Chapter 25

פרק כה

In this chapter, the Alter Rebbe concludes the discussion begun in ch. 18. There, he began to explain the verse, “For this thing is very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it,” meaning that to serve G‑d out of a feeling of love and awe for Him is a very easy matter for everyone. This assertion seems contrary to our experience, for it is no easy matter (as the Alter Rebbe pointed out in ch. 17) to turn one’s heart from worldly matters to a love and fear of G‑d. In answer, he stated that it is indeed an easy matter, for we need not create these feelings: we already have them. All that is required of us is to arouse our innate love and fear of G‑d from their latent state and to employ them in the service of G‑d.

He then went on to explain (in chs. 18 and 19) the nature and essence of this love and fear. The soul, with its power of faith in G‑d by which it is attached to Him, intrinsically desires to cleave to its Divine source. This desire also contains an element of fear—the fear of anything that constitutes separation from G‑d. So powerful are these feelings that, by his very nature, a Jew will sacrifice his life rather than practice idolatry, which is a repudiation of G‑d’s unity.

In the following chapters, the Alter Rebbe explained that all the mitzvot are an affirmation of G‑d’s unity, which means that everything exists within G‑d and is one with Him. For in the mitzvot, G‑d’s will is revealed, and he who performs them becomes perfectly united with Him. Conversely, all sins constitute idolatry, for idolatry implies that there is something—anything—that exists outside of G‑d and separate from Him. Through any transgression, one separates himself from G‑d’s will as expressed in the commandments, and thus from G‑d Himself, placing himself in the domain of the kelipot, who deny G‑d’s unity.

By his very nature, then, a Jew would always observe the mitzvot and would never sin were it not for a “spirit of folly” that obscures his innate, hidden love for G‑d and does not permit him to feel the diverse effects of mitzvot and sins on his connection with G‑d.

In this chapter, the Alter Rebbe concludes the discussion, stating that every Jew, at any time, is able to dispel the “spirit of folly” and to arouse his hidden love for G‑d. Thus, when he is tempted to sin, he will actually feel how the sin would tear him away from G‑d, and he will therefore resist the impulse. Similarly, when he is required to perform a mitzvah, he will feel his love for G‑d dictating that he do so, so as to be united with Him.

This, then, is the meaning of the verse, “For this thing is very near to you…”1to observe the Torah and its commandments out of love and fear of G‑d.

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "כִּי קָרוֹב אֵלֶיךָ הַדָּבָר מְאֹד וְגוֹ'",

For at any time and moment, a person is capable and free to rid himself of the spirit of folly which renders him insensitive to the separation between himself and G‑d caused by sin and the forgetfulness that he has a love of G‑d, by virtue of which he desires to unite with Him, through the fulfillment of the mitzvot.

שֶׁבְּכָל עֵת וּבְכָל שָׁעָה, בְּיָדוֹ שֶׁל אָדָם וּבִרְשׁוּתוֹ הוּא – לְהַעֲבִיר רוּחַ שְׁטוּת וְהַשִּׁכְחָה מִקִּרְבּוֹ,

He is always able to remember and arouse his love of the One G‑d that is certainly, undoubtedly, latent in his heart—since everyone, even the most hardened sinner, is endowed with this inborn love.

וְלִזְכּוֹר וּלְעוֹרֵר אַהֲבָתוֹ לַה' אֶחָד, הַמְסוּתֶּרֶת בְּוַדַּאי בִּלְבָבוֹ בְּלִי שׁוּם סָפֵק.

This is the meaning of “in your heart,” i.e., that everyone can serve G‑d out of love, which is an emotion of the heart.

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "וּבִלְבָבְךָ".

Yet love of G‑d by itself is insufficient. One needs also a fear of G‑d to guard against violating the prohibitive commandments. Therefore, the Alter Rebbe continues:

This love carries with it also fear, that is, the dread of being separated on any account from G‑d’s unity and oneness. Even if it means sacrificing his life so as not to be separated from Him, he will do so,

וְנִכְלָל בָּהּ גַּם דְּחִילוּ, דְּהַיְינוּ, שֶׁלֹּא לִיפָּרֵד בְּשׁוּם אוֹפֶן מִיִּחוּדוֹ וְאַחְדּוּתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ, אֲפִילוּ בִּמְסִירַת נֶפֶשׁ מַמָּשׁ,

without any reason or logic, but purely out of one’s divine nature.

בְּלִי שׁוּם טַעַם וְשֵׂכֶל מוּשָּׂג, אֶלָּא בְּטֶבַע אֱלֹהִי.

As illustrated in ch. 19 by the analogy of the flame of a candle, which intrinsically seeks to unite with its source, the soul instinctively seeks to unite with its Divine source. Because of this nature, it recoils in fear from anything that may sever its connection with G‑d, even at the cost of life itself.

Surely, then, it is far easier to subdue one’s appetites, since this entails much lighter suffering than death which he would willingly endure so as not to be torn away from G‑d. Mastering his evil inclination is easier,

וְכָל שֶׁכֵּן בִּשְׁבִירַת הַתַּאֲווֹת, הַקַּלָּה מִיִּסּוּרֵי מִיתָה, שֶׁקָּרוֹב אֵלָיו הַדָּבָר יוֹתֵר לִכְבּוֹשׁ הַיֵּצֶר,

both in the category of “turning away from evil”2 and the category of “doing good”3

הֵן בִּבְחִינַת "סוּר מֵרָע",

To be specific: Even when it concerns a minor Rabbinic prohibition one can easily master his evil inclination so as not to transgress G‑d’s will, since at the time that he does the forbidden act, he thereby becomes separated from G‑d’s unity just as much as through actual idolatry, as explained in the previous chapter.

אֲפִילוּ מֵעֲבֵירָה קַלָּה שֶׁל דִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים, שֶׁלֹּא לַעֲבוֹר עַל רְצוֹנוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ, מֵאַחַר שֶׁנִּפְרָד בָּהּ מִיִּחוּדוֹ וְאַחְדּוּתוֹ, כְּמוֹ בַּעֲבוֹדָה זָרָה מַמָּשׁ, בִּשְׁעַת מַעֲשֶׂה.

It follows, therefore, that he ought to display the same strength in resisting the temptation for such a sin as he would display (even to the point of sacrificing his life) in rejecting idolatry, since this sin too separates him from G‑d.

There would appear to be a difference, however, between idolatry and the minor sin with which we are dealing. With idolatry, the sinner remains separated from G‑d even after the idolatrous act (as explained in the previous chapter), whereas with a minor sin, the separation lasts only as long as the sinful act itself.

The Alter Rebbe refutes this argument in the next paragraph by stating that in the case of idolatry, too, there is a means of ensuring that the separation from G‑d brought on thereby end immediately after the act. That method is teshuvah—repentance. Yet, despite the fact that this resource is available to him, a Jew would rather be killed than practice idolatry, for he cannot accept even a momentary separation from G‑d. He may now apply the same consideration to refraining from even a minor sin, since it too imposes upon him a separation from G‑d, albeit a momentary one.

Now, even with regard to idolatry, he can repent afterward and thus assure himself of unity with G-d after the idol worship. Nevertheless, a Jew would give up his life rather than exercise this option.

וַהֲרֵי גַּם בַּעֲבוֹדָה זָרָה יָכוֹל לַעֲשׂוֹת תְּשׁוּבָה אַחַר כָּךְ.

Yet one may argue that in reality, this is no option at all. The Talmud states that when one sins because he relies on subsequent teshuvah, G‑d does not allow him to practice teshuvah. Since he cannot rely on this, he must sacrifice his life so as not to remain permanently separated from G‑d through idolatry. With a minor sin, however, the separation from G‑d that it causes is in any case temporary, even without recourse to teshuvah.

We are thus once again left with our original question: How can it be said that the same fear of separation from G‑d that motivates a Jew to sacrifice his life with regard to idolatry can also motivate him to refrain from even a minor sin? The two cases are altogether different: the former causes a lasting separation and the latter a momentary one.

The Alter Rebbe answers this objection by clarifying the Talmudic statement on which it is based. The Talmud does not imply, he explains, that the sinner who relies on teshuvah utterly loses his ability to repent, but rather that the Divine assistance usually granted to a penitent sinner is withheld from him.

Thus, one could, after all, submit to coercion and practice idolatry and rely on teshuvah to save him from a lasting separation from G‑d. Yet no Jew would take advantage of this resource; the love of G‑d innate in every Jew dictates that he sacrifice his life rather than bear the temporary separation caused by idolatry.

This discussion is contained in the following paragraphs.

(4Although the Talmud states that “He who says, I will sin and repent, [sin and repent]’ is not given an opportunity [to do so],”5

[וְאַף שֶׁ"הָאוֹמֵר אֶחֱטָא וְאָשׁוּב – אֵין מַסְפִּיקִין כוּ'",

this means merely that G‑d does not aid such a sinner, granting him the auspicious occasion to repent.

הַיְינוּ, שֶׁאֵין מַחֲזִיקִים יָדוֹ לִהְיוֹת לוֹ שְׁעַת הַכּוֹשֶׁר לַעֲשׂוֹת תְּשׁוּבָה,

Generally, G‑d grants one who wishes to repent the necessary power and the opportune moment to realize his good intentions. However, where one’s reliance on teshuvah formed the basis for his sin, he is lent neither the strength nor the opportunity.

If, however, he seizes the opportunity himself and he repents, “Nothing can stand in the way of repentance.”6)

אֲבָל אִם דָּחַק הַשָּׁעָה וְעָשָׂה תְּשׁוּבָה – אֵין לְךָ דָּבָר שֶׁעוֹמֵד בִּפְנֵי הַתְּשׁוּבָה.]

Thus, even in the case of idolatry, one could conceivably rely on teshuvah to prevent a lasting separation from G‑d.

Nevertheless, every Jew is prepared and ready to suffer martyrdom for the sanctification of G‑d’s Name

וְאַף־עַל־פִּי־כֵן, כָּל אִישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל מוּכָן וּמְזוּמָּן לִמְסוֹר נַפְשׁוֹ עַל קְדוּשַּׁת ה',

and will not perform an idolatrous act lit., “to bow down before an idol” even temporarily, with the intention of repenting afterward—indicating that the fear of even a temporary separation from G‑d is sufficient motivation for self-sacrifice.

שֶׁלֹּא לְהִשְׁתַּחֲווֹת לַעֲבוֹדָה זָרָה אֲפִילוּ לְפִי שָׁעָה וְלַעֲשׂוֹת תְּשׁוּבָה אַחַר כָּךְ,

This is because of the Divine light which is clothed in his soul, as explained above, which does not come within the realm of time at all but transcends time, and therefore, in relation to this light, every action is eternal; furthermore, as is known, this Divine light rules and dominates time—not only is it not governed by the laws of time, but on the contrary, it governs them.

וְהַיְינוּ, מִפְּנֵי אוֹר ה' הַמְלוּבָּשׁ בְּנַפְשָׁם כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל, שֶׁאֵינוֹ בִּבְחִינַת זְמַן וְשָׁעָה כְּלָל, אֶלָּא לְמַעְלָה מֵהַזְּמַן, וְשַׁלִּיט וּמוֹשֵׁל עָלָיו, כַּנּוֹדָע.

Thus, an action which took but a moment (and, judged by temporal standards, has no value) can become more momentous than one which takes much longer.7

Since the Divine light clothed in the soul transcends and dominates time, it does not permit any separation from G‑d, no matter how short its duration.

The discussion until now centered on the category of “turning away from evil.” The Alter Rebbe showed how one could utilize his hidden love of G‑d in refraining from sin. He now goes on to the category of “doing good,” discussing the use of the hidden love in leading one to perform all the positive commandments.

Likewise, in the category of “doing good” one can employ the power of his “hidden love” to strengthen himself like a lion, with might and determination of heart,

וְהֵן בִּבְחִינַת "וַעֲשֵׂה טוֹב", לְהִתְגַּבֵּר כָּאֲרִי בִּגְבוּרָה וְאוֹמֶץ הַלֵּב,

against the evil nature which weighs down his body and casts over him a sloth, which stems from the element of Earth that is in his animal soul.8

נֶגֶד הַיֵּצֶר הַמַּכְבִּיד אֶת גּוּפוֹ וּמַפִּיל עָלָיו עַצְלָה, מִבְּחִינַת יְסוֹד הֶעָפָר שֶׁבַּנֶּפֶשׁ הַבַּהֲמִית,

This laziness prevents him from exerting his body energetically with every type of effort and strain in the service of G‑d that entails effort and toil.

מִלְּהַטְרִיחַ גּוּפוֹ בִּזְרִיזוּת בְּכָל מִינֵי טוֹרַח וַעֲבוֹדַת מַשָּׂא בַּעֲבוֹדַת ה' שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהּ טוֹרַח וְעָמָל,

For example, to labor in the Torah with deep concentration and also orally so that “his mouth will never cease from Torah study,”

כְּגוֹן: לַעֲמוֹל בַּתּוֹרָה בְּעִיּוּן וּבַפֶּה – לָא פָסִיק פּוּמֵיהּ מִגִּירְסָא,

as our Sages have said: “A man should always submit to the words of Torah like the ox to the yoke and the donkey to the load.”9

וּכְמַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: "לְעוֹלָם יָשִׂים אָדָם עַצְמוֹ עַל דִּבְרֵי תוֹרָה כְּשׁוֹר לְעוֹל וְכַחֲמוֹר לְמַשְׂאוֹי",

Similarly, with regard to devout prayer, he should exert himself with all the strength he can muster.

וְכֵן לִתְפִלָּה בְּכַוָּנָה – בְּכָל כֹּחוֹ מַמָּשׁ,

So, too, with regard to serving G‑d in monetary matters, such as the duty of charity,10

וְכֵן בַּעֲבוֹדַת ה' שֶׁהִיא בְּדָבָר שֶׁבְּמָמוֹן, כְּמוֹ עֲבוֹדַת הַצְּדָקָה;

and in similar matters that entail great effort, where one must struggle with the evil inclination and its wiles, which seek to cool the ardor of a man’s soul, claiming that he ought not dissipate his money in the case of charity or his health in matters requiring physical exertion.

וְכַיּוֹצֵא בְאֵלּוּ מִמִּלְחֲמוֹת הַיֵּצֶר וְתַחְבּוּלוֹתָיו, לְקָרֵר נֶפֶשׁ הָאָדָם שֶׁלֹּא לְהַפְקִיר מָמוֹנוֹ וּבְרִיאוּת גּוּפוֹ,

It is very easy for a person to resist and subjugate his nature when he considers deeply that to conquer his nature in all the above and more,

שֶׁלַּעֲמוֹד נֶגְדּוֹ וּלְכָבְשׁוֹ, קָרוֹב מְאֹד אֶל הָאָדָם, כְּשֶׁיָּשִׂים אֶל לִבּוֹ, שֶׁלְּנַצֵּחַ הַיֵּצֶר בְּכָל זֶה, וְיוֹתֵר מִזֶּה,

and in fact to do the very opposite, i.e., to exert himself strenuously, both bodily and financially, is much lighter suffering than death (May G‑d preserve us!).

וְלַעֲשׂוֹת הֶפְכּוֹ מַמָּשׁ – קַל מְאֹד מִיִּסּוּרֵי מִיתָה, ה' יִשְׁמְרֵנוּ,

Yet he would lovingly and willingly have accepted the pain of death (G‑d preserve us!) so as not to be separated from G‑d’s unity and oneness even for a moment by an act of idolatry, G‑d forbid.

וְיִסּוּרֵי מִיתָה, ה' יִשְׁמְרֵנוּ, הָיָה מְקַבֵּל בְּאַהֲבָה וּבְרָצוֹן – שֶׁלֹּא לִיפָּרֵד מִיִּחוּדוֹ וְאַחְדּוּתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ אֲפִילוּ לְפִי שָׁעָה, לְהִשְׁתַּחֲוֹת לַעֲבוֹדָה זָרָה חַס וְשָׁלוֹם,

For, as mentioned earlier, every Jew would sacrifice his life rather than practice idolatry, since he knows that it represents separation from G‑d.

Certainly, then, he ought to accept lovingly and willingly the comparatively minor pain of exerting himself in the performance of the mitzvot in order to bind himself to G‑d with an eternal bond.

וְכָל שֶׁכֵּן שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ לְקַבֵּל בְּאַהֲבָה וּבְרָצוֹן – כְּדֵי לְדָבְקָה בוֹ לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד.

There is a twofold a fortiori argument here.6 Firstly, performing a mitzvah actively binds man to G‑d, as opposed to refraining from idolatry, which merely prevents separation from Him. Secondly, the bond effected by the mitzvah is an eternal one, as opposed to the temporary separation from G‑d caused by idolatry. Now if one would sacrifice his life to refrain from idolatry, how much more so ought he accept whatever hardships are entailed by fulfilling the mitzvot, since their performance has both these gains that are not found in the rejection of idolatry.

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to explain how mitzvot effect an eternal bond with G‑d.

For by fulfilling G‑d’s will through this service, despite the exertion involved, the innermost Divine will, will be revealed in it—internally as opposed to “surrounding” it or “hovering” over it from above, and very manifestly, without any obscurity whatsoever.

דְּהַיְינוּ, כְּשֶׁיַּעֲשֶׂה רְצוֹנוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ בַּעֲבוֹדָה זוֹ, יִתְגַּלֶּה בָּהּ פְּנִימִית רָצוֹן הָעֶלְיוֹן בִּבְחִינַת פָּנִים וְגִילּוּי רַב וְלֹא בְהֶסְתֵּר כְּלָל.

As explained in ch. 23, the mitzvot represent G‑d’s innermost will, and when one performs them, this will stands completely revealed.

Now, when there is no “concealment of the Countenance” of the Divine will, nothing is at all separate from G‑dliness, having an independent and separate identity of its own.

וּכְשֶׁאֵין שׁוּם הֶסְתֵּר פָּנִים בָּרָצוֹן הָעֶלְיוֹן, אֲזַי – אֵין דָּבָר נִפְרָד כְּלָל וּכְלָל לִהְיוֹת יֵשׁ וְדָבָר בִּפְנֵי עַצְמוֹ.

For, as explained in chs. 22 and 24, no created being can possibly consider itself separate from G‑d unless the Divine will is concealed from it. Since the inner aspect of this will stands revealed in one’s performance of a mitzvah, it does not permit any sense of separation.

Thus his soul i.e., the soul of the person performing the mitzvah, both the divine and the animating souls and their “garments” of thought, speech, and action, will be united in perfect unity with the Divine will and with the infinite light of G‑d, blessed be He, as explained above.

וְלָזֹאת, תִּהְיֶינָה נַפְשׁוֹ הָאֱלֹהִית וְהַחִיּוּנִית וּלְבוּשֵׁיהֶן כּוּלָּן, מְיוּחָדוֹת בְּתַכְלִית הַיִּחוּד בָּרָצוֹן הָעֶלְיוֹן וְאוֹר אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא, כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל.

This details how the mitzvot effect a bond between man and G‑d. The Alter Rebbe will now go on to explain why this bond is eternal.

In the upper spheres, this union between the soul and G‑d is eternal, for G‑d, blessed be He, and His will transcend time, and thus, the union with G‑d and His will also transcends time and is eternal.

וְיִחוּד זֶה לְמַעְלָה – הוּא נִצְחִי לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד, כִּי הוּא יִתְבָּרֵךְ וּרְצוֹנוֹ לְמַעְלָה מֵהַזְּמַן.

So, too, even in this world, His revealed will, as expressed in His Word—the Torah—is also eternal,

וְכֵן, גִּילּוּי רְצוֹנוֹ שֶׁבְּדִבּוּרוֹ, שֶׁהִיא הַתּוֹרָה, הוּא נִצְחִי,

as it is written: “But the Word of our G‑d shall stand forever”11; and “His words live and endure (eternally)”12; and “He will never alter or exchange His law.”13

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "וּדְבַר אֱלֹהֵינוּ יָקוּם לְעוֹלָם", "וּדְבָרָיו חָיִים וְקַיָּימִים כוּ'", "וְלֹא יַחֲלִיף וְלֹא יָמִיר דָּתוֹ לְעוֹלָמִים כוּ'".

Since the revelation of G‑d’s will as expressed in the Torah is beyond time, the union of the soul with G‑d that Torah and mitzvot effect is likewise eternal.

Here below, however, this union is within the limits of time, for in this world, the soul is under the dominion of time, and the soul is united with G‑d only while it is engaged in Torah study or in the performance of a mitzvah.

אֶלָּא שֶׁלְּמַטָּה, הוּא תַּחַת הַזְּמַן וּבְאוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה לְבַדָּהּ שֶׁעוֹסֵק בָּהּ בַּתּוֹרָה אוֹ בְּמִצְוָה,

For if he engages afterward in anything else, he becomes separated, here below, from this supernal union (—that is, if he occupies himself with absolutely unnecessary matters that are in no way useful in the service of G‑d).

כִּי אַחַר כָּךְ, אִם עוֹסֵק בְּדָבָר אַחֵר – נִפְרָד מֵהַיִּחוּד הָעֶלְיוֹן לְמַטָּה, [וְהַיְינוּ, כְּשֶׁעוֹסֵק בִּדְבָרִים בְּטֵלִים לְגַמְרֵי, שֶׁאֵין בָּהֶם צוֹרֶךְ כְּלָל לַעֲבוֹדַת ה'.]

Nevertheless, when he repents and resumes his service of G‑d through Torah study or prayer and he asks forgiveness of G‑d for not having studied Torah at the time of his occupation in vain matters when he could have done so, G‑d forgives him.

וְאַף־עַל־פִּי־כֵן, כְּשֶׁחוֹזֵר וְשָׁב לַעֲבוֹדַת ה' אַחַר כָּךְ, לְתוֹרָה וְלִתְפִלָּה, וּמְבַקֵּשׁ מְחִילָה מֵה' עַל שֶׁהָיָה אֶפְשָׁר לוֹ לַעֲסוֹק אָז בַּתּוֹרָה וְלֹא עָסַק, ה' יִסְלַח לוֹ,

As our Sages have said, “If one neglected to perform a positive precept and repented, he is pardoned forthwith”14 and is thus reunited, even here below, with G‑d and His will.

כְּמַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: "עָבַר עַל מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה וְשָׁב לֹא זָז מִשָּׁם עַד שֶׁמּוֹחֲלִין לוֹ".

For this reason, i.e., because such a request for forgiveness is immediately effective in reuniting the soul to G‑d so that it will not be parted from Him even momentarily, the Sages ordained that the blessing beginning “Forgive us…,” in which we beg forgiveness for the sin of neglecting the study of the Torah, be recited as often as three times daily, since no one escapes this sin even a single day.

וְלָזֶה, תִּקְּנוּ בִּרְכַּת "סְלַח לָנוּ" שָׁלֹשׁ פְּעָמִים בְּכָל יוֹם – עַל עֲוֹן בִּיטּוּל תּוֹרָה, שֶׁאֵין אָדָם נִיצּוֹל מִמֶּנּוּ בְּכָל יוֹם;

This [blessing] is like the daily burnt-offering sacrificed in the Holy Temple that atoned for neglect of the positive precepts.

וּכְמוֹ הַתָּמִיד – שֶׁהָיָה מְכַפֵּר עַל מִצְוַֹת עֲשֵׂה.

Yet it may be argued: Since this sin is repeated constantly, begging forgiveness for it is similar to saying, “I will sin and repent, sin and repent.” Our Sages have said15 that in such a case, G‑d does not grant the sinner the opportunity to repent; why, then, should the request beginning “Forgive us…” be effective in the case of neglecting Torah study? The Alter Rebbe now differentiates between the two cases.

This is not the same as saying, “I will sin and repent, sin and repent,” unless at the very time when one commits the sin, he relies on subsequent repentance and sins because of it, as explained elsewhere.16

וְאֵין זֶה "אֶחֱטָא וְאָשׁוּב", אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן, שֶׁבִּשְׁעַת הַחֵטְא מַמָּשׁ, הוּא סוֹמֵךְ עַל הַתְּשׁוּבָה וּלְכָךְ חוֹטֵא, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּמָקוֹם אַחֵר:

Since he perverted the idea of repentance by using it as an excuse for sinning, he is not given the opportunity to practice it. However, in our case of the oft-repeated sin of neglecting to study Torah, the offender does not rely on teshuvah at the time of his sin, and he is therefore granted the opportunity to ask for forgiveness thrice daily in the blessing of “Forgive us.”

At any rate, we see that the union of the soul with G‑d that is effected through the mitzvot is eternal. When one considers that he would gladly give up his life so as not to be (even momentarily) parted from G‑d by practicing idolatry, he will realize that he surely ought to exert himself in performing the mitzvot which bind him to G‑d forever.

The Alter Rebbe has thus demonstrated how being aware of one’s willingness to sacrifice his life for G‑d affects both the areas of “turning away from evil” and “doing good,” i.e., the observance of the negative and positive commandments, respectively. It follows that this awareness should constantly be on one’s mind so that he will always be ready to apply it to his performance of the mitzvot.

ln light of the above, it will be understood why Moshe Rabbeinu, peace be upon him, commanded in the Book of Deuteronomy (—not in the earlier books of the Torah addressed to the generation of Jews who wandered in the desert,17 but) to the generation that entered the Holy Land that they (too and not only the subsequent generations15) recite the Shema twice daily, the intention in the Shema being to acknowledge the Kingdom of Heaven with self-sacrifice; i.e., the Shema teaches us to accept martyrdom for the sanctification of G‑d’s Name.

וּבָזֶה יוּבַן, לָמָּה צִוָּה מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּינוּ עָלָיו הַשָּׁלוֹם, בְּמִשְׁנֵה תוֹרָה, לַדּוֹר שֶׁנִּכְנְסוּ לָאָרֶץ, לִקְרוֹת קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע פַּעֲמַיִם בְּכָל יוֹם, לְקַבֵּל עָלָיו מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם בִּמְסִירַת נֶפֶשׁ,

Now one may ask: Why was it necessary for our forefathers to prepare themselves for martyrdom? Had they not been promised that “G‑d will lay the fear and dread of you [upon all the inhabitants of the land]”?18

וַהֲלֹא הִבְטִיחַ לָהֶם: "פַּחְדְּכֶם וּמוֹרַאֲכֶם יִתֵּן ה' וְגוֹ'";

They had no reason to fear that anyone would attempt to force them to deny the Kingdom of Heaven, necessitating self-sacrifice to resist such efforts. In this sense, they were as well protected as the Jews who traveled the desert with Moses (who were not commanded to recite the Shema).19 We must therefore conclude that preparation for martyrdom is necessary not only to ensure that it will be put into practice if and when necessary,

but because the fulfillment of the Torah and its commandments is contingent on one’s being constantly aware of his readiness to surrender his life to G‑d for the sake of His unity, i.e., that a person remember that he would be willing to sacrifice his life for the sake of G‑d’s unity if the situation would warrant it—which is the message contained in the Shema; he must therefore recite it twice daily, morning and evening, so that this awareness will be fixed permanently in his heart and will not depart from his memory night and day.

אֶלָּא, מִשּׁוּם שֶׁקִּיּוּם הַתּוֹרָה וּמִצְוֹתֶיהָ, תָּלוּי בָּזֶה שֶׁיִּזְכּוֹר תָּמִיד עִנְיַן מְסִירַת נַפְשׁוֹ לַה' עַל יִחוּדוֹ, שֶׁיִּהְיֶה קָבוּעַ בְּלִבּוֹ תָּמִיד מַמָּשׁ, יוֹמָם וָלַיְלָה לֹא יָמִישׁ מִזִּכְרוֹנוֹ,

In this way, one is able to withstand his evil inclination and to vanquish it at every time and every moment, even after Moses’ passing, whenever Jews are engaged in an intense struggle with the evil inclination, as it is written:20 “G‑d said to Moses, ‘Behold, you are about to sleep with your fathers, and this people will rise up and stray…,’”18

כִּי, בָּזֶה יוּכַל לַעֲמוֹד נֶגֶד יִצְרוֹ לְנַצְּחוֹ תָּמִיד בְּכָל עֵת וּבְכָל שָׁעָה, –

as explained above—that when one remembers that he would be prepared to suffer martyrdom for his love of G‑d and his belief in G‑d’s unity, he will surely be able to overcome his evil inclination and perform all the mitzvot.

כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל: