All the challenges with which a person is presented are intended to bring him to a more elevated revelation of [Divine] light, i.e., to a revelation of the G‑dliness that transcends nature. Take, for example, the challenge which Avraham, our Patriarch, faced in Ur Kasdim. Through confronting the challenge and offering himself to be burnt [to death] rather than separate himself from G‑dliness, he achieved a revelation of [G‑dly] light which transcends nature, and at that level, fire [need] not consume. [Through his commitment, Avraham merited] a revelation of the Or Ein Sof (G‑d’s infinite light) which is unlimited.

The fact that fire is warm and consumes and that water is cold and extinguishes [fire] are reflections of the restrictions implicit in the natural limits of our world. The Or Ein Sof which is unlimited, by contrast, does not recognize these limits [or even] the [very] distinction [between] fire and water at all.

When [Avraham] overcame the challenge that came from the limitations of the natural order, he received a revelation of the Or Ein Sof which transcends the natural order. [And at this level,] fire [need] not consume at all.

Similarly, with regard to all challenges which confront a person, the intent is that he withstand the challenge, and that this [experience] enable him to see and feel unlimited [Divine] light, the Or Ein Sof which transcends nature. He will perceive that a person does not exist by virtue of the garments of the natural order, but rather because of the Or Ein Sof which transcends the natural order.

To explain this idea: it is well known that the Hebrew word for nature הטבע is numerically equivalent to [G‑d’s name,] E-lohim (א-להים). For the name E-lohim represents the attribute of judgment and self-contraction. [As such,] all division and limitation has its source in the name E-lohim. It is the source of the natural [order, as reflected in] the distinct nature with which each and every particular creation is endowed. For every [created being] possesses a definite nature, and it is [this nature] which distinguishes it from [other created beings]. And this is the source for the natural order within the world and [within] every particular entity.

All of this stems from the name E-lohim which is the source for the distinction, division, and limitation within every [created being] and their nature. Nevertheless, in truth, every created being is brought into existence and derives its life-force from the name Havayah. As reflected in the fact that Havayah (י-ה-ו-ה) relates to the Hebrew mehaveh (מהוה) [which means “bring into existence”].

To elaborate: It is well known that Havayah represents the dimension of revelation, the revelation of unlimited light. For all true revelation is essentially unlimited (the limitation of the revelation stemming from the power of contraction and limitation). Thus Havayah is the source of the oros (“lights”), and the light is representative of the source of light (for it is davuk [“clinging”] to the source of light). Thus just as the source of light is infinite, so too, the light and the revelation which emanates from it is infinite.

Thus the name Havayah represents revelation, while the name E-lohim represents contraction and concealment, [resulting in] the absence of revelation.

(It is explained in other places that the attribute of gevurah [“might”] also represents a revelation of light. It is, however, [a revelation of]1 the [Divine] potential of limitation, to limit and to conceal. The concept of gevurah shebechesed [“might as included in kindness”] represents a powerful revelation of kindness, which comes in a multitude of different [dimensions].)

There is a fundamental principle: An entity cannot be brought into being except through the revelation of an active force. Thus it is evident that the created beings are brought into being from the name Havayah, for it represents the dimension of revelation. Nevertheless, as explained above, the essential revelation from the name Havayah is unlimited. Thus [this revelation] is above the level of the worlds and cannot serve as a [direct] source for the creation of the worlds and the created beings. Therefore, the created beings are brought into existence through the light of Havayah as it is enclothed in the name E-lohim. For the name E-lohim contracts and limits the light of the name Havayah, so that it is on the level of the worlds.

In this context we find cited the verse,2 “Like the sun and its shield are Havayah and E-lohim.” The shield covers up and conceals the light of the sun. For were the light of the sun to be revealed as it is, the world would not be able to accept it. As our Sages declare,3 “[In the Future Era,] the Holy One, blessed be He, will remove the sun from its shield, and the righteous will be healed, while the wicked will be judged,” for they will not be able to bear the intensity of the light.

{The righteous will be healed, for in the Future Era, when [the righteous] transcend the garments of the physical world, they will be able to accept the essential light of the sun. (The healing refers to spiritual [healing].)

In microcosm, this [influence] also exists at present, as our Sages declare,4 “As the day advances, the illness lightens.” For through the shield, the light of the sun shines. Indeed, it is possible that even at present, the essence of [the sun’s lumination is directed] to those who are fit to receive a revelation of light.}

The [sun’s] shield conceals and veils the light of the sun and limits it to the extent that it can be accepted within the world. Indeed the light is considered as the light of the shield. Although in truth it is the light of the sun, [it is referred to as the light of the shield]. For it shines through the medium of the shield which prevails over the light, causing it to be revealed in a form that does not reveal its essential nature ([for in truth the sun’s light] is above the level of the world, and it possesses a dimension of infinity). [Nevertheless,] instead [of being revealed on that level, the light] is revealed according to the nature of the medium of the shield. And therefore, it is considered as [the light of] the shield.

From the above, we can understand the analogue: It is written,5 “In the beginning, E-lohim created….” Although in truth, Havayah is the force which brings [the worlds] into being, [it is impossible for the creation to come directly from Havayah] for His essential light is not on the level of the worlds as explained above. It is the name E-lohim which enclothes the light of the name Havayah, contracting and concealing it, and limiting it so that it can serve as a source for limited worlds. Accordingly, [the creation] is attributed to the name E-lohim, although in truth, [its source] is the light of Havayah.

(For this reason, nature is in essence above our intellectual powers, as it is stated in ch. 19 of Tanya: “ gcy [‘nature’] is an applied term for anything that is not within the realm of reason and comprehension.”)evertheless, the garments that [stem from the] name E-lohim dominate the light to the extent that the light becomes limited and measured, and [can thus] bring into being and grant vitality to limited created beings. For the light from Havayah is enclothed in the inner being of every creation to endow it with vitality. And yet due to the overwhelming extent of the concealment and hiddeness [that stems from] the garments of the name E-lohim, the created beings do not feel that this [vitality] is the light of Havayah. Although [this light] is drawn down and enclothes itself in all places, in every created being, it is not perceived because of the concealment stemming from these garments which contract it, and cause it to take on the dimensions of limit and measure.

This refers to the limitations of the garments of nature, i.e., the fact that every created being has a defined nature. In a larger sense, this refers to the natural order of the world which involves commercial activity and undertaking financial burdens as it is written,6 “Man goes forth to his work and to his labor until the evening.”

[For the nature of the world is that] a person must find a particular source of income and involve himself in it, following all the implicit rules that nature and human logic [dictate]. ([This, however,] does not [necessitate] deceit.) Through such activities, he will earn his livelihood.

Similar concepts apply to all aspects of the world’s existence. For this is the limitations of the garments of nature which stem from the garments of the name E-lohim which enclothe the light of [the name] Havayah, contracting and limiting it, and concealing and veiling it until this framework of being comes into existence.

All of this, however, refers to the light of [the name] Havayah as it is enclothed in the name E-lohim. The ultimate intent of this process is reflected in the challenges [to our divine service] that this leads to. And when [a person] withstands these challenges, he attains the revelation of a sublime light which transcends the garments of nature.

This is [the purpose for] the soul’s descent into the body within our physical world which is limited by the confines of nature. And [it is in this world that] the Torah was given [to us] so that [we] can withstand the challenges of the natural order. And thus every member of our people must show deep concern not to violate the prohibitions the Torah has placed on us. This includes robbery, theft, and falsehood.

{There are both gross and delicate dimensions of [all of these] qualities. [For example, in regard to falsehood,] even a person who does not tell gross mistruths, will find several examples of falsehood when he reviews his behavior (and it is possible he will not need to search with candles7). There are people who enjoy telling falsehoods and do so in jest. (There are so many varieties within this category that it is impossible to specify them. [On the contrary,] every person has to [develop] a sensitivity to this within his soul.) [And through speaking falsehoods of this nature,] a person becomes accustomed to telling actual lies, heaven forbid. Similar concepts apply in regard to robbery and theft.}

As a person is involved in the natural order, he will frequently be presented with [challenges] of this nature. Similar concepts apply in regard to taking care [not to partake] of forbidden foods and other similar prohibitions which present themselves to a person because of his involvement in the natural order, e.g., curbing what one looks at and what one hears.

Similar concepts apply in regard to the positive commandments which we are obligated to perform in regard to prayer and Torah study: to study every day at least one passage in the morning and one passage in the evening. [Everyone, even] a businessman is obligated to make such a commitment.

[Similarly, with regard to prayer,] one should not pray as a matter of route (i.e., and treat one’s prayers as a burden instead of reciting them in a supplicant tone [as explained in] Berachos 29b). Instead, [prayer] should be a fixed,8 and fundamentally important matter in one’s soul (as explained in another source9 in regard to [the charge]:10 “Make your Torah study a fixed matter”). One should pray with composure and with concentration, listening to the meanings of the words, and putting oneself into the words [one recites].

In particular, on Shabbos, one should spend more time at prayer, meditating on the concepts of prayer as explained in chassidic thought [so that] this will spur his heart to vibrant feelings of love and fear. Similarly, every day, one should have a sense of the Divine life-force while praying, particularly during the recitation of the Shema and the Shemoneh Esreh.)11 When [one develops such feelings,] one’s prayer will be “merciful supplication before the Omnipresent.”

Similarly, with regard to the study of the Torah, one will establish fixed times each morning to study both nistar (the mystical dimension of Torah study) and nigleh (the revealed dimension of Torah law). (I.e., one will study not merely to fulfill one’s obligation, but to develop an internal bond, and to engrave the ideas within one’s heart.)

As is well known and explained at length in other sources, similar concepts apply regarding gifts to charity. Indeed, with regard to all the mitzvos associated with deed, one should perform them in a conscientious and beautiful manner. In all these undertakings, one’s involvement with worldly matters should not hinder one at all.

This is the purpose of the soul’s descent into this world which is confined by the limits of the natural order and in which [G‑dliness] is concealed and hidden. It is in this realm that the Torah was given to enable us to withstand all the obstacles and hindrances presented by the natural order, and thus attain the revelation of a sublime light that transcends the natural order.

To explain [what this means] in simple terms: A person will see that although he does not conduct himself according to what the natural order of the world [appears] to demand (i.e., he does not let worldly affairs hinder his prayer or Torah study and he observes all the safeguards mentioned above) despite the [insistent] demands of his [evil] inclination that this will cause him to suffer a loss, he will not suffer any loss at all. (This resembles the concepts explained above with regard to the challenge that Avraham our Patriarch confronted.) Thus he sees a reflection [of the light] which transcends nature [in his life].

To the extent that through one’s work and labor, one removes the concealment and the veils [that hinder] Torah and divine service, one will continue to ascend. And one will see and feel a revelation of a sublime light that transcends nature.