As noted earlier, the overwhelming majority of the letters that the Alter Rebbe’s sons included here as part of the Tanya were intended to encourage active Divine service,1 particularly through the giving of tzedakah for the Kollel Chabad Fund. (This fund supported fellow Chasidim who had settled in the Holy Land, there to serve G‑d through Torah and prayer.)

Accordingly, these themes should be sought even in a letter such as the one that follows, which does not refer to them directly. If at all possible, one should also seek to connect this letter to the one which precedes it and thus understand why the author’s sons placed it where they did.2

In the present letter, the Alter Rebbe elaborates upon two general categories in the love of G‑d. The first category of love is granted man only as a gift from Above: he cannot attain it by dint of his own service. This pleasurable experience of Divinity is termed3 ahavah betaanugim (“a love which experiences delights”) and is a foretaste of the World to Come, wherein the soul basks in the rays of the Shechinah. The second category of love for G‑d—longing and thirsting for Him—can be attained through man’s service and meditation.

The connection between this letter and the previous one, and its lesson in man’s Divine service (particularly with respect to charity), may then be the following:

The previous letter extolled the merit of serving G‑d through tzedakah, whereby one simultaneously secures the revelations of Gan Eden and of the World to Come, the time of the Resurrection.

The difference in revelation between Gan Eden and the World to Come is that Gan Eden reveals but a “glimmer of a glimmer” of that which is accomplished through the performance of a mitzvah—its “fruits,” while the World to Come, reveals the reward of the very essence of the mitzvah. Both Gan Eden and the World to Come—to a greater or lesser degree—reveal and enable the soul to apprehend the essential Divinity that underlies the mitzvah.

But all the merits of both the above levels relate only to a consequence of the mitzvah, viz., its revelations. The nucleus of the mitzvah is the fact that through performing it, the individual cleaves to G‑d, for מִצְוָה is related to צַוְותָא, signifying attachment. And this nucleus surfaces at the actual time of performance. It is for this reason that our Sages teach that4 “Better one hour in repentance and good deeds in this world than all of the World to Come”; the actual practice of repentance and good deeds (for by prefacing the deeds with repentance they become “good” and “luminous”5) in this world is superior to all the lofty spiritual levels of Gan Eden and the World to Come.

However, lofty as actual performance may be, its effects are totally concealed; man is neither aware of them nor does his soul perceive them at all. In this letter, therefore, the Alter Rebbe explains the two categories of love, for the love of G‑d is a feeling that is manifest in the soul.

The first, ahavah betaanugim (“a love that experiences delights”), is related to the revelation in the World to Come, at the time of the Resurrection. For just as at that time6 “the righteous will sit with their crowns on their heads and take delight in the radiance of the Divine Presence,” so, too, is this love a pleasurable love; in the words of the Alter Rebbe, “It is truly a foretaste of the World to Come.”

The second manner of love—a thirstful longing for G‑d and a desire to cleave to Him—is a revelation similar to that of Gan Eden, for there too there is a limited degree of longing for G‑d, as explained in the previous letter at length.

Thus, when a Jew performs a mitzvah, he not only cleaves to G‑d unawares: some aspect of this contact may also become revealed within his soul—both the revelation which foreshadows that of Gan Eden and even the revelation which anticipates the World to Come at the time of the Resurrection.

And even though ahavah betaanugim is a gift bestowed upon lofty souls from Above, some echo of it may resonate within any Jew when his wholehearted performance of the mitzvot is vitalized by his love of G‑d.7

18 It is written, “How beautiful and how pleasant are you, ahavah betaanugim!”8

יח כְּתִיב: "מַה יָּפִית וּמַה נָּעַמְתְּ, אַהֲבָה בַּתַּעֲנוּגִים".

I.e., “How beautiful and pleasant it is to cleave to You with ahavah betaanugim”—with a love that experiences delight in the state of cleaving to the beloved, as opposed to a love in which the lover seeks to cleave to the beloved.

There are two kinds of love, each of which subdivides further.

הִנֵּה ב' מִינֵי אֲהָבוֹת הֵן,

The first is ahavah betaanugim,

הָאַחַת – "אַהֲבָה בַּתַּעֲנוּגִים",

meaning that one delights wondrously in G‑d,

דְּהַיְינוּ, שֶׁמִּתְעַנֵּג עַל ה' עוֹנֶג נִפְלָא

with a great and immense joy, the joy of the soul and its yearning as it tastes that G‑d is good9

בְּשִׂמְחָה רַבָּה וַעֲצוּמָה, שִׂמְחַת הַנֶּפֶשׁ וּכְלוֹתָהּ, בְּטָעֲמָהּ כִּי טוֹב ה'

and as delightful as wondrously sweet delights.

וְנָעִים, נְעִימוּת עֲרֵיבוּת עַד לְהַפְלִיא,

This sweetness is not sensed as a result of one’s comprehension; rather, this is a sensation of wonderment at that which transcends one’s comprehension.

It is truly a foretaste of the World to Come, where “[the righteous will sit with their crowns on their heads], and take delight [in the radiance of the Divine Presence].”10

מֵעֵין עוֹלָם־הַבָּא מַמָּשׁ, שֶׁנֶּהֱנִין כוּ',

Concerning this pleasurable experience of G‑dliness it is written, “Rejoice, you righteous, in G‑d,”11

וְעַל זֶה כְּתִיב: "שִׂמְחוּ צַדִּיקִים בַּה'";

and not everyone merits this.

וְלֹא כָּל אָדָם זוֹכֶה לָזֶה,

This is the level [of love] which the sacred Zohar refers to in the phrase, kahana bire’uta deliba.12

וְזוֹ הִיא בְּחִינַת "כַּהֲנָא בִּרְעוּתָא דְלִבָּא" שֶׁבַּזּוֹהַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ,

Lit., “The Kohen [serves G‑d] with the [innermost] desire of the heart.” As opposed to the Levites, whose longing for G‑d surged forth (ratzo) and found outward expression in song, the service of the Kohanim was silent.

Moreover, of this [level of love] it is said, “[I shall grant you your priestly] service as a gift,”13

וְעַל זֶה נֶאֱמַר: "עֲבוֹדַת מַתָּנָה וְגוֹ'

The priestly level of love, ahavah betaanugim, is a gift from Above.

“and the stranger who comes nigh—i.e., to this manner of service—[is liable to death],”14

וְהַזָּר הַקָּרֵב וְגוֹ'",

for there is no way to attain it by human efforts, as there is with the awe of G‑d,

כִּי אֵין דֶּרֶךְ לְהַשִּׂיגָהּ עַל־יְדֵי יְגִיעַת בָּשָׂר, כְּמוֹ הַיִּרְאָה,

concerning which [the departed soul] is asked [in the next world], “Did you labor with awe?”

שֶׁשּׁוֹאֲלִין עָלֶיהָ: "יָגַעְתָּ בְּיִרְאָה",

I.e., “Did you toil to acquire an awe of G‑d?”

Likewise, “Woe to the mortal who did not labor with awe,”15

וְ"אוֹי לְבָשָׂר שֶׁלֹּא נִתְיַיגֵּעַ בְּיִרְאָה",

as is written in Reishit Chochmah.16

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּ"רֵאשִׁית חָכְמָה",

Of awe, it is also written, “If you will seek it like silver, [and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will attain a fear of G‑d…].”17

וּכְתִיב בְּיִרְאָה: "אִם תְּבַקְשֶׁנָּה כַכָּסֶף וְגוֹ'",

This shows that it requires great and intense exertion, as when one searches for treasure.

מְלַמֵּד שֶׁצְּרִיכָה יְגִיעָה רַבָּה וַעֲצוּמָה כִּמְחַפֵּשׂ אַחַר אוֹצָרוֹת.

It has already been explained (in Part I, ch. 42) that when one digs for a treasure that he knows beyond the shadow of a doubt lies buried in the depths of the earth, he will seek it tirelessly. Knowing with certainty that the fear of heaven lies buried in the understanding of the heart of every Jew will lead to similar untiring efforts in revealing this spiritual treasure.

However, this only applies to the fear and awe of G‑d; even the loftiest degree of awe, yirah ilaah, is attainable through man’s efforts.

By contrast, this great love (18ahavah betaanugim) comes upon a man by itself, from Above, without his preparing and intending himself for it,

אֲבָל אַהֲבָה רַבָּה זוֹ ["אַהֲבָה בַּתַּעֲנוּגִים"], נוֹפֶלֶת לָאָדָם מֵאֵלֶיהָ מִלְמַעְלָה בְּלִי שֶׁיָּכִין וִיכַוֵּון לָהּ,

but only after he has exerted himself in yirat haromemut, to attain the higher level of fear wherein he stands in awe of G‑d’s Majesty,

אַךְ וְרַק אַחַר שֶׁנִּתְיַיגֵּעַ בְּ"יִרְאַת הָרוֹמְמוּת",

and after he has attained the maximum he is able to attain of that [awe], according to the level of his soul;

וְהִגִּיעַ לְתַכְלִית מַה שֶּׁיּוּכַל לְהַשִּׂיג מִמֶּנָּה לְפִי בְּחִינַת נִשְׁמָתוֹ,

then, of itself, the ahavah betaanugim comes from Above to dwell, and to become united, with the awe,

אֲזַי מִמֵּילָא בָּאָה הָ"אַהֲבָה בַּתַּעֲנוּגִים" מִלְמַעְלָה, לִשְׁכּוֹן וּלְהִתְיַיחֵד עִם הַיִּרְאָה,

for “It is the way of the man to search [for the woman],”19 as explained in Likkutei Amarim.

כִּי "דַּרְכּוֹ שֶׁל אִישׁ לְחַזֵּר כוּ'", כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּלִקּוּטֵי אֲמָרִים.

In Part I, ch. 43, the Alter Rebbe explains that love is termed “man” or “male,” while fear is termed “woman” (as in the verse, “A woman who fears G‑d…”20). In spiritual terms, “It is the way of the man to search for the woman” means that the love of G‑d searches for the fear of G‑d and dwells with it.

Having spoken until now of the higher category in the love of G‑d called ahavah betaanugim, the Alter Rebbe now proceeds to consider the lesser love, ahavah zuta.

The second [category] is a love and desire in which the soul desires, loves, and wishes to cleave to G‑d,

וְהַשֵּׁנִית – הִיא אַהֲבָה וְתַאֲוָה, שֶׁהַנֶּפֶשׁ מִתְאַוָּה וְאוֹהֶבֶת וַחֲפֵיצָה לְדָבְקָה בַּה',

“to be bound up in the bond of life.”21

לִצְרוֹר בִּצְרוֹר הַחַיִּים,

The proximity to G‑d is very dear to her, and that is what she desires.

וְקִרְבַת אֱלֹהִים טוֹב לָהּ מְאֹד, וּבוֹ תַּחְפּוֹץ,

It is most grievous unto her to become, heaven forfend, distanced from Him, blessed be He,

וְרַע לָהּ מְאֹד לְהִתְרַחֵק מִמֶּנּוּ יִתְבָּרֵךְ חַס וְשָׁלוֹם,

by having an iron partition of the chitzonim, the forces of kelipah and unholiness, separate her [from Him], heaven forfend.

לִהְיוֹת מְחִיצָה שֶׁל בַּרְזֶל מֵהַחִיצוֹנִים מַפְסֶקֶת חַס וְשָׁלוֹם.

Thus, inherent in the soul’s love for G‑d is its anxious fear of being alienated from Him by a partition resulting from those things that are opposite His will.

Likkutei Levi Yitzchak, authored by the father of the Rebbe, explains that the four terms used above—“desires,” “loves,” “wishes,” and “cleaves”—refer respectively to the soul-levels within the Four Worlds: “desires” relates to the World of Asiyah, “loves” relates to the World of Yetzirah, and so on.

This love is latent in the heart of all Jews, even in the wicked, as explained at length in Part I, chs. 18 and 19,

וְאַהֲבָה זוֹ הִיא מוּסְתֶּרֶת בְּלֵב כְּלַל יִשְׂרָאֵל, אֲפִילוּ בִּרְשָׁעִים,

and from this [latent love] derives their remorse, as in the phrase, “The wicked are full of remorse.”22

וּמִמֶּנָּה בָּאָה לָהֶם הַחֲרָטָה.

The Alter Rebbe now answers the following implied question: If they indeed possess this love, why then are they wicked?

However, because it is latent and concealed, in a state of exile in the body, it is possible for the kelipah to dominate it;

אַךְ מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהִיא מוּסְתֶּרֶת וְנֶעְלָמָה בִּבְחִינַת גָּלוּת בַּגּוּף, הֲרֵי הַקְּלִיפָּה יְכוֹלָה לִשְׁלוֹט עָלֶיהָ,

and this is the “spirit of folly” which causes a man to sin.23

וְזֶהוּ רוּחַ שְׁטוּת הַמַּחֲטִיא לָאָדָם.

The “spirit of folly” cloaks this hidden love (ahavah mesuteret) so that one loses the sensitivity to realize that through sinning, he is jeopardizing his attachment to G‑d.

Therefore, a man’s service to his Maker consists of strengthening himself and prevailing over the kelipah in all its manifestations.

וְעַל כֵּן, עֲבוֹדַת הָאָדָם לְקוֹנוֹ הִיא, לְהִתְחַזֵּק וּלְהִתְגַּבֵּר עַל הַקְּלִיפָּה בַּכֹּל מִכֹּל כֹּל,

That is, first to expel it completely from the body so that it has absolutely no dominion over him

דְּהַיְינוּ, מִתְּחִלָּה לְגָרְשָׁהּ מֵהַגּוּף לְגַמְרֵי,

[expelling it] from the [faculties of] thought, speech, and action that are in the brain, the tongue, and the 248 organs.

מִמַּחֲשָׁבָה דִּבּוּר וּמַעֲשֶׂה שֶׁבְּמוֹחַ וְלָשׁוֹן וְרַמַ"ח אֵבָרִים,

Expelling the kelipah means ensuring that one’s brain will harbor no thoughts that are contrary to G‑d’s will; that one’s tongue will speak no evil words; that one’s 248 organs will commit no evil acts.

After that, he will also be able to “bring out the captive from prison”24 with a strong hand.

וְאַחַר כָּךְ, יוּכַל גַּם כֵּן "לְהוֹצִיא מִמַּסְגֵּר אַסִּיר" בְּחוֹזֶק יָד,

Once one has vanquished the kelipah by steadfastly “turning away from evil”25—not thinking, speaking, or doing those things that are contrary to G‑d’s will—he is then able to uncover the love that is latent within him so that it will permeate his positive thoughts, words, and deeds. His mind will thus ponder upon G‑d’s greatness, and his heart will then actively feel a love for G‑d. In turn, this love will result in his enhanced fulfillment of the Torah and its mitzvot.

That is, he will be strong, “and his heart courageous among the valiant,”26

דְּהַיְינוּ, לִהְיוֹת חָזָק וְ"אַמִּיץ לִבּוֹ בַּגִּבּוֹרִים",

so that the hidden love will become abundantly revealed in all the powers of the soul’s components in his body,

לִהְיוֹת הָאַהֲבָה הַמְסוּתֶּרֶת נִגְלֵית בְּגִילּוּי רַב בְּכָל כֹּחוֹת חֶלְקֵי הַנֶּפֶשׁ שֶׁבַּגּוּף.

i.e., mainly in the mind and in the [faculty of] thought in the brain,

דְּהַיְינוּ, הָעִיקָּר בְּשֵׂכֶל וּבְמַחֲשָׁבָה שֶׁבַּמּוֹחַ,

The mind serves to reveal this love, which then manifests throughout the rest of the person’s organs.

so that corresponding to its intellect and understanding the mind will constantly think and contemplate on the blessed Creator—

שֶׁהַשֵּׂכֶל יַחְשֹׁב וְיִתְבּוֹנֵן תָּמִיד כְּפִי שִׂכְלוֹ וְהַשְׂכָּלָתוֹ בַּבּוֹרֵא יִתְבָּרֵךְ,

how He is the Fountainhead of life in general and of the life of his own soul in particular.

אֵיךְ שֶׁהוּא חַיֵּי הַחַיִּים בִּכְלָל וְחַיֵּי נִשְׁמָתוֹ בִּפְרָט,

Consequently, he will yearn and desire to be attached to Him, and near to Him, with an innate yearning,

וְעַל כֵּן יִכְסוֹף וְיִתְאַוֶּה לִהְיוֹת דָּבוּק בּוֹ וְקָרוֹב אֵלָיו, כּוֹסֶף טִבְעִי,

like that of a child who yearns to be constantly near his father, and like fire, which by its very nature always rises upward to its source, as explained in Part I, ch. 19.

כְּבֵן הַכּוֹסֵף לִהְיוֹת תָּמִיד אֵצֶל אָבִיו, וּכְמוֹ אֵשׁ הָעוֹלָה לְמַעְלָה תָּמִיד בְּטִבְעָהּ לִמְקוֹרָהּ.

And the more he continues to set his mind on this yearning, the more will this yearning become correspondingly stronger, and will also extend to his mouth and to all his organs,

וְכָל מַה שֶּׁיַּתְמִיד לַחֲשׁוֹב בְּשִׂכְלוֹ כּוֹסֶף זֶה כָּכָה יִתְגַּבֵּר וְיִתְפַּשֵּׁט כּוֹסֶף זֶה גַּם בְּפִיו וּבְכָל אֵבָרָיו

so that he will occupy himself with the Torah and the commandments in order to really cleave thereby to G‑d,

לַעֲסוֹק בְּתוֹרָה וּמִצְוֹת, לְדָבְקָה בָהֶם בַּה' מַמָּשׁ,

for “The Torah and the Holy One, blessed be He, are entirely One.”27

דְּ"אוֹרַיְיתָא וְקוּדְשָׁא־בְּרִיךְ־הוּא כּוּלָּא חַד".

This love will thus affect his brain, mouth, and other bodily organs, motivating them to study Torah and perform the commandments with a greater degree of love.

Of this greatly manifest yearning, i.e., of this love, it is written, “My soul thirsts [for G‑d],”28

וְעַל כּוֹסֶף זֶה שֶׁבְּגִילּוּי רַב כְּתִיב: "צָמְאָה נַפְשִׁי וְגוֹ'",

like a person who thirsts for water and does not yet have any pleasure [from it].

כְּאָדָם הַצָּמֵא לְמַיִם וְאֵין לוֹ תַּעֲנוּג עֲדַיִין כְּלָל.

This level of love for G‑d is likened to a state of thirst. At this stage, the individual seeking to cleave to G‑d does not experience any delight, for he has yet to cleave to Him: all he feels is the pangs of thirst. In the previously described level of love, ahavah betaanugim, the individual has already quenched his thirst, so to speak: his love for G‑d has been realized, and he is now actively cleaving to Him.

Also29 concerning this yearning and this love concealed within us we pray to G‑d, to help us bring it out from imprisonment,

וְגַם עַל כּוֹסֶף זֶה וְאַהֲבָה זוֹ הַמוּסְתֶּרֶת בָּנוּ, אָנוּ מַעְתִּירִים לַה' לִהְיוֹת בְּעֶזְרֵנוּ, לְהוֹצִיאָהּ מִמַּסְגֵּר,

It is indeed true that this lesser degree of love is attainable by man and need not be granted as a gift from Above; it is already possessed by every Jew, and he need but reveal it through his spiritual service. Nevertheless, we beseech G‑d that He help us reveal this love and liberate it from its concealment.

so that the heart be filled with it alone,

וְשֶׁיִּהְיֶה הַלֵּב מָלֵא מִמֶּנָּה לְבַדָּהּ,

so that its “rival-wife,” i.e., mundane desires, will not enter its house, i.e., our hearts.

וְלֹא תִכָּנֵס צָרָתָהּ בְּבֵיתָהּ שֶׁהִיא תַּאֲוַת עוֹלָם הַזֶּה,

Rather, this [yearning and love] should be the sole mistress of the house, to rule over her “rival-wife” and to expel her at least from one’s thought, speech, and action.

רַק שֶׁתִּהְיֶה הִיא עֲקֶרֶת הַבַּיִת לִמְשׁוֹל בְּצָרָתָהּ וּלְגָרְשָׁהּ הַחוּצָה מִמַּחֲשָׁבָה דִּבּוּר וּמַעֲשֶׂה עַל כָּל פָּנִים,

Though one cannot expel her altogether from one’s heart, so that it should harbor no foreign desires at all,

הֲגַם שֶׁלֹּא יוּכַל לְשַׁלְּחָהּ לְגַמְרֵי מִלִּבּוֹ,

For we are speaking here of the love possessed by the beinoni, an individual who is unable to banish foreign desires from his heart; he is only able to ensure that they find no expression in his thought, his speech, or his actions, as explained in the Tanya, Part I, ch. 12.

she should at least be hidden, in a state of exile and servitude to the mistress of the house, i.e., to the love for G‑d,

עַל כָּל פָּנִים תִּהְיֶה הִיא מוּסְתֶּרֶת בִּבְחִינַת גָּלוּת וְעַבְדוּת לַעֲקֶרֶת הַבַּיִת גְּבִרְתָּהּ,

who will make use of her for her own essentials only, such as eating and drinking,

לְהִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בָּהּ לִדְבָרִים הֶכְרֵחִים לָהּ לְבַד, כַּאֲכִילָה וּשְׁתִיָּה,

If the G‑dly soul is to remain within the body and thereby be able to fulfill the requirements of the Torah and its mitzvot, the individual must eat and drink. He should therefore use the animal soul’s natural desire for physical things expressly for the spiritual purposes of the G‑dly soul.

Thus, for example, his food and drink are intended to provide him with strength so that he will be able to study the Torah, engage in Divine service, and the like.

as it is written, “Know Him in all your ways.”30

כְּדִכְתִיב: "בְּכָל דְּרָכֶיךָ דָעֵהוּ":

“Your ways” clearly speaks of man’s corporeal activities. Yet even in these, we are commanded to “know Him”—to bind oneself to G‑d through these physical actions, by utilizing them for the purposes designated by Him, in order thereby to “know Him.”31