[The intellectual awareness of the concepts explained above should affect our feelings.] In truth, the infinite Divine light (the Or Ein Sof) is present within the lower realms exactly as within the higher realms. In truth, moreover, each and every created being is totally batel to the Or Ein Sof to the extent that it has no genuine existence. Only from our perspective does it appear as a yesh; in truth it is utterly batel to the Or Ein Sof. This reflects the greatness of G‑d [and the expression of that greatness] in bringing [the worlds] into being. Despite the different levels of revelation and despite the [creation of a variety of different] worlds, He has not changed: He exists alone after creation as He existed before. (See Tanya, ch. 20.)

When a person conceives and meditates on the above concepts, his soul will become faint with longing to cleave to G‑d and he will exult in Him with great love, a love characterized by delight, as it is written, “Whom do I have in heaven [but You]? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.”1 Contemplating this, he will not desire the Higher Gan Eden, nor the Lower Gan Eden, nor even the World to Come, for these are not the essence of the Or Ein Sof.2 Even less will he have any desire for the pleasures of this world. Instead, he will have only one desire — G‑dliness.

This means that he will desire that just as in truth every created being is batel to G‑dliness — since it is only our conception that appreciates it as a yesh — so should we be granted the possibility to see with our mortal eyes how every created being is G‑dliness and not a yesh at all.

This is what is meant by [the command to love G‑d] “with all your might.”3 [The Hebrew] מאדך [is related to the word מאד, which means “very”, signifying that] which exceeds the limits of a vessel. The vessel-metaphor represents our existence as a yesh. A person has an innate will and desire to exceed those limits, to have the yesh in its material form become batel to G‑d, so that with our own eyes we can see every being in its true state — an actual embodiment of G‑dliness.

In the human sphere, this bittul has two levels, for [the yeshus of] a person is expressed within both the body and the animal soul. The body is a material entity which is tangibly felt as a yesh. The animal soul is also a yesh, except that its yeshus is not tangible or material in nature. Rather, [the animal soul] is a spiritual force, but is called a yesh because it is not batel to G‑dliness as is the G‑dly soul. [For the latter soul,] being utterly batel, has no desire for anything but G‑dliness. (See the maamar beginning VeHinei Anachnu Me’almim, and the maamar beginning Vayehi Li Shor VaChamor, 5643.4 )

[This bittul is of fundamental importance because] the Or Ein Sof will rest only upon an entity which is batel to it.5 In contrast, the totality of the animal soul’s will and desire is focused on the cravings and pleasures of this world. (This includes even the desire for permitted things.6 )

It is therefore categorized as a yesh, for, having other desires, it is not batel to G‑dliness. Were it to be batel bimetzius, i.e., were it to have utterly effaced its own independent identity out of submission to the will of the Creator, it would have no other desire but to cleave to Him. Since, however, the animal soul does have a will of its own, it is considered as a yesh, a separate entity. (This is the meaning of sitra achra, literally, “the other side,” signifying that which has a desire for something other than G‑dliness. ([Thus the natural instinct of the animal soul is to say,] “I want that thing”; i.e., it is characterized by material craving, and thus has a desire that is not oriented toward G‑d.)

Since the Or Ein Sof will only rest upon that which is batel to it, i.e., upon that which has no desire for anything except G‑dliness, the animal soul receives its life-giving spiritual influence only from the hinder reaches of holiness. [G‑d grants it influence] like a person who [grudgingly] throws something [to his enemy] over his shoulder.7 For this reason [too] it is called the sitra achra, “the other side,” i.e., [an entity which is not included within] the side of holiness, as explained in Tanya, ch. 6.)

Thus, as stated above, there are two levels of yesh — the body, which is a tangible material entity, and the animal soul, which is a spiritual faculty, but is considered as a yesh because it has an independent will and does not [by nature] desire G‑dliness. Correspondingly, the bittul described above must encompass both these entities.

The first level involves the bittul of the yesh of the animal soul, so that it should not present itself as a yesh. (It could well be said that this reflects the true situation for, in essence, it is not an independent entity. [This is implied by our Sages’ statement, that] “The intent of Satan and of Peninah was for the sake of heaven.”8 ) Rather, [even the animal soul] should be batel bimetzius, every vestige of self-assertion giving way to the very Being and Essence of the Ein Sof, so that it desires nothing but G‑dliness.

The individual concerned will thus find evil repugnant. He will heed to the utmost [the exhortation of Tehillim], “Hate evil!”9 He will despise evil, as well as everything that derives from the sitra achra. (This will include even the material things which are permitted, for even the most inconsequential physical thing has its source in the chambers of the sitra achra.) In this context it is written,10 “I hate them with a consummate hatred” (as explained in Tanya, ch. 611 ).

The individual will desire to be batel to G‑d at all times, to cleave to Him, and to exult in G‑d with an abounding love (ahavah rabbah) and with a love characterized by delight (ahavah betaanugim). This is the meaning of being utterly batel bimetzius — not to have any desire or source of pleasure except for one’s desire and delight in G‑d. This is the level of bittul [which should be attained by] the animal soul.

[In contrast,] the bittul [which should be attained by] the body is referred to as bittul hayesh. [In an ultimate state,] this implies that the physical body should become a vessel for G‑dliness and should derive its nurture from the radiance of the Divine Presence without the need of physical food or drink.

This reflects the true reality. In truth, every physical entity — [our] human bodies and similarly the corporeality of every other physical entity — is [an expression of] the Ein Sof which encompasses all the worlds, as explained in the maamar beginning Eleh Toldos Noach mentioned above.12 It merely appears to us as a yesh.

[The body’s level of bittul means that one] wants and desires to actually see how the body is an expression of the very Being and Essence of the Ein Sof which encompasses all the worlds, and how it is a vessel for the very Being and Essence of the Ein Sof which is present within the lower realms exactly as it is present in the higher realms; indeed, as explained above, [the Ein Sof is present within the lower realms] to a greater degree. Thus, the body will derive its sustenance from G‑d’s Presence and will not require material food and drink. This state is what the person will become faint with longing for, that the ultimate truth should be actually revealed in both expressions of bittul spoken of above.

The question, however, remains: How can a person satisfy his yearning that the yesh of both [the animal soul and the body] should be utterly batel, when, as explained above, their nature remains yesh? The resolution to this difficulty comes about through a connection to the Torah and [its] mitzvos.

The Torah is G‑d’s will and His wisdom. He and His wisdom are one,13 and thus, “the Torah and the Holy One, blessed be He, are truly one.”14 Thus, when a person connects himself to the Torah, his life-giving soul — which is rooted in kelipas nogah15 and which moreover receives its life energy from sources of nourishment which derive from kelipas nogah — becomes connected to the essence of the Ein Sof, which “no thought can grasp,”16 and yet which is enclothed in the wisdom of the Torah. When a person connects himself to the Torah, he becomes connected to the essence of Ein Sof in a wondrous unity to which no parallel or resemblance is found within the world, whereby he encompasses and is encompassed [by G‑d’s wisdom]. Indeed, it resembles embracing the king, as in the metaphor explained in Tanya, chs. 4 and 5.

A similar concept applies to the performance of the mitzvos, for they express G‑d’s innermost will. When a person performs a mitzvah in the proper manner, he connects himself to G‑d totally. When he gives tzedakah, for example, he is giving what he earned by using all the powers of his life-giving soul, for he toiled hard until he earned this money. Even if he did not labor to earn it, he could use the money to purchase something which would grant pleasure to his whole body. Thus, when he gives this money to tzedakah or as a loan, he connects his entire soul to G‑d and makes it batel to Him.

Furthermore, as explained above, the [practical] mitzvos are enclothed in material objects. Thus, when one performs a mitzvah, everything becomes batel and connected to G‑dliness. [In this context, the meaning of the phrase,] “Your mitzvah is very broad,”17 [can be extended and interpreted to mean that the mitzvos] transform [the material substance of the world] into broad vessels that can receive the Supernal infinity (מאד), which is [truly] unlimited.

In this context we can comprehend the expression of the Zohar, [which describes a consummate tzaddik as] “one who transforms darkness into light and bitter to sweet.”18 This refers to the transformation of the bitterness of the body and the animal soul that desire the pleasures of this world, which all receive their nurture from kelipah and from the sitra achra. There is not a single aspect of the pleasures of this world which does not have its root and source in the chambers of the sitra achra. Even a matter of seemingly little consequence, like arranging one’s coiffure, has a source in the chambers of the sitra achra19 and makes a powerful [negative] impression on the soul.

[This concept is exemplified in the narrative of Yosef in Egypt.] It is written,20 “And Yosef was handsome and of pleasant appearance.” Our Sages21 explain that he spent time arranging his hair. As an immediate result, “His master’s wife cast her eyes [upon Yosef]...”;22 he was punished for his [improper conduct] and spent twelve years in prison to expiate his sin. Thus, although [such conduct] seems of little consequence, it creates a deep blemish and has manifold repercussions. It is therefore described as bitter.

When a person restrains himself and does not indulge in the pleasures of this world, ([involving himself] only [in those material activities] which are necessary, and these also are undertaken for the sake of heaven,) he transforms [the capacity for pleasure] to sweetness, thus allowing himself to delight in G‑d and to feel a [rewarding] closeness to G‑d.23 [He eats only so] that he can study and pray with the energy derived from his food and his pleasure is directed to G‑d. (See the conclusion of ch. 14 of Tanya.)

This brings about the transformation of darkness to light, allowing the very Being and Essence of the Ein Sof to shine upon the lowest levels. Even in a place of darkness it will shine in open revelation, as it is written, “[Though] I sit in darkness, G‑d is a light for me.”24 This revelation of G‑dliness will shine below, within the body and the animal soul, and the world at large will not conceal [G‑d’s presence].

[Such an individual] will not seek the desires and pleasures of this world. On the contrary, he will utterly despise evil, [in the spirit of the verse,] “Hate evil!” (As explained above, evil here does not mean only desires for forbidden things, but even desires for permitted things. Anything in which one indulges for reasons other than for the sake of heaven, i.e., what is necessary for each individual according to his own needs in order to study and pray, is called evil. Such a person utterly hates these things, being truly “a hater of evil.”)

This fulfills his desire regarding the bittul of the animal soul, that it have no desire other than to cleave to G‑d and delight in Him. (Note Tanya, ch. 10, which explains that there are two levels in the divine service of [the righteous, who are described as] “men of ascendancy,”25 and that the two levels are intrinsically related.)

(The second aspect of such a man’s desire and will was that the body should be utterly batel, and that one should be able to perceive how it is [an expression of] the Ein Sof which encompasses all the worlds and how it will be a vessel for G‑dliness, not requiring any [material] food or drink. This cannot possibly be revealed at present, but only in the era of the Redemption.) Ultimately, however, it is our service of G‑d at present, nullifying our yesh to the ayin, which will bring about the fulfillment of the prophecy that in that era “the glory of G‑d will be revealed and all flesh will see.”26

At that time we will perceive the revelation of G‑dliness in this lowly realm with actual sight, as it is written,27 “For eye to eye shall they see [G‑d returning to Zion].” Our material eye will be a medium [for the vision of] the Sublime eye. The physicality [of our] bodies will be different from its present state. [It will be openly revealed how] the body is [an expression of] the Ein Sof which encompasses all the worlds. It will not require [material] food or drink; instead, it too will derive its nurture from the Ein Sof which encompasses all the worlds. (These concepts are explained at length in the above-mentioned maamar beginning Eleh Toldos Noach.)

Thus, [in that era, both dimensions] of a person’s desire [for bittul] will be completed in a perfect manner. Furthermore, in microcosm, this [can be revealed] at present. The world need not conceal [G‑dliness] from one and, on the contrary, can assist one in his service of G‑d.

[To explain:] It is written, “It is only that your sins have made a separation between you and your G‑d.”28 A person’s sins create a separating curtain which obscures G‑dliness, as it is written, “I will clothe the heavens with black.”29

This [brings about] the trials which a person faces, in which [G‑dliness is] hidden [from him]. Concerning this it is written, “Your evil will chastise you.”30 The evil that a person does causes him suffering, by concealing G‑dliness. This is the source of all the evils that chastise a man, heaven forbid, as it is written, “Because my G‑d is not in my midst, I have been visited by all [these evils].”31

The converse is also true. A person who serves G‑d refines the world to the extent that the world does not hide [G‑dliness] from him. On the contrary, it assists him in his divine service, for it is revealed to him how the life energy and control of the world is [an expression of] G‑dliness. This is all accomplished by the service of Torah and mitzvos in the present era, [bringing about] the bittul of the yesh to the ayin.

* * *

In the light of the above discussion we can more fully understand the above-quoted verse, “For a mitzvah is a lamp and the Torah is light.” Through the service of the “lamp” of “mitzvah”, by restraining oneself from indulgence in all the pleasures of this world and performing mitzvos in the proper manner, one connects (a) one’s life-giving soul (and also, as explained in Tanya,32 (b) one’s body, which becomes “a chariot,” [i.e., a vehicle of expression, for the mitzvos]), and likewise (c) the material object with which the mitzvah was performed, so that they all become entirely batel and connected to G‑dliness, to the very Being and Essence of the Ein Sof.

Furthermore, performing a mitzvah in the proper manner brings great happiness to the soul. [This happiness arises] through meditation on [what the performance of a mitzvah can accomplish;] how one thereby connects one’s vitalizing soul and the material object in which the mitzvah was enclothed to the very Being and Essence of the Ein Sof, the level of Ein Sof described as “Master of the Will.”33

Similarly, through the study of Torah, one connects one’s soul to the very Being and Essence of the Ein Sof, which “no thought can comprehend.” [When a person grasps this,] he will rejoice immensely. [This is extremely important for,] as is known, it is vital that our service of G‑d be carried out with joy. Thus it is written,34 “Because you did not serve G‑d, your L‑rd, with joy and gladness of heart....” [The verse teaches that the Jews] will be punished, not because they did not serve G‑d, but because they did not serve Him joyfully.

This joy ought to be expressed in one’s divine service within all of the three pillars “on which the world stands — Torah, divine service, and deeds of kindness.”35 So too our Sages declared, “One should not stand for prayer in a spirit of sadness, in a spirit of laziness, or... in a spirit of frivolity (i.e., a spirit of irresponsible mirth)..., but in a spirit of happiness.”36Rav Yehudah said in the name of Rav, ‘The same applies in regard to the words of halachah.’37 I.e., its [study] also must be characterized by happiness.

A similar concept is expressed by our Sages (Shabbos 63b) in their interpretation of Koheles 11[:9]: “Rejoice, young man, in your childhood; let your heart gladden you in the days of your youth; [walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of] your eyes. [Know that for all of these, G‑d will bring you to judgment.]”

[Our Sages teach that the first portion of the verse (“Rejoice... your eyes”) refers to Torah study. Rashi explains there: “ ‘Rejoice in your childhood’ — study with happiness and a glad heart.” [The second portion of the verse,] “Know...judgment,” our Sages associate with good deeds. As Rashi explains, “ ‘Know that for all these’ — i.e., for all that you have studied — you will be held responsible if you do not carry them out.” Curiously, in his commentary on the verse in the Book of Koheles itself, Rashi follows neither the interpretation of Rav Huna, [cited in Tractate Shabbos, loc. cit.,], nor the [above-quoted] interpretation of Resh Lakish.

Sforno interprets thus:

“Rejoice” — in the personal fulfillment that you have achieved in your childhood, when there are no disturbances.

[In this context,] viytivcha, [rendered above simply as “gladden”,] can be interpreted as “improve”; i.e., whatever you achieved in your childhood will help you to comprehend and proceed further in your youth. As our Sages have taught, “If you have listened [repeatedly] to old lessons, you will listen to new ones.”38

“Know” — In the midst of introspection and action, realize before Whom you are toiling and before Whom you will be required to give an account.

The text entitled Taalumos Chochmah (written by [R. Yaakov of Lissa,] the author of Chavas Daas) interprets the above verse as follows:

“Rejoice... in your childhood” — Make sure that you repent in your youth for what you have done in your childhood. Do not wait until your old age, so that...

Viytivcha libcha — “Your heart will be upright (i.e., in your service of G‑d) in the days of your youth.”

“Walk in the ways of your heart” — You will then proceed in your old age and improve in the ways of your heart. (This conveys a message similar to the teaching of the verse, “Educate a child according to his way, so that even when he becomes older, he will not depart from it.”39 )

This is not the place to [further] elaborate on the [interpretation of this verse]. [What is important is to appreciate that the happiness of youth is associated with Torah study.] Similarly, the performance of mitzvos — the third of the pillars of the world, deeds of kindness — ought to be characterized by joy. As it is written, “Let your heart not be despondent [when you give charity].”40 From this negative warning, we can infer positive directives — that rejoicing in the mitzvos is vital, and that the happiness comes from the performance of the mitzvah itself.

The appreciation of two concepts will allow one’s soul to rejoice greatly [when performing mitzvos]: (a) Firstly, the awareness that one has fulfilled G‑d’s will. When a great man commands a simple person to perform a particular task, the simple person will be happy that he has been privileged to carry out the will of a great man. How much more should one feel tremendous happiness when he contemplates [and thus becomes aware of] the fact that through the performance of a mitzvah, he is fulfilling the will of the King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He. (b) Secondly, his happiness will be greatly increased when he meditates on the fact that through the performance of a mitzvah, his entire soul becomes bound to the very Being and Essence of the Ein Sof, to the innermost dimensions of His will for, in truth, the Ein Sof, the Master of the Will, is enclothed in this mitzvah (as explained in Tanya41 ).

The same applies to the study of Torah and to prayer. They too ought to be infused with a joy that stems from meditation on the above concepts. Serving G‑d with such happiness brings Him happiness, so to speak, as it is written, “Oil [libations] and incense [offerings] gladden the heart.”42 “The heart” is an allusion to the Holy One, blessed be He,43 [as our Sages comment44 on the verse,] “ ‘And my heart is awake.’45 [This is a reference to the Holy One, blessed be He, as it is written,] ‘The Rock of my heart.’ ”46 The happiness of the [Supernal] Heart is — an illumination that is diffused from the innermost reaches of the Or Ein Sof.

By way of analogy: When a king is happy, he reveals everything that is hidden within his heart. When he is happy, all [the inner feelings] which are [generally] concealed are openly expressed. Similarly, in relation to G‑d, happiness brings about revelation, i.e., the innermost dimensions of the Or Ein Sof are manifest and shine forth.

This is what is meant by the phrase, “And the Torah is light”: the light of the Torah shines forth just as it exists in its source. [This recalls the phrase,] meshal hakadmoni — “as is related in the primeval analogy.”47 [An analogy is a means of revealing something to those who cannot perceive it directly.] This phrase alludes to the Torah, which is an “analogy”48 for the Ein Sof, Who is known as Kadmono shel olam — “the Primeval Being of the world.”49 [This refers to that exalted dimension of G‑dliness] which exists from all time (mikedem), which was never brought into being, and which transcends Seder Hishtalshelus. [I.e., The diffusion of this light transcends the normative Divine light that is progressively screened as it descends level by level, chainlike, to this world.] [Through the Torah,] this exalted level of Divine light illumines the very lowliest plane.

[The revelation of this aspect of Torah] is preceded and brought about by [the divine service which is known as] the “lamp” of “mitzvah”, the bittul of the yesh to the ayin, through which [a person] comes to cleave to G‑d. It is this service which brings about “the light of Torah,” whereby the Or Ein Sof is revealed in a manifest manner on this lowly plane.

This reflects a transformation of darkness into light, as mentioned above. Now a change in an entity’s essential nature can be brought about only by a light which transcends the entity. Therefore, to transform the darkness of the world into light, it is necessary to tap the above-mentioned Primeval potential (known as kedem), the source of Torah, which transcends the world entirely. The above words will suffice for the discerning.

In this context, we can understand the verse, “Oil [libations] and incense [offerings] gladden the heart.” The incense offering [in the Beis HaMikdash] reflects the elevation of the world’s inert matter (domem), because the eleven spices which were offered were all inert matter. Thus, like the performance of mitzvos which are enclothed in material things, the incense offering [involves the elevation of] the inert substance [of the world]. (Indeed, even those mitzvos which involve plants [are fulfilled] only after they have been detached from their source of life. For example, the commandment involving the esrog and the other species used with the lulav can be fulfilled after they have been taken from the tree. At this stage their life energy has ceased and they are like inert matter. On this, see the maamarim (quarto edition) of the hemshech entitled Yonasi, 5640.50 )

Through this activity, one “gladdens the heart,” and causes the inner dimensions of the Or Ein Sof to shine. This is what is meant by the phrase, “And the Torah is light.”

(It is possible to interpret oil as a reference to the hidden wisdom, the source of the Torah, [i.e., the potential for wisdom which is too sublime to be revealed]. This is “the light of Torah” which is [revealed] by the incense offering.

Significantly, the incense offering is associated with the power of smell, a potential which “brings pleasure to the soul, but not the body.”51 Similarly, [the Zohar states,52 “I pray to] the Master of the nose.” [Also, the root of the Hebrew word for incense, ketores (קטורת) is identical to the root of the Aramaic for “bond” (קטירא), a word that appears in the statement of the Zohar,53 ] “With one bond I connect to Him.”

This relates to the [infinite] love [of G‑d expressed by the command, “Love G‑d...] with all your might,” as explained above. This love leads to the fulfillment of the mitzvos, the bittul of the yesh to the ayin. And this is analogous to the elevation of inert matter through the incense offering.)

Thus, we can understand that “the lamp” of “mitzvah” leads to “the light” of “Torah”. Similarly, in this context, we can better understand the continuation of the verse, “The reproofs of instruction are the path of life.” This means that the path and the channel through which one can draw down the sublime life, the very Being and Essence of the Ein Sof, in its infinite dimensions, passes through the “reproofs of instruction.”

To explain: Mussar (מוסר), [rendered above as “instruction”, is related to the Hebrew, yissurim (יסורים), meaning “hardship”]. A person should subject himself to hardship [as it were, and refrain from indulgence in] permitted matters. The essence [of this service is not self-denial,] but [acting with] judgment, as [implied by the verse,] “You have acted with judgment and righteousness in Yaakov.”54 For “You” to “act”, i.e., to reveal — for the word אתה, rendered as “You”, implies “to reveal” — the Or Ein Sof on this lowly plane, there must first be “judgment and righteousness (tzedakah).”

The judgment is conducted with righteousness; i.e., one judges one’s own indulgence in permitted things which are not necessary, restraining one’s [desires], and separating oneself from the pleasures men [seek] and the delights of this world, indulging in material affairs only when necessary (and doing even this for the sake of heaven). One thus sanctifies oneself in permitted things (which is a positive commandment of the Torah,55 as is written in Tanya, ch. 27).

There are two expressions [of this mode of divine service]: (a) restraining oneself from indulgence in superfluous material pursuits, and (b) carrying out in a holy manner those material concerns in which one is obliged to be involved.

(See Tanya, loc. cit., which explains that a person’s efforts in sanctifying himself, even though in truth he is not yet sanctified, [arouse powerful spiritual influences]. Since he subjugates his [natural] inclination and conducts himself in a holy manner, [it will ultimately be true to say of him that] “you will be holy.”56 I.e., ultimately, [through G‑d’s reciprocal influence,] he will become truly holy and genuinely separate from the sitra achra. “When a person sanctifies himself slightly through his own efforts, a great dimension of holiness is conveyed upon him from Above”:57 he is helped from Above to drive away the last vestiges [of material desire] and to become altogether holy, [i.e.,] separate from there. This parallels what was explained previously, that through “the lamp” of “mitzvah”, i.e., through self-subordination, “the Torah” becomes “light”, bringing about a total transformation of darkness to light.)

This is the [process of self-control] and judging oneself [alluded to in the above verse]. [The same verse also implies that] one should judge oneself in regard to the tzedakah one gives to the poor. Our Sages’ statement that “your own life takes priority,”58 [applies only in circumstances similar to those described in that passage, i.e.,] where one possesses a single container of water and if he gives it to his colleague, both will die of thirst.

[This directive cannot, however, be used as license for] one person to delight in the pleasures of this world, while his colleague is dying of hunger, heaven forbid. How could one think that one’s own indulgence in dispensable matters takes precedence over the very life of a colleague? One should therefore judge oneself, determining what is superfluous for him, and this should be given to the poor.

The above judgment is thus twofold: (a) One judges one’s own [conduct, refraining from involvement in] superfluous matters, and not at all [seeking] to delight in the pleasures [sought by] men; (b) One judges what is superfluous and gives it as tzedakah to the poor.

(In this context, we can understand the preciseness of the expression “judgment and righteousness (tzedakah).” The verse does not teach that we should judge with righteousness, but rather, that our judgment should be expressed together with tzedakah. This implies that there is one mode of judgment that is not accompanied by tzedakah and another mode of judgment accompanied by tzedakah, as explained above.)

Judgment — both in the realm of “turning away from evil” and in the realm of “doing good”59 — is analogous to “the candle” of “mitzvah” described above. It draws down “the path of life,” the path and the channel through which one can draw down the Supernal life, the very Being and Essence of the Ein Sof, [to allow for the expression of] the “light” of “Torah”. The light of Torah as it exists in its source will then illumine this lowly plane, utterly transforming darkness into light.

This is [implied by] the teaching of our Sages: “What should a person do to live? — He should slay himself.”60 I.e., through slaying [one’s desire for] the pleasures of this world, one “will live,” for this approach is the path and the channel through which one can draw down Supernal life, “the light” of “Torah”.

* * *

[Based on the above, we can begin to resolve the questions raised at the beginning of this treatise.] All the mitzvos are comparable to the mezuzah. [The mezuzah thus represents the dimension of “the lamp” of “mitzvah” explained above.] By placing it at the entrance to one’s home, one elevates everything contained in the house, making everything in it batel to G‑dliness. [On a practical level, this means that] all of one’s activities should be carried out for the sake of heaven. Through [such conduct,] we draw down “the light” of “Torah”, as explained above.

This is why the mezuzah is placed on the right [side of the entrance],61 reflecting how it represents “the right hand which draws close.”62 It draws all material things close to G‑dliness, making everything batel to G‑dliness.


When a person meditates on all the above, his soul will become faint with longing that the truth be openly revealed to us — that there is no existence apart from G‑d and that everything is [an expression of] G‑dliness. [In particular, there are two dimensions to this desire:] (a) that the animal soul should seek nothing but G‑dliness and that it should utterly despise evil; (b) that our eyes be enabled to see how the body is [an expression of] the Ein Sof which encompasses all the worlds.

This reflects [the infinite level of love which is intended by the command to “love G‑d] with all your might.” [This is a desire] to transcend one’s limitations to the point that one does not perceive himself as an entity with any existence [separate from Him].

How does one satisfy such a yearning? — Through the Torah and its mitzvos, by refraining from all [material] pleasures, even from what is permitted, and [not involving oneself with] superfluous [material activity], only with what is necessary [to maintain oneself], and by connecting every aspect of one’s soul to the Torah and its mitzvos. In this manner, the totality of one’s life-giving soul, all the material sources from which one derives his life energy, and the material objects in which the mitzvos are enclothed, become bound to the very Being and Essence of the Ein Sof which is enclothed in the Torah and its mitzvos. Similarly, this is accomplished by nullifying the yesh to the ayin through the performance of the mitzvos. (This includes both “turning away from evil” and “doing good.”)

It is vital that this service be carried out with joy. This joy stems from the very performance of the mitzvos, [from the realization that] one thereby becomes connected with G‑d. This, in turn, arouses joy Above, [gladdening, as it were, the Supernal] heart, so that the innermost reaches of the Or Ein Sof will shine forth and be manifest in one’s soul.

As a result, darkness is totally transformed into light, causing one to utterly despise evil, and to “hate evil.” A person at this level will have no desire other than to cleave to G‑d and to exult in Him.

[Although this cannot be realized completely in the present era,] it is our present endeavors, in nullifying our yesh to the ayin, that will ultimately cause, in the era of redemption, “the glory of G‑d [to] be revealed [so that] all flesh will see” with actual sight that there is no material existence at all. Rather, the body is [an expression of the Ein Sof] which encompasses all worlds, and [from that level] it will derive its nurture which it will internalize, for nurture [can only be received if it] is internalized, as is known. (This complements the concept that the body will then be a vessel for G‑dliness, and will be able to receive, in an internalized manner, the very Being and Essence of the Ein Sof, at the transcendent level of Divine influence at which G‑d “encompasses” all worlds.)

[This allows us to understand the verse, “A mitzvah is a lamp and Torah is light.”] Through the “lamp” of “mitzvah” — i.e., by performing the mitzvos and nullifying the yesh to the ayin — [we will merit] the “light” of the “Torah” in the same state as it exists in its source, the Ein Sof, the Primeval Being of the world. [This in turn brings about] the transformation [of darkness into light described above].

This transformation is made possible [by the manner of divine service implied by the continuation of the verse]: “the rebukes of instruction [are the paths of life].” The path and the channel by which one can draw down Supernal life, the very Being and Essence of the Ein Sof, in its infinite dimensions, is — the “reproofs of instruction.”

This entails judging oneself, separating oneself from physical pleasures, and judging what should be given as tzedakah to the poor. The “paths of life” thus lead to the “light” of “Torah”.

[Based on the above, we can begin to resolve the questions raised at the beginning of this treatise.] All the mitzvos are comparable to the mezuzah. The mezuzah is placed at the entrance to one’s home, demonstrating how everything within it is batel to G‑dliness. This parallels the concept of the “lamp” of “mitzvah”. And this is why the mezuzah is placed at the right side of the entrance, because it is the “right hand which draws near,” [i.e., which draws all material things close to G‑dliness].