In the beginning, as the Midrash teaches,1 G‑d “created worlds and destroyed them.” The Kabbalah explains that this refers to spiritual worlds, supernal sefirot (“emanations”), that first existed in one state of being and then in another. The sefirot in the former state of being—called the World of Tohu (lit., “Chaos”)—underwent a “breaking of the vessels.” The World of Tikkun (lit., “Order”) was then built.

The sefirot comprise orot (“lights”) and kelim (“vessels”) that contain these lights. The crisis in the World of Tohu occurred because the orot were so intense that the kelim were incapable of containing them. As a result of this breakage, sparks of holiness descended within the kelipot. These sparks are to be found in the Worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah in general but particularly within the physicality of our world. It is the task of the Jew to sift this materiality by using it properly in order to extract and refine these sparks, thereby elevating them to their original source in the World of Tohu. This elevation in turn elicits a mighty downflow of Divine energy from Tohu and from even higher than that level.

(Certain Divine Names, whose respective Kabbalistic meanings are signified by Hebrew letter-combinations, are related to this process of beirurim, the extraction and refinement of the sparks of holiness. Thus, the Name known as Ban (ב"ן) is the source of the fallen holy sparks; the Name Mah (מ"ה) is the power that extracts and elevates them; while the Name Sag (ס"ג) is the original source of the World of Tohu. When the extraction and elevation of the sparks deriving from the Name Ban is accomplished through the Name Mah, a lofty degree of Divine illumination is drawn down from the Name Sag and is vested within the “capacious vessels” of the World of Tikkun.)

This extraction is for the most part accomplished through the performance of action-oriented mitzvot involving physical objects which derive their life-force from kelipat nogah and which house the sparks of Tohu. Performing a mitzvah with such objects disencumbers the hidden sparks of their corporeal husk and elevates them.

The seeking out of sparks, however, can also be accomplished through the study of Torah as well as through prayer.

In the present essay, the Alter Rebbe will explain the statement of Pri Etz Chaim that nowadays, this “extraction” is mainly effected through prayer. For prayer is uniquely able to draw down an infinite degree of G‑dliness; prayer alone can bring about changes within the world, healing the sick and causing rain to fall. In order for such a degree of G‑dliness to be called down, there must first be an arousal initiated from below, an expression of man’s ardent desire to be the recipient of Divine benefactions. And if these benefactions are to flow from an infinitely high source, the plea that requests them must surge from a correspondingly deep source—“with all one’s might,” from the infinite depths of one’s soul.

To understand the statement in Pri Etz Chaim2 that in the contemporary period, the refinement [of the sparks of Tohu] is primarily effected by prayer,

לְהָבִין מַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב בִּפְרִי עֵץ חַיִּים, דְּבִזְמַן הַזֶּה, עִיקַּר הַבֵּירוּר עַל יְדֵי הַתְּפִלָּה דַּוְקָא,

As explained above, the task of sifting the materiality of this world and salvaging its hidden, holy sparks is the ongoing mission of Jews living as souls within bodies in this physical world.

This is accomplished either (a) through the performance of the action-oriented mitzvot which entail the use of physical objects whose life-force derives from kelipat nogah; (b) through the audibly articulated study of Torah subjects that deal with physical matters; or (c) through prayer, a form of spiritual service through which the Divine soul influences and refines the animal soul (whose life-force derives from kelipat nogah) to the point that it can attain a love of G‑d.

As stated above, Pri Etz Chaim teaches that in these latter generations, the extraction and elevation of sparks is effected primarily through prayer.

even though Torah study is superior to prayer:

אַף שֶׁתַּלְמוּד תּוֹרָה לְמַעְלָה מֵהַתְּפִלָּה.

Torah study is “equivalent to them all,”3 to all the mitzvot, and higher even than “concentration in prayer.”3 Why, then, is the extraction of the sparks of Tohu mainly accomplished in the present era through prayer?

The explanation is that through Torah and mitzvot, additional light is drawn forth into Atzilut

הָעִנְיָן הוּא: שֶׁעַל־יְדֵי תּוֹרָה וּמִצְוֹת מוֹסִיפִין אוֹר בַּאֲצִילוּת כוּ',

Divine light is drawn forth into the various worlds either in accordance with (a) Sod Shoresh (lit., “the principle of the root”), the degree of revelation originally apportioned, or in accordance with (b) Sod Tosefet (lit., “the principle of addition”), depending on the spiritual service of mortals. This additional measure of revelation is much greater than the base allocation.

Through Torah and mitzvot, as stated above, one draws down an additional measure of Divine illumination into the World of Atzilut.

This means that through Torah study, the [infinite] Ein Sof-light [is drawn] into the inner aspect of the vessels of [the sefirot of] Atzilut. This is a drawing down of the Divine Intellect.

פֵּירוּשׁ, אוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא בְּכֵלִים דַּאֲצִילוּת – עַל־יְדֵי תַּלְמוּד תּוֹרָה – בִּפְנִימִית, דְּהַיְינוּ הַמְשָׁכוֹת הַמּוֹחִין:

Since Torah study involves mortal intellect, its heavenly echo calls forth a corresponding revelation of the Divine Intellect, which is the inward aspect of the sefirot.

Through mitzvah observance, [the light is drawn] into the external aspect of the vessels, meaning netzach-hod-yesod of the ten sefirot of za (the six emotive attributes) of Atzilut.

וּבְקִיּוּם הַמִּצְוֹת – בְּחִיצוֹנִית הַכֵּלִים, שֶׁהֵם בְּחִינוֹת נֶצַח־הוֹד־יְסוֹד, שֶׁבְּי' סְפִירוֹת "זְעֵיר אַנְפִּין" שֶׁבַּאֲצִילוּת,

Za is a configuration (partzuf, lit., “countenance”) which comprises a full complement of ten sefirot. Into netzach-hod-yesod, the lower sefirot which are “outside of the torso”4 of za and thus comprise its external aspect, the [infinite] Ein Sof-light is drawn down by means of those mitzvot that are performed with man’s power of action. For this power is external to man’s essence, just as netzach-hod-yesod are external to za.

The infinite lights from Divine Intellect that are drawn down by Torah and mitzvot are thus invested primarily in Atzilut.

They [later] only clothe themselves with diminished intensity in Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah in the physical Torah and mitzvot in This World.

רַק שֶׁמִּתְלַבְּשִׁים בִּבְרִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה, בְּתוֹרָה וּמִצְוֹת הַגַּשְׁמִיִּים שֶׁבָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה.

The Divine Intellect that is drawn down into Atzilut is ultimately vested within the Torah of this world while the Divine light which is drawn into the externality of the vessels of za of Atzilut is vested within the mitzvot of this world. The effect is thus strictly within the material aspect of the Torah and mitzvot of this world but not within the materiality of the world itself.

Prayer, however, calls forth the [infinite] Ein Sof-light into Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah directly and not by means of mere enclothement, as is the case with the study of Torah, where the Divine light is garbed in an entity which in turn is drawn down into this world.

אֲבָל הַתְּפִלָּה, הִיא הַמְשָׁכַת אוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא לִבְרִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה דַּוְקָא, לֹא בְּדֶרֶךְ הִתְלַבְּשׁוּת בִּלְבַד,

Rather, it is the actual light which modifies the state of created beings,

רַק הָאוֹר מַמָּשׁ, לְשַׁנּוֹת הַנִּבְרָאִים מִכְּמוֹת שֶׁהֵם,

so that (for example) the ill will be cured through the petition of “Heal us” in the Amidah and the rain from heaven will fall to the earth so that it becomes fertile and yields vegetation,5 in response to the prayer of the “Blessing of the Years.”

שֶׁיִּתְרַפֵּא הַחוֹלֶה, וְיֵרֵד הַגֶּשֶׁם מִשָּׁמַיִם לָאָרֶץ וְיוֹלִידָהּ וְיַצְמִיחָהּ.

These are changes effected within the actual physical world.

This is not the case with Torah and mitzvot: no modification in the parchment [on which are inscribed the Biblical passages] of the tefillin results from their being placed upon head and arm, notwithstanding the drawing down of Divine light and the subordination of mind and heart to the Divine Will.

מַה־שֶּׁאֵין־כֵּן בְּתוֹרָה וּמִצְוֹת, שֶׁאֵין שִׁינּוּי בִּקְלַף הַתְּפִילִּין עַל־יְדֵי הֲנָחָתָן בָּרֹאשׁ וּבַזְּרוֹעַ.

Even in the case of those mitzvot that are fulfilled through making [the object],

וְגַם בְּמִצְוֹת שֶׁעֲשִׂיָּיתָן הוּא גְּמַר מִצְוָתָן,

Examples would be the writing of a Torah scroll or making a sukkah (according to the opinions that the actual construction of a sukkah is a mitzvah6). Unlike tefillin, where the mitzvah is performed by wearing them and not by making them, these mitzvot are performed by modifying the relevant object. Nevertheless:

the change within the object is effected by man and not by Heaven, as is the case with prayer,

הַשִּׁינּוּי הוּא עַל־יְדֵי אָדָם, וְלֹא בִּידֵי שָׁמַיִם כְּבִתְפִלָּה,

When an individual succeeds in bringing about a change in this world through prayer, e.g., the sick person becomes well, this change is ultimately brought about from above, not by the individual’s prayer,

for this calls forth the vivifying power from the Infinite One, blessed be He, Who alone is all-capable.

שֶׁהִיא הַמְשָׁכַת הַחַיּוּת מֵאֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא, שֶׁהוּא לְבַדּוֹ כֹּל יָכוֹל:

It is only G‑d who can effect a change such as this in our world, bringing about the cure or the productive rain.

Therefore, calling forth the [infinite] Ein Sof-light into the lower world is impossible without the [prior] “elevation of mayin nukvin” specifically from below, whereby the mortal recipient initiates an anticipatory “arousal from below” through his spiritual service during prayer.

וְהִלְכָּךְ, כְּדֵי לְהַמְשִׁיךְ אוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא לְמַטָּה, אִי אֶפְשָׁר בְּלִי הַעֲלָאַת "מַיִּין נוּקְבִין" מִלְּמַטָּה דַוְקָא.

As the Alter Rebbe will soon explain, since this entails an infinite degree of service on the part of man, it is able to draw down an infinite response from above, reciprocating each individual’s particular “arousal from below.”

This is not the case with the study of Torah, which [affects] Atzilut, for [the Torah] is united in any case with the Emanator.

מַה־שֶּׁאֵין־כֵּן לְתַלְמוּד תּוֹרָה שֶׁבַּאֲצִילוּת, הַמְיוּחֶדֶת בְּלָאו הָכֵי בַּמַּאֲצִיל בָּרוּךְ־הוּא.

Since Torah study thus does not need to be drawn down below, there is no need for an “arousal from below.”

As the Rebbe notes, “The Alter Rebbe now goes on to explain how this may be considered mayin nukvin and what its connection is to the infinite light.”

The “elevation of mayin nukvin” in the mind and heart of man is [the love of G‑d] in a state of boundless flames of fire, and being boundless, it relates to the infinite light;

וְהַעֲלָאַת "מַיִּין נוּקְבִין" בְּמוֹחוֹ וְלִבּוֹ שֶׁל אָדָם, הִיא בְּחִינַת "רִשְׁפֵּי אֵשׁ" בְּלִי גְבוּל,

it is described as me’odechaloving G‑d “with all your might,”7 with each individual’s capacity for infinitude,

וְנִקְרֵאת "מְאֹדֶךָ",

Though man is inherently limited, and though, moreover, all of one man’s might may be considered less than ultimate in another man, nevertheless, even this limited degree of “limitlessness” suffices:

to arouse the [Divine] state of infinity.

כְּדֵי לְעוֹרֵר בְּחִינַת אֵין־סוֹף,

For the “arousal from below” need but resemble the response from above that it seeks to elicit. If an “arousal from below” may truly be considered “infinite” relative to the particular individual’s capacities, it suffices to draw down the infinite light from above.

This is effected through the Gevurot (the attributes of severity) of [the Divine Name] Sag, which constitute the 288 sparks….

וְהַיְינוּ עַל־יְדֵי גְּבוּרוֹת דְּ"סַ"ג", שֶׁהֵן הֵן הָרַפַּ"ח נִיצוֹצִין כוּ'.

The love and longing (ratzo) which a man experiences during prayer to the extent of meodecha (“with all your might”) are aroused by the gevurot of Sag, the Divine Name that is the source of the 288 sparks of Tohu. These sparks derive from the vessels of Tohu, whose sefirot were originally in a state of infinite longing to become wholly one with G‑d. This longing parallels the soul’s love and longing for G‑d to the point of me’odecha.

For this reason, worship is called “life of the moment,”8 for it is malchut descending into Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah.

וְלָכֵן נִקְרֵאת הַתְּפִלָּה – "חַיֵּי שָׁעָה", הִיא מַלְכוּת הַיּוֹרֶדֶת בִּבְרִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה,

As Rashi explains on the straightforward level of peshat, the Talmud calls prayer “life of the moment” (lit., “life of the hour”) because people pray for health, peace, and a livelihood—temporal things that are subject to the limitations of the passing moment.

Here, the Alter Rebbe speaks of how these matters exist in their source, in the supernal sefirot. In the worlds above, the sefirah of malchut is the source of time. For it is the sefirah of malchut (“sovereignty”) that reflects the relationship of the Infinite One to time—“He reigns, He reigned, He will reign,” in the present, past, and future.

This relationship is particularly evident as malchut descends to animate the Worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah, for these worlds all exist in the category of time.

And because prayer draws down Divine energy into Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah through their source, the time-related sefirah of malchut, prayer is called “life of the moment.”

Torah [by contrast is called] “eternal life,”8 which (in terms of the sefirot) is za,9

וְתוֹרָה – "חַיֵּי עוֹלָם", הוּא "זְעֵיר אַנְפִּין",

for the 248 commandments of the Torah divide into the ten vessels of the ten sefirot of za….

כִּי רַמַ"ח פִּקּוּדִין הֵן מִתְחַלְּקִין בְּי' כֵּלִים דְּעֶשֶׂר סְפִירוֹת דִּ"זְעֵיר אַנְפִּין" כוּ'.

For za comprises sefirot within the World of Atzilut, and as stated in Torah Or, at the end of Parashat Terumah, za marks the conclusion of the infinite worlds, utterly transcending the Worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah.

Now, in one source10 it is written11 that the 248 positive commandments are [rooted] in the Five Attributes of Kindness of za of Atzilut, for every positive command serves as a vessel to receive an expression of the kindly attributes and a calling forth of Divinity,

וְהִנֵּה, בְּמָקוֹם אֶחָד כָּתַב שֶׁרַמַ"ח מִצְוֹת עֲשֵׂה – הֵן בְּה' חֲסָדִים

and the 365 prohibitions are [rooted] in the Five Attributes of Severity of za of Atzilut.

וְשַׁסַ"ה לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה בְּה' גְּבוּרוֹת וְכוּ',

The Gevurot (the attributes of severity) reflect a Divine thrust to self-contraction and limitation. The prohibitory commands thus derive from them since the intent of these commands is to withhold the efflux of holiness from kelipot.

Elsewhere, it is written12 that there are 613 paths (i.e., the 613 mitzvot) that derive from one path…,

וּבְמָקוֹם אַחֵר כָּתַב שֶׁהֵן תַּרְיַ"ג אָרְחִין נִמְשָׁכִין מֵחַד אָרְחָא כוּ',

which is the Lavnunit…, the benevolent pristine “whiteness” of the supernal keter.

שֶׁהוּא לַבְנוּנִית וְכוּ'.

This level includes no element of severity at all. As the Zohar states there, “There is no ‘left’ in Atik”—i.e., there is no element of gevurah in the internal level of keter; there is only chesed.

We thus seem to have a compound contradiction: We have just stated here that the 248 positive commandments stem from the vessels of the ten sefirot of za; the Zohar states that the 248 positive commandments stem from the Five Chasadim (attributes of kindness) of za while the 365 prohibitory commandments stem from the Five Gevurot (attributes of severity) of za, and the Zohar states elsewhere that the commandments derive from the Lavnunit of the supernal keter, where attributes of severity do not exist at all.

The explanation is: All the mitzvot are designed to rectify the 248 organs of za by drawing the [infinite] Ein Sof-light into the [Divine] Intellect as incorporated within the Five Attributes of Kindness and Five Attributes of Severity. (In mortal man, too, by way of analogy, one’s intellectual decisions are commonly swayed by a natural leaning to kindness or severity.)

אַךְ הָעִנְיָן, שֶׁכָּל הַמִּצְוֹת לְתַקֵּן רַמַ"ח אֵבְרֵי "זְעֵיר אַנְפִּין", עַל יְדֵי הַמְשָׁכַת אוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא בְּמוֹחִין, הַכְּלוּלִין בְּה' חֲסָדִים וְה' גְּבוּרוֹת,

Since the purpose of mitzvot is to “repair” the 248 organs of za, it is true to say that mitzvot are rooted in the vessels of the sefirot that constitute za. Since the repair is accomplished through drawing the infinite light into the Divine Intellect that is housed in the Five Attributes of Kindness and the Five Attributes of Severity, it is also sometimes said that the mitzvot themselves are rooted in the Five Attributes of Kindness and the Five Attributes of Severity.

The source of the [Divine] Intellect is the Lavnunit [of keter],

וּמְקוֹר הַמּוֹחִין הוּא לַבְנוּנִית כוּ',

which is the supreme delight and desire to draw the light below into the 248 organs of za, for relative to keter, za is deemed “below.”

הוּא הָעֹנֶג וְחֵפֶץ הָעֶלְיוֹן לְהַמְשִׁיךְ הָאוֹר לְמַטָּה לְרַמַ"ח אֵבָרִין דִּ"זְעֵיר אַנְפִּין",

Thus, the Zohar also says elsewhere that the commandments are rooted in the level of supernal keter called Lavnunit, where there are no attributes of severity whatsoever, for this is the source of mitzvot as they exist in the supreme delight and desire of keter.

The light drawn forth divides into 613 individual streams according to the respective levels of the mitzvot.

וּמִתְחַלֶּקֶת הַהַמְשָׁכָה לְתַרְיַ"ג הַמְשָׁכוֹת פְּרָטִיּוֹת, לְפִי בְּחִינַת עֵרֶךְ הַמִּצְוֹת,

For instance, through charity and kindly deeds, the [infinite] Ein Sof-light is drawn into the external aspect of the vessel of the Attribute of Kindness of za,

כְּגוֹן בִּצְדָקָה וּגְמִילוּת חֲסָדִים – נִמְשָׁךְ אוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא לְחִיצוֹנִיּוּת הַכְּלִי דְּחֶסֶד דִּ"זְעֵיר אַנְפִּין",

Since “chesed is of the right side” of za, a kindly act of charity in this world below draws down the infinite light into the corresponding “right side” above—into the Attribute of Kindness of za. Just as this “arousal from below” sprang from kindness, so, too, the reciprocal “arousal from above” comes as a direct and similar response, drawing down the infinite light into the chesed of za.

while through observing mitzvot that are in the order of severity, [the infinite light is drawn] into the external aspect of Severity [of za], with mercy….

וּבְקִיּוּם הַדִּינִין – בְּחִיצוֹנִית גְּבוּרָה, וּבְרַחֲמִים כוּ'.

The path and passage of the issuing light that is drawn into the external vessels of za is through the internal aspect of the vessels and their intellects,

וְדֶרֶךְ וּמַעֲבַר הַהַמְשָׁכָה, הוּא עַל־יְדֵי פְּנִימִיּוּת הַכֵּלִים וּמוֹחוֹתֵיהֶן,

which are, in terms of a Jew’s service, awe and love, either intellectually generated or innate. (Whereas the former is an expression of intellect, the latter is an expression of the spiritual emotions.)

שֶׁהֵן דְּחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ שִׂכְלִיִּים אוֹ טִבְעִיִּים,

These [attributes] correspond, in terms of the supernal sefirot, to the “major” or “minor” [Divine] intellect.

שֶׁהֵן בְּחִינוֹת מוֹחִין דְּקַטְנוּת וְגַדְלוּת.

The “minor [Divine] intellect” corresponds to man’s innate love and fear of G‑d while the “major [Divine] intellect” corresponds to the love and fear of G‑d that are born of meditation.

This is the reason for Moses’ fervent plea to fulfill the active mitzvot that are contingent on the Land,13 i.e., that can be fulfilled only in the Holy Land.

וְלָזֶה בִּיקֵּשׁ מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּינוּ עָלָיו־הַשָּׁלוֹם מְאֹד לְקַיֵּים הַמִּצְוֹת מַעֲשִׂיּוֹת הַתְּלוּיוֹת בָּאָרֶץ,

For these [practical mitzvot] are the ultimate purpose of the Hishtalshelut, the chainlike stages of progressive self-screening whereby the Divine light descends from level to level until ultimately this corporeal world is created—

שֶׁהֵן תַּכְלִית הַהִשְׁתַּלְשְׁלוּת,

to call forth the [infinite] Ein Sof-light in order to refine the vessels of za of Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah, in which are located the 288 sparks.

לְהַמְשִׁיךְ אוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא לְבָרֵר הַכֵּלִים דִּ"זְעֵיר אַנְפִּין" דִּבְרִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה, שֶׁבָּהֶן, הֵן הָרַפַּ"ח נִיצוֹצִין,

[And this refinement is effected] exclusively through Torah study and mitzvot requiring action in Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah.

עַל־יְדֵי תּוֹרָה וּמִצְוֹת מַעֲשִׂיּוֹת שֶׁבִּבְרִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה דַּוְקָא.

Since this is the purpose of all of creation, and the mitzvot can be fully performed only in the Holy Land, Moses fervently desired to enter it so that he would be able to perform them in the most complete manner possible.

From all the above, we understand why the extraction and refinement of sparks is primarily accomplished through prayer, even though the study of Torah is loftier than prayer. For prayer involves the elevation of the sparks of Tohu to their most supreme source there and from there even higher to the Ein Sof.

As the Alter Rebbe will soon explain, this is so specifically in contemporary times because the loftier souls of earlier generations could accomplish this speedily merely by reciting the Shema with its introductory blessings and selections from the Verses of Praise. In our days, however, when such lofty souls are not to be found, the task of beirur must come about through prayer.

To perform a mitzvah that cannot be delegated to another, one forgoes Torah study,14 even [the study of] maaseh merkavah, the sublime Kabbalistic mysteries of the celestial “Chariot,”15

וְהִנֵּה, לְקִיּוּם מִצְוָה שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר לַעֲשׂוֹת עַל־יְדֵי אֲחֵרִים מְבַטְּלִין תַּלְמוּד תּוֹרָה, וַאֲפִילוּ מַעֲשֵׂה מֶרְכָּבָה,

and beyond question one forgoes prayer, which is the state of intellect and intellectually generated awe and love.

וְכָל שֶׁכֵּן תְּפִלָּה שֶׁהִיא בְּחִינַת מוֹחִין וּדְחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ שִׂכְלִיִּים,

The reason is as we have noted; i.e., in order to extract and refine the sparks by means of the practical mitzvot‎, this being the purpose of creation.

וְהַטַּעַם – כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל.

In addition, indeed, the standing of the practical mitzvot and their study far transcends the standing of intellect, meaning intellectually generated awe and love,

וְעוֹד זֹאת, שֶׁבֶּאֱמֶת מְאֹד גָּדְלָה וְגָבְהָה מַעֲלַת הַמִּצְוֹת מַעֲשִׂיּוֹת, וְכֵן לִימּוּדָם, עַל מַעֲלַת הַמּוֹחִין שֶׁהֵן דְּחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ שִׂכְלִיִּים.

The mitzvot requiring action are superior—in their performance and in the study of their laws—not only because they fulfill the ultimate purpose of creation through the extraction of the sparks but also because they bond the soul with G‑d.

For though the verse declares, “and to cleave to Him,”16 i.e., through [cleaving to] His attributes (middot),17

כִּי הֲגַם דִּכְתִיב: "וּלְדָבְקָה בוֹ" עַל־יְדֵי מִדּוֹתָיו,

When one acts in a kindly manner, for example, he cleaves to the supernal sefirah of chesed—and the sefirot are wholly one with G‑d.

still, one does not cleave to the essence (mahut) of the supernal attributes but only to [the externality of] their existence (metziut),

מִכָּל מָקוֹם, אֵינֶנּוּ דָבֵק אֲפִילוּ בְּמִדּוֹת הָעֶלְיוֹנוֹת אֶלָּא בִּמְצִיאוּתָן, וְלֹא בְּמַהוּתָן,

as it is written,18 “I am dust and ashes.”

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "וְאָנֹכִי עָפָר וָאֵפֶר".

This was stated by Abraham with regard to the glimmer of his soul that illuminated his body in comparing it to its source—a radiance of supernal kindness, as explained above at length in Epistle 15, in the name of the Maggid of Mezritch.

Abraham experienced such an intense degree of love (deriving from the attribute of chesed) toward G‑d that he was a “chariot,” a vehicle humbly waiting to be steered by the hands of its Driver.19 Nevertheless, he declared that his measure of love for G‑d was but “dust and ashes” relative to the supernal attribute of chesed.

To appreciate the analogy: A tree, originally composed of the four elements of fire, air, water, and earth, is burned. Losing its first three elements in smoke, it is reduced to its fourth element, mere ashes. Yet, though these ashes and the tree itself are of the same element, the ashes can hardly be compared to the original tree that was “beautiful to behold and good to eat.”20

So, too, the attribute of kindness and love that Abraham possessed while his soul was in his body cannot be compared to the attribute of kindness which is one of the supernal sefirot.

It is thus to be seen that one does not cleave to the essence of the supernal attributes but only to their external state, their state of mere existence.

This is all the more true with regard to the [infinite] Ein Sof-light, for no thought can apprehend Him in His radiance or the diffusion of the life-force issuing from Him.

וְכָל שֶׁכֵּן בְּאוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא, דְּ"לֵית מַחֲשָׁבָה תְּפִיסָא בֵיהּ" בְּאוֹרוֹ וְהִתְפַּשְּׁטוּת הַחַיּוּת מִמֶּנּוּ יִתְבָּרֵךְ,

One can only grasp His existence, that He gives life to all, but not His essence.

כִּי אִם בִּמְצִיאוּתוֹ, שֶׁהוּא שֶׁמְּחַיֶּה אֶת כּוּלָּם, וְלֹא בְּמַהוּתוֹ,

This applies even to the supernal beings, of [whose praise] it is written, “Holy, holy, holy is the L-rd of Hosts.”21

אֲפִילוּ לָעֶלְיוֹנִים, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "קָדוֹשׁ קָדוֹשׁ קָדוֹשׁ ה' צְבָאוֹת כוּ'",

The above phrase is uttered by the Seraphim, angels of the World of Beriah. They perceive that even as G‑d descends to relate to created beings so that He is called the “L-rd of Hosts,” He is kadosh (“holy”), a term which implies that He is separate from them.

Only emanated “effects” can conceive their “cause,”

לְבַד "עֲלוּלִים הַנֶּאֱצָלִים" – מַשִּׂיגִים כָּל אֶחָד בְּ"עִילָּתוֹ"

The spiritual beings of the World of Atzilut are each an “effect” (alul) brought about by a “cause” (ilah) in the levels higher than themselves. These beings vest themselves in each other in turn and at each level are able to comprehend the antecedent “cause” that is vested within them,

according to the order recounted in Etz Chaim, concerning the investment of the visages (partzufim).

כְּפִי הַסֵּדֶר שֶׁבְּ"עֵץ חַיִּים" בְּהִתְלַבְּשׁוּת הַ"פַּרְצוּפִים",

Etz Chaim explains how the “visages” of the supernal sefirot of Atzilut vest themselves in each other. Each “effect” is able to comprehend its “cause”—the “visage” that is garbed within it.

This is not the case with created beings, even with souls of Atzilut.

אֲבָל לֹא בְּנִבְרָאִים אֲפִילוּ בִּנְשָׁמוֹת דַּאֲצִילוּת,

Though the souls of Atzilut are Divinity, still, since they have become sundered from the vessels of the ten sefirot (as explained above in Epistle 2022), they are termed “created beings” and are unable to apprehend the essence of G‑dliness.

Thus, it is written regarding Moses, “You will see My hinderpart”23an external manifestation24 of the mere existence (metziut) of Divinity but not the essence (mahut).

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּמֹשֶׁה רַבֵּינוּ עָלָיו־הַשָּׁלוֹם: "וְרָאִיתָ אֶת אֲחוֹרָי כוּ'".

Thus, through the vision of his soul alone, as the soul gazes upon G‑d without the benefit of mitzvot, even Moses could apprehend no more than externality, not essence.

The performance of mitzvot, however, as the Alter Rebbe will now explain, connects a Jew with the essence of Divinity. When he holds an etrog together with the other three kinds of vegetation and fulfills the mitzvah of the “Four Species” on Sukkot, he is holding on to the essence of Divinity. And so, too, with regard to all the practical mitzvot.

However, as to the performance of mitzvot, these are the works of G‑d, unlike other worldly actions, from which Divinity is utterly concealed. The Alter Rebbe now explains how this comes about:

מַה־שֶּׁאֵין־כֵּן מַעֲשֵׂה הַמִּצְוֹת "מַעֲשֵׂה אֱלֹקִים הֵמָּה"

In the process of the chain of descent from the vessels of Atzilut to Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah, for the vessels of Atzilut that descend into these worlds are the Divinity of these worlds, from the very nature and essence of their external aspect—

הִנֵה בְּדֶרֶךְ הִשְׁתַּלְשְׁלוּת מִכֵּלִים דַּאֲצִילוּת לִבְרִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה, מִמַּהוּתָן וְעַצְמוּתָן דְּחִיצוֹנִיּוּתָן,

as, for example, within the etrog and its “kinds”—

כְּמוֹ עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל אֶתְרוֹג וּמִינָיו,

the Holy One, blessed be He, clothed something of the very nature and essence of the [25internal] attributes of Kindness of za,

הִלְבִּישׁ בָּהֶן הַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא מִמַּהוּתָן וְעַצְמוּתָן דַּחֲסָדִים [פְּנִימִית] [פְּנִימִים] דִּ"זְעֵיר אַנְפִּין",

meaning from their outward state, from the external aspect of these internal attributes,

וְהַיְינוּ מִבְּחִינַת חִיצוֹנִיּוּתָן,

as is known in the case of all mitzvot requiring action.

כַּנּוֹדָע בְּכָל מִצְוֹת מַעֲשִׂיּוֹת.

Man, by contrast, who by means of his intellect or spiritual emotions can attain intellectually generated love and fear,

מַה־שֶּׁאֵין־כֵּן הָאָדָם,

even if he possesses a soul of Atzilut,

אֲפִילוּ יֵשׁ לוֹ נְשָׁמָה דַאֲצִילוּת,

yet since it is clothed in a body,

מֵאַחַר שֶׁמְּלוּבֶּשֶׁת בְּגוּף,

cannot detect and apprehend through26 his soul the nature and essence of the inward attributes of Kindness of za of Atzilut.

לֹא יוּכַל לִמְצוֹא בְּנַפְשׁוֹ וּלְהַשִּׂיג מַהוּתָן וְעַצְמוּתָן שֶׁל פְּנִימִית הַחֲסָדִים דִּ"זְעֵיר אַנְפִּין" דַּאֲצִילוּת,

(27For in general terms, Atzilut represents the state of chayah in the Four Worlds of Atzilut, Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah,

(כִּי הָאֲצִילוּת הִיא בְּחִינַת "חַיָּה" בִּכְלָלוּת הָעוֹלָמוֹת אֲצִילוּת־בְּרִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה,

Specifically, each of the Four Worlds possesses all four soul-levels of nefesh, ruach, neshamah, and chayah. In a general sense, however, each of these Four Worlds corresponds to one of these levels. Asiyah corresponds to nefesh; Yetzirah—to ruach; Beriah—to neshamah; and Atzilut corresponds to chayah.

and [chayah] denotes encompassing transcendence, not being vested within any vessel whatsoever.)

שֶׁהִיא בְּחִינַת מַקִּיף מִלְמַעְלָה וְאֵינָהּ מִתְלַבֶּשֶׁת בִּכְלִי כְּלָל)

Unlike the soul-level in man called neshamah, which reflects his power of comprehension, or ruach, which reflects his spiritual emotions, and so on, each of these soul-levels having their specific “location” within the body, chayah is a transcendent soul-level that encompasses the individual from above.

So, too, with regard to the worlds, chayah (paralleled by the World of Atzilut) is the spiritual level that encompasses from above and does not vest itself at all within a vessel. Thus, a person living within a body cannot possibly apprehend the essence of an entity at the level of Atzilut.

[With regard to the internal attributes of Kindness of za, man is able to apprehend] only their existence through intellectually generated awe and love.

כִּי אִם מְצִיאוּתָן, עַל־יְדֵי דְּחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ שִׂכְלִיִּים.

As to the statement, “You shall see my hinderpart”22and seeing penetrates to the essence of a matter—this refers only to prophecy.

וּמַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב: "וְרָאִיתָ אֶת אֲחוֹרָי", הוּא בְּדֶרֶךְ נְבוּאָה דַּוְקָא.

(28For prophecy entails divestment of the physical,29 as explained in Raaya Mehemna, Parashat Mishpatim.30)

(שֶׁהוּא הִתְפַּשְּׁטוּת הַגַּשְׁמִיּוּת, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּרַעְיָא מְהֵימְנָא פָּרָשַׁת מִשְׁפָּטִים).

Thus, Moses’ apprehension of the essence of Divinity resulted from a state of prophecy that entails divestment from the physical. Through other, nonprophetic means, it is impossible for the soul to apprehend the essence of any of the levels of Atzilut.

This, then, is the reason: No created being is capable of grasping anything whatsoever of the essence of Divinity, the Creator.

וְהַיְינוּ הַטַּעַם, לְפִי שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר לַנִּבְרָא לְהַשִּׂיג כְּלוּם בְּמַהוּת הָאֱלֹקוּת, שֶׁהוּא הַבּוֹרֵא,

And without comprehension, there is no real investiture, or grasping, or cleaving.

וּבְלִי הַשָּׂגָה – אֵין זוֹ הַלְבָּשָׁה וּתְפִיסָא וּדְבֵיקוּת אֲמִיתִּית.

Man is thus incapable of truly cleaving to G‑d’s attributes, i.e., the attributes of Atzilut.

In light of the above, it is clear that the love and fear of G‑d that a Jew generates through meditation during prayer grasps and cleaves to no more than the external aspect of the existence of Divinity and not His essence.

However, as to the etrog, by way of example, its life is drawn and descends from the very essence of the outer aspect of the vessels of nukva of za of Atzilut,

מַה־שֶּׁאֵין־כֵּן הָאֶתְרוֹג עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל, חַיּוּתוֹ נִמְשְׁכָה וְנִשְׁתַּלְשְׁלָה מִמַּהוּת חִיצוֹנִית דְּכֵלִים דְּנוּקְבָא דִּ"זְעֵיר אַנְפִּין" דַּאֲצִילוּת,

which is truly a state of Divinity,

שֶׁהוּא בְּחִינַת אֱלֹקוּת,

as stated in Etz Chaim,31 that all the fruits are [rooted] in Atzilut.

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּעֵץ חַיִּים שֶׁכָּל הַפֵּירוֹת הֵן בַּאֲצִילוּת,

For the thirty vessels of Atzilut descended into Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah in order to become the Divinity of those Worlds

כִּי לַמֶ"ד כֵּלִים דַּאֲצִילוּת יָרְדוּ לִבְרִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה

(32and these are the ten utterances33 by which the world was created

(וְהֵן יוּ"ד מַאֲמָרוֹת שֶׁבָּהֶן נִבְרָא הָעוֹלָם,

through enclothement in nukva of Asiyah, essence in essence).34

עַל־יְדֵי הִתְלַבְּשׁוּת בְּנוּקְבָא דַעֲשִׂיָּה, מַהוּת בְּמַהוּת)

The essence of the vessels of malchut of Atzilut vests itself in the essence of malchut of Asiyah, which is the source of all created beings of that world. Included among them are the fruits of that world, such as the etrog.

While the G‑dliness found in other physical matters is concealed, in an object used for a mitzvah it is manifest, as explained in the Tanya, ch. 23.

For the vessels of Atzilut became the soul of Asiyah, which is actually a state of Divinity.

כִּי הַכֵּלִים דַּאֲצִילוּת נַעֲשׂוּ נְשָׁמָה בַּעֲשִׂיָּה שֶׁהִיא בְּחִינַת אֱלֹקוּת מַמָּשׁ,

For in Atzilut, “He and His vessels are one”35—the Emanator (the infinite light) and the emanation (the vessels of Atzilut).

לְפִי שֶׁבַּאֲצִילוּת "אִיהוּ וְגַרְמוֹהִי חַד", הַמַּאֲצִיל וְהַנֶּאֱצָל,

And through the enclothement of the essence of the soul [of the vessels of Atzilut] in the essence of the vessels of nukva (i.e., malchut) of Asiyah, the etrog came into being.

וְעַל־יְדֵי הִתְלַבְּשׁוּת מַהוּת הַנְּשָׁמָה בְּמַהוּת הַכֵּלִים דְּנוּקְבָא דַעֲשִׂיָּה – נִתְהַוָּה הָאֶתְרוֹג.

The result is that in holding the etrog and waving it as the law requires,

נִמְצָא, כְּשֶׁתּוֹפֵס הָאֶתְרוֹג וּמְנַעַנְעוֹ כְּהִלְכָתוֹ,

one is actually holding the life-force which is clothed within it and which derives from the nukva (i.e., malchut) of Atzilut,

הֲרֵי זֶה תּוֹפֵס מַמָּשׁ חַיּוּתוֹ הַמְלוּבָּשׁ בּוֹ מִנּוּקְבָא דַאֲצִילוּת,

and [malchut] is united with the [infinite] Ein Sof-light, the Emanator of Atzilut, blessed be He.

הַמְיוּחֶדֶת בְּאוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף הַמַּאֲצִיל בָּרוּךְ־הוּא.

However, is this not also the case when one holds any other fruit, where no mitzvah is involved?

The answer is, as previously explained, that in other physical objects, the G‑dly life-force is concealed, whereas it is revealed in objects used for a mitzvah, for these are the “works of G‑d.”

This is not the case concerning one’s intention while performing the mitzvah of the etrog.

מַה־שֶּׁאֵין־כֵּן בְּכַוָּונָתוֹ,

Here, even if he is familiar with the mystical [Kabbalistic and Chasidic] meanings involved, he does not grasp and hold on to the essence (of malchut of Atzilut, the source of the etrog) but only to the external fact of its mere existence.

אֵינוֹ מַשִּׂיג וְתוֹפֵס, אַף הַיּוֹדֵעַ הַסּוֹד. – אֶלָּא מְצִיאוּתָהּ, וְלֹא מַהוּתָהּ.

This is entirely unlike holding a physical etrog and performing the mitzvah with it, at which time one grasps the essence of the physical etrog together with its source in Divinity.

However, by studying the laws of the etrog, one does attain and grasp the etrog proper and its mitzvah appropriately by speech and thought.

אַךְ בְּלִימּוּד הִלְכוֹת אֶתְרוֹג מַשִּׂיג וְתוֹפֵס הָאֶתְרוֹג מַמָּשׁ וּמִצְוָתוֹ כַּהֲלָכָה, בִּבְחִינַת דִּבּוּר וּמַחֲשָׁבָה,

For here he is articulating or understanding or thinking about the laws of the physical etrog, whose essence he can grasp, and not its spiritual intent in the heavenly realms.

Even more so, he who studies the esoteric dimension of the mitzvah of the etrog according to the teachings of the Kabbalah and Chasidut.

וְכָל שֶׁכֵּן הַלּוֹמֵד הַסּוֹד.

For here, too, we are speaking of the esoteric dimension of the physical etrog, whose essence he can comprehend, and not of the spiritual intentions of the mitzvah or, yet higher, the relevant configurations of sefirot in the World of Atzilut.

This, however, refers only to [the study of] the Kabbalistic mysteries of the mitzvah itself,

אֲבָל דַּוְקָא סוֹדוֹת הַמִּצְוָה,

for this is not inferior to the study of its laws; indeed, quite the contrary…,

דְּלֹא גָרַע מִלִּימּוּד הִלְכוֹתֶיהָ, וְאַדְּרַבָּה כוּ',

even though he does not apprehend the essence of the spiritual intent of the mitzvah as it applies to the visages of Atzilut.

אַף שֶׁאֵינוֹ מַשִּׂיג הַמַּהוּת.

Moreover, his understanding of the essence of the etrog, the object with which the mitzvah is observed, grants him some comprehension of the essence of the mystical reaches of the subject at large.

It does not apply to [the study of] the order of Hishtalshelut, the chainlike stages of progressive self-screening whereby the Divine light descends from level to level until ultimately this corporeal world is created:

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן בְּסֵדֶר הַהִשְׁתַּלְשְׁלוּת,

Even if one does comprehend the external aspect of the existence of the sefirot and spiritual levels involved,

אַף אִם מַשִּׂיג הַמְּצִיאוּת,

this is not intrinsically as worthy as the study of the laws of the mitzvot, where one comprehends and grasps their essence.

לֹא עָדִיף מִצַּד עַצְמוֹ כְּלִימּוּד הַמִּצְוֹת שֶׁמַּשִּׂיג וְתוֹפֵס הַמַּהוּת,

Knowledge of the various spiritual levels may indeed be superior for an unrelated reason, namely, that it leads to a “complete heart” (lev shalem), a wholehearted awe of G‑d—and this, as the Alter Rebbe will later say, is the purpose of all the mitzvot. Intrinsically, however, gaining this knowledge is not superior to studying the laws governing the performance of the mitzvot, whose essence he can understand.

Moreover, this [study] is considered [in certain cases] the equivalent of actual performance,

וּמַעֲלֶה עָלָיו כְּאִלּוּ קִיֵּים בְּפוֹעַל מַמָּשׁ,

as it is written, “This