There is another interpretation of dorshin [that is applicable in our Divine service,] to refer to the verse cited above: “when you seek Him (sidreshenu)with all your heart.” There are times when a person is found, Heaven forbid, in a truly low spiritual state. His character traits and other aspects [of his self-expression] are sullied. [This may not be outwardly noticeable, for] “The heart does not reveal it to the mouth.”1 Only the person himself knows about it, as indicated by the expression: “The heart embarrasses the person,”2 for he himself is aware of who he is. When he looks within himself, he is aware of his true state: that his spiritual standing is very undesirable and truly bitter.

The animal soul, which first lured the person [into the pursuit of his desires] as explained above, then denigrates and humbles him utterly, telling him: “How do you [— knowing your spiritual state —] have the audacity to approach holy matters and draw close to Divine service?” This degrades a person to an even greater extent.3

A person is aware of his own state and knows that [the description given by the animal soul]is true and that his situation is dreadful and appalling. Nevertheless, he should never become so disheartened that he despairs [of ever being able to return to G‑d and serve Him properly], Heaven forbid. Instead, he should take these matters to heart and return to G‑d. G‑d will then forgive him.

This is what is meant by “And you shall seek G‑d, your L‑rd, from there, and you will find [Him] when you seek Him with all your heart.”4 The “seeking” [must be thorough,] like the [process of] examination with which a judge interrogates a witness4 in a given case. This process of examination does not involve mere questioning, but rather, a thorough process of investigation. [The judge] researches related matters and asks about peripheral issues, even matters that do not appear to be related to the judgment. From this [exhaustive process], he derives the information he needs to know [in order to render a proper judgment].

In this context, we can understand the phrase “And you shall seek… from there.” שם, translated as “there,” refers to the kelipos and sitra achra.5 Even from “there,” [from a place that apparently opposes G‑dliness,] you should search and seek. [Since] “Havayah is Elokim6 and “Havayah and Elokim are all one,”7 “you will find [Him,”4 even there], for, in fact, [G‑dliness can be found everywhere].

It is, however, necessary to seek Him with a thorough process of investigation, “with all your heart.”4 [If one does so, however, “you will [certainly] find [Him],” because G‑dliness can be found in every place and in every entity. Wherever a person is, he can find something G‑dly and inspire his soul through it. (This is relevant even to one who finds himself in a very undesirable and lowly state. He should not despair, Heaven forbid. Instead, he should take to heart [the concept that G‑d is accessible in every situation in which a person may find himself].)

[Such awareness can be reached] through contemplating [what it means to act in] opposition to G‑d’s ways, [and] how such a person is absolutely distant from G‑d; for example, [one of] those who transgresses G‑d’s will. Now, vitality is drawn down even to those who transgress His will. But what is the source of that vitality? It is G‑d’s will that grants them life, as it is written:8 “You grant life to them all.”

But how can any life be drawn down to them, inasmuch as they are acting completely against His will? [In resolution to that question, our Sages] taught:9 “To show how patient He is.” From G‑d’s attribute of patience,10 vitality is drawn down and descends from this exalted level11 in a process resembling a [precipitous] fall, to give life to idolaters even though they transgress G‑d’s will.

[Vitality] is drawn down to those who transgress G‑d’s will from His sublime will in a manner that does not follow the pattern of Seder Hishtalshelus.12 [That conclusion is a logical necessity.] For through the chainlike progression of hishtalshelus, vitality could not be drawn down to them. For in Seder Hishtalshelus, [G‑dly]influence is conveyed according to a pattern of judgment and reckoning, and it is only conveyed to one who is batel.13 Instead, [the kelipos]derive their vitality from G‑d’s attribute of patience. As such, influence is not conveyed according to the pattern of hishtalshelus. Now [if influence is drawn down in this manner] to those who transgress G‑d’s will, how much more so will the sublime will that transcends the framework of hishtalshelus be drawn down to those who carry out His will!14

[The term “those who carry out G‑d’s will” applies to all Jews without distinction.15 Each one of them is described as one] “who carries out G‑d’s will,” because he is in essence a Jewish person.16 [The description] is particularly [apt] when one is aroused to turn to G‑d in teshuvah. Moreover, [to refer back to the analogy used in sec. 3, a penitent is] a just man who admits that he owes a debt and desires to repay it. (The term “just” refers to the expression of the fundamental earnestness within the core of every Jew’s heart.) The proof [that he is fit to be called “just”] is that he is aroused to teshuvah. [Afterwards,] however, [as mentioned above,] the animal soul drags him lower and lower by asking him: “Who are you [to repent and approach G‑d]?

On this basis, we can understand the verse:17 “For forgiveness is Yours,” which was interpreted as meaning “You are obligated to forgive.”18 Since You desire teshuvah and “forgiveness is Yours,” and, [moreover,] the servant recognizes his sin and humbles himself, it is befitting for You to forgive abundantly.

“Forgiveness is Yours” [implies that the prerogative to forgive is entirely G‑d’s]. He is not like a king who must act according to the norms of the kingdom, [which, in the analogue,] would be [like conveying influence] through the [structure of] Seder Hishtalshelus. “Forgiveness is Yours” implies that He can act beyond [the structures of] Seder Hishtalshelus, [conveying forgiveness even when there are valid reasons not to do so].19

When a person contemplates that the essence of G‑d’s infinite light that transcends all worlds20 is drawn down into his soul to assist him [in his teshuvah] and to illuminate his soul, the inner, essential point of the soul in his heart will be aroused. This is the level of the sublime teshuvah [of which it is said: “Teshuvah] preceded the world.”21

On this basis, we can understand the phrase,4 “…when you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” (“With all your heart” refers to attaining the level of “a pure heart,” [mentioned above]. [“With all your soul” means “with all your will,” because] the soul is identified with the will.22 “With all your soul” thus means) that the person’s desire will be focused entirely on [coming close to G‑d]. Thus the person’s heart will be transformed from one extreme to the other, transforming darkness into light. Through this [all-encompassing] desire of the heart, he is motivated to feel disgusted by this world and its pleasures and to draw his heart and soul exclusively to clinging to G‑d.

Summary

[It is written: “And you shall seek G‑d, your L‑rd, from there and you will find {Him} when you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”] “There” refers to the kelipos and the sitra achra. Even though [a person is found “there,”] he can find G‑d “when you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

This involves a transformation from one extreme to the other. Such a transformation is possible by contemplating that if “those who transgress G‑d’s will” [receive influence from G‑d’s unbounded light that transcends the limits of Seder Hishtalshelus], how much more so will this light that transcends Seder Hishtalshelus — which is the source of forgiveness — [be drawn down to “those who fulfill His will.”]