Sefer HaChinuch, Parshas Emor (mitzvah 296): To sanctify His name, may He be blessed,

(פַּרשַׁת אֱמוֹר) לְקַדֵּשׁ שְׁמוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ

as it is written (Vayikra 22:32): “And I will be sanctified in the midst of the Children of Israel.”

שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר וְנִקְדַּשְׁתִּי בְּתוֹךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל (רצ"ו) (וַיִּקְרָא כ"ב ל"ב):

The intent of this mitzvah is that we are commanded to publicize the true faith in G‑d throughout the world

וְעִנְיַן זֹאת הַמִּצְוָה אֲשֶׁר אֲנַחְנוּ מְצֻוִּים לְפַרְסֵם הָאֱמוּנָה הָאֲמִתִּית בָּעוֹלָם

without fear of injury from any assailant.

וְשֶׁלֹּא נִפְחַד בְּהֶזֵּק שׁוּם מַזִּיק

Although an intimidator approaches us,

וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁבָּא עָלֵינוּ מַכְרִיחַ

Selections from Derech Mitzvosecha (SIE)

Derech Mitzvotecha dives into reasons behind mitzvot such as tzitzit, tefillin, prayer, belief in G-d, loving a fellow Jew, starting a family and many others. Five generations later, the author`s grandson and successor, the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, has often advised those seeking to begin study of Chasidic philosophy to study this fundamental work.

desiring to induce us to abandon our faith, we should not listen to him,

לְבַקֵּשׁ מִמֶּנּוּ לִכְפּוֹתֵנוּ שֶׁלֹּא נִשְׁמַע אֵלָיו

but instead sacrifice our lives.

אֲבָל נִמְסוֹר עַצְמֵנוּ לְמִיתָה

Nor should we deceive him into thinking that we have denied G‑d,

וְלֹא נַתְעֵהוּ לַחְשׁוֹב שֶׁכָּפַרְנוּ

although in truth, in our hearts, we believe in Him. Instead, we should choose self-sacrifice.

אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלִּבּוֹתֵינוּ מַאֲמִינִים בּוֹ יִתְעַלֶּה

This is the mitzvah of Kiddush HaShem which the Jews are commanded to observe

וְזֹאת הִיא מִצְוַת קִדּוּשׁ הַשֵּׁם הַמְצֻוִּים בָּהּ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל כוּ'

(Rambam, Sefer HaMitzvos, positive commandment 9).1

עַד כַּאן לְשׁוֹן הָרַמְבַּ"ם בְּסֵפֶר הַמִּצְוֹת בְּמִצְוֹת עֲשֵׂה סִימָן ט' יְעֻיַּן שָׁם:

The concepts stated by Rambam are explained thoroughly and require no additional rationale or source,

וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהַדְּבָרִים מְבֹאָרִים הֵיטֵב וְאֵין צְרִיכִים לְטַעַם וְשֹׁרֶשׁ

for the mitzvah itself expresses its fundamental intent:

כִּי הוּא עַצְמוֹ הוּא הָעִקָּר

to sacrifice one’s life for G‑d,

לִמְסוֹר נַפְשׁוֹ בַּה'

for this is the purpose of man’s creation.

שֶׁבִּשְׁבִיל זֶה נִבְרָא הָאָדָם,

Nevertheless, the lofty and laudable heights of mesirus nefesh (self-sacrifice) can be better understood

אַךְ אַף עַל פִּי כֵן לְהָבִין וּלְהַשְׂכִּיל מַעֲלַת עִלַּת תְּהִלַּת הַמְּסִירוּת נֶפֶשׁ יוּבַן

through the preface of an explanation of the statements of the AriZal, Pri Etz Chayim, Shaar Nefilas Apayim, chs. 4-6)2

בְּהַקְדִּים מַה שֶּׁכָּתַב הָאֲרִיזַ"ל בְּשַׁעַר נְפִילַת אַפַּיִם פַּרְקִים ד, ה, ו

that the unification of Abba and Imma – literally, “the Supernal Father and Mother,” referring to the Sefiros of Chochmah and Binahis achieved only through an arousal from below resulting from actual mesirus nefesh.

שֶׁיִּחוּד אַבָּא וְאִמָּא אֵינוֹ אֶלָּא עַל יְדֵי הַעֲלָאַת מַיִּין נוּקְבִין דִּמְסִירוּת נֶפֶשׁ מַמָּשׁ

By contrast, the unification of Z’eir Anpin and Nukva – literally, “the small face” and “the feminine dimension,” referring to the six middos (the emotive qualities) of Atzilus and the Sefirah of Malchus of Atzilusis achieved through the observance of the Torah and its mitzvos.

וְיִחוּד זָ"א וְנוּקְבָא הוּא עַל יְדֵי מַעֲשֵׂה הַתּוֹרָה וּמִצְוֹת,

To explain: Chochmah is referred to as kodesh (“holy”)

וְהָעִנְיָן כִּי חָכְמָה נִקְרֵאת קֹדֶשׁ

Because the Or Ein Sof, G‑d’s infinite light, enclothes itself in it.

עַל שֵׁם הִתְלַבְּשׁוּת אוֹר אֵין סוֹף שֶׁבְּתוֹכָהּ

As the Alter Rebbe writes:3 “The Ein Sof, blessed be He, is true Oneness…. This is the rung of Chochmah.”

And the Or Ein Sof is distinct and removed from the entire Spiritual Cosmos.

שֶׁהוּא מֻבְדָּל מִכָּל הִשְׁתַּלְשְׁלוּת הָעוֹלָמוֹת

As the Tzemach Tzedek proceeds to explain, holiness is identified with separation. What defines something as “holy”? That it is not ordinary and commonplace, but instead, marked by spiritual distinction. Since the Or Ein Sof enclothes itself in Chochmah, Chochmah is characterized by holiness.

Our Sages’ statement (Midrash Tehillim, ch. 103): “Just as the soul fills the body, so, too, the Holy One, blessed be He, fills the world,”

כִּי מַה שֶּׁאָמְרוּ רַזַ"ל מַה הַנְּשָׁמָה מְמַלֵּא אֶת הַגּוּף כָּךְ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מְמַלֵּא אֶת כָּל הָעוֹלָם (מִדְרַשׁ תִּלִּים עַל פָּסוּק בָּרְכִי נַפְשִׁי)

refers to the dimension of Divine light that pervades the worlds and enclothes itself within them,

בְּחִינָה זוֹ שֶׁמְּמַלֵּא אֶת הָעוֹלָם

allotting a different level of Divine light for every particular rung of existence:

בִּבְחִינַת הִתְחַלְּקוּת הַהֶאָרָה

in the Upper Gan Eden, one level of light;

בְּגַן עֵדֶן הָעֶלְיוֹן כָּךְ

in the Lower Gan Eden, another level. To cite a parallel:

וּבַתַּחְתּוֹן כָּךְ

In the body, the life-energy of the soul is manifest more in the head,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁחַיּוּת הַנֶּפֶשׁ בַּגּוּף מִתְחַלֵּק בָּרֹאשׁ יוֹתֵר

less in the hands, and still less in the feet, etc.

וּבַיָּדַיִם בְּפָחוֹת וּבָרַגְלַיִם בְּפָחוֹת יוֹתֵר כוּ'

In truth, however, the light that shines in all of these levels is merely a gleam of a ray from His essence.

זֶהוּ בֶּאֱמֶת רַק הֶאָרָה דְהֶאָרָה לְבָד מֵעַצְמוּתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ

His essence, by contrast — and even His light and His radiance — are distinct and removed from all beings,

אֲבָל עַצְמוּתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ וַאֲפִלּוּ אוֹרוֹ וְזִיווֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ הוּא מֻבְדָּל מִכָּל הַנִּמְצָאִים

exalted and elevated above their comprehension.

וְנִשְׂגָּב וּמְרוֹמָם לְמַעְלָה מֵהַשָּׂגָתָם

For His light is representative of Him. Just as He is Ein Sof, truly infinite, so, too, is His light. Thus, it is above the entire framework in which the created beings – and indeed, even the spiritual realms above creation – exist.

In relation to this essential level, small and great are equal.

וְקָטָן וְגָדוֹל שָׁוֶה הוּא

This higher level of light is called sovev kol almin (“encompassing all the worlds”).

אֶלָּא נִקְרָא סוֹבֵב כָּל עָלְמִין

It can be compared to the radiance of the sun as it is yet included in its source, the orb of the sun.4

וְהוּא כְּדִמְיוֹן זִיו הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ בְּעוֹדוֹ בִּמְקוֹרוֹ

That radiance is one simple essence

שֶׁהוּא עֶצֶם פָּשׁוּט

and is not comparable to the various colors

וְאֵינוֹ בְּעֶרֶךְ הַגְּוָנִים הַשּׁוֹנִים

that can be seen in its ray through the different instruments and windows through which it shines.

שֶׁיִּהְיוּ נִרְאִים בְּהֶאָרָתוֹ עַל פִּי חִלּוּפֵי הַכֵּלִים מִכֵּלִים שׁוֹנִים בְּחַלּוֹנוֹת שֶׁיָּאִיר בָּהֶם כוּ'

In a similar way, the light which is sovev kol almin is called “holy,” i.e., distinct.

וְלָכֵן נִקְרָא קֹדֶשׁ לְשׁוֹן הַבְדָּלָה

On this basis, we can understand the verse (Tehillim 36:10): “With You is the source of life.”

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁכָּתוּב כִּי עִמְּךָ מְקוֹר חַיִּים (תִּלִּים ל"ו י')

The verse does not say “You are the Source of life,” for G‑d’s essence is not the direct source of our vitality. Instead,

the level which is “the source of life” for all existence is but a glimmer of a ray

שֶׁבְּחִינַת מְקוֹר חַיִּים דְּנִמְצָאִים שֶׁהוּא הֶאָרָה דְהֶאָרָה

that enclothes itself within the created beings in the manner of memale kol almin,

הַמִּתְלַבֶּשֶׁת בִּבְחִינַת מְמַלֵּא כָּל עָלְמִין

adapting itself according to the nature of the receptacles of the recipients.

כְּפִי מֶזֶג כְּלֵי הַמְקַבְּלִים

This entire framework is secondary and of no genuine importance to Him.

הִיא בְּחִינַת טָפֵל וּכְלָא חֲשִׁיב אֶצְלוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ

This is implied by the term “with You,”

וְזֶהוּ לְשׁוֹן עִמְּךָ

i.e., a secondary matter.

כְּלוֹמַר דָּבָר הַטָּפֵל,

Chochmah, called “the first”5because it is the first of the Sefiros,

וְהִנֵּה הַחָכְמָה שֶׁהִיא נִקְרֵאת רֵאשִׁית

“comes into existence from nothingness.”6

מֵאַיִן תִּמָּצֵא

The spiritual implication of the phrase is that the Sefirah of Chochmah comes into being from levels of Divine light that are infinite and undefined. They are referred to as nothingness because they are beyond mortal comprehension. Man has no terms to explain them.

It is absolutely batel,

וְהִיא בִּבְחִינַת בִּטּוּל

for it recognizes the truth: that there is no existence apart from Him.

כְּשֶׁמַּכִּיר הָאֱמֶת אֵיךְ שֶׁאֵין עוֹד

Thus Chochmah is above the revealed intellect.

וְהוּא לְמַעְלָה מִן הַשֵּׂכֶל הַגָּלוּי

Accordingly, it is possible that Or Ein Sof can enclothe itself in it.

וְלָזֹאת יִהְיֶה בָּהּ הִתְלַבְּשׁוּת אוֹר אֵין סוֹף

As long as an entity is defined by its own perspective, it cannot serve as a medium for G‑dliness, as He is, without having adapted His light. Because Chochmah involves transcending one’s existence and identifying with the truth, Or Ein Sof can rest in it.

Binah, by contrast, represents the comprehension of a concept in length and breadth.

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן בִּינָה הַשָּׂגַת הַדָּבָר בְּאֹרֶךְ וְרֹחַב

The power of Binah involves drawing a concept down to one’s self, getting a handle on it, as it were.

