The focus of the present letter is the distinctive value of studying the halachot, the laws of the Torah. The Sages deem these laws to be the “crown of Torah” because the supernal will is most fully revealed within the laws of the Oral Torah, inasmuch as they clearly spell out G‑d’s will with regard to the performance of the mitzvot.

In fact, as the Alter Rebbe explains, the supernal will as expressed in the mitzvot derives from an even higher level of Divinity than does the chochmah (“wisdom”) of the Torah. Indeed, it is this Divine Will that furnishes the “garments” which enable the soul to absorb the Divine radiance that is manifest in the Garden of Eden.

29 “A woman of valor is the crown of her husband….”

כט "אֵשֶׁת חַיִל עֲטֶרֶת בַּעְלָהּ כוּ'".

This verse in the Book of Proverbs1 is a metaphor for the Torah. The Torah is also likened to a wife in another verse: “See to live your life with the woman whom you love,”2 which our Sages, of blessed memory, explain3 to mean the Torah.

Here, too, “a woman of valor” refers to the Torah. More specifically, within the Torah itself, the Oral Torah is the “wife” and the Written Torah is the “husband.” The “woman of valor,” which the Alter Rebbe will later explain refers to the halachot of Torah, serves as the “crown” to her husband, the Written Torah.

The Gemara, in ch. 4 of Megillah,4 [commenting on the teaching of our Sages in Avot5 that] “He who makes use of the crown passes away [from this world],” states: “This applies to one who makes use of one who studies halachot, which are the crown of the Torah….”

אִיתָא בַּגְּמָרָא פֶּרֶק ד' דִּמְגִילָּה: "וּדְאִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בְּתַגָּא חֳלָף כוּ'" – "זֶה הַמִּשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בְּמִי שֶׁשּׁוֹנֶה הֲלָכוֹת, כִּתְרָהּ שֶׁל תּוֹרָה כוּ'",

Unlike the gloss of the Bach,6 who omits “the crown of the Torah,” the Alter Rebbe here accepts the standard printed version as quoted above.

The Gemara in Megillah goes on to say: “It was taught in the Academy of Elijah that ‘Whoever studies halachot is assured [of a share in Olam Haba—the World to Come].”’

"תָּנָא דְּבֵי אֵלִיָּהוּ, כָּל הַשּׁוֹנֶה הֲלָכוֹת מוּבְטָח לוֹ כוּ'".

At the conclusion of Tractate Niddah,7 the text reads, “Whoever studies halachot daily….” Rashi explains there that the term halachot refers to Mishnah, Baraita, and Halachah L’Moshe MiSinai. In Epistle 23 (above), the Alter Rebbe (based on Rashi elsewhere8) defines halachot as “clearly adjudicated laws of practical application.”

Now, it needs to be understood why the halachot are referred to as a “crown” or “the crown of the Torah.”

וְצָרִיךְ לְהָבִין, לָמָּה נִקְרְאוּ הַהֲלָכוֹת בְּשֵׁם "תַּגָּא" וְ"כִתְרָהּ שֶׁל תּוֹרָה"?

Furthermore, why is it that he who studies specifically halachot is assured [of a share in the World to Come] and not other Torah subjects, such as Scriptures, Midrash, and the like?

וְגַם, לָמָּה "הַשּׁוֹנֶה הֲלָכוֹת" דַּוְקָא "מוּבְטָח לוֹ כוּ'", וְלֹא שְׁאָר דִּבְרֵי תוֹרָה?

One also needs to understand the teaching of our Sages, of blessed memory, in ch. 11 of Menachot,9 that “even if one studied only a single chapter in the morning [and a single chapter in the evening], he has fulfilled his obligation [to study Torah].’’

וְכֵן לְהָבִין מַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה בְּפֶרֶק י"א דִּמְנָחוֹת: "אֲפִילוּ לֹא שָׁנָה אָדָם אֶלָּא פֶּרֶק אֶחָד שַׁחֲרִית כוּ'" יָצָא יְדֵי חוֹבָתוֹ,

The Gemara states there that the individual has fulfilled the commandment that “this book of the Torah shall not depart from your mouth.”10 According to a second opinion cited later in the Gemara, that this verse does not constitute an obligation, it is to be understood that according to this opinion, it is still obligatory to study Torah at all times; however, if one is unable to do so, he can fulfill his obligation by studying a chapter in the morning and a chapter in the evening.

Why is one’s duty not fulfilled by other Torah subjects?

וְלָמָּה אֵינוֹ יוֹצֵא יְדֵי חוֹבָתוֹ בִּשְׁאָר דִּבְרֵי תוֹרָה?

The expression “one chapter” indicates that the study is of Mishnah, the Oral Torah. Why can one not fulfill his obligation with the study of Scripture, Midrash, and the like?

However, it is well known that Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, of blessed memory, stated11 that [the soul of] every Jew needs to be reincarnated many times until he will fulfill12 all 613 commandments of the Torah in thought, speech, and action, i.e., using all three soul-garments with which one performs the commandments.

אַךְ מוּדַעַת זֹאת, מַה שֶּׁאָמַר הָאֲרִיזַ"ל, שֶׁכָּל אָדָם מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל צָרִיךְ לָבֹא בְּגִלְגּוּלִים רַבִּים עַד שֶׁיְּקַיֵּים כָּל תַּרְיַ"ג מִצְוֹת הַתּוֹרָה בְּמַחֲשָׁבָה דִּיבּוּר וּמַעֲשֶׂה,

This is in order to complete the garments of his soul and to correct them so that no garment will be incomplete.

לְהַשְׁלִים לְבוּשֵׁי נַפְשׁוֹ וּלְתַקְּנָם שֶׁלֹּא יְהֵא לְבוּשָׁא דְחַסְרָא כוּ',

As explained in the Tanya, Part I, ch. 4, the Divine soul has three garments—the thought, speech, and action of the 613 commandments of the Torah. If the performance of one of these commandments is lacking, the soul’s garments are incomplete. It is thus necessary for each soul to perform all of the commandments.

Excepted13 are the commandments incumbent only upon a king14 because he discharges the obligation of all of Israel, as he is a corporate collective of them all.15

לְבַד מִצְוֹת הַתְּלוּיוֹת בַּמֶּלֶךְ, שֶׁהוּא מוֹצִיא כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל, כִּי הוּא כְּלָלוּת כּוּלָּם כוּ',

All Jews are incorporated within the king. When he performs those commandments that depend upon him, it is therefore considered as if all the Jewish people had performed them. As to the other commandments, however, if in one incarnation an individual did not perform them all, he must be reincarnated so that he will be able to do so.

