Rabbi Dovber now begins to explain the image of the physical lamp in terms of the spiritual life of the person. This description will continue through the entire discourse.

The two aspects of the flame represent two aspects of the spirituality of the soul: the bright radiance is the Divine Soul expressing its most sublime sacred attainment, as in its total surrender to the Divine when saying Echad (One) in the Shema, while the dark radiance, which consumes the wick, expresses the enthusiasm of the Divine Soul as it is vested in the Animal Soul. Here there is a sense of struggle and the transformation of negative emotions. This is expressed by the way the dark flame interacts with and eats away at the wick.

Both flames require oil, the theme of Chapter Three.


The physical configuration of the lamp can be understood regarding both the Divine radiance whithin the individual soul of man — called the actual "lamp of G‑d" — and the Divine radiance, within the supernal source of all souls, malchut1 of Atzilut2.

For it is known that every Divine soul3 has a source in the Living G‑d, the source of life of all the souls, as expressed in the words "You created [the Soul], You formed it... You breathed it into me,"4 and, as it is written "Light is sown for the righteous (tzaddik),"5 meaning [both] the supernal tzaddik and the lower tzaddik,6 as it is written "Your people are all tzaddikim."7

These are the two colors of light discussed above: one, the "white radiance," which is truly Divine radiance, as it is written "You [G‑d] illuminate my lamp"8 or "For You, G‑d, are my lamp."9 This is the Divine ecstasy,10 which is essentially present in the "spark" of every single Jewish soul — even the most lowly — totally beyond reason and understanding. On account of this power one can surrender his soul [when saying] "One" [in the Shema] with great, delightful love11 with all his soul, exercising total teshuvah from the innards of his heart until he [almost] faints12. This [flame] is called the "illuminating radiance" which depends on the purity of the oil.

Transforming the Heart

The second kind of flame is the "dark radiance" which burns and consumes. This corresponds to the vesting of the Divine soul in the vital and natural soul, which stems from Kelipat Nogah.13 This is the ecstasy which results from grasping a Divine idea with human intellect in the physical brain and the emotions of the heart of flesh. [The heart has a] natural heat, "for the inclination of man's heart is evil from his youth"14 — it can be drawn after any evil desire.15

Sometimes, when the power of the bad feelings becomes dominant, in material desires — without any arousal of teshuvah16 — then the Divine radiance in the soul can be completely and utterly darkened (as it is written "the lamp of the wicked is extinguished"17; the flame goes out completely). On the other hand, sometimes the power of Divine radiance in the Divine soul becomes dominant over the natural soul, and this causes an excitement of fiery flames of longing for G‑d alone, until one comes to despise evil.18 His heart is quelled so that it will not be drawn at all after any foreign desire.

[In this state] both his mind and his natural, material feelings are excited with a Divine ecstasy, and are absorbed [in goodness] and transformed from evil to good, changing their negative nature from one extreme to another. This is because of the radiance [of the soul] that burns and consumes, like the example of the black fire which burns the wick. This is called "the flame of G‑d,"19 which is aroused in the soul as an effect of comprehending the G‑dly concept with a fiery ecstasy of Divine yearning. This flame, termed specifically "the flame of Y-H,"20 burns and gradually consumes the fire and natural, evil foreign heat of the fleshly heart.

The Need for Oil

It is evident that anyone who becomes Divinely inspired, sensing a cleaving to G‑d,21 is moved even in his natural heart and mind with the very same excitement in a wave of true enthusiasm22 — it just does not last very long.23 Sometimes the radiance leaves after just a moment, and sometimes it remains a little longer. This brevity is because of a lack of "oil,"24 for the body is compared to the wick, and the flame is the Divine radiance of the soul. [Joining the flame to the wick] is a mode of combining form25 and matter.26


The soul contains two "colors" (termed lamp):

1) The bright radiance — a G‑dly enthusiasm, which is evident when the soul expresses its most sublime sacred attainment, such as in total surrender to G‑d when saying "One" in the Shema amid delightful love of G‑d. This degree of this radiance is commensurate with the purity of the oil.

2) The dark radiance — experiencing G‑dly enthusiasm that is comprehendible and physically sensed in one's brain and heart. Here there is a sense of struggle, since occasionally one's negative emotions overpower the G‑dly radiance and darken it. But occasionally the G‑dly radiance gains the upper hand and transforms one's negative emotions and consumes them. This corresponds to the darker fire, which consumes the wick. Thus, when one is enthusiastically inspired to serve G‑d, one's natural heart and brain are inspired as well. However, this sensation soon dissipates for there is a lack of oil, which, as stated earlier, causes the wick to be consumed only gradually.

Hence, both "colors" of flame require (spiritual) oil, the theme of the next chapter.