Likutei Amarim


Called "Chinuch Katan"

Compiled from books and from 'Sages, exalted saints, whose souls are in Eden. Based on the first section of the Recitation of the Shema .

"Educate the child according to his way, even when he will be old he will not depart from it." Since it is written "According to his way," it is understood that it is not the path of perfect truth, hence of what merit is it that "Even when he will be old he will not depart from it?"

It is well-known that Fear (Awe) and Love are the roots and foundations of the service of G‑d. Fear is the root and basis of "Refrain from evil," and Love— of "and do good" and the observance of all the positive commandments of the Torah and the Rabbis, as will be explained in their proper place. (The commandment of educating a child includes also [training in the performance of] the positive precepts, as is stated in Orach Chayim, section 343. )

Concerning the love [of G‑d] it is written at the end of the portion Ekev , "Which I command you to do it, to love G‑d...." It is necessary to understand how an expression of doing can be applied to love, which is in the heart. The explanation, however, is that there are two kinds of love of G‑d. One is the natural yearning of the soul to its Creator. When the rational soul prevails over the grossness [of the body], subdues and subjugates it, then [the love of G‑d] will flare and blaze with a flame which ascends of its own accord, and will rejoice and exult in G‑d its Maker and will delight in Him with wondrous bliss. Those who merit this state of Ahavah Rabbah ("great" love) are the ones who are called Tzaddikim as it is written, "Rejoice in G‑d, ye Tzaddikim." Yet, not everyone is privileged to attain this state, for it requires a very great refinement of one's physical grossness, and in addition a great deal of Torah and good deeds in order to merit a lofty Neshamah which is above the level of Ruach and Nefesh, as explained in Reishit Chochmah Shaar HaAhavah.

The second is a love which every man can attain when he will engage in profound contemplation in the depths of his heart on matters that arouse the love of G‑d which is in the heart of every Jew. Be it in a general way, that He is our very life, and just as one loves his soul and his life, so he will love G‑d when he will meditate and reflect in his heart that G‑d is his true soul and actual life, as the Zohar comments on the verse, "[You are] my soul, I desire You;" or in a particular way, when he will understand and comprehend the greatness of the King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, in detail, to the extent that his intellect can grasp and even beyond. Then he will contemplate G‑d's great and wondrous love to us to descend to Egypt, the "Obscenity of the earth," to bring our souls out of the "iron crucible," which is the sitrah achrah may the All-Merciful spare us, to bring us close to Him and to bind us to His very Name, and He and His Name are One. That is to say, He elevated us from the nadir of degradation and defilement to the acme of holiness and to His infinite greatness, may He be blessed. Then, "As in water, face reflects face," love will be aroused in the heart of everyone who contemplates and meditates upon this matter in the depths of his heart — to love G‑d with an intense love and to cleave unto Him, heart and soul, as was explained at length in its place.

It is this love which Moses, our teacher, peace unto him, wished to implant in the heart of every Jew, in the section "And now Israel,...' in the verse, "Behold, the heavens belong to G‑d, your Lord ... only in your fathers did He delight... you shall circumcise ... with seventy souls... [Therefore] you shall love.... Hence he concluded his words concerning this love "Which I command you, to do it," which is love that is produced in the heart through the understanding and knowledge of matters which inspire love. And this he had commanded previously [in the verse]: "And these words, which I command you this day, shall be upon your heart" so that through this [meditation] you will come to love G‑d, as is stated in the Sifri on this verse.

Thus, there can be applied to this second type of love an expression of charge and command, namely, to devote one's heart and mind to matters which stimulate love. However, an expression of command and charge is not at all applicable to the first kind of love which is a flame that ascends of its own accord. Furthermore, it is the reward of the Tzaddikim to savour of the nature of the World to Come in this world. That is the meaning of the verse, "I will give you the priesthood as a service of gift," as will be explained in its proper place.

Now, those who are familiar with the esoteric meaning of Scripture know [the explanation of] the verse, "For a Tzaddik falls seven times and rises up again." Especially since man is called "mobile" and not "static," he must ascend from level to level and not remain forever at one plateau. Between one level and the next, before he can reach the higher one, he is in a state of decline from the previous level. Yet, it is written, "Though he falls, he shall not be utterly cast down." It is considered a decline only in comparison with his former state, and not, G‑d forbid, in comparison with all other men, for he is still above them in his service [of G‑d], inasmuch as there remains in it an impression of his former state. The root of his service, however, is from the love of G‑d to which he has been educated and trained from his youth before he reached the level of Tzaddik. This, then, is the meaning of "Even when he will be old,..." And the first thing which arouses Love and Fear, and their foundation, is the pure and faithful belief in His Unity and Oneness, may He be blessed and exalted.