Why must one have the garments of all 613 commandments?

The reason is in order to garb all the 613 aspects and powers of one’s soul,

וְהַטַּעַם הוּא – כְּדֵי לְהַלְבִּישׁ כָּל תַּרְיַ"ג בְּחִינוֹת וְכֹחוֹת שֶׁבְּנַפְשׁוֹ,

These 613 “organs” of the soul (see ibid., ch. 4) must all be clothed in the garments of the mitzvot.

so that not one of them—of these 613 aspects and powers of the soul—will be lacking.

אַחַת מֵהֵנָּה לֹא נֶעְדָּרָה כוּ'.

An explanation for the indispensability of these garments is given in the Zohar16 and is understandable by every thinking person.

וּבֵיאוּר עִנְיַן הֶכְרַח וְצוֹרֶךְ לְבוּשִׁים אֵלּוּ, מְבוֹאָר בַּזֹּהַר, וּמוּבָן לְכָל מַשְׂכִּיל,

For the nefesh, ruach, and neshamah in man are created entities and hence inherently limited, and it is impossible for any created being to attain any apprehension of the blessed Creator and Former of all, Who is infinite.

כִּי לִהְיוֹת שֶׁנֶּפֶשׁ רוּחַ וּנְשָׁמָה שֶׁבְּאָדָם הֵן בְּחִינוֹת נִבְרָאִים, וְאִי אֶפְשָׁר לְשׁוּם נִבְרָא לְהַשִּׂיג שׁוּם הַשָּׂגָה בְּבוֹרֵא וְיוֹצֵר הַכֹּל, אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא.

This, of course, is true with respect to Divinity, as it totally transcends all worlds.

Moreover, even after G‑d has radiated [a glimmer] of His blessed light and has caused an emanation in the form of an evolution of numerous [descending] degrees, level beyond level,

וְגַם אַחֲרֵי אֲשֶׁר הֵאִיר ה' מֵאוֹרוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ וְהֶאֱצִיל בִּבְחִינַת הִשְׁתַּלְשְׁלוּת מַדְרֵגוֹת רַבּוֹת, מַדְרֵגָה אַחַר מַדְרֵגָה,

by way of intense contractions and numerous, immense garments that obscure G‑dliness

בִּבְחִינַת צִמְצוּמִים עֲצוּמִים וּלְבוּשִׁים רַבִּים וַעֲצוּמִים

these are familiar to the students of the Kabbalah,

הַיְדוּעִים לְיוֹדְעֵי חֵן,

and in the Idra Rabba,17 these [contracted degrees of Divine illumination] are referred to as “hairs,”

וְנִקְרָאִים בְּאִדְרָא רַבָּה בְּשֵׁם "שְׂעָרוֹת",

Because the life-force present in hair is so tenuous that it does not even convey sensation, the subtle glimmers of Divine energy that filter through the above-described contractions are referred to metaphorically as “hairs.”

and as is written in Daniel, “And the hair of His head is like white wool…”18 (from which we see that certain degrees of spiritual downflow are referred to by the term “hair”)

וּכְדִכְתִיב בְּדָנִיֵּאל: "וּשְׂעַר רֵישֵׁיהּ כַּעֲמַר נְקֵא כוּ'",

nevertheless, even after the screening effected by these mighty contractions, neither the nefesh nor the ruach and neshamah can endure the light,

אַף־עַל־פִּי־כֵן, לֹא יָכְלָה הַנֶּפֶשׁ, אוֹ הָרוּחַ וּנְשָׁמָה לְמִסְבַּל הָאוֹר,

for the light is good and sweet…so intensely so, in fact, that no created being can receive it without expiring, as will soon be explained.

כִּי טוֹב וּמָתוֹק הָאוֹר וְכוּ',

As it is written, “to behold the pleasantness (no’am) of G‑d.”19 [The term no’am] denotes pleasantness, agreeableness, and sweetness, and an infinitely intense delight,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "לַחֲזוֹת בְּנוֹעַם ה'", לְשׁוֹן נְעִימוּת וַעֲרֵיבוּת וּמְתִיקוּת וְתַעֲנוּג עָצוּם לְאֵין קֵץ,

as it is written, “Then you will delight yourself in G‑d,”20

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "אָז תִּתְעַנַּג עַל ה'",

and21 “He will sate your soul with a pleasurable thirst (tzachtzachot)….”22

"וְהִשְׂבִּיעַ בְּצַחְצָחוֹת כוּ'",

[The word tzachtzachot] is related to23 tzichei tzama (“parched with thirst”); it denotes a thirst that cannot be slaked, for the pleasure involved is endless,

לְשׁוֹן "צִחֵה צָמָא",

as stated in the Zohar.24

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּזֹּהַר,

It is not in [the soul’s] power to absorb the pleasantness and agreeableness of the [above] pleasurable thirst without leaving its husk, i.e., its limitation, and becoming wholly nullified, just like a candle-flame [becomes entirely nullified] in a torch,

וְאֵין בְּכֹחָהּ לְקַבֵּל הַנְּעִימוּת וַעֲרֵיבוּת הַצַּחְצָחוֹת, שֶׁלֹּא תֵּצֵא מִנַּרְתֵּקָהּ וְתִתְבַּטֵּל מִמְּצִיאוּתָהּ כְּנֵר בַּאֲבוּקָה.

Just as the light of a candle loses its identity as an independent luminary once it is confronted by the intense diffusion of a fiery torch, so would the soul cease to exist as an independent entity if it were to absorb the radiance emanating from the intense light and sweetness of G‑dliness,

were it not that from this very light, there will evolve and issue forth some minute radiance, by way of an evolution of level after level, with multitudinous contractions,

אִם לֹא, שֶׁמִּבְּחִינַת אוֹר זֶה עַצְמוֹ – תִּשְׁתַּלְשֵׁל וְתִמָּשֵׁךְ מִמֶּנּוּ אֵיזוֹ הֶאָרָה מוּעֶטֶת, בְּדֶרֶךְ הִשְׁתַּלְשְׁלוּת מַדְרֵיגָה אַחַר מַדְרֵגָה בְּצִמְצוּמִים רַבִּים,

until a single garment is created of [this contracted light], a creation akin to the nature of this light, with which to garb the nefesh, ruach, and neshamah.