It thus is identified with yeshus

הוּא בְּחִינַת יֵשׁ

personal identity, for understanding involves the awareness of the person who understands. Thus, he is conscious of his own self. For that reason,

The revelation of Or Ein Sof that transcends comprehension is not and cannot be enclothed in the Sefirah of Binahto the same extent, as it is within Chochmah.

וְאֵין בָּהּ הִתְגַּלּוּת אוֹר אֵין סוֹף כָּל כָּךְ שֶׁהוּא לְמַעְלָה מֵהַהַשָּׂגָה,

When Chochmah becomes united with Binah,

וְהַחָכְמָה מִתְיַחֶדֶת עִם הַבִּינָה

the revelation of Or Ein Sof enclothed within Chochmah is drawn into the realm of comprehension through the known pathways,

שֶׁנִּמְשָׁךְ מִמֶּנָּה גִּלּוּי אוֹר אֵין סוֹף בְּהַשָּׂגָה עַל יְדֵי שְׁבִילִין יְדִיעִין

as is well known with regard to the thirty-two occurrences of the term Elokim, as in the phrase Vayomer Elokim (“And G‑d said”) in the narrative of Creation.

כַּיָּדוּעַ בְּעִנְיַן ל"ב וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹקִים

These utterances open the thirty-two pathways that lead from Abba to Imma.

דְּמִתְפַּתְּחָן ל"ב שְׁבִילִין מֵאַבָּא לְאִמָּא

This draws down new intellectual faculties from Chochmah and Binah to Z’eir Anpin and Nukva.

וְאָז נִמְשָׁךְ מֵהֶם מוֹחִין חֲדָשִׁים לְזָ"א וְנוּקְבָא

Z’eir Anpin as a whole is represented by the emotive qualities of Chessed and Gevurah.

שֶׁהֵם בְּחִינַת הַמִּדּוֹת חֶסֶד וּגְבוּרָה

Thus this new influence serves as the rationale and the intellectual foundation that inspire the emotivel qualities based on the comprehension of Or Ein Sof.

דְּהַיְנוּ הַטַּעַם וְהַהַשְׂכָּלָה לְמִדּוֹת עַל פִּי הַהַשָּׂגָה בְּאוֹר אֵין סוֹף כוּ',

For there to be unification of Abba and Imma, it is necessary that new radiance shine within Chochmah from Or Ein Sof

וְלָזֹאת בִּכְדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיֶה יִחוּד דְּאַבָּא וְאִמָּא צְרִיכָה לִהְיוֹת הֶאָרָה חֲדָשָׁה בְּהַחָכְמָה מֵאוֹר אֵין סוֹף

that transcends Chochmah to an infinite degree,

שֶׁהוּא לְמַעְלָה מַּעְלָה מֵהַחָכְמָה לְאֵין קֵץ וְתַכְלִית

as explained above with regard to the analogy of the sun and its rays.

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְעֵיל מִמְּשַׁל זִיו הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ כוּ'

Since Chochmah transcends Binah, for the two to be unified, Chochmah must be energized by a higher power. Otherwise, it will remain on its own level.

This is brought about through man’s mesirus nefesh on a level that also transcends intellect.

וְהַיְנוּ דַוְקָא עַל יְדֵי מְסִירוּת נֶפֶשׁ שֶׁהוּא גַם כֵּן לְמַעְלָה מִן הַשֵּׂכֶל

G‑dly revelation flows in responsive pattern, in that the manner in which He reveals Himself to man depends on man’s Divine service. For transcendent energy to be revealed within Chochmah, man must tap a source within himself that transcends the limits of understanding, i.e., the power of mesirus nefesh. The mesirus nefesh referred to is self-sacrifice that is not motivated by logic or reason, but rather stems from the inherent G‑dly nature of the Jewish soul.

For mesirus nefesh involves stepping above the body’s defined patterns and giving powerful expression to one’s G‑dly soul as the Creator commanded.

וְלָצֵאת מִגִּדְרֵי הַגּוּף וּלְהַגְבִּיר נֶפֶשׁ הָאֱלֹהִית שֶׁבּוֹ שֶׁצִּוָּה הַבּוֹרֵא יִתְבָּרֵךְ בְּכָךְ

Moreover, by its own nature, the G‑dly soul itself is rooted above the level of Chochmah,

וְגַם הִיא מִצַּד עַצְמָהּ שָׁרְשָׁהּ לְמַעְלָה מִן הַחָכְמָה

for it is “a part of G‑d from Above,”7

כִּי הִיא חֵלֶק אֱלוֹהַּ מִמַּעַל

and G‑d transcends Chochmah to an infinite degree.

וְהוּא יִתְבָּרֵךְ לְמַעְלָה מַּעְלָה מִן הַחָכְמָה

Nevertheless, the G‑dly soul also possesses wisdom (i.e., the three intellectual attributes)

אֶלָּא שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהּ חָכְמָה

and emotional characteristics (the seven emotional attributes or middos).


These qualities are merely mediums for the G‑dly soul, enabling it to be manifest,

וְהֵם רַק כֵּלִים אֵלֶיהָ

just as the Ten Sefiros Above are merely mediums — “the body of the King”8 but not the King Himself.

כְּמוֹ שֶׁי' סְפִירוֹת שֶׁלְּמַעְלָה הֵן רַק כֵּלִים וְגוּפָא דְמַלְכָּא כוּ'

The soul’s self-sacrifice stems from its will, a level that transcends intellect.

וְכַאֲשֶׁר הִיא מוֹסֶרֶת נַפְשָׁהּ מַמָּשׁ שֶׁזֶּהוּ עַל פִּי רְצוֹנָהּ שֶׁלְּמַעְלָה מִשִּׂכְלָהּ

As Rambam writes:9 One is obligated to sacrifice his life rather than to deceive an intimidator

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתַב הָרַמְבַּ"ם זִכְרוֹנוֹ לִבְרָכָה שֶׁמְּחֻיָּב לִמְסוֹר נַפְשׁוֹ שֶׁלֹּא נַתְעֵהוּ

into thinking that we have denied G‑d, even though in our hearts, we believe in Him.

לַחְשׁוֹב שֶׁכָּפַרְנוּ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלִּבּוֹתֵינוּ מַאֲמִינִים כוּ',

This self-sacrifice causes an arousal Above, which reveals G‑d’s infinite light

הִנֵּה בְּזֶה מְעוֹרֵר גַּם כֵּן לְמַעְלָה גִּלּוּי אוֹר אֵין סוֹף

that transcends Chochmah of Atzilus to an infinite degree,

שֶׁלְּמַעְלָה מַּעְלָה מֵהַחָכְמָה דַאֲצִילוּת

enabling it to illuminate within Chochmah.

לִהְיוֹת מֵאִיר בְּחָכְמָה

From the abundance of that radiance,

וְאָז מֵרִבּוּי הַהֶאָרָה הַהִיא

light is then drawn down from Chochmah, which is above comprehension,

יֻמְשַׁךְ אַחַר כָּךְ מֵהַחָכְמָה

to Binah, which is within the realm of comprehension.

לַהֲבִינָהּ בְּהַשָּׂגָה

From that level, it can be drawn down to the levels of Chochmah, Binah, and Daas within Z’eir Anpin and Nukva,

וּמִשָּׁם לִהְיוֹת מֵאִיר בְּחָכְמָה־בִּינָה־דַעַת דִּזְעֵיר אַנְפִּין וְנוּקְבָא

I.e., the emotions possess an intellectual element, the rationale that evokes the feeling. Once the influence from Chochmah enclothes itself in this level, it can be drawn down to lower rungs.

and from those levels, to all the worlds,

וּמֵהֶם לְכָל הָעוֹלָמוֹת

and, in particular, to the soul of the person who displayed mesirus nefesh.

וּבִפְרָט לְנַפְשׁוֹ הַפְּרָטִית,

Thus, the mitzvah of Kiddush HaShem causes the revelation of Or Ein Sof which is sovev kol almin to be manifest on the lowest plane.

נִמְצָא שֶׁמִּצְוַת קִדּוּשׁ הַשֵּׁם גּוֹרֵם הִתְגַּלּוּת אוֹר אֵין סוֹף בָּרוּךְ הוּא הַסּוֹבֵב כָּל עָלְמִין לְמַטָּה מַּטָּה

This is the intent of the verse: “And I will be sanctified in the midst of the Children of Israel”;

וְזֶהוּ וְנִקְדַּשְׁתִּי בְּתוֹךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל

that through this self-sacrifice, Or Ein Sof, which is holy and distinct,

פֵּרוּשׁ שֶׁאוֹר אֵין סוֹף שֶׁהוּא קָדוֹשׁ וּמֻבְדָּל

will be revealed within the Children of Israel.

יִהְיֶה בְּהִתְגַּלּוּת עַל יְדֵי זֶה בְּתוֹךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מַמָּשׁ,

Therefore, this mitzvah surpasses all the 248 positive commandments;

וְלָכֵן מִצְוָה זוֹ גְּדוֹלָה מִכָּל הָרְמַ"ח מִצְוֹת עֲשֵׂה

i.e., someone who spends his entire life in the service of studying Torah and performing its mitzvos

שֶׁמִּי שֶׁיַּעֲבוֹד כָּל יָמָיו בְּתוֹרָה וּמִצְוֹת

will not reach the level of one who transgressed throughout his entire life and afterwards turned to G‑d in complete teshuvah, sacrificing his life for the sanctification of G‑d’s name.

לֹא יַגִּיעַ לְמִי שֶׁהָיָה כָּל יָמָיו בַּעַל עֲבֵרוֹת אֶלָּא שֶׁאַחַר כָּךְ עָשָׂה תְּשׁוּבָה שְׁלֵמָה וּמָסַר נַפְשׁוֹ עַל קִדּוּשׁ הַשֵּׁם

To cite an example: R. Elazar ben Durdaiya, whose soul expired as he wept;

וּכְעִנְיַן רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן דּוּרְדַיָא שֶׁיָּצְתָה נִשְׁמָתוֹ בִּבְכִיָּה

indeed, he reached such a level that Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi cried in envy (Avodah Zarah 17a).

שֶׁבָּכָה רַבִּי כוּ' (עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה י"ז א')

A parallel are the ten Sages executed by the Romans concerning whom it is said (Pesachim 50a): “There is no created being who can stand in their place.”

וְכֵן י' הֲרוּגֵי מְלוּכָה שֶׁאֵין כָּל בִּרְיָה יְכוֹלָה לַעֲמוֹד בִּמְחִצָּתָן (פְּסָחִים נ' א')

The reason for this is that all the 248 positive commandments draw down and reveal G‑d’s infinite light within the different channels that express His potentials:

לְפִי שֶׁכָּל הָרְמַ"ח מִצְוֹת עֲשֵׂה הֵם הַמְשָׁכוֹת וְגִלּוּי אוֹר אֵין סוֹף בְּכֵלִים מִכֵּלִים

His intellectual powers – Chochmah, Binah, and Daasand His emotive powers,

בְּחָכְמָה־בִּינָה־דַעַת וּמִדּוֹת

which are called “the limbs of the King”

שֶׁהֵם הַנִּקְרָאִים אֵיבָרִים דְּמַלְכָּא

because they draw down the revelation of G‑d’s infinite light into these channels.

שֶׁמַּמְשִׁיכִים בָּהֶם גִּלּוּי אוֹר אֵין סוֹף

The wondrous mitzvah of Kiddush HaShem, by contrast,

אֲבָל זוֹ הַמִּצְוָה הַנִּפְלָאָה

represents the ascent and inclusion of man’s potential in the essence of Or Ein Sof

הִיא הָעֲלִיָּה וְהִתְכַּלְלוּת בְּעַצְמוּת אוֹר אֵין סוֹף

as it exists on a rung that surpasses its enclothement in mediums and it draws this sublime level into revelation.

כְּמוֹ שֶׁהוּא לְמַעְלָה מֵהִתְלַבְּשׁוּת בְּכֵלִים: