Returning to the image of the lamp, the discussion now concerns the relationship of the wick, signifying the body and the Animal Soul, to the spiritual quality of the oil, which expresses chochmah and selflessness.

The wick belongs to the realm of the negative, Kelipat Nogah (intermediary "shell"), which in itself conceals G‑dliness yet at the same time possesses an extremely exalted spiritual source. For that which is highest falls lowest.

Therefore, in a sense, the wick is higher than the oil.

Following the same logic, when considering the two kinds of flame, the dark flame has a higher spiritual quality than the bright flame. In fact the brightness of the bright flame derives from the dark flame, meaning that the higher spiritual attainments of the person are the product of the struggle to transform one's evil desire.

Now the focus switches back to the oil, which includes within it the properties of both the dark and the bright flame.

Oil represents supernal chochmah as well as selflessness. There are two levels of selflessness: the first is the lower level of submission before the Divine, through which the wick is worn away. This is expressed by the dark flame, representing teshuvah and the transformation of the evil qualities in one's heart. The second level is described in the next chapter.


Now we can understand the concept of the oil of the lamp, which conceals within it the two kinds of light: the bright radiance and the dark radiance, [which are revealed] when it is drawn into the wick, as explained above.

Oil and Wick

First we have to consider why the oil specifically has to be drawn after the wick in order for the flame to join with the wick. Why should the oil, which is superior, be drawn specifically after the wick? Why is it that the flame burns only when there is a wick, and not simply from the oil itself? This must indicate that there is superiority in the wick over the oil, to the extent that the oil is no more than an intermediary joining the flame to the wick.


[It was explained earlier that the wick represents the body.] The root of the natural soul, the body, is far more sublime than the [divine] soul, for the natural soul stems from kelipot of nogah1 which fell in the breaking of the vessels of the "seven kings" of Tohu.2 As the verse states, "these are the kings [which ruled in the land of Edom] before there was a king of the children of Israel."3 The radiance of Tohu4 [the kings of Edom] preceded the realm of Tikkun [the kings of Israel, expressed by] the Divine Name [whose numerical value is] forty-five מ"ה of Adam.5

Hence there is root for the creatures and animals — the face of the lion and the face of the ox of the Chariot6 — higher than that of Man. And thus they "carry the throne" [on which there is the form of a man]. Similarly, in their descent [into this physical world], man is sustained by eating animals and vegetables,7 strengthening the power of his mind [man's superior quality]. Similarly, more sublime, regarding the animal offerings the verse states,8 "the food of My fire, a pleasant savor for Havaya" — of Tikkun. [But on a human level,] "Man lives by bread"9 and cannot exist without it, but the vegetable and animal world can exist without man. This is because the root of the vegetable and animal worlds is higher than that of man.10

The Wick's Value

Hence, it is the consumption of the wick — corresponding to the body — which is the main factor in eliciting the supernal [bright] radiance to illuminate the soul from the aforementioned second level of sovev kol almin.11 Thus the verse states, "For You, G‑d, are my lamp," meaning, that although the oil causes the radiance to be joined to the wick, it is actually only an intermediary. Because the primary cause for the radiance is the consumption of the wick, and the oil only causes the flame to cleave to it.

In addition, the fact that the oil is drawn into the wick and is consumed, flowing into the flame, is also on account of the wick. Thus the oil is drawn specifically to the wick. The oil has the quality of chochmah12 of Torah and mitzvot, and the root of the wick — corresponding to the natural soul, is far more sublime than [the Divine Name] מ"×” of chochmah of Tikkun. [Hence the wick has the power to draw the oil.13]

The proof for this is from the theme of "one moment of teshuvah and good deeds" discussed earlier.14 Teshuvah transforms the evil itself to good, and specifically intensifies the great force of G‑d's Kindness to us, bringing the "Truth of G‑d to the world," i.e., the World to Come, the reward resulting from observance of the Torah and mitzvot.

Thus, in the Shema, following the verse, "and you shall love G‑d, with all your heart" — with both your good and evil inclinations, "and with all your soul15" — expressing the consumption of the wick, we then recite the verse, "these words which I command you," thus revealing the most exalted radiance, the most sublime level of sovev kol almin vested in the Torah and mitzvot.

Oil as Chochmah of Torah

Thus, the dark radiance which consumes the wick actually causes the revelation of the bright radiance from its source in the Essence of Ein Sof blessed be He, as the verse, "for You [G‑d's Essence] illuminate my lamp."

Nonetheless, these two colors of light are revealed at the wick are the result of the oil, which causes the light to join the wick in these two colors. Without oil, the wick would swiftly be completely consumed, or the flame would immediately dart away.16

Similarly in the spiritual realms: "Oil" refers to the concealment of the radiance of Supernal chochmah17 which is vested in Torah and mitzvot. It is unable to enter the world by way of hishtalshlut [due to its transcendent loftiness], and can only enter the world by being vested [in Torah and mitzvot], as the verse states, "He wears radiance like a robe,"18 which refers to the radiance of Torah.

The Nature of Torah

The Torah is called, "Primordial metaphor,"19 and as the saying, "the outflowings of Supernal chochmah20 are Torah"21: This indicates the tremendous descent of Supernal chochmah — "whose understanding is beyond reckoning"22 — to be vested in physical matters, in laws and rules of the Written Torah and the Oral Torah, in the 248 Positive mitzvot and 365 Negative mitzvot.23

This corresponds to the nature of oil, which seeps down and is absorbed by whatever it contacts. Hence the oil seeps into the wick, to join it with the flame.

Chochmah Level One

[The two categories of flame] correspond to the two levels of  chochmah: The first is the abnegation of the self before the Divine Ayin. This means arousing — even in physical terms — thoughts of teshuvah with tremendous subjugation and a contrite heart. This consumes the wick in the dark flame, which is expressed by crying out and elevation in prayer, pouring out one's soul and transforming the evil qualities of one's heart. This is caused by the oil that is drawn to the wick.24


Returning to the image of the lamp, the maamar now discusses the relationship of the wick — the body and the Animal Soul — to the spiritual quality of the oil — chochmah and selflessness.

Why should oil, which is superior to the wick containing the two colors of the flame, be drawn after the wick, which would imply that the wick is superior?

To explain: The body is rooted in a realm that far transcends the root of the soul. The body's root stems from the radiance of Tohu which preceded Tikkun of the Divine Name [whose numerical value is] forty-five מ"×”. Thus, man is sustained by animals and vegetables [for their root transcends that of man]. When the body — the wick — is consumed, the sublime radiance of its source shines. This source precedes the source of spiritual oil, vested in Torah and mitzvot. Hence, the dark radiance causes the bright radiance. Nevertheless, the two colors are specifically produced by the oil, for without it the flame would dart away completely, or would totally consume the wick. In spiritual terms, the oil refers to the concealed radiance of Supernal chochmah (for the radiance is concealed within the oil — see chapters one, three and ten) which is revealed specifically through its manifestation in Torah and mitzvot

Accordingly, spiritual oil is the actual performance of Torah and mitzvot, which causes a pure flame to gradually consume the wick: in all, a well-structured lamp.

Now, although in Chapter Three it was established that spiritual oil would be chochmah and the selflessness it imparts by way of hitbonenut (contemplation) — primarily during prayer, as the maamar continued throughout Chapters Four and Five — yet in Chapter Six this definition seems to shift to Torah and mitzvot, which prove to be spiritual oil by way of the explanation of Chapters Seven, Eight. Chapter Nine appears to combine both explanations by saying that "oil refers to the concealment of the radiance of Supernal chochmah which is vested in Torah and mitzvot."

[This is apparently why in Chapter Ten the discussion turns to ratzo and shov and their balanced combination necessary to serve G‑d: One needs to combine both ratzo — the intense feelings in prayer, teshuvah and transforming one's negative qualities (the dark radiance), with shov — Torah and mitzvot (the bright radiance).

Thus, spiritual oil refers to both hitbonenut (prayer) and Torah/mitzvot: For to define hitbonenut, i.e. prayer, teshuvah, as spiritual oil would be the concept of ratzo, whereas to define Torah and mitzvot as the spiritual oil would be its counterpart, shov.]