עַד שֶׁיִּבָּרֵא מִמֶּנָּה לְבוּשׁ אֶחָד נִבְרָא, מֵעֵין מַהוּת אוֹר זֶה, לְהַלְבִּישׁ הַנֶּפֶשׁ רוּחַ וּנְשָׁמָה,

By way of this garment, which is akin to this light, [the soul] can derive enjoyment from the ray of this light, and apprehend it, without becoming wholly nullified out of existence.

וְדֶרֶךְ לְבוּשׁ זֶה, שֶׁהוּא מֵעֵין אוֹר זֶה תּוּכַל לֵיהָנוֹת מִזִּיו אוֹר זֶה וּלְהַשִּׂיגוֹ, וְלֹא תִתְבַּטֵּל מִמְּצִיאוּתָהּ,

Since this garment derives from this light, it not only withstands its intensity itself but also enables the soul to receive the light. Being a created entity, this garment can be “worn” by the soul. And what is this garment? It is the garment of mitzvot.

This is analogous to someone looking at the sun through a fine and lucid speculum.

וְכִמְשַׁל הָרוֹאֶה בַּשֶּׁמֶשׁ דֶּרֶךְ עֲשָׁשִׁית זַכָּה וּמְאִירָה וְכוּ',

Thus, it is written, “And Moses entered the midst of the cloud, and he ascended [the mountain]”25;

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "וַיָּבֹא מֹשֶׁה בְּתוֹךְ הֶעָנָן, וַיַּעַל כוּ'",

that is, he vested himself in the cloud, and ascended, and saw by way of the cloud…. I.e., the cloud served as a garment by means of which Moses was able to receive the revelations on Sinai.

שֶׁנִּתְלַבֵּשׁ בֶּעָנָן וְעָלָה וְרָאָה דֶּרֶךְ הֶעָנָן וְכוּ',

Thus, it is explained in the Zohar, Volume II, pp. 210 and 229.

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּזֹּהַר חֵלֶק ב' דַּף ר"י וְרכ"ט.

Now, this light, hidden away for the righteous for the Time to Come, is termed (as above) the “pleasantness of G‑d,” and the “pleasurable thirst” of “delighting in G‑d,”

וְהִנֵּה, אוֹר זֶה הַגָּנוּז לַצַּדִּיקִים לֶעָתִיד לָבֹא, הַנִּקְרָא בְּשֵׁם "נוֹעַם ה'" וְ"צַחְצָחוֹת", לְהִתְעַנֵּג עַל ה',

and also “the 400 Worlds of Longing in which the tzaddikim delight…”26 as it is written, “400 shekalim of silver (kesef)….”27

וְ"ד' מֵאוֹת עָלְמִין דְּכִסּוּפִין דְּמִתְעַנְּגֵי בְּהוֹן צַדִּיקַיָּיא כוּ'", כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "אַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת שֶׁקֶל כֶּסֶף כוּ'"

The Aramaic phrase translated “Worlds of Longing” is almin dekisufin. The root of the second word (כסף) means not only “silver” but also “longing” (as in the phrase nichsof nichsafta28). Hence, the Kabbalah relates the above reference to “400 shekalim of kesef” to the 400 Worlds of Longing, whose spiritual delights are reserved for tzaddikim.

This [light] comprises very many rungs and levels, one superior to the other.

הִנֵּה יֵשׁ בּוֹ מַעֲלוֹת וּמַדְרֵגוֹת רַבּוֹת מְאֹד, גָּבוֹהַּ מֵעַל גָּבוֹהַּ,

But the minute radiance, which descends level after level to create this garment that garbs the soul, belongs to the lowest level of this light.

אַךְ הֶאָרָה מוּעֶטֶת הַיּוֹרֶדֶת מַדְרֵגָה אַחַר מַדְרֵגָה לִבְרוֹא לְבוּשׁ זֶה, הִיא מִבְּחִינַת מַדְרֵגָה הָאַחֲרוֹנָה שֶׁבְּאוֹר זֶה,

Metaphorically speaking, it is referred to as the external level, or achorayim,

וְנִקְרֵאת בְּשֵׁם "מַדְרֵגָה הַחִיצוֹנָה" וַ"אֲחוֹרַיִים" דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל,

as stated in the Zohar, p. 208b (29cf. the commentary entitled Mikdash Melech30) and 210b: “And that which is left…,” meaning that the light which is the source of the garment is of the most external or hindmost level.

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּזֹּהַר דַּף ר"ח עַמּוּד ב' (עַיֵּין בְּסֵפֶר "מִקְדַּשׁ מֶלֶךְ") וְר"י עַמּוּד ב': וּמַה דְאִשְׁתְּאַר כוּ'.

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to explain that the external level of this radiance, from which these garments derive, is called the supernal will. Will, as is soon to be explained, is the external aspect (i.e., a consequence) of pleasure, or delight.

Now, in the soul of man, there is a faculty for pleasure: [the soul] takes pleasure in what it finds pleasurable,31 as in the conception of a new insight, or the like.

וְהִנֵּה, כְּמוֹ שֶׁבְּנִשְׁמַת הָאָדָם יֵשׁ בָּהּ כֹּחַ הַתַּעֲנוּג שֶׁמִּתְעַנֶּגֶת מִמַּה שֶּׁיֵּשׁ לָהּ עֹנֶג מִמֶּנּוּ, כְּמוֹ מֵהַשְׂכָּלַת שֵׂכֶל חָדָשׁ וּכְהַאי גַּוְנָא,

The external and hindmost aspect of [the soul’s] power and state of delight is its faculty of will, willing that which it wills, i.e.,32 something that is not painful, for pain is the opposite of delight.

וּבְחִינַת חִיצוֹנִיּוּת וַאֲחוֹרַיִים שֶׁל כֹּחַ וּבְחִינַת הַתַּעֲנוּג שֶׁבָּהּ – הִיא בְּחִינַת כֹּחַ הָרָצוֹן שֶׁבָּהּ, שֶׁהוּא רוֹצֶה מַה שֶּׁהוּא רוֹצֶה, דְּהַיְינוּ דָּבָר שֶׁאֵינוֹ צַעַר, שֶׁהַצַּעַר – הֵיפֶךְ הַתַּעֲנוּג.

A person desires something because it gives him pleasure. Thus, pleasure is the “inner” (or motivating) aspect of desire, which is considered “external” (i.e., consequent) to it.

Metaphorically speaking, it is the same with the [infinite] Ein Sof-light, as it were:

וְכָכָה עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל בְּאוֹר אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא, גַּם כֵּן, כִּבְיָכוֹל,

The supernal will is the external and hindmost aspect (i.e., the resultant chitzoniyut and achorayim) of the abovementioned supernal delight, the “pleasantness of G‑d,” the “pleasurable thirst,” and the “Worlds of Longing.”

הָרָצוֹן הָעֶלְיוֹן בָּרוּךְ־הוּא הִיא בְּחִינַת חִיצוֹנִיּוּת וַאֲחוֹרַיִים לִבְחִינַת "עֹנֶג הָעֶלְיוֹן" וְ"נוֹעַם ה'" וְ"צַחְצָחוֹת" וְ"עָלְמִין דְּכִסּוּפִין" הַנִּזְכָּרִים לְעֵיל.

Thus, when we state that the garment for the soul derives from the achorayim and chitzoniyut of the supernal delight, this means that it derives from the supernal will.

Though these—the supernal delight and the supernal will—are fused in absolute unity, for [G‑d] and His Will are one,

הֲגַם שֶׁהֵם מְיוּחָדִים בְּתַכְלִית הַיִּחוּד, שֶׁהוּא יִתְבָּרֵךְ וּרְצוֹנוֹ אֶחָד,

and not (heaven forfend) like the will of man, neither wholly nor partially,

וְלֹא כִּרְצוֹן הָאָדָם חַס וְשָׁלוֹם, לֹא מִינֵּיהּ וְלֹא מִקְצָתֵיהּ,

there being no similarity whatsoever between them,

וְאֵין דִּמְיוֹן בֵּינֵיהֶם כְּלָל,

Man’s will is not wholly one with the person himself; it is one of the soul-faculties that he possesses. By contrast, G‑d and His Will are one. How, then, can we differentiate Above between Pleasure and Will, saying that G‑d’s Pleasure is internal and His Will is external?

nevertheless, “the Torah speaks in human idiom”33 in order “to modulate for the ear what it is able to hear,”34 with allegory and metaphor relating to the soul of man, which compounds the faculty of delight, will, wisdom, understanding, and so on.

אַף־עַל־פִּי־כֵן, דִּבְּרָה תוֹרָה כִּלְשׁוֹן בְּנֵי אָדָם, לְשַׁכֵּךְ הָאֹזֶן מַה שֶּׁיְּכוֹלָה לִשְׁמוֹעַ בְּמָשָׁל וּמְלִיצָה מִנִּשְׁמַת הָאָדָם הַכְּלוּלָה מִכֹּחַ הַתַּעֲנוּג וְהָרָצוֹן וְהַחָכְמָה וְהַבִּינָה וְכוּ',

Just as in man, pleasure is described as “internal” and will as “external,” so do we describe the corresponding attributes Above.

This is empirically evident, for when a person conceives some wonderful new insight, then at that moment, at least, a wondrous delight is born35 in his mind.

וְכַנִּרְאֶה בְּחוּשׁ, שֶׁכְּשֶׁאָדָם מַשְׂכִּיל אֵיזֶה שֵׂכֶל חָדָשׁ נִפְלָא, אֲזַי, בְּאוֹתָהּ רֶגַע עַל כָּל פָּנִים נוֹלָד לוֹ תַּעֲנוּג נִפְלָא בְּשִׂכְלוֹ,

Thus, it follows that the capacity for pleasure surpasses by far the faculty of intellect and wisdom; it merely is vested in the faculty of intellect and wisdom.

מִכְּלָל, שֶׁהַתַּעֲנוּג הוּא לְמַעְלָה מַּעְלָה מִבְּחִינַת הַשֵּׂכֶל וְהַחָכְמָה, רַק שֶׁמְּלוּבָּשׁ בִּבְחִינַת שֵׂכֶל וְחָכְמָה,

Thus, when a man feels [a subject of] intellect and wisdom, that is, he apprehends and understands it well, he then also senses the faculty of pleasure which is vested in the [subject of] wisdom.

וּכְשֶׁהָאָדָם מַרְגִּישׁ הַשֵּׂכֶל וְחָכְמָה, דְּהַיְינוּ – שֶׁמַּשִּׂיגָהּ וּמְבִינָהּ הֵיטֵב, אֲזַי, מַרְגִישׁ גַּם כֵּן בְּחִינַת הַתַּעֲנוּג הַמְלוּבָּשׁ בַּחָכְמָה.

That is why in the sacred Zohar,36 the faculty of binah is referred to as “the World to Come.”

וְלָכֵן נִקְרֵאת בְּחִינַת בִּינָה בְּשֵׁם "עוֹלָם־הַבָּא" בַּזּוֹהַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ,

For it is the state of manifestation of chochmah, together with the delight vested in it, which the righteous in the Garden of Eden apprehend and conceive [new insights] in the pnimiyut (i.e., the innermost, mystical dimension) of the Torah.

שֶׁהִיא בְּחִינַת הִתְגַּלּוּת הַחָכְמָה עִם הַתַּעֲנוּג הַמְלוּבָּשׁ בָּהּ, שֶׁמַּשִּׂיגִים הַצַּדִּיקִים בְּגַן עֵדֶן וּמַשְׂכִּילִים בִּפְנִימִיּוּת הַתּוֹרָה,

For the Torah derives from chochmah,37 and38 the Torah and the Holy One, blessed be He, are entirely one.39

דְּאוֹרַיְיתָא מֵחָכְמָה נָפְקָא, וְאוֹרַיְיתָא וְקוּדְשָׁא־בְּרִיךְ־הוּא כּוּלָּא חַד:

Thus, through gaining a perception of pnimiyut in the manner in which the soul apprehends it in the Garden of Eden, where it apprehends the essence of G‑dliness—and “this delight itself (as the Rebbe adds) is utterly inward, as explained above”—the soul gains an apprehension of G‑d’s infinite light. And in order for it to be able to absorb this degree of illumination, it must be equipped with the protective and receptive garments of the mitzvot, as previously explained.

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to explain that in addition to this function of mitzvot as garments for the soul, they also serve to unite the sublime spiritual level of keter, with the physical objects with which the commandments are performed. As such, they resemble pillars that connect the highest part of a house with the lowest.

Now, the supernal will is termed and referred to by the Kabbalists40 as keter elyon (“the supreme crown”). In it, there are 620 pillars of light,41 620 being the numerical equivalent of the Hebrew word keter.

וְהִנֵּה, רָצוֹן הָעֶלְיוֹן בָּרוּךְ־הוּא מְכוּנֶּה וְנִקְרָא בְּפִי חַכְמֵי הָאֱמֶת בְּשֵׁם "כֶּתֶר עֶלְיוֹן", וּבוֹ תר"ך עַמּוּדֵי אוֹר וְכוּ'.

That is, by way of analogy, just as in a large brick house42 there are pillars standing in the ground and their apex is connected with the ceiling, thereby connecting the lowest part of the house with the highest,

פֵּירוּשׁ, דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל, כְּמוֹ שֶׁיֵּשׁ עַמּוּדִים בְּבֵית חוֹמָה גָּדוֹל, נִצָּבִים בָּאָרֶץ וְרֹאשָׁם מְחוּבָּר בַּתִּקְרָה,

precisely so, metaphorically speaking, the supernal keter transcends the level of chochmah, which is the first and highest of the inner sefirot.

כָּכָה מַמָּשׁ עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל, "כֶּתֶר עֶלְיוֹן" בָּרוּךְ־הוּא, הוּא לְמַעְלָה מִבְּחִינַת מַדְרֵגַת הַחָכְמָה,

[The word keter] is related to koteret (“capital”),43 for it surrounds and encompasses over the brain in the head, i.e., the faculties of ChaBaDthe faculties of chochmah, binah, and daat.

וְהוּא מִלְּשׁוֹן "כּוֹתֶרֶת", שֶׁהוּא מַכְתִּיר וּמַקִּיף עַל הַמּוֹחִין שֶׁבָּרֹאשׁ, שֶׁהֵם בְּחִינוֹת חָכְמָה־בִּינָה־דַּעַת.

This [supernal] will is vested in the 613 commandments of the Torah and the seven precepts of the Sages, practically all of which are operative commandments. I.e., their performance involves physical action, which represents the lower or corporeal aspect of the lowest of the four spiritual “worlds,” the World of Asiyah (“the World of Action”).

וְרָצוֹן זֶה נִתְלַבֵּשׁ בְּתַרְיַ"ג מִצְוֹת הַתּוֹרָה וְז' מִצְוֹת דְּרַבָּנָן, שֶׁרוּבָּם כְּכוּלָּם הֵן מִצְוֹת מַעֲשִׂיּוֹת.

And even those commandments (such as verbalized Torah study) that depend upon speech, nevertheless, even though speech is more spiritual than physical action, they too belong to the category of practical action—

וְגַם הַתְּלוּיוֹת בְּדִבּוּר –

for we have an accepted halachic principle that “the movement of one’s lips [in speech] is regarded as an act.”44

הָא קַיְימָא לָן דַּ"עֲקִימַת שְׂפָתָיו הָוֵי מַעֲשֶׂה".

And even those commandments relating to thought or to the heart—such as the commandments regarding the love and awe of G‑d, are also considered as physical acts—

וְגַם הַתְּלוּיוֹת בַּמַּחֲשָׁבָה אוֹ בַּלֵּב –

the commandments45 were given only to physical man in this [physical] world,

הֲרֵי הַמִּצְוָה נִיתְּנָה לָאָדָם הַגַּשְׁמִי שֶׁבָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה דַּוְקָא,

because he has the choice to turn his heart to good, and so on.46 The soul without a body, however, need not be commanded about this.

שֶׁהוּא בַּעַל בְּחִירָה לְהַטּוֹת לְבָבוֹ לְטוֹב וְכוּ', מַה־שֶּׁאֵין־כֵּן הַנְּשָׁמָה בְּלֹא גוּף, אֵין צָרִיךְ לְצַוֹּתָהּ עַל זֶה.

Thus, it follows that the commandments, metaphorically speaking, are like pillars that stand [and connect] from the highest of levels, viz., the supernal will, to this material world.

וְנִמְצָא, שֶׁהַמִּצְוֹת – הֵן עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל כְּמוֹ הָעַמּוּדִים, נִצָּבִים מֵרוּם הַמַּעֲלוֹת, הוּא רָצוֹן הָעֶלְיוֹן בָּרוּךְ־הוּא, עַד הָאָרֶץ הַלֵּזוּ הַחוּמְרִית.

Metaphorically speaking, they are like hollow pillars that encompass and garb (with the garment of mitzvot) man’s neshamah, or ruach, or nefesh, when he fulfills the commandments.

וְהֵן עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל כְּמוֹ הָעַמּוּדִים חֲלוּלִין, שֶׁמַּקִּיפִין וּמַלְבִּישִׁין נִשְׁמַת הָאָדָם אוֹ רוּחוֹ אוֹ נַפְשׁוֹ כְּשֶׁמְּקַיֵּים הַמִּצְוֹת,

By way of these pillars of the mitzvot, his nefesh, ruach, and neshamah ascend to the highest of levels to be bound up “in the bond of life with G‑d,”47 that is, to be bound up and vested in the light of keter, which is the supernal will, the highest level of all the worlds.

וְדֶרֶךְ עַמּוּדִים אֵלּוּ עוֹלִין הַנֶּפֶשׁ־רוּחַ־נְשָׁמָה שֶׁלּוֹ עַד רוּם הַמַּעֲלוֹת, לִצְרוֹר בִּצְרוֹר הַחַיִּים אֶת ה', פֵּירוּשׁ לִהְיוֹת צְרוּרוֹת וּמְלוּבָּשׁוֹת בְּאוֹר הַכֶּתֶר, הוּא רָצוֹן הָעֶלְיוֹן בָּרוּךְ־הוּא,

And by means of this garment, they are able to behold the “pleasantness of G‑d” and the “pleasurable thirst” which transcend the level of keter and, metaphorically speaking, are its pnimiyut. I.e., the “pleasantness of G‑d” and the “pleasurable thirst” are the inner core of the light of keter, which transcends all worlds.

וְעַל־יְדֵי לְבוּשׁ זֶה – יוּכְלוּ לַחֲזוֹת בְּ"נוֹעַם ה'" וְ"צַחְצָחוֹת" שֶׁלְּמַעְלָה מִמַּעֲלַת הַכֶּתֶר, וְהֵן פְּנִימִיּוּתוֹ עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל.

(48Though it is explained elsewhere that the commandments are the pnimiyut (i.e., the innermost element) of the supernal will while here, it is explained that they are merely the external aspect of keter, i.e., the external aspect of the supernal will,

(וַהֲגַם שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּמָקוֹם אַחֵר, שֶׁהַמִּצְוֹת הֵן פְּנִימִיּוּת רָצוֹן הָעֶלְיוֹן בָּרוּךְ־הוּא

the students of the Kabbalah are well acquainted with the multitude of aspects and levels within every aspect and level among the various levels of holiness.

הִנֵּה מוּדַעַת זֹאת לְיוֹדְעֵי חֵן, רִיבּוּי בְּחִינוֹת וּמַדְרֵגוֹת שֶׁיֵּשׁ בְּכָל בְּחִינָה וּמַדְרֵגָה מִמַּדְרֵגוֹת הַקְּדוּשָּׁה,

There are numerous aspects of “face to face,” meaning (since panim is related to pnimiyut) that relative to a particular spiritual level, another level is even more “internal,” or nearer to the Essence, and there are numerous aspects of “externality to externality,” meaning the reverse, without end….)

כַּמָּה בְּחִינוֹת "פָּנִים" לְ"פָנִים", וְכַמָּה בְּחִינוֹת "אֲחוֹרַיִים" לַ"אֲחוֹרַיִים", לְאֵין קֵץ וְכוּ').

Thus, relative to the internal level of the supernal will spoken about here, mitzvot are only termed “external” whereas in another context, when compared to a lower level, they are deemed the “internal” aspect of the supernal will.

The Alter Rebbe above called the commandments the 620 pillars of light of keter. How does this agree with his previous statement, that the 613 garments of the mitzvot correspond to the 613 soul-powers?

The Alter Rebbe now answers that the seven commandments of the Sages (which bring the total to 620) are not self-sufficient mitzvot but are branches of the Scriptural commandments from which they respectively derive. The soul thus has 613 garments that derive from the 613 commandments, the Rabbinic mitzvot included. These garments garb the 613 powers of the soul.

Now, the seven precepts of the Sages are not counted as commandments in themselves, for it has been said, “You shall not add [to the commandments].”49

וְהִנֵּה, ז' מִצְוֹת דְּרַבָּנָן אֵינָן נֶחְשָׁבוֹת מִצְוֹת בִּפְנֵי עַצְמָן, שֶׁהֲרֵי כְּבָר נֶאֱמַר: "לֹא תוֹסֵף",

Rather, they derive and issue from the commandments of the Torah and are included in them in the sum of 613 [commandments], which garb the 613 aspects and powers in the nefesh, ruach, and neshamah of man.

אֶלָּא הֵן יוֹצְאוֹת וְנִמְשָׁכוֹת מִמִּצְוֹת הַתּוֹרָה וּכְלוּלוֹת בָּהֶן בְּמִסְפַּר תַּרְיַ"ג, לְהַלְבִּישׁ תַּרְיַ"ג בְּחִינוֹת וְכֹחוֹת שֶׁבְּנֶפֶשׁ־רוּחַ־נִשְׁמַת הָאָדָם,

It was previously stated that the mitzvot are like 613 hollow pillars that encompass and garb the neshamah, or ruach, or nefesh of the individual who performs the commandments. It is through these pillars that the soul rises to the greatest of heights and is bound up in the radiance of keter. Additionally, it is through the garment of the mitzvot that the soul is able to behold “the pleasantness of G‑d” and to experience the “pleasurable thirst” that transcend even the pnimiyut of keter.

This is the meaning of the statement in the sacred Zohar, Parashat Pekudei (p. 229b), that “the good deeds (i.e., the mitzvot) which man does elicit a garment from the light of the supernal splendor…(i.e., from the level of keter), and they behold…the ‘pleasantness of G‑d…,’” and also, as the Zohar concludes, they experience the “pleasurable thirst” (i.e., the pnimiyut of keter).

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּזּוֹהַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ פָּרָשַׁת פְּקוּדֵי (דַּף רכ"ט עַמּוּד ב'): "דְּאִינּוּן עוֹבָדִין טָבִין דְּעָבִיד בַּר נַשׁ מָשְׁכֵי מִנְּהוֹרָא דְּזִיוָוא עִילָּאָה לְבוּשָׁא כוּ', וְחָמֵי כוּ' בְּנוֹעַם ה' וְכוּ'".

Though there, [the Zohar] speaks of the Lower Garden of Eden, where the garments derive from the truly practical commandments so that they result not from the supernal will, as above, but from the merit of physical action,

וַהֲגַם דְּהָתָם מַיְירִי בְּגַן עֵדֶן הַתַּחְתּוֹן, שֶׁהַלְּבוּשִׁים שָׁם הֵם מִמִּצְוֹת מַעֲשִׂיּוֹת מַמָּשׁ,

while in the Upper Garden of Eden, the garments derive from the love and devotion of the heart with respect to Torah and prayer, as stated in the Zohar ad loc. (p. 210),

אֲבָל בְּגַן עֵדֶן הָעֶלְיוֹן הַלְּבוּשִׁים הֵם מֵרְעוּתָא וְכַוָּונָה דְלִבָּא בְּאוֹרַיְיתָא וּצְלוֹתָא, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּזֹּהַר שָׁם (דַּף ר"י),

The Zohar states that once the soul possesses, while in the Lower Garden of Eden, the garments of the mitzvot that derive from physical actions, it then rises to the upper Garden of Eden.

however, this devotion (from whence these garments derive) refers to the devotion of one’s occupation with Torah for its own sake, out of one’s love for G‑d.

הֲרֵי הַכַּוָּונָה הִיא כַּוָּונַת עֶסְקוֹ בַּתּוֹרָה לִשְׁמָהּ מֵאַהֲבַת ה',

The commandment to study Torah also belongs to the class of practical commandments,

וּמִצְוַת תַּלְמוּד תּוֹרָה הִיא גַּם כֵּן מִכְּלַל מִצְוֹת מַעֲשִׂיּוֹת,

for “the movement of one’s lips [in speech] is regarded as an act,”44 and “meditation does not count as speech”50; thus, one does not discharge his duty by meditation alone.51

דַּ"עֲקִימַת שְׂפָתָיו הָוֵי מַעֲשֶׂה", וְהִרְהוּר לָאו כְּדִבּוּר דָּמִי, וְאֵינוֹ יוֹצֵא יְדֵי חוֹבָתוֹ בְּהִרְהוּר לְבַדּוֹ,

The same applies to prayer52; here, too, one must actually articulate the words.

וְכֵן בִּתְפִלָּה.

Since both Torah study and prayer require action, even the garments that are created by devout Torah and prayer are considered to be derived from the tangible and active aspect of mitzvot; they, too, are garments that derive from the light of keter.

And certainly so, considering that the superiority of devotion (kavanah) over speech and action (inasmuch as devotion can create garments for the soul in the Upper Garden of Eden) is not due to its own merits…, as in the loving service of G‑d,

וּמַה גַּם, כִּי מַעֲלַת הַכַּוָּונָה עַל הַדִּבּוּר וּמַעֲשֶׂה אֵינָהּ מִצַּד עַצְמָהּ כוּ',

but because of the radiance from the supernal will…,

אֶלָּא מִצַּד הֶאָרַת רָצוֹן הָעֶלְיוֹן כוּ',

When a mitzvah is performed, the radiance of the supernal will is more manifest in its more spiritual aspect—in its devout and loving intent—than in its tangible and physical aspect.

as explained at length in Likkutei Amarim, Part I, ch. 38; see there.

כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּלִקּוּטֵי אֲמָרִים חֵלֶק א' פֶּרֶק ל"ח בַּאֲרִיכוּת, עַיֵּין שָׁם.

The Alter Rebbe explains there that the illumination from the supernal will that shines within the devotion that accompanies an action is likened to a “soul,” relative to the illumination that shines in the action itself, which is likened to a “body” or garment for the soul. The difference is thus only in the degree of contraction or emanation of this radiance.

From the above, it is clear that even the garments for the soul that are created from the devotion and feeling that accompany Torah and prayer also result only from the radiance of the supernal will, which is the supernal keter.

The Alter Rebbe now focuses on the distinctive quality inherent in the halachot of the Oral Torah. It is these halachot that reveal the supernal will by defining what it actually requires of us in the performance of the mitzvot in order thereby to draw down this lofty level of Divinity.

Now, as is known, the supernal will, as vested in the 613 commandments of the Written Torah, is hidden and covered, secreted and concealed. It is manifest only in the Oral Torah.53

וְהִנֵּה מוּדַעַת זֹאת, כִּי הִנֵּה, רָצוֹן הָעֶלְיוֹן בָּרוּךְ־הוּא הַמְלוּבָּשׁ בְּתַּרְיַ"ג מִצְוֹת שֶׁבַּתּוֹרָה שֶׁבִּכְתָב, הוּא מוּפְלָא וּמְכוּסֶּה, טָמִיר וְנֶעְלָם, וְאֵינוֹ מִתְגַּלֶּה אֶלָּא בַּתּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה,

For example, the precept of tefillin: In the Written Torah, it is stated, “And you shall bind them for a sign on your hand, and they shall be for frontlets between your eyes.”54

כְּמוֹ מִצְוַת תְּפִילִּין, עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בַּתּוֹרָה שֶׁבִּכְתָב: "וּקְשַׁרְתָּם לְאוֹת עַל יָדֶךָ וְהָיוּ לְטוֹטָפוֹת בֵּין עֵינֶיךָ",

This is an indistinct and obscure statement, for Scripture did not explain how and what to bind, nor what frontlets are, nor where is “between your eyes” or “on your hand,”

וְהוּא מַאֲמָר סָתוּם וְנֶעְלָם, שֶׁלֹּא פֵירֵשׁ הַכָּתוּב אֵיךְ וּמַה לִּקְשׁוֹר, וּמַהוּ "טוֹטָפוֹת", וְהֵיכָן הוּא "בֵּין עֵינֶיךָ" וְ"עַל יָדֶךָ",

until the Oral Torah explicates55 that one needs to bind a single box on the hand, and four boxes on the head, containing four Scriptural passages.

עַד שֶׁפֵּירְשָׁה תּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה, שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לִקְשׁוֹר בַּיִת אֶחָד עַל הַיָּד וְד' בָּתִּים עַל הָרֹאשׁ, וּבְתוֹכָם ד' פָּרָשִׁיּוֹת,

Moreover, the boxes are to be made of prepared leather, and necessarily square, and to be tied by means of leather straps which need to be black,56

וְהַבָּתִּים יִהְיוּ מֵעוֹר מְעוּבָּד, וּמְרוּבָּעִים דַּוְקָא, וּמְקוּשָּׁרִים בִּרְצוּעוֹת שֶׁל עוֹר שְׁחוֹרוֹת דַּוְקָא,

with all the other detailed rulings governing the making of tefillin that were stated orally, i.e., that are found in the Oral Torah.

וְכָל שְׁאָר פְּרָטֵי הִלְכוֹת עֲשִׂיַּית הַתְּפִילִּין שֶׁנֶּאֶמְרוּ בְּעַל פֶּה,

Also, “on your hand” refers only to the arm and not to the palm of the hand,57 and “between your eyes” refers to the scalp and not to the forehead.58

וְ"עַל יָדֶךָ" הִיא הַזְּרוֹעַ דַּוְקָא וְלֹא כַּף הַיָּד, וּ"בֵין עֵינֶיךָ" זֶה קָדְקוֹד וְלֹא הַמֵּצַח.

It is thus only the detailed halachot of the Oral Torah that enable us to perform this mitzvah in keeping with the supernal will.

Likewise, all the commandments of the Torah, whether they be positive precepts or prohibitory precepts, are not revealed and known and made explicit except through the Oral Torah.

וְכֵן כָּל מִצְוֹת שֶׁבַּתּוֹרָה, בֵּין מִצְוֹת עֲשֵׂה בֵּין מִצְוֹת לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה – אֵינָן גְּלוּיוֹת וִידוּעוֹת וּמְפוֹרָשׁוֹת אֶלָּא עַל־יְדֵי תּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה,

For instance, the prohibitory precept that has been stated with respect to the Shabbat, “You shall do no work”59: [the Written Torah] does not specify what constitutes work.

כְּמִצְוַת לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בְּשַׁבָּת: "לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה מְלָאכָה", וְלֹא פֵירֵשׁ מַה הִיא מְלָאכָה,

In the Oral Torah, however, it is explicated60 to refer to the well-known 39 forms of work and not (only) to the carrying of stones or heavy beams, which is only Rabbinically prohibited.61

וּבַתּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה נִתְפָּרֵשׁ שֶׁהֵן ל"ט מְלָאכוֹת הַיְדוּעוֹת, וְלֹא טִלְטוּל אֲבָנִים וְקוֹרוֹת כְּבֵידוֹת.

Though carrying rocks and beams is more tiring than some of the 39 prohibited forms of work, it does not fall into any of the categories of work that the Torah prohibits on Shabbat.

According to the alternative reading of our text (“and not only to the carrying of stones or heavy beams”), this work is prohibited by the Torah. Thus, the Ramban on Parashat Emor62 states that the term Shabbaton (“a day of rest”) that is used with regard to Yom Tov—and the same applies with regard to the commandment tishbot (“you shall rest”) of Shabbat—refers also to those activities that do not formally fall within the 39 defined categories of prohibited work but are nevertheless prohibited by the Torah since they rob a person of his rest and tranquility.

In the first of his comments on this subject, the Maggid Mishneh argues that Maimonides63 also maintains that “you shall rest” forbids even strenuous work that does not fall within any of the 39 categories governed by the prohibition, “Do not do any work.” (Though the Lechem Mishneh refutes this argument, this remains the view of the Maggid Mishneh.)

Others maintain64 that both readings are valid. Each corresponds to one side of a debate in the Jerusalem Talmud65 as to whether or not the Torah prohibits certain forms of work during the Sabbatical year (and, by extension, during Shabbat as well) because it is a time of rest, even when there is no additional specific prohibition.

And as it is with these—with the above examples of tefillin and Shabbat—so it is with all the commandments, whether they be positive precepts or prohibitory precepts: they are indistinct and are explicated and revealed and known only through the Oral Torah.

וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָהֶן הֵן כָּל הַמִּצְוֹת, בֵּין מִצְוֹת עֲשֵׂה בֵּין מִצְוֹת לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה, הֵן סְתוּמוֹת וְלֹא מְפוֹרָשׁוֹת וּגְלוּיוֹת וִידוּעוֹת, אֶלָּא עַל־יְדֵי תּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה.

This is why Scripture says66 of the Oral Torah, “And you shall not cast off the teaching of your mother,” as stated in the Zohar.67

וּמִשּׁוּם הָכֵי כְּתִיב עַל תּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה: "אַל תִּטּוֹשׁ תּוֹרַת אִמֶּךָ", כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּזֹּהַר,

Metaphorically speaking, just as all the organs of a child are comprised, very latently, in the sperm of the father, and the mother brings this out into a state of manifestation when giving birth to a child complete with 248 organs and 365 sinews,

מִשּׁוּם שֶׁעַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּל אֵבְרֵי הַוָּלָד כְּלוּלִים בְּטִיפַּת הָאָב בְּהֶעְלֵם גָּדוֹל, וְהָאֵם מוֹצִיאָתוֹ לִידֵי גִּילּוּי בְּלֵידָתָהּ וָלָד שָׁלֵם בְּרַמַ"ח אֵבָרִים וְשַׁסַ"ה גִידִים,

This is an instance of the “superior measure of binah that was granted to woman,”68 the power to make latent gifts manifest and corporeal.

exactly so do the 248 positive precepts and the 365 prohibitory precepts emerge from obscurity to manifestation through the Oral Torah, which is therefore called the “teachings of your mother,”

כָּכָה מַמָּשׁ כָּל רַמַ"ח מִצְוֹת עֲשֵׂה וְשַׁסַ"ה מִצְוֹת לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה בָּאִים מֵהַהֶעְלֵם אֶל הַגִּילּוּי בַּתּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה,

whereas the beginning of the verse, “Heed, my son, the admonitions of your father,” alludes to the Written Torah, which derives from the supernal chochmah, which is called “father.”

וְרֵישֵׁיהּ דִּקְרָא: "שְׁמַע בְּנִי מוּסַר אָבִיךָ" קָאֵי אַתּוֹרָה שֶׁבִּכְתָב, דְּנָפְקָא מֵחָכְמָה עִילָּאָה הַנִּקְרֵאת בְּשֵׁם "אָב".

This, then, is the meaning of the verse quoted at the outset of the present epistle, “A woman of valor is the crown of her husband.” For the Oral Torah is termed a “woman of valor” who gives birth to and raises many legions.

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "אֵשֶׁת חַיִל עֲטֶרֶת בַּעְלָהּ", כִּי הַתּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה הַנִּקְרֵאת "אֵשֶׁת חַיִל", הַמּוֹלִידָה וּמַעֲמֶדֶת חֲיָילוֹת הַרְבֵּה,

As it is written, “and alamot (‘maidens’) without number”69: Do not read alamot but olamot (‘worlds’),”70 [these innumerable worlds] alluding to the halachot that are without number, as stated in the Tikkunim.71

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "וַעֲלָמוֹת אֵין מִסְפָּר" אַל תִּקְרֵי "עֲלָמוֹת" אֶלָּא "עוֹלָמוֹת" – אֵלּוּ הֲלָכוֹת דְּלֵית לוֹן חוּשְׁבָּנָא, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּתִּיקּוּנִים.

All of these [halachot] are manifestations of the supernal will, which is hidden in the Written Torah.

וְכוּלָּן הֵן בְּחִינַת גִּילּוּי רָצוֹן הָעֶלְיוֹן בָּרוּךְ־הוּא הַנֶּעְלָם בַּתּוֹרָה שֶׁבִּכְתָב,

The Oral Torah is thus called a “woman of valor,” for it gives birth to multitudinous legions of laws.

The Alter Rebbe will now answer one of his opening questions: Why is it that specifically halachot are referred to as the “crown of the Torah”? Also, why is the individual who studies specifically halachot every day assured of a share in the World to Come?

The supernal will (which belongs to the sefirah of keter, lit., “crown”) is exceedingly more sublime than the level of the supernal chochmah, just as a crown or wreath is higher than the brains in the head.

וְרָצוֹן הָעֶלְיוֹן בָּרוּךְ־הוּא הוּא לְמַעְלָה מַּעְלָה מִמַּעֲלַת חָכְמָה עִילָּאָה, וּכְמוֹ כֶּתֶר וַעֲטָרָה שֶׁעַל הַמּוֹחִין שֶׁבָּרֹאשׁ,

This is why the halachot are referred to as a “crown” and the “crown of the Torah,” for they reveal the supernal will, which is at the level of keter.

לָכֵן נִקְרְאוּ הַהֲלָכוֹת בְּשֵׁם "תַּגָּא" וְ"כִתְרָהּ שֶׁל תּוֹרָה",

Likewise, “Whoever studies [specifically] halachot is assured of a share in the World to Come,”

וְ"הַשּׁוֹנֶה הֲלָכוֹת מוּבְטָח לוֹ שֶׁהוּא בֶּן עוֹלָם־הַבָּא",

by investing his nefesh, ruach, and neshamah in the supernal will,

עַל־יְדֵי הִתְלַבְּשׁוּת נֶפֶשׁ־רוּחַ־נְשָׁמָה שֶׁלּוֹ בָּרָצוֹן הָעֶלְיוֹן בָּרוּךְ־הוּא,

as stated above—that the garments for the soul in the World to Come are the mitzvot; these embody the supernal will, which is clarified and delineated by the halachot.

כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל: