This, then, is the meaning of the Scriptural text, "But the thing is very nigh unto thee... ," For at any time and moment a person is capable and free to rid himself of the spirit of folly and forgetful-ness, and to recollect and awaken his love of the One G‑d which is certainly latent in his heart, without any doubt. This is the meaning of the words "in thy heart." Included therein is also fear, that is, the dread of separation in any wise from His blessed Unity and Oneness, even at the price of life itself and without reason and logic, but purely by virtue of one's divine nature. All the more so where it involves merely the suppression of one's appetites, which is easier than the pangs of death. This thing, i.e. repressing his evil inclination, is easier by far, both in the category of "turning away from evil" [and that of "doing good"], even when it concerns a minor prohibition laid down by the Scribes, so as not to transgress against His blessed Will, since at the time of its commission he is thereby sundered from His Unity and Oneness just as much as committing actual idolatry. As for repenting afterwards, he can do this regarding idolatry, too.

To be sure, "He who says, 'I will sin and repent afterwards,' is not given an opportunity to do so." But this means that such a sinner is not granted the auspicious occasion to repent. If, however, he has seized the opportunity himself and has repented, "Nothing can stand in the way of repentance."

Nonetheless every Jew is prepared and ready to suffer martyrdom for the sancti-flcation of G‑d's Name, and will not commit an idolatrous act even temporarily, with the intention of repenting afterwards. This is because of the divine light which is clothed in his soul, as explained above; which does not come within the realm of time at all, but transcends it, having rule and dominion over it, as is known.

Likewise in the category of "doing good,"— to bestir oneself like a lion with might and stout-heartedness against the [evil] nature which weighs down his body and casts sloth over him from the so-called element of "earth" in the animal soul, restraining him from zealously exerting his body with all kinds of effort and perseverance in the service of G‑d entailing effort and toil, such as labouring in the Torah with deep concentration, as well as orally, so that his mouth shall not cease from study. To quote the Rabbis, of blessed memory, "One should always submit to the words of the Torah like tne ox to the yoke and the ass to the load." So, too, in relation to devout prayer with the utmost intensity. Likewise with regard to serving G‑d in money matters, such as the duty of charity,

and the like, duties which involve coming to grips with the evil nature seeking means of deception to dissuade the person from dissipating his money and physical health. It is very easy for a person to restrain and subjugate his nature when he considers deeply that to conquer his nature in all the above, and more, and even to do the very opposite, is by far less painful than the pangs of death— may G‑d preserve us! Yet he would have accepted the pangs of death— preserve us G‑d!— lovingly and willingly, only not to be parted from His blessed Unity and Oneness even for a moment by an act of idolatry, G‑d forbid.

All the more lovingly and willingly must he accept upon himself to cleave unto Him for ever. For by fulfilling His blessed Will by means of such service, there will be revealed in it the innermost Supreme Will of the aspect of the "Countenance" and great revelation, without obscurity whatever; and when there is no "hiding of the Countenance" of the Supreme Will, there is no separation whatever and nothing can have a separate and independent existence of its own. Thus his soul, both the divine and vivifying, together with their garments, will be united in a perfect unity with the Supreme Will and the blessed light of the En Sof, as has been explained above.

This union is eternal in the upper spheres, for He, blessed be He, and His Will are above time, and so is His revealed Will, manifest in His word which is the Torah, eternal, as is written, "But the word of G‑d shall stand for ever," and "His words are living and enduring,..." and "He will not alter or change His Law for ever...."

However, here below, [the union] is within the limits of time, persisting only during such time when one is occupied in the study of Torah,, or in the performance of a commandment. For afterwards, if he engages in anything else, he is here below separated from the Higher Unity. This is so when he occupies himself with altogether vain things which are utterly useless for the Divine Service. Nevertheless, should he later repent and return to the service of G‑d, to Torah and prayer, and ask forgiveness of G‑d for not having engaged in the Torah when he could have done so, G‑d will pardon him. To quote the Rabbis: "If one has transgressed against a positive precept, but has repented, he is pardoned on the spot." Therefore they instituted the blessing of "Forgive us" to be recited three times daily for the sin of neglecting the Torah, a sin which no one can escape each day. Similarly the daily burnt-offering used to bring atonement for neglect of the positive precepts.

This is not the same as saying, "I will sin and repent afterwards," unless at the time he is committing the sin he relies on subsequent repentance and sins because of it, as explained elsewhere.

In the light of the above, it will be understood why our teacher Moses, peace be upon him, in Deuteronomy commanded the generation that was to enter the Land of Israel to recite the Shema twice daily, to acknowledge the Kingdom of Heaven with self-sacrifice, although he had promised them, "The Lord your G‑d shall lay your dread and fear upon all the land." The reason is that the fulfillment of the Torah and its commandments is dependent on being constantly aware of one's readiness to surrender one's life to G‑d for His Unity's sake, so that this awareness be permanently fixed in one's heart and not depart from one's memory night and day. For in this way is one able to face one's evil nature and vanquish it always, at any time or moment, as has been explained.