והנה מודעת זאת שהאבות הן הן המרכבה

It is known that “the Patriarchs constitute the Divine Chariot.“1

שכל ימיהם לעולם לא הפסיקו אפילו שעה אחת מלקשר דעתם ונשמתם לרבון העולמים

Throughout their lives, they did not cease even momentarily from binding their mind and soul to the Master of the universe,

בביטול הנ״ל ליחודו יתברך

with the aforementioned absolute surrender to His unity.

I.e., their constant awareness of G‑d’s unity led them to be continuously in a state of self-nullification before G‑d; and, as explained more fully in ch. 23, this self-nullification is what is meant by the term “chariot”, a vehicle submissive to the will of its pilot.

ואחריהם כל הנביאים, כל אחד לפי מדרגת נשמתו והשגתו

After them came all the prophets who similarly nullified themselves before G‑d’s unity in varying degrees, each according to the level of his soul and his understanding.

ומדרגת משה רבנו עליו השלום היא העולה על כולנה, שאמרו עליו: שכינה מדברת מתוך גרונו של משה

The rank of our teacher Moses, peace be upon him, surpassed them all; of him our Sages said:2 “The Shechinah (the Divine Presence) spoke out of Moses‘ throat.”

His was such a total surrender to G‑dliness, that the very words he uttered were Divine speech; the relation of Moses’ throat to Divine speech was that of one’s throat to his own speech.

ומעין זה זכו ישראל במעמד הר סיני

At Mount Sinai, Israel were privileged to experience a glimmer of this level of self-nullification.

רק שלא יכלו לסבול, כמאמר רז״ל: שעל כל דיבור פרחה נשמתן כו׳, שהוא ענין ביטול במציאות הנ״ל

But they could not endure it; as our Sages have said,3 “At every Divine utterance their souls took flight,” and G‑d resurrected them each time. This flight of their soul actually represents the self-nullification spoken of previously.4

לכן מיד אמר להם לעשות לו משכן ובו קדשי הקדשים להשראת שכינתו, שהוא גילוי יחודו יתברך, כמו שיתבאר לקמן

Therefore, because they were unable to live with this feeling of self-surrender before G‑d, He commanded them immediately to erect for Him a Sanctuary, in which would be the Holy of Holies, wherein His presence would dwell; i.e., there His unity would be revealed, as will be explained further.5

The Alter Rebbe points out below that when one specific place is singled out as an abode for G‑d’s presence, despite the fact that "His glory fills the entire earth," the uniqueness of this site lies in the revelation of G‑dliness which occurs there. In contrast to the rest of the world, where G‑d’s unity as the sole existing being stands concealed, in “the abode of G‑d’s presence” it is clearly apparent that “there is naught besides Him.” We thus see that the revelation of G‑d’s unity which the Jewish people experienced at Mount Sinai, but which they could not endure, was continued by means of the Sanctuary.

ומשחרב בית המקדש אין להקב״ה בעולמו משכן ומכון לשבתו, הוא יחודו יתברך, אלא ארבע אמות של הלכה

Ever since the Temple was destroyed, “the four cubits of the Halachah” i.e., Torah study — is the only sanctuary and abode which the Holy One, blessed be He, has in His world; i.e., Torah is the only abode for the revelation of His unity.

שהוא רצונו יתברך וחכמתו, המלובשים בהלכות הערוכות לפנינו

For the halachot set out before us are the actual embodiment of G‑d’s Will and wisdom, which are one with G‑d; the halachic ruling represents the Divine Will, and what underlies it is Divine wisdom. Hence in the Torah, G‑d’s unity stands revealed.

ולכן אחר שיעמיק האדם מחשבתו בענין ביטול הנ״ל כפי יכלתו, זאת ישיב אל לבו

Therefore, after one meditates deeply, according to his ability, on the subject of this above-mentioned self-nullification, let him reflect in his heart as follows:

כי מהיות קטן שכלי ושרש נשמתי מהכיל להיות מרכבה ומשכן ליחודו יתברך באמת לאמיתו

“The capacity of my intelligence and of my soul’s root is too limited to constitute a chariot and an abode for G‑d’s unity in perfect truth.

מאחר דלית מחשבה דילי תפיסא ומשגת בו יתברך כלל וכלל שום השגה בעולם

“For my thought cannot grasp or apprehend His unity at all with any degree of comprehension in the world;

ולא שמץ מנהו מהשגת האבות והנביאים

not an iota, in fact, of that which was grasped by the Patriarchs and Prophets, who were G‑d’s chariot and abode by virtue of their awareness of G‑d’s unity, as they grasped it.

אי לזאת אעשה לו משכן ומכון לשבתו, הוא העסק בתלמוד תורה כפי הפנאי שלי בקביעות עתים ביום ובלילה

“This being so, I will make Him a sanctuary and an abode by studying Torah at fixed times by day and by night, to the extent of my free time,

כדת הניתנה לכל אחד ואחד בהלכות תלמוד תורה

as stipulated by the law governing each individual’s situation, set forth in the Laws of Torah Study.

וכמאמר רז״ל: אפילו פרק אחד שחרית כו׳

”As our Sages say,6 ‘Even one chapter in the morning and one at night...’ suffice, for one who can manage no more, for him to be regarded as ‘engaging in Torah study day and night.’ Therefore, by fulfilling this minimal quota, I too will become an abode for G‑dliness.”

ובזה ישמח לבו, ויגיל, ויתן הודאה על חלקו בשמחה ובטוב לבב

Thereby, his heart shall rejoice; he shall be glad and offer joyous thanks for his fortune

על שזכה להיות אושפזיכן לגבורה פעמים בכל יום כפי העת והפנאי שלו, כמסת ידו אשר הרחיב ה׳ לו

in meriting to be the Almighty’s “host”7 through his study of Torah, which causes him to be a “sanctuary” for G‑d twice each day, according to the extent of his available time, and according to the capacity which G‑d has granted him.

ואם ירחיב ה׳ לו עוד, אזי: טהור ידים יוסיף אומץ, ומחשבה טובה כו׳

If G‑d grants him a greater abundance of time for Torah study, then8 “He whose hands are pure will increase his effort”; i.e., he should resolve that as more time becomes available to him, he will devote it to Torah study. Moreover,9 “[G‑d reckons] a good intention [as an actual deed].”

Therefore, even while his time for Torah study is limited to a small part of the day and night, he is regarded as if he had studied the entire day, since he would have devoted all this time to Torah study had it been available. By virtue of his good intention, he thus is, in a sense, an abode for G‑dliness not only during the time actually spent in Torah study, but also throughout the day.10

וגם שאר היום כולו שעוסק במשא ומתן, יהיה מכון לשבתו יתברך בנתינת הצדקה שיתן מיגיעו

Even during the remainder of the day, when he is engaged in business, he will be an abode for G‑d by giving charity out of the proceeds of his labor.

שהיא ממדותיו של הקב״ה: מה הוא רחום וכו׳, וכמו שכתוב בתיקונים: חסד דרועא ימינא

Charity is one of G‑d’s attributes which we are enjoined to emulate, as our Sages say,11 “As He is compassionate... [so must you be]”; and as it is written in Tikkunei Zohar,12 “Kindness is the right arm of G‑d,” so to speak, and therefore human kindness constitutes an abode for the Divine attribute of kindness.

ואף שאינו נותן אלא חומש

Even though one distributes as charity no more than one fifth of his earnings — the maximum requirement for charity; how then is he an abode for G‑dliness while he is engaged in earning the other four fifths

הרי החומש מעלה עמו כל הארבע ידות לה׳ להיות מכון לשבתו יתברך

Yet that fifth elevates with it all the other four parts to G‑d, so that they too become an abode for Him.

כנודע מאמר רז״ל, שמצות צדקה שקולה כנגד כל הקרבנות

In a well-known statement, our Sages have declared13 that the mitzvah of charity is equivalent to offering all the sacrifices.

ובקרבנות, היה כל החי עולה לה׳ על ידי בהמה אחת, וכל הצומח על ידי עשרון סלת אחד בלול בשמן כו׳

Now, in the case of sacrifices, all living creatures were elevated to G‑d through the offering of one animal, all plants through the “meal offering” which consisted of merely “one tenth of a measure of fine meal mixed with oil,” and so on.

Similarly, all of one’s earnings are elevated when he gives one fifth to charity.

ומלבד זה, הרי בשעת התורה והתפלה עולה לה׳ כל מה שאכל ושתה ונהנה מארבע הידות לבריאות גופו, כמו שיתבאר לקמן

Apart from this, as is explained below, all that one has eaten and drunk and generally enjoyed for his bodily health, from the other four fifths of his earnings, is elevated toward G‑d during his Torah study and prayer.

Thus, even the time spent on earning those profits which he does not distribute in charity, also becomes an abode for G‑dliness through Torah study and prayer.

* * *

From the end of Ch. 30 up to this point, the Alter Rebbe discussed various forms of joy which one ought to strive to attain when saddened over his spiritual shortcomings: the joy of one’s soul on its being released from exile within one’s body and animal soul; the joy of being close to G‑d through awareness of His unity; the joy occasioned by contemplating G‑d’s joy in the crushing of the sitra achra; and so on. The Alter Rebbe now goes on to state that all these forms of joy do not conflict with the bitter remorse and sadness that one experiences over one’s spiritual failings. For, although joy and sadness are opposites, they can nonetheless coexist when each has its own, distinct cause.

והנה בכל פרטי מיני שמחות הנפש הנ״ל, אין מהן מניעה להיות נבזה בעיניו נמאס ולב נשבר ורוח נמוכה בשעת השמחה ממש

All the specific types of joy enumerated above do not preclude one from being shamed and despised in his own eyes, or from having a broken heart and a humble spirit, even at the very time of his joy.

מאחר כי היותו נבזה בעיניו וכו׳, הוא מצד הגוף ונפש הבהמית

For the shame and so on is prompted by [one’s awareness of the lowliness of] his body and animal soul,

והיותו בשמחה הוא מצד נפש האלקית וניצוץ אלקות המלובש בה להחיותה, כנ״ל בפרק ל״א

while his joy is felt on account of his divine soul, and the animating spark of G‑dliness clothed within it, as mentioned above (in ch. 31).

וכהאי גוונא איתא בזהר: בכיה תקיעא בלבאי מסטרא דא, וחדוה תקיעא בלבאי מסטרא דא

We find a similar statement in the Zohar:14 “Weeping is lodged in one side of my heart, and joy is lodged in the other.”

Rabbi Elazar exclaimed these words upon hearing from his father, Rabbi Shimon, an esoteric exposition on the destruction of the Temple. On the one hand, he now felt even more keenly the enormity of the tragedy; on the other hand he was filled with joy over the secrets of Torah being revealed to him.

We thus see from the Zohar that two opposite emotions, stemming from separate causes, can exist in one’s heart side by side.

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