In the previous chapter, the Alter Rebbe explained why our Sages compare the performance of a mitzvah to a body and one’s kavanah in performing the mitzvah to a soul.

He stated that kavanah can be classified into two categories, analogous to the two classes of creatures which possess a soul—animals and man.

The higher level of kavanah is that created by an intellectual appreciation of G‑dliness. Upon contemplating G‑d’s greatness, a love and fear of Him is born in one’s heart, which translates into a desire to cleave to Him. This desire in turn motivates one to fulfill the Torah and mitzvot, since they bind him to G‑d, and this motivation is the kavanah in his fulfillment of the Torah and mitzvot. Such kavanah, born of reason and produced by one’s own volition, is analogous to the soul of man, the intelligent being who determines his actions by choice.

The lower level of kavanah is that which stems from an arousal of the soul’s natural, instinctive love and fear of G‑d. Such kavanah is comparable to the soul of an animal, which is ruled by its natural instincts.

The Alter Rebbe now opens ch. 39 by stating that for this reason, the angels, who fear and love G‑d by their very nature, are metaphorically called “animals.”

For this reason, too, the angels are called chayot (“beasts”) and behemot (“animals”), as it is written, “and an angel with the face of a lion is to the right of the divine chariot…and the face of an ox is on the left….”1

וּמִפְּנֵי זֶה גַם כֵּן, נִקְרָאִים הַמַּלְאָכִים בְּשֵׁם חַיּוֹת וּבְהֵמוֹת, כְּדִכְתִיב: "וּפְנֵי אַרְיֵה אֶל הַיָּמִין וְגוֹ' וּפְנֵי שׁוֹר מֵהַשְּׂמֹאל וְגוֹ'",

For they have no freedom of choice between good and evil, as man has. And their fear and love [of G‑d] is natural to them; they need not create fear and love of G‑d through intellectual contemplation of G‑d’s greatness, as is written in Raaya Mehemna (Parashat Pinchas). Because their fear and love of G‑d are natural and instinctive to them, they are compared to animals.

לְפִי שֶׁאֵינָם בַּעֲלֵי בְחִירָה, וְיִרְאָתָם וְאַהֲבָתָם הִיא טִבְעִית לָהֶם, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּ"רַעְיָא מְהֵימְנָא" פָּרָשַׁת פִּנְחָס.

Therefore, tzaddikim are on a higher level than them (the angels):2 the abode of the souls of tzaddikim is in the World of Beriah (Creation), whereas the abode of the angels is in the World of Yetzirah (Formation).

וְלָכֵן מַעֲלַת הַצַּדִּיקִים גְּדוֹלָה מֵהֶם, כִּי, מְדוֹר נִשְׁמוֹת הַצַּדִּיקִים – הוּא בְּעוֹלַם הַבְּרִיאָה, וּמְדוֹר הַמַּלְאָכִים – בְּעוֹלַם הַיְצִירָה.

This is so [only] in the case of ordinary angels. There are, however, higher angels in the World of Beriah, whose service [of G‑d] is with intelligent fear and love.

וְהַיְינוּ בִּסְתָם מַלְאָכִים, אֲבָל יֵשׁ מַלְאָכִים ﬠֶלְיוֹנִים בְּעוֹלַם הַבְּרִיאָה שֶׁﬠֲבוֹדָתָם בִּדְחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ שִׂכְלִיִּים,

It is written so in Raaya Mehemna, ibid., that there are two kinds of holy Chayot, instinctive and intelligent (i.e., those whose love and fear are instinctive and those who create love and fear intellectually), as is also written in Etz Chaim.

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּ"רַﬠְיָא מְהֵימְנָא" שָׁם, שֶׁיֵּשׁ שְׁנֵי מִינֵי חַיּוֹת הַקֹּדֶשׁ: טִבְﬠִיִּים וְשִׂכְלִיִּים, וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּﬠֵץ חַיִּים:

The abode of ordinary angels, however, is in the World of Yetzirah, and they are thus lower than the souls of the tzaddikim, whose abode is in Beriah. The Alter Rebbe now explains how intellectually created love and fear are related to Beriah and instinctive love and fear to Yetzirah.

The difference between [Beriah and Yetzirah] is as follows:

וְהַהֶבְדֵּל שֶׁבֵּינֵיהֶם הוּא,

In Yetzirah, only the middot of the Blessed Ein Sof radiate (i.e., only the sefirot of chesed (kindness), gevurah (severity), etc.)—meaning the love of Him (corresponding to chesed), dread and fear of Him (corresponding to gevurah), and so on (with the other four middot).

כִּי בְּעוֹלַם הַיְצִירָה, מְאִירוֹת שָׁם מִדּוֹתָיו שֶׁל אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא לְבַדָּן, שֶׁהֵן אַהֲבָתוֹ וּפַחְדּוֹ וְיִרְאָתוֹ כוּ'.

As is written (in Tikkunei Zohar 3 and in Etz Chaim4), that the six sefirot (i.e., the six middot from chesed through yesod) “nest” in (i.e., pervade) the World of Yetzirah.

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב [בַּתִּיקּוּנִים וְעֵץ חַיִּים] "דְּשִׁית סְפִירִין מְקַנְּנִין בִּיצִירָה".

The four partzufim (lit., “countenances”; i.e., configurations of sefirot) of the sefirot of Atzilut (the World of Emanation) radiate in the four Worlds—Atzilut, Beriah, Yetzirah, and (the World of Action, viz.,) Asiyah; one partzuf predominates in each World, representing the manifestation of G‑dliness in that World.

These partzufim are: (a) chochmah (wisdom); (b) binah (understanding); (c) Z’eyr Anpin (lit., “The Small Image”; i.e., the six middot); (d) malchut (sovereignty).

In Atzilut, chochmah is the dominant partzuf. Atzilut is thus pervaded with an atmosphere of utter self-nullification before G‑d, for chochmah, the dominant influence in that World, represents the perception that “Ein Sof is One alone, and there is naught besides Him” (as discussed in ch. 35).

In Beriah (also called the “World of the Throne”), binah is the dominant partzuf. Beriah is therefore a World of intellect; the souls and angels of Beriah are distinguished by superior intellectual appreciation of G‑dliness.

Yetzirah is dominated by the six middot (which together constitute the partzuf of Z’eyr Anpin). It is therefore a World of emotion; the creatures of Yetzirah serve G‑d with great emotional intensity.

Asiyah, the lowest World, is dominated by the partzuf of malchut. G‑d’s attribute of Sovereignty evokes subservience in His subjects; therefore, in our service of G‑d in this World, the emphasis is on “accepting the yoke of heaven.”

To return to our subject: Middot are the dominant influence in Yetzirah.

Therefore, this is the service of the angels whose abode is in Yetzirah, as mentioned above, constantly, never ceasing day or night, to stand in fear and dread [of G‑d].

וְלָכֵן, זֹאת הִיא עֲבוֹדַת הַמַּלְאָכִים תָּמִיד, יוֹמָם וָלַיְלָה לֹא יִשְׁקוֹטוּ, לַעֲמוֹד בְּיִרְאָה וָפַחַד וְכוּ',

This refers to the entire host of [angels under] Gabriel, which is on the left. “Left” represents the middah of gevurah, which evokes fear and awe. Therefore, all these angels stand in constant fear of G‑d.

וְהַיְינוּ, כָּל מַחֲנֵה גַבְרִיאֵל שֶׁמֵּהַשְּׂמֹאל,

The service of the host of [angels under] Michael, on the other hand, is love [of G‑d]; they stand in constant adoration of G‑dliness, corresponding to the middah of chesed, and so on.

וַעֲבוֹדַת מַחֲנֵה מִיכָאֵל הִיא הָאַהֲבָה כוּ'.

Thus, because middot constitute the dominant partzuf in Yetzirah, the service of the creatures of Yetzirah consists of emotion.

But in the World of Beriah radiate the chochmah, binah, and daat of the Blessed Ein Sof (i.e., the upper three sefirotChaBaD—of Atzilut), which are the source of middot and their “mother” and root.

אֲבָל בְּעוֹלַם הַבְּרִיאָה מְאִירוֹת שָׁם חָכְמָתוֹ וּבִינָתוֹ וְדַעְתּוֹ שֶׁל אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא, שֶׁהֵן מְקוֹר הַמִּדּוֹת וְאֵם וְשֹׁרֶשׁ לָהֶן,

As is written in Tikkunei Zohar,5 that Imma Ila’ah (lit., “the supernal mother,” i.e., the sefirah of binah, described as “mother” of the World of Atzilut) “nests” (radiates) in “the Throne,” meaning the World of Beriah, with three sefirot of Atzilut: chochmah, binah, and daat.

וְכִדְאִיתָא בַּתִּיקּוּנִים דְּ"אִימָּא עִילָּאָה מְקַנְּנָא בִּתְלַת סְפִירָן בְּכֻרְסְיָּא", שֶׁהוּא עוֹלַם הַבְּרִיאָה.

Because these three sefirotChaBaD—of the Ein Sof radiate in the World of Beriah, it is therefore the abode of the souls of those tzaddikim who serve G‑d with a fear and love that stem from understanding and knowledge of G‑d’s greatness,

וְלָכֵן הוּא מְדוֹר נִשְׁמוֹת הַצַּדִּיקִים, עוֹבְדֵי ה' בִּדְחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ, הַנִּמְשָׁכוֹת מִן הַבִּינָה וָדַעַת דִּגְדוּלַּת אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא,

this love being called re’uta deliba (lit., “the heart’s desire,” i.e., a desire created by intellect as opposed to desire that transcends intellect), as mentioned above.

שֶׁאַהֲבָה זוֹ נִקְרָא "רְעוּתָא דְלִבָּא", כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל;

From this re’uta deliba, a garment is formed for the soul in the World of Beriah, which is the Higher Garden of Eden, as will be discussed further and as is written in the Zohar, Parashat Vayakhel. The Lower Garden of Eden is in Yetzirah, and the Higher Garden of Eden in Beriah.

וּמֵ"רְעוּתָא דְלִבָּא" נַעֲשֶׂה לְבוּשׁ לַנְּשָׁמָה בְּעוֹלַם הַבְּרִיאָה, שֶׁהוּא גַן עֵדֶן הָעֶלְיוֹן, כְּדִלְקַמָּן, וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּזֹּהַר וַיַּקְהֵל.

Ultimately, the souls of those who serve G‑d with intellectual love and fear are privileged to abide in the Higher Garden of Eden—Beriah. For the reward given in the Garden of Eden (Paradise) is that the souls “delight in the radiance of the Shechinah,” i.e., they delight in their perception of G‑d’s glory. Since one’s reward is commensurate with his level of divine service, the delight in intellectual perception of G‑dliness is reserved for the souls of those who served G‑d with intellectual love and fear during their lifetime on earth.

At this point, the Alter Rebbe qualifies his earlier statement: Only those tzaddikim whose souls are on the level of neshamah (i.e., the highest of the three soul-levels—nefesh, ruach, and neshamah) abide in Beriah. Neshamah represents Mochin deGadlut—a “superior intellectual grasp” of G‑dliness; those on the level of neshamah understand G‑dliness directly as it is without recourse to analogy or anthropomorphic terms. Love and fear follow from such direct understanding of G‑dliness as its natural extensions; they are not products of intellect, a generation removed. In this case, in fact, the emotions may be considered as part of an intellectual process rather than emotion proper.

However, this statement, that the abode of tzaddikim who serve G‑d with intellectual love and fear is in the World of Beriah, applies only to those souls which are actually on the level of neshamahthe level of neshamah being that of intellect, as the verse states, “The divine neshamah will give them discernment”6

אַךְ הַיְינוּ דַּוְוקָא נְשָׁמוֹת מַמָּשׁ,

and which represent a “superior intellectual perception” of the Blessed Ein Sof.

שֶׁהֵן בְּחִינַת מוֹחִין דְּגַדְלוּת אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא,

But the tzaddikim who are at the level of ruach,

אֲבָל בְּחִינַת הָרוּחַ שֶׁל הַצַּדִּיקִים,

and similarly all the other souls of Israel, who served G‑d with the natural fear and love hidden in the heart of all Israel, not with love and fear born of intellect,

וְכֵן שְׁאָר כָּל נִשְׁמוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁעָבְדוּ אֶת ה' בִּדְחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ הַמְסוּתָּרוֹת בְּלֵב כְּלָלוּת יִשְׂרָאֵל,

ascend thereto (to Beriah) only on Shabbat and the New Moon, when all creation ascends to a higher level (as it is written, “…every month, on the New Moon, and every week, on the Shabbat, all flesh will come to prostrate themselves before Me, says G‑d”); it is only then that these souls ascend to the World of Beriah, the Higher Garden of Eden,

אֵין עוֹלוֹת לְשָׁם, רַק בְּשַׁבָּת וְרֹאשׁ־חֹדֶשׁ לְבַד,

by means of the pillar that extends from the Lower Garden of Eden (Yetzirah) to the Higher Garden of Eden, i.e., the World of Beriah, which is called the Higher Garden of Eden.7

דֶּרֶךְ הָעַמּוּד שֶׁמִּגַּן עֵדֶן הַתַּחְתּוֹן לְגַן עֵדֶן הָעֶלְיוֹן, שֶׁהוּא עוֹלַם הַבְּרִיאָה הַנִּקְרָא גַּן עֵדֶן הָעֶלְיוֹן,

By means of this pillar, these souls ascend thereto to delight in G‑d and to bask in the radiance of the Shechinah.

לְהִתְעַנֵּג עַל ה' וְלֵיהָנוֹת מִזִּיו הַשְּׁכִינָה,

Such pleasure is the prerogative of the souls in Beriah, since the soul’s delight is from its understanding and appreciation of G‑dliness to the extent that a soul is capable of such understanding.

The intellect of a created being delights and derives pleasure only in that which it conceives, understands, knows (—corresponding to ChaBaD), and grasps with its intellect and understanding,

כִּי אֵין הֲנָאָה וְתַעֲנוּג לְשֵׂכֶל נִבְרָא, אֶלָּא בְּמַה שֶּׁמַּשְׂכִּיל וּמֵבִין וְיוֹדֵעַ וּמַשִּׂיג בְּשִׂכְלוֹ וּבִינָתוֹ,

as much as it can grasp of the Blessed Ein Sof-light through His wisdom and His understanding which radiate there (in Beriah), enabling the soul to perceive G‑dliness. For, as mentioned earlier, the ChaBaD of Atzilut (to which the Alter Rebbe refers as “His wisdom,” “His understanding”) radiate in Beriah, for which reason Beriah is the “World of understanding.”

מַה שֶּׁאֶפְשָׁר לוֹ לְהָבִין וּלְהַשִּׂיג מֵאוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא, עַל יְדֵי חָכְמָתוֹ וּבִינָתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ, הַמְּאִירוֹת שָׁם בְּעוֹלַם הַבְּרִיאָה.

With this, the Alter Rebbe concludes his statement that on Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh, the souls of other Jews (who had not served G‑d with intellectual love and fear) ascend to Beriah.

These souls (who served G‑d with natural love and fear) are privileged to rise occasionally to Beriah, higher than the angels, whose abode is in Yetzirah, as mentioned above, never rising to Beriah, although they too, like the angels, served G‑d only with natural fear and love; why, then, is their service of G‑d considered superior to that of the angels?

וּמַה שֶּׁזּוֹכוֹת נְשָׁמוֹת אֵלּוּ לַעֲלוֹת לְמַעְלָה מֵהַמַּלְאָכִים, אַף שֶׁעָבְדוּ בִּדְחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ טִבְעִיִּים לְבַד,

Because through their fear and love, the sitra achara clothed in their body is subdued,

הַיְינוּ, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁעַל יְדֵי דְּחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ שֶׁלָּהֶם, אִתְכַּפְיָא סִטְרָא אָחֳרָא הַמְלוּבֶּשֶׁת בְּגוּפָם,

whether (in the case of fear) in the realm of “turning away from evil” (refraining from doing evil and thereby) conquering and crushing their desires through not giving their illicit desires expression in thought, speech, and action,

בֵּין בִּבְחִינַת "סוּר מֵרָע" לִכְבּוֹשׁ הַתַּאֲווֹת וּלְשַׁבְּרָן,

or whether (in the case of love) subduing the sitra achara in the realm of “doing good,” as mentioned above, i.e., actively pursuing the observance of the mitzvot out of love for G‑d, despite the contrary desire of the animal soul, which is rooted in the sitra achara.

וּבֵין בִּבְחִינַת "וַעֲשֵׂה טוֹב" כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל,

These souls, while in the physical world, had freedom of choice; they might have chosen evil, G‑d forbid,

וְהֵם הָיוּ בַּעֲלֵי בְחִירָה לִבְחוֹר בְּרָע חַס וְשָׁלוֹם

yet they chose good—to subdue the sitra achara so that G‑d’s glory be elevated…[in all Worlds], with an elevation similar to the superiority of light…[emerging from the darkness] over ordinary light, as mentioned above. By dispelling the darkness of sitra achara, these souls added to the light of holiness.

וּבָחֲרוּ בְּטוֹב, לְאַכְפָּיָא לְסִטְרָא אָחֳרָא לְאִסְתַּלְּקָא יְקָרָא דְקוּדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ־הוּא כוּ', כְּיִתְרוֹן הָאוֹר כוּ', כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל.

Thus, although these souls served G‑d as angels do, with love and fear that are natural, not intellectual, yet their service ranks higher than that of an angel, for the soul acts out of free choice, while the angel is a creature of compulsive instinct (albeit holy instinct). Therefore, it is occasionally granted to the soul, unlike the angel, to rise to the Higher Garden of Eden in Beriah.

In the following paragraphs, the Alter Rebbe will differentiate between the respective stations of the souls, on one hand, and of their divine service (i.e., the actual Torah and mitzvot that the soul studies and observes) on the other. But before examining his words, an introduction is in order:

Although we spoke above of the sefirot of each of the Four Worlds, it must nevertheless be understood that the sefirot of each World do not constitute that World itself. The sefirot represent, rather, the G‑dliness inherent in each World—its divine life-force. The World itself, on the other hand, is a yesh, a separate being, which comes about through the sefirot.

The significance of this distinction with regard to our discussion is as follows: The Alter Rebbe spoke above of the abode of the soul in either the World of Yetzirah or the World of Beriah (depending on the level of its divine service). The emphasis here is on the word “World”: the soul’s abode is in the World of Beriah or Yetzirah (also described as the heichalot (“Chambers”) of these Worlds), not in the sefirot of these Worlds.

The soul’s divine service, on the other hand, ascends to the sefirot (of the appropriate World); this means, in effect, that it is absorbed in the Ein Sof.

In fact, the soul’s reward in the Garden of Eden, described before as the pleasure of “basking in the radiance of the Shechinah,” is actually the radiance of the Torah and mitzvot that the person observed while in this physical world, which have ascended to the supernal sefirot.

In the Alter Rebbe’s words:

All the aforesaid concerns the abode and station of the souls. (The Rebbe notes: “Station” is not necessarily synonymous with “abode”; a soul whose abode is in Yetzirah may rise periodically (on Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh) to a temporary station in Beriah, as said above.)

וְהִנֵּה, כָּל זֶה הוּא בִּמְדוֹר הַנְּשָׁמוֹת וּמְקוֹם עֲמִידָתָן,

Their Torah and divine service, however, are actually absorbed in the ten sefirot, which are a manifestation of G‑dliness and with which the Ein Sof-light unites, in perfect unity, i.e., the Ein Sof-light radiating in each World is completely unified with the sefirot of that World.

אַךְ תּוֹרָתָן וַעֲבוֹדָתָן נִכְלָלוֹת מַמָּשׁ בְּי' סְפִירוֹת, שֶׁהֵן בְּחִינַת אֱלֹהוּת, וְאוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף מִתְיַיחֵד בָּהֶן בְּתַכְלִית הַיִּחוּד;

Specifically, this means that one’s Torah and divine service ascend to the ten sefirot of Beriah when generated by intellectual fear and love and to the ten sefirot of Yetzirah when prompted by natural fear and love.

וְהַיְינוּ, בְּי' סְפִירוֹת דִּבְרִיאָה – עַל יְדֵי דְּחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ שִׂכְלִיִּים, וּבְי' סְפִירוֹת דִּיצִירָה – עַל יְדֵי דְּחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ טִבְעִיִּים;

Now, within them (within the sefirot of Beriah and Yetzirah) are clothed the ten sefirot of the World of Emanation—Atzilut—and they are completely unified with them: the sefirot of Atzilut are clothed in, and completely unified with, the sefirot of Beriah and Yetzirah.

וּבְתוֹכָן, מְלוּבָּשׁוֹת י' סְפִירוֹת דַּאֲצִילוּת וּמְיוּחָדוֹת בָּהֶן בְּתַכְלִית,

The ten sefirot of Atzilut are, in turn, perfectly united with their Emanator, the Blessed Ein Sof. It follows, then, that by ascending to the sefirot of Beriah or Yetzirah, the soul’s Torah and divine service actually unite with the Ein Sof.

וְי' סְפִירוֹת דַּאֲצִילוּת – מְיוּחָדוֹת בְּתַכְלִית בְּמַאֲצִילָן אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא.

The souls, on the other hand (in contrast with their Torah and divine service), are not absorbed into the G‑dliness of the ten sefirot,

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן הַנְּשָׁמוֹת, אֵינָן נִכְלָלוֹת בֵּאלֹהוּת דְּי' סְפִירוֹת,

but stand instead in the “chambers” and “abodes” of Beriah or Yetzirah, which are the Worlds of Beriah and Yetzirah, separate beings that are not united with G‑d, as are the sefirot.

אֶלָּא עוֹמְדוֹת בְּהֵיכָלוֹת וּמְדוֹרִין דִּבְרִיאָה אוֹ יְצִירָה,

There, [the souls] delight in the radiance of the Shechinah, meaning the Blessed Ein Sof-light [as it is] unified with the ten sefirot of Beriah or Yetzirah,

וְנֶהֱנִין מִזִּיו הַשְּׁכִינָה, הוּא אוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא הַמְיוּחָד בְּי' סְפִירוֹת דִּבְרִיאָה אוֹ דִיצִירָה,

and this radiance that they enjoy is actually a “ray” of [the light of] their own Torah and divine service (see Zohar, Parashat Vayakhel, p. 210),

וְהוּא זִיו תּוֹרָתָן וַעֲבוֹדָתָן מַמָּשׁ [עַיֵּין זֹהַר וַיַּקְהֵל דַּף ר"י],

for “The reward of a mitzvah is the mitzvah itself.”

כִּי שְׂכַר מִצְוָה – הִיא מִצְוָה עַצְמָהּ:

A “ray” issuing from the mitzvot that they have performed, and that have become united with the Ein Sof, shines forth upon the tzaddikim in the Garden of Eden; it is the revelation of this ray that delights the soul.

From this, we may catch a glimpse of the stature of a mitzvah performed in this world. From a mere glimmer of the light radiated by a mitzvah, a soul in Paradise derives pleasure so exquisite that, as our Sages say, all the suffering of Purgatory—a suffering so acute that one moment of it is worse than enduring seventy years of Job’s afflictions—is worthwhile so long as it enables one subsequently to experience the boundless delight of Paradise.

In fact, were the soul when in Paradise to apprehend the essence of the mitzvah instead of a mere ray of it, it would expire—it would dissolve out of existence in the intensity of its light.

This is the meaning of the Mishnah, “Better one hour of repentance and good deeds in this world than all the life of the World to Come.”8 For in the World to Come, the soul has only a glimmer of the light of mitzvot, whereas in this world, we have the essence of mitzvot, whereby we are united with G‑d Himself.

The soul’s great pleasure in Paradise is due only to its clear perception of the ray of light given off by the mitzvah, a perception that we lack in this physical world, wherefore the Mishnah concludes, “Better one hour of bliss in the World to Come than all the life of this world”—better even than the bliss of fulfilling the Torah and mitzvot in this world, for true bliss can be experienced only in Paradise, where the soul actually perceives and grasps the G‑dliness of the Torah and mitzvot.

Having explained that Beriah is the abode of souls that served G‑d with intellectual love and fear and Yetzirah of souls that served Him with natural love and fear, the Alter Rebbe will now discuss the divine service of those souls whose abode is the World of Atzilut. The quality of their divine service, he explains, surpasses even that of intellectual love and fear. This is the level of those tzaddikim who become veritable “chariots” for G‑d: they have no will save His will, and their every act testifies to their utter self-nullification before Him.

The World of Atzilut is beyond the intelligence, grasp, and understanding of a created being’s intellect. Even a spiritual being in the World of Beriah is, after all, a created being, and Atzilut is beyond its grasp as well.

וְעוֹלַם הָאֲצִילוּת שֶׁהוּא לְמַעְלָה מֵהַשֵּׂכֶל וְהַהַשָּׂגָה וְהַהֲבָנָה לְשֵׂכֶל נִבְרָא,

For the chochmah, binah, and daat of the Ein Sof are united with Him there (in Atzilut) in perfect unity,

כִּי חָכְמָתוֹ וּבִינָתוֹ וְדַעְתּוֹ שֶׁל אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא מְיוּחָדוֹת שָׁם בּוֹ בְּתַכְלִית הַיִּחוּד,

in a profound and wonderful unity infinitely superior to that [unity] found in Beriah.

בְּיִחוּד עָצוּם וְנִפְלָא, בְּיֶתֶר שְׂאֵת וְיֶתֶר עֹז לְאֵין קֵץ מִבְּעוֹלַם הַבְּרִיאָה,

For there, they descended to illuminate [only] to a restricted (“contracted”) degree. The ChaBaD of Atzilut (referred to here as “ChaBaD of the Ein Sof”) radiate in Beriah only after their light is “contracted,”

כִּי שָׁם יָרְדוּ לְהָאִיר בִּבְחִינַת צִמְצוּם,

so as to enable the intellect of created beings (namely, the angels and souls of Beriah) to receive ChaBaDwisdom, understanding, and knowledge—from [these sefirot of Atzilut] so that they might know G‑d and so that they might grasp and comprehend something of the Ein Sof-light,

כְּדֵי שֶׁיּוּכְלוּ שְׂכָלִים נִבְרָאִים לְקַבֵּל מֵהֶן חָכְמָה־בִּינָה־דַּעַת, לֵידַע אֶת ה', וּלְהָבִין וּלְהַשִּׂיג אֵיזוֹ הַשָּׂגָה בְּאוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא,

to the extent that the intellect of finite, limited, created beings is capable of understanding.

כְּפִי כֹּחַ שְׂכָלִים הַנִּבְרָאִים, שֶׁהֵם בַּעֲלֵי גְבוּל וְתַכְלִית,

To achieve this purpose, a “contraction” of ChaBaD of Atzilut was necessary lest they (the created beings of Beriah) dissolve out of existence and lest they furthermore cease altogether to exist as created beings, reverting instead to their source and root, namely, G‑dliness itself.

שֶׁלֹּא יִתְבַּטְּלוּ בִּמְצִיאוּתָם, וְלֹא יִהְיוּ בְּגֶדֶר נִבְרָאִים כְּלָל, רַק יַחְזְרוּ לִמְקוֹרָם וְשָׁרְשָׁם שֶׁהוּא בְּחִינַת אֱלֹהוּת מַמָּשׁ.

Were the ChaBaD of Atzilut to shine forth in Beriah without being “contracted,” allowing the creatures of Beriah to grasp G‑dliness as it radiates in the sefirot of Atzilut, these creatures would be overwhelmed by the G‑dly illumination beyond their capacity to absorb and would dissolve out of existence.

Hence, the Alter Rebbe will now continue, it is only the G‑dliness in a “contracted” ChaBaD that creatures of Beriah can grasp and absorb (and even then only to the extent of their limited capacity); the light of ChaBaD in its pristine state, as in Atzilut, is beyond them.

This contraction (which ChaBaD of Atzilut undergo in order to radiate in Beriah) thus causes the souls in the World of Beriah to be illuminated by a glow of ChaBaD of the Ein Sof (i.e., ChaBaD of Atzilut); it is this contraction that enables them to have some perception of the Ein Sof-light.

וְהִנֵּה, צִמְצוּם זֶה, הִיא סִבַּת הַהֶאָרָה שֶׁמְּאִירוֹת שָׁם חָכְמָה־בִּינָה־דַּעַת שֶׁל אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא לִנְשָׁמוֹת אֵלּוּ בְּעוֹלַם הַבְּרִיאָה.

The created intellectual beings [of Beriah] cannot, however, apprehend ChaBaD as they are (i.e., in all their undimmed intensity) in the World of Atzilut, where the ChaBaD are not contracted to such a great degree as in Beriah.

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן בַּאֲצִילוּת, שֶׁאֵינָם בִּבְחִינַת צִמְצוּם כָּל כָּךְ, אִי אֶפְשָׁר לִשְׂכָלִים נִבְרָאִים לְקַבֵּל מֵהֶן,

“To such a great degree”—for the very fact of their being sefirot (i.e., individual, defined categories) indicates that ChaBaD are merely contracted, limited manifestations of the undefinable Ein Sof; the degree of contraction, however, is much less than that of Beriah, and therefore, the creatures of Beriah cannot receive intellectual illumination from ChaBaD of Atzilut.

Therefore, their thought cannot grasp there at all, i.e., the thought and intellect of the created beings of Beriah can in no way grasp the light radiating in Atzilut.

וְלָכֵן, "לֵית מַחֲשַׁבְתָּא דִילְהוֹן תְּפִיסָא שָׁם כְּלָל".

For this reason, [Atzilut] is the abode of the great tzaddikim,

לָכֵן הוּא מָדוֹר לַצַּדִּיקִים הַגְּדוֹלִים,

whose service of G‑d is far superior even to fear and love derived from understanding and knowing His greatness,

שֶׁעֲבוֹדָתָם הִיא לְמַעְלָה מַּעְלָה אֲפִילוּ מִבְּחִינוֹת דְּחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ הַנִּמְשָׁכוֹת מִן הַבִּינָה וָדַעַת בִּגְדוּלָּתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ,

just as Atzilut transcends by far the level of the understanding and knowledge of a created being’s intellect.

כְּמוֹ שֶׁעוֹלַם הָאֲצִילוּת הוּא לְמַעְלָה מַּעְלָה מִבְּחִינַת בִּינָה וָדַעַת לְשֵׂכֶל נִבְרָא,

Their service is, rather, on the level of an actual “chariot” of the blessed Ein Sof,

אֶלָּא עֲבוֹדָתָם הָיְתָה בִּבְחִינַת מֶרְכָּבָה מַמָּשׁ לְאֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא,

nullifying their very existence before Him and incorporating themselves, and all that they possess, within His light,

וְלִיבָּטֵל אֵלָיו בִּמְצִיאוּת, וּלְהִכָּלֵל בְּאוֹרוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ, הֵם וְכָל אֲשֶׁר לָהֶם,

through the observance of the Torah and the mitzvot.

עַל יְדֵי קִיּוּם הַתּוֹרָה וְהַמִּצְוֹת,

Our Sages applied such a description to the Patriarchs, saying that “they themselves constituted the divine chariot,”9 for this was the Patriarchs’ level of service throughout their lives.

עַל דֶּרֶךְ שֶׁאָמְרוּ: "הָאָבוֹת הֵן הֵן הַמֶּרְכָּבָה", וְהַיְינוּ, לְפִי שֶׁכָּל יְמֵיהֶם הָיְתָה זֹאת עֲבוֹדָתָם.

The Patriarchs were constantly in that state of self-nullification before G‑d, denoted by the term “chariot.” Similarly in the case of the tzaddikim spoken of here: Through their Torah and mitzvot, they effect the highest degree of self-nullification before G‑d in themselves and in all their affairs. The abode of their souls, therefore, is likewise in a World pervaded with this spirit of self-nullification, namely the World of Atzilut.

But he whose soul’s root is of too limited a capacity for this perfect service on the level of a “chariot,”

אַךְ מִי שֶׁשֹּׁרֶשׁ נִשְׁמָתוֹ קָטָן מֵהָכִיל עֲבוֹדָה תַמָּה זוֹ,

so that through his service of Torah and mitzvot he be constantly nullified before and absorbed in G‑d’s light,

לִיבָּטֵל וְלִיכָּלֵל בְּאוֹרוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ בַּעֲבוֹדָתוֹ בִּקְבִיעוּת,

[and he can therefore attain this state] only intermittently and [only] at times of divine favor on high,

רַק לִפְרָקִים וְעִתִּים שֶׁהֵם עֵת רָצוֹן לְמַעְלָה,

such as during the Shemoneh Esrei prayer, which is at the level of Atzilut,

וּכְמוֹ בִּתְפִלַּת שְׁמוֹנֶה עֶשְׂרֵה שֶׁהִיא בַּאֲצִילוּת,

The four rungs in the ladder of prayer correspond to the four Worlds: The prayers preceding Baruch She’amar correspond to Asiyah; the Verses of Praise to Yetzirah; the Shema to Beriah; and the Shemoneh Esrei is at the level of Atzilut.

and especially when bowing in the four designated places in this prayer, for every such act of bowing represents the level of Atzilut (10as is written in Pri Etz Chaim in the section dealing with the welcoming of Shabbat),

וּבִפְרָט בְּהִשְׁתַּחֲוָואוֹת שֶׁבָּהּ, שֶׁכָּל הִשְׁתַּחֲוָואָה הִיא בִּבְחִינַת אֲצִילוּת [כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בִּפְרִי עֵץ חַיִּים בְּקַבָּלַת שַׁבָּת],

for it embodies the idea of self-nullification in G‑d’s light—to be accounted as absolutely naught before Him;

כִּי הִיא עִנְיַן בִּיטּוּל בְּאוֹרוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ, לִהְיוֹת חֲשִׁיב קַמֵּיהּ כְּלָא מַמָּשׁ,

in the case of he who can attain the level of a “chariot” only at such propitious times, then even at these times, the principal abode of his soul is in the World of Beriah (for we are dealing here with a soul associated with the World of Beriah),

אֲזַי גַּם כֵּן עִיקַּר קְבִיעוּת נִשְׁמָתוֹ הוּא בְּעוֹלַם הַבְּרִיאָה

(11and only occasionally, at a time of divine favor, will his soul rise to Atzilut as “feminine waters, ” as is known to the students of the Kabbalah).

[רַק לִפְרָקִים בְּעֵת רָצוֹן תַּעֲלֶה נִשְׁמָתוֹ לַאֲצִילוּת בִּבְחִינַת "מַיִּין נוּקְבִין", כַּיָּדוּעַ לְיוֹדְעֵי חֵן]:

Having discussed the various “abodes” of souls—three Worlds in which the souls receive a reward commensurate with the level of their divine service during their life on earth—the Alter Rebbe now returns to the theme begun in ch. 38. There, he noted that kavanah in mitzvot (which is the “soul” of the mitzvot) can be classified into various categories, corresponding to the different levels of soul found in living beings—the souls of animals, of man, and so on. A kavanah which consists of intellectual love and fear is like the volitional soul of man, a kavanah consisting of natural love and fear like the instinctive soul of an animal.

To support this contention, he discussed the various levels of “abodes” where souls receive their reward commensurate with their divine service on earth.

Returning now to his original theme, the Alter Rebbe points out that from the varying levels of reward, we can deduce the respective levels of divine service motivated by the different levels of kavanah.

“The reward of a mitzvah is the mitzvah itself.”

וְהִנֵּה, "שְׂכַר מִצְוָה – מִצְוָה",

Unlike wages paid to a laborer, for example, which are no index of the nature of the work performed, the reward for a mitzvah—i.e., the revelation of G‑dliness experienced by the soul that performed the mitzvah—is actually the fruit of the mitzvah itself; the revelation consists of a ray of the G‑dly light emitted by the mitzvah.

This means that we can know the essential nature and rank [of the mitzvah] by its reward (by the nature of the light generated by the mitzvah and revealed to the soul as its reward).

פֵּירוּשׁ, שֶׁמִּשְּׂכָרָהּ נֵדַע מַהוּתָהּ וּמַדְרֵגָתָהּ,

Now, we will not concern ourselves with explaining hidden matters,

וְאֵין לָנוּ עֵסֶק בַּנִּסְתָּרוֹת

meaning the great tzaddikim who are at the level of a “chariot,” whose divine service comes under the heading of “hidden matters” because it transcends understanding,

שֶׁהֵם צַדִּיקִים הַגְּדוֹלִים, שֶׁהֵם בִּבְחִינַת מֶרְכָּבָה,

but only with those matters revealed to us, to which every man must aspire, i.e., only with those levels of divine service which may—and ought to—be attained by every Jew, as follows:

רַק הַנִּגְלוֹת לָנוּ, שֶׁאַחֲרֵיהֶם כָּל אָדָם יִמְשׁוֹךְ,

One must know with certainty that the essential nature and rank of divine service with fear and love revealed in the heart,

לֵידַע נֶאֱמָנָה מַהוּת וּמַדְרֵגַת עֲבוֹדַת ה' בִּדְחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ בְּהִתְגַּלּוּת לִבּוֹ,

derived from understanding and knowledge of the greatness of the Blessed Ein Sof and of which it was said earlier that the reward for divine service motivated by such love and fear is on the level of the World of Beriah

הַנִּמְשָׁכוֹת מִן הַבִּינָה וָדַעַת בִּגְדוּלַּת אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא –

from this reward, we know that its place i.e., the level of such service of mitzvot performed with such motivation, is in the ten sefirot of Beriah,

מְקוֹמָהּ בְּי' סְפִירוֹת דִּבְרִיאָה,

and the service motivated by natural fear and love hidden in one’s mind (not emotions experienced in the heart but mental awareness of one’s inborn love and fear of G‑d), of which it was said earlier that such service is rewarded in the World of Yetzirah

וַעֲבוֹדָה בִּדְחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ הַטִּבְעִיִּים שֶׁבְּמוֹחוֹ –

from this reward, we know that its place is in the ten sefirot of Yetzirah.

בְּי' סְפִירוֹת דִּיצִירָה.

But divine service performed without arousing one’s fear and love to a revealed state even in one’s mind,

אֲבָל עֲבוֹדָה בְּלִי הִתְעוֹרְרוּת דְּחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ אֲפִילוּ בְּמוֹחוֹ בִּבְחִינַת גִּילּוּי,

meaning that the service is done without arousing the natural love hidden in one’s heart so that it will emerge from the hidden recesses of the heart,

דְּהַיְינוּ, לְעוֹרֵר הָאַהֲבָה הַטִּבְעִית הַמְסוּתֶּרֶת בַּלֵּב, לְהוֹצִיאָהּ מֵהַהֶעְלֵם וְהֶסְתֵּר הַלֵּב

to be revealed at least in one’s conscious mind and in the latency of his heart so that it might evoke (if not passionate fervor, then at least) a mental resolve to cleave to G‑d by fulfilling the mitzvot;

אֶל הַגִּילּוּי, אֲפִילוּ בְּמוֹחוֹ וְתַעֲלוּמוֹת לִבּוֹ עַל כָּל פָּנִים,

if, instead, the love remains hidden in the heart as in its native state, as it was before the divine service when it was surely concealed, not expressing itself in divine service, if the love is similarly hidden when he engages in divine service, and the mitzvot that he does are in no way affected by the love, then

רַק הִיא נִשְׁאֶרֶת מְסוּתֶּרֶת בַּלֵּב כְּתוֹלַדְתָּהּ, כְּמוֹ שֶׁהָיְתָה קוֹדֶם הָעֲבוֹדָה,

such service remains below in this “World of Separation,”12 in the level called the externality of the worlds13 (as opposed to the sefirot, which are the internal aspect of the Worlds);

הֲרֵי עֲבוֹדָה זוֹ נִשְׁאֶרֶת לְמַטָּה בְּעוֹלַם הַפֵּירוּד, הַנִּקְרָא "חִיצוֹנִיּוּת הָעוֹלָמוֹת",

it has not the power to rise and to be absorbed in G‑d’s Unity, meaning the ten holy sefirot,

וְאֵין בָּהּ כֹּחַ לַעֲלוֹת וְלִיכָּלֵל בְּיִחוּדוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ, שֶׁהֵן עֶשֶׂר סְפִירוֹת הַקְּדוֹשׁוֹת,

as is written in Tikkunei Zohar, that “Without fear and love, it does not fly upward, and it cannot rise to stand before G‑d.”

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּתִּיקּוּנִים, דִּ"בְלָא דְּחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ – לָא פָרְחָא לְעֵילָּא", וְלָא יָכְלָא לְסָלְקָא וּלְמֵיקַם קֳדָם ה'.

As explained at length further, love and fear are the “wings” of one’s divine service; lacking the wings, it cannot soar aloft.

The Alter Rebbe now proceeds to amplify his previous statement.

This inability of one’s divine service to ascend to the sefirot applies not only where one’s motive for engaging in Torah and mitzvot is actually shelo lishmah (“not for its own sake”), i.e., for some ulterior motive, heaven forbid, in which case one is actually serving himself, not G‑d, and his service surely cannot ascend “to stand before G‑d.”

וְהַיְינוּ, אֲפִילוּ אִם אֵינוֹ עוֹסֵק שֶׁלֹּא לִשְׁמָהּ מַמָּשׁ, לְשׁוּם אֵיזוֹ פְּנִיָּה חַס וְשָׁלוֹם,

It also applies even if, as the verse describes it, “Their fear of Me was like commandments of men done by rote,”14

אֶלָּא כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "וַתְּהִי יִרְאָתָם אוֹתִי מִצְוַת אֲנָשִׁים מְלוּמָּדָה",

meaning [that one serves G‑d] out of a habit acquired in his youth,15

פֵּירוּשׁ, מֵחֲמַת הֶרְגֵּל שֶׁהוּרְגַּל מִקַּטְנוּתוֹ,

having been trained and taught by his father and teacher to fear G‑d and to serve Him,

שֶׁהִרְגִּילוֹ וְלִימְּדוֹ אָבִיו וְרַבּוֹ לִירֹא אֶת ה' וּלְעָבְדוֹ,

but he does not really do it for its own sake [lishmah],

וְאֵינוֹ עוֹסֵק לִשְׁמָהּ מַמָּשׁ,

for it is impossible to serve G‑d truly lishmah without arousing one’s natural fear and love, at least,

כִּי, לִשְׁמָהּ מַמָּשׁ אִי אֶפְשָׁר בְּלֹא הִתְעוֹרְרוּת דְּחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ הַטִּבְעִיִּים עַל כָּל פָּנִים,

by bringing them out from the concealment of the heart into revelation at least in the mind and the latency of the heart.

לְהוֹצִיאָן מֵהֶסְתֵּר הַלֵּב אֶל הַגִּילּוּי בַּמּוֹחַ וְתַעֲלוּמוֹת לִבּוֹ עַל כָּל פָּנִים,

If one cannot arouse his natural love of G‑d to the point where it is actually felt in the heart, he must try, as discussed above, to arouse it at least so that it be felt in the conscious mind and in the substratum of the heart. Even this low-level arousal can produce a will and resolve to study the Torah and fulfill the mitzvot. Thus, the resulting divine service contains (at least to some degree) the force and kavanah of his natural love since it was this love that created the resolve which he is now implementing.

If, however, one does not produce even this minimal level of arousal, the love, although naturally found in his heart, has no bearing on his divine service, and he cannot, therefore, do this service lishmah (“for its own sake”).

For just as one does not do something for his fellow to carry out his [friend’s] will unless he loves him or fears him,

כִּי, כְּמוֹ שֶׁאֵין אָדָם עוֹשֶׂה דָבָר בִּשְׁבִיל חֲבֵירוֹ לְמַלֹּאת רְצוֹנוֹ, אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן אוֹהֲבוֹ אוֹ יָרֵא מִמֶּנּוּ,

so, too, is it impossible to act truly for G‑d’s sake solely in order to carry out His will,

כָּךְ, אִי אֶפְשָׁר לַעֲשׂוֹת לִשְׁמוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ בֶּאֱמֶת לְמַלֹּאת רְצוֹנוֹ לְבַד

unless he remembers and arouses his love and fear of G‑d to some degree—in his mind, thought, and the latent level of his heart, at least, if he cannot arouse these emotions openly in his heart.

בְּלִי זִכְרוֹן וְהִתְעוֹרְרוּת אַהֲבָתוֹ וְיִרְאָתוֹ כְּלָל בְּמוֹחוֹ וּמַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ וְתַעֲלוּמוֹת לִבּוֹ עַל כָּל פָּנִים.

One who observes the mitzvot out of habit, however, lacking even this minimal arousal of love cannot be described as serving G‑d for His sake, even though his performance is impelled by no ulterior motive.

Furthermore, [the arousal of] love alone, without [the arousal of] at least the lower-level fear of G‑d hidden in every Jewish heart, is not called “service,” as will be explained later.

וְגַם, אַהֲבָה לְבַדָּהּ אֵינָהּ נִקְרֵאת בְּשֵׁם "עֲבוֹדָה", בְּלִי יִרְאָה תַּתָּאָה לְפָחוֹת, שֶׁהִיא מְסוּתֶּרֶת בְּלֵב כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל, כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר לְקַמָּן.

Divine “service” connotes the relationship of a servant to his master, whom he serves chiefly out of fear, unlike a child, who carries out his father’s wishes mainly because he loves him. When one performs a mitzvah out of the love of G‑d alone without fear of Him, he is indeed acting for G‑d’s sake—but he is not serving Him.

However, when one engages in divine service explicitly not lishmah but for an ulterior motive of self-glorification,

וּכְשֶׁעוֹסֵק שֶׁלֹּא לִשְׁמָהּ מַמָּשׁ, לְשׁוּם אֵיזוֹ פְּנִיָּה לִכְבוֹד עַצְמוֹ,

as, for example, in order to become a scholar and the like,

כְּגוֹן, לִהְיוֹת תַּלְמִיד חָכָם וּכְהַאי גַּוְונָא,

then this motive, which is derived from kelipat nogah, clothes itself in his Torah study,

אֲזַי, אוֹתָהּ פְּנִיָּה שֶׁמִּצַּד הַקְּלִיפָּה דְנוֹגַהּ – מִתְלַבֶּשֶׁת בְּתוֹרָתוֹ,

and the Torah studied for this motive is in a state of exile within the kelipah,

וְהַתּוֹרָה הִיא בִּבְחִינַת גָּלוּת בְּתוֹךְ הַקְּלִיפָּה

but only temporarily, until he repents, since “[Repentance] brings healing to the world.”16

לְפִי שָׁעָה, עַד אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂה תְּשׁוּבָה שֶׁמְּבִיאָה רְפוּאָה לָעוֹלָם,

For when he returns to G‑d, his Torah returns with him from kelipah to holiness.

שֶׁבְּשׁוּבוֹ אֶל ה' – גַּם תּוֹרָתוֹ שָׁבָה עִמּוֹ.

Therefore, our Rabbis, of blessed memory, said, “One should always engage [in Torah and mitzvot, even shelo lishmah], for out of shelo lishmah, he will certainly arrive at [study and observance] lishmah17

וְלָכֵן אָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: "לְעוֹלָם יַעֲסוֹק אָדָם וְכוּ', שֶׁמִּתּוֹךְ שֶׁלֹּא לִשְׁמָהּ – בָּא לִשְׁמָהּ" בְּוַדַּאי,

since it is certain that he will ultimately repent, whether in this incarnation or another,

שֶׁבְּוַדַּאי סוֹפוֹ לַעֲשׂוֹת תְּשׁוּבָה בְּגִלְגּוּל זֶה אוֹ בְּגִלְגּוּל אַחֵר,

because “No one banished from Him by his sins will remain banished”18 but will ultimately repent.

כִּי "לֹא יִדַּח מִמֶּנּוּ נִדָּח".

The Alter Rebbe thus perceives two novel insights in the statement that one should always engage in Torah and mitzvot even shelo lishmah, etc.

Progress from shelo lishmah to lishmah is a certainty, not a possibility, since every sinner will ultimately repent (—and the Alter Rebbe therefore adds the word “certainly” to the quotation).

Not only will the person advance from the state of shelo lishmah to lishmah, but even the Torah that he studied shelo lishmah will be elevated so that it attains the quality of lishmah, for when one repents and returns to G‑d, his Torah “returns” with him.

The aforesaid applies to one who engages in divine service for an ulterior motive, strictly shelo lishmah.

But if one acts neutrally, neither lishmah nor shelo lishmah, then the matter is not contingent on repentance.

אַךְ כְּשֶׁעוֹשֶׂה סְתָם, לֹא לִשְׁמָהּ וְלֹא שֶׁלֹּא לִשְׁמָהּ – אֵין הַדָּבָר תָּלוּי בִּתְשׁוּבָה,

Rather, as soon as he reviews the subject lishmah, then even that which he had studied neutrally soars on high, attaching itself to and joining his present study,

אֶלָּא מִיָּד שֶׁחוֹזֵר וְלוֹמֵד דָּבָר זֶה לִשְׁמָהּ, הֲרֵי גַם מַה שֶּׁלָּמַד בִּסְתָם, מִתְחַבֵּר וּמִצְטָרֵף לְלִימּוּד זֶה וּפָרְחָא לְעֵילָא,

since no kelipat nogah had yet clothed itself in [his previous study].

מֵאַחַר שֶׁלֹּא נִתְלַבֵּשׁ בּוֹ עֲדַיִין שׁוּם קְלִיפָּה דְנוֹגַהּ.

Because his earlier study was not motivated by selfish reasons, the Torah studied is not in exile within the kelipah; it merely lacks the quality of lishmah. This fault is remedied by reviewing the subject lishmah.

Therefore, “A man should always occupy himself [with Torah…even shelo lishmah, for out of shelo lishmah, he will come to lishmah]”—the Torah that he studied will itself be elevated to the level of lishmah. In this case, the lishmah “comes” automatically when one reviews his studies; it is not contingent on repentance (as it is in the case of Torah studied for personal motives).

וְלָכֵן "לְעוֹלָם יַעֲסוֹק אָדָם כוּ'".

The same is true of prayer without kavanah, as discussed in the Zohar.19

וְכֵן הָעִנְיָן בִּתְפִלָּה שֶׁלֹּא בְכַוָּונָה, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּזֹּהַר:

When one recites the prayer once again, this time with kavanah, his earlier prayer ascends as well. Further in the Tanya, the Alter Rebbe states that even if from all one’s prayers throughout the year only one full prayer with kavanah can be assembled piecemeal (from one part of prayer said with kavanah one day, another part on another day, and so on), this one prayer is sufficient to elevate all the prayers of the entire year. For even where specific kavanah is lacking, the prayer is endowed with the comprehensive kavanah that one is praying to G‑d.