzvos and to illuminate his portion of the world [with the light of the Torah].

[As evident from the teaching] “A camel is loaded according to its strength,” [every person is given the power to overcome the spiritual challenges that he faces].

[In our Divine service,] there must be a nesirah, i.e., a breakage of the coarseness of the animal soul. Thereafter, [it is possible for] “the light of Torah” [to shine].