In the previous chapter the Alter Rebbe began to discuss the “hidden love of G‑d” inherent in every Jew, by virtue of which it is indeed “very near” to us to fulfill all the commandments out of a spirit of love and awe of G‑d. He stated that this love originates in the divine soul’s faculty of Chochmah where the light of Ein Sof is vested, and that it is this love which causes every Jew to choose death rather than repudiate his faith in G‑d. It was further explained that the divine soul, and thus also the love of G‑d intrinsic to it, is every Jew’s inheritance from the Patriarchs, who merited to bequeath it to their descendants, eternally.

Thus, of the four questions raised in the previous chapter concerning the “hidden love,” two have been answered: (1) What is the root of this love? (2) How did we come to inherit it?

Two questions remain: (1) What is the nature of this love (i.e., what does it strive for)? (2) How is fear of G‑d incorporated in it?

They will be dealt with in this chapter.

ולתוספת ביאור צריך לבאר היטב מה שכתוב: נר ה׳ נשמת אדם

To further elucidate [the nature of the “hidden love”], it is necessary to clarify the meaning of the verse,1 “The soul (Neshamah) of man is a candle of G‑d.”

פירוש: שישראל, הקרוים אדם, נשמתם היא למשל כאור הנר

This means that the souls of Jews, who are called “man”, (as our Sages remark,2 “You — the Jewish people — are called ‘man’”) are, by way of illustration, like the flame of a candle

שמתנענע תמיד למעלה בטבעו

whose nature it is always to flicker upwards;

מפני שאור האש חפץ בטבע ליפרד מהפתילה, ולידבק בשרשו למעלה ביסוד האש הכללי שתחת גלגל הירח, כמו שכתוב בעץ חיים

for the flame of the fire intrinsically seeks to part from the wick that holds it, and to unite with its source above — in the universal element of Fire which is in the sublunar sphere, as is explained in Etz Chayim.

The four elements — Earth, Water, Air, and Fire — are so positioned that the higher and more ethereal elements surround and encompass the lower, coarser elements.

Earth is the coarsest of the elements; it is therefore physically the lowest. Water, the next highest element, should, by right, surround and be located above the earth: it is only because of G‑d’s kindness that the earth is above the waters, as it is written:3 “He spreads the earth over the waters, for His kindness is everlasting.” The element of Air is higher than Water and therefore surrounds it. Fire, the highest element, surrounds the entire atmosphere and is found in the sublunar sphere. The flame’s constant drawing upwards thus represents its desire to unite with its source.

ואף שעל ידי זה יכבה ולא יאיר כלום למטה, וגם למעלה בשרשו יתבטל אורו במציאות בשרשו

Although thereby — by parting from the wick and becoming part of its source — it would be extinguished, and would emit no light at all here below; also above, in its source, its identity would be lost within that of its source.

I.e., it would cease to be a luminary — for since a candle is ineffective in illuminating its environment when surrounded by the overwhelmingly greater brilliance of daylight, surely within the element of fire itself its identity is completely nullified. The flame’s striving to unite with its source cannot, therefore, be construed as seeking a higher form of existence. Furthermore, this desire for unification with its source which can be achieved only through self-annihilation, defies the axiom that “Every existing being desires its continued existence.” Logically, then, the flame ought not to draw upwards, to its source.

אף על פי כן, בכך הוא חפץ בטבעו

Yet this is what it “desires” by nature, i.e., it constantly strains upwards as though this were its conscious “desire”.

כך נשמת האדם, וכן בחינת רוח ונפש

Just as the candle constantly seeks to reunite with its source, so also the Neshamah of a Jew, and also the levels of Ruach and Nefesh.

Although the verse states that the Neshamah of man is the candle of G‑d, this comparison is not limited to one within whom the higher soul-level of Neshamah is actively revealed. The word Neshamah is used here in the broader sense of “soul”, which includes also the levels of Ruach and Nefesh; thus the analogy of the candle extends also to those within whom only the lower soul-level of Ruach or Nefesh is revealed.

חפצה וחשקה בטבעה ליפרד ולצאת מן הגוף, ולידבק בשרשה ומקורה בה׳ חיי החיים ברוך הוא

[The soul] naturally desires and yearns to separate itself and depart from the body, and to unite with its origin and source in G‑d, blessed be He, Who is the fountainhead of all life.

The soul whose very essence is life is thus especially drawn to G‑d, the Source of all life, and desires to sever its connection with the body which hinders its ability to become one with G‑d.

הגם שתהיה אין ואפס ותתבטל שם במציאות לגמרי, ולא ישאר ממנה מאומה ממהותה ועצמותה הראשון

Though thereby it would become null and naught, and its identity would there — in its source — be completely nullified, with nothing at all remaining of its original essence and self,

אף על פי כן זה רצונה וחפצה בטבעה

yet this is its will and desire by its nature.

Note the expression, “with nothing at all remaining of its original self.” Unity with its source would not cause the soul to cease to exist. On the contrary, this is the soul’s true quintessence. However, in this state the soul ceases to exist as it exists while clothed in the body — a distinct entity, with its own intellectual and emotional powers, and so on. Therefore it cannot be postulated that the soul’s yearning to unite with its essence merely represents a desire for self-elevation, for self-elevation is possible only where the original self remains. For example, a person may well strive to better himself — to become wiser, stronger, etc. — but he cannot strive to become something which is not himself (e.g., an angel). Why then should the soul desire to leave the body and unite with its source, since this union causes the cessation of its original self? Indeed, there is no rational explanation for this desire. It comes only as a result of the soul’s intrinsic nature.

The term “nature” is usually used derogatorily, in the sense that it denotes irrationality (phenomena lacking any rational basis are usually ascribed to “nature”). In our case, however, the term is used complimentarily, as it describes the soul’s supra-rational desire. This the Alter Rebbe now goes on to say:

וטבע זה הוא שם המושאל לכל דבר שאינו בבחינת טעם ודעת

“Nature” is an applied term for anything that is not in the realm of reason and comprehension.

וגם כאן הכוונה שרצון וחפץ זה בנפש אינו בבחינת טעם ודעת ושכל מושג ומובן, אלא למעלה מהדעת ושכל המושג והמובן

Here, too — with regard to the soul’s desire to unite with its source — the inference of the word “nature” is that the soul’s will and desire is not based on reason, knowledge and intelligence that can be understood, but rather is beyond the grasp and comprehension of rational intelligence,

והיא בחינת חכמה שבנפש, שבה אור אין סוף ברוך הוא

for this (nature) is the soul’s faculty of Chochmah and, as discussed in the previous chapter, Chochmah is a faculty that transcends comprehension — a faculty wherein the light of the blessed Ein Sof abides; and as a result, the soul is drawn to its Source, the Ein Sof, with a longing beyond comprehension.

Thus we see that the “nature” of the “hidden love,” i.e., its quest, is the longing of the soul to be united with its Source. The Alter Rebbe now goes on to explain the designation “hidden love.”

וזהו כלל בכל סטרא דקדושה שאינו אלא מה שנמשך מחכמה, שנקראת קודש העליון

Now this is a general principle in the whole realm of holiness: Holiness (קדושה) is only that which derives from Chochmah, called קודש העליון — “supernal holiness.”

The word קודש refers to Chochmah, while קדושה refers to any manifestation of holiness as derived from Chochmah. As Chochmah represents nullification of self before G‑d, only those matters that manifest this character of Chochmah may be said to possess holiness. Those matters in which this characteristic is lacking, lack holiness as well. The Alter Rebbe continues, speaking of Chochmah:

הבטל במציאות באור אין סוף ברוך הוא המלובש בו, ואינו דבר בפני עצמו כנ״ל

Its very existence is nullified in the light of the blessed Ein Sof which is clothed in it, and it is not a thing apart — as explained earlier.4

ולכן נקרא כ״ח מ״ה

Therefore, this faculty is called Chochmah, which consists of the two words כ׳׳ח מ׳׳ה (the power of humility and abnegation).

The word מה — literally meaning “What?” — denotes immateriality, as one might say when belittling himself: “What am I?” Thus “holiness” refers to anything which, like Chochmah, draws down from G‑d, and nullifies itself before Him.

והוא הפך ממש מבחינת הקליפה וסיטרא אחרא, שממנה נפשות אומות העולם

This stands in direct contrast to the kelipah and sitra achra, from which are derived the souls of the gentiles5

דעבדין לגרמייהו ואמרין הב הב והלעיטני, להיות יש ודבר בפני עצמו כנ״ל, הפך בחינת החכמה

who act only for themselves, saying,6 “Give, give!” and (as Esau said:7) “Feed me!” — in order to be independent beings and entities (separated from G‑d), as mentioned earlier, that kelipah is a separate and distinct entity, far removed from G‑d, in direct contrast to Chochmah (whose nature is humility and self-nullification).

ולכן נקראים מתים, כי החכמה תחיה, וכתיב: ימותו ולא בחכמה

Therefore they (those of the realm of kelipah) are described8 as “dead,” for9 “Wisdom (Chochmah) gives life” (hence that which is the opposite of Chochmah lacks life), and it is written:10 “They die, without wisdom”; i.e., “death” is a direct result of lack of wisdom — Chochmah — therefore the nations that receive their life-force from kelipah are considered “dead.”

וכן הרשעים ופושעי ישראל קודם שבאו לידי נסיון לקדש השם

(Just as the heathen nations are called “dead”) so too are the wicked and the sinners of Israel11 (but only) before they are put to the test of sanctifying G‑d’s Name.

For, facing such a test, the Chochmah within them is aroused until it fills the entire soul with its spirit of self-nullification before G‑d. At this point, they are “alive” once again. However, as long as they do not face this test, the level of Chochmah is dormant within them, as the Alter Rebbe continues:

כי בחינת החכמה שבנפש האלקית, עם ניצוץ אלקות מאור אין סוף ברוך הוא המלובש בה

For the faculty of Chochmah in the divine soul, with the spark of G‑dliness from the light of the blessed Ein Sof that is clothed in it,

הם בבחינת גלות בגופם, בנפש הבהמית מצד הקליפה שבחלל השמאלי שבלב, המולכת ומושלת בגופם

are in a state of exile in their body, within the animal soul of the realm of kelipah in the left part of the heart, which reigns over them and dominates their body.

בסוד גלות השכינה כנ״ל

This “exile” of the faculty of Chochmah while the animal soul dominates the body echoes the esoteric doctrine of the exile of the Shechinah (since the Ein Sof abides in Chochmah), as mentioned earlier.12

ולכן נקראת אהבה זו בנפש האלקית, שרצונה וחפצה לדבק בה׳ חיי החיים ברוך הוא, בשם אהבה מסותרת

For this reason, this love found in the divine soul, whose wish and desire is to unite with G‑d, “the fountainhead of all life,” is called “hidden love” — an apparent contradiction in terms; love denotes a manifest emotion and is not at all hidden.

It is called “hidden” only when it is obstructed by an alien entity, and not because of any inherent quality of concealment, as the Alter Rebbe goes on to say:

כי היא מסותרת ומכוסה בלבוש שק דקליפה בפושעי ישראל

For it is hidden and veiled, in the case of the transgressors of Israel, in the sackcloth of the kelipah.

וממנה נכנס בהם רוח שטות לחטוא, כמאמר רז״ל: אין אדם חוטא כו׳

From the kelipah, there enters into them a “spirit of folly” which leads them to sin, as our Sages remark:13 “A person does not sin unless a spirit of folly enters into him.”

As the Alter Rebbe explains further, the foolishness consists of the self-delusion that one remains “a good Jew” in spite of his sins — an insensitivity to the serious breach that his sins create between himself and G‑d. If a Jew felt how each sinful act tore him away from G‑d, he would never sin; for after all, every Jew’s love of G‑d is so strong that he is prepared to sacrifice his very life for G‑d (as discussed in the previous chapter). It is only that the “spirit of folly” dulls his senses so that he does not feel the wrench caused by each sin.

However, if his senses are so dulled, why is it that even the worst sinner will willingly sacrifice his life for G‑d, when his faith is put to the test? In answer, the Alter Rebbe explains that the kelipah can obstruct only those matters that do not directly affect the G‑dly soul’s level of Chochmah. However, in such matters as faith — a derivative of Chochmah — kelipah can neither penetrate nor obstruct. Consequently, in such matters the Jew is aware that to succumb to sin would mean being torn away from G‑d, and therefore he will readily lay down his life rather than sin. This the Alter Rebbe now goes on to explain:

אלא שגלות הזה לבחינת חכמה אינו אלא לבחינה המתפשטת ממנה בנפש כולה להחיותה

But this exile of the faculty of Chochmah affects only that aspect of it which is diffused throughout the Nefesh and animates it [with Divine vitality].

Being in exile, it is unable to pervade the entire soul, and through it the entire body, with the feeling of self-nullification before G‑d characteristic of Chochmah; thus, in this state of exile, it is unable to prevent one from sinning.

אבל שרש ועיקר של בחינת חכמה שבנפש האלקית הוא במוחין, ואינה מתלבשת בלבוש שק דקליפה שבלב בחלל השמאלי בבחינת גלות ממש

Yet, the root and core of the Chochmah in the divine soul is in the brain, and does not clothe itself in the sackcloth of the kelipah in the left part of the heart, in a true state of exile, i.e., so that it be powerless to prevent one from sinning.

רק שהיא בבחינת שינה ברשעים ואינה פועלת פעולתה בהם, כל זמן שעסוקים בדעתם ובינתם בתאות העולם

It is merely dormant in the case of the wicked, not exercising its influence within them (i.e., not creating within the Jew the spirit of self-nullification before G‑d that it ought to create), as long as their knowledge and understanding are preoccupied with mundane pleasures.

The soul-faculties of “knowledge” (Daat) and “understanding” (Binah) are lower than Chochmah; yet the level of Chochmah is prevented from acting upon them (and upon the other, still lower, faculties) as long as they are immersed in mundane pleasures. Thus, the Chochmah of their divine soul is dormant, not dead. It has lost none of its potency, only its ability to exercise it; just as when one sleeps he retains full possession of his faculties though he cannot use them.

אך כשבאים לידי נסיון בדבר אמונה, שהיא למעלה מהדעת ונגעה עד הנפש לבחינת חכמה שבה

However, when they (the wicked) are confronted with a test of faith, which transcends knowledge, touching the very soul and the faculty of Chochmah within it — the source of faith,

אזי היא ניעורה משנתה ופועלת פעולתה בכח ה׳ המלובש בה

then it “arises from its sleep” (i.e., Chochmah reveals itself) and it exerts its influence with the Divine force that is clothed in it (its influence being to create a spirit of self-sacrifice for G‑d, as the Alter Rebbe states further).

וכמו שכתוב: ויקץ כישן ה׳

As it is written:14 “Then the L‑rd awakened as one out of sleep.”

This verse refers also to the level of Chochmah and the light of the Ein Sof clothed therein, which was previously in a state of “sleep” — inactive — but “arises” and exerts its influence when faced with a test of faith.

לעמוד בנסיון באמונת ה׳ בלי שום טעם ודעת ושכל מושג לו

The revelation of Chochmah leads even the sinner to withstand the test of faith in G‑d, without any reasoning or knowledge that he can comprehend which would motivate him to sacrifice his life,

להתגבר על הקליפות ותאוות עולם הזה בהיתר ובאיסור שהורגל בהם, ולמאוס בהם

and to prevail over the kelipot and over his desires toward worldly matters, both permitted and forbidden, which he was accustomed to indulge, and even to despise them,

I.e., in this state of readiness for martyrdom, the sinner not only overcomes his desires for worldly pleasures, but loses them entirely, and the objects of his past desires are now detestable to him,

ולבחור לו ה׳ לחלקו ולגורלו

and to choose G‑d as his portion and his lot,

I.e., he dedicates to G‑d both his internal faculties of intellect and emotion, referred to as one’s “portion”, and his higher transcendent faculties — his will and pleasure, which are called one’s “lot”,

למסור לו נפשו על קדושת שמו

so that he is prepared to offer his soul to G‑d in martyrdom for the sanctification of His Name.

ואף כי הקליפות גברו עליו כל ימיו ולא יכול להם, כמאמר רז״ל: שהרשעים הם ברשות לבם

Although the kelipot prevailed over him (over this sinner who is now prepared to accept martyrdom) all his life, and he was impotent against them, as the Rabbis have said that15 “The wicked are under the control of their heart,” i.e., the animal soul of the kelipah, situated in the left part of the heart,

מכל מקום כשבא לידי נסיון בדבר אמונה בה׳ אחד, שיסודתה בהררי קודש היא בחינת חכמה שבנפש האלקית, שבה מלובש אור אין סוף ברוך הוא

nevertheless, when he faces a test challenging his faith in the one G‑d, [a faith] whose foundation is in [that level of the divine soul called] “the heights of holiness,” namely, the faculty of Chochmah which is called קודש — the source of holiness — as previously explained, in which is clothed the light of Ein Sof, blessed be He,

הרי כל הקליפות בטלים ומבוטלים, והיו כלא היו ממש לפני ה׳

then all the kelipot become nullified, and they vanish as though they had never been, in the presence of the L‑rd.

כדכתיב: כל הגוים כאין נגדו וגו׳, וכתיב: כי הנה אויביך ה׳ כי הנה אויביך יאבדו יתפרדו וגו׳, וכתיב: כהמס דונג מפני אש יאבדו וגו׳, וכתיב: הרים כדונג נמסו

So it is written:16 “All the nations including also the kelipot are as nothing before Him”; and17 “For all Your enemies, O L‑rd, referring also to the kelipot, which are the ”enemies of G‑d,“ all Your enemies will perish, they will be scattered…”; and again,18 “As wax melts before fire, so shall the wicked perish”; and19 “The hills referring to the kelipot which are compared to hills by reason of their hauteur melted like wax.”

All these verses illustrate how the kelipot vanish when the light of G‑d found in the Chochmah of the divine soul reveals itself. Therefore, despite the fact that kelipot always had the upper hand over a sinner, he is able to overcome them when his faith is challenged. We thus see that every Jew has an inherent ability to overcome temptation by virtue of his soul’s “hidden love” of G‑d originating in its faculty of Chochmah. He need merely arouse it.

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to explain how this “hidden love” also comprises the fear of G‑d necessary in observing the prohibitive commandments.

והנה אור ה׳ אין סוף ברוך הוא המלובש בחכמה שבנפש, גדול ועצום כחו כל כך

The force of the Divine light of the Ein Sof that is clothed in the soul’s faculty of Chochmah is so intense

לגרש ולדחות הסטרא אחרא והקליפות שלא יוכלו יגעו אפילו בלבושיו, שהם מחשבה דבור ומעשה של אמונת ה׳ אחד

as to banish and repel the sitra achra and the kelipot so that they are unable to touch even its “garments”, namely the thought, speech, and action that express one’s faith in the unity of G‑d.

That is, not only can the kelipot not weaken one’s faith, but they cannot even prevent his faith from expressing itself in thought, speech and action.

דהיינו לעמוד בנסיון למסור נפשו אפילו שלא לעשות רק איזה מעשה לבד נגד אמונת ה׳ אחד, כגון להשתחוות לעבודה זרה אף שאינו מאמין בה כלל בלבו

This means that the Divine light vested in Chochmah enables him to withstand a test of self-sacrifice, to the extent of even refusing to do a mere (empty) act that is contrary to his belief in the one G‑d, e.g., to bow down before an idol, even without acknowledging it in his heart at all, in which case it is not his faith that is being challenged, but its expression in the act of prostrating oneself; and even for his expression of faith a Jew will give his life.

וכן שלא לדבר תועה חס ושלום על אחדות ה׳ אף שאין פיו ולבו שוין, רק לבו שלם באמונת ה׳

So too he will sacrifice his life so as not to speak falsely (G‑d forbid) concerning the unity of G‑d, even where his words do not reflect his true feelings, for his heart is perfect in its belief in G‑d.

This readiness for self-sacrifice is not an expression of one’s love of G‑d which reveals itself when confronted with a test of faith, for his love is not directly affected by such empty actions or words. Rather, it expresses the fear contained in the “hidden love,” the fear of being torn away from G‑d.

וזה נקרא דחילו הנכלל ברחימו, שהיא אהבה הטבעית שבנפש האלקית שבכללות ישראל, שחפצה ורצונה בטבעה לידבק בשרשה ומקורה אור אין סוף ברוך הוא

This is called “the fear contained in love,” meaning the natural love found in the divine soul of all Jews, whose intrinsic desire and will is to be attached to its origin and source — the light of the blessed Ein Sof.

שמפני אהבה זו ורצון זה היא יראה ומפחדת בטבעה מנגוע בקצה טומאת עבודה זרה חס ושלום, שהיא נגד אמונת ה׳ אחד

For by virtue of this love and this desire it instinctively recoils in fear and dread from touching (G‑d forbid) even the fringe of the impurity of idolatry, which denies the faith in G‑d’s unity,

אפילו בלבושיה החיצונים שהם דבור או מעשה, בלי אמונה בלב כלל

even where such contact involves only its outer garments, namely, (idolatrous) speech and action, without any faith whatever in the heart in the validity of the idol worship.

Even this the soul dreads; and this dread represents the fear contained in the “hidden love.”

When a Jew considers that he would willingly give up his life rather than be parted from G‑d, he will surely realize that: (a) he should certainly refrain from sin for the very same reason, since every sin tears one away from G‑d; and (b) he ought to fulfill all the commandments, for through them one achieves the objective of his “hidden love” — unity with G‑d. In this way one may utilize his “hidden love” and the fear of G‑d contained in it as a motivation for observing all the commandments, as will be explained at length in the coming chapters.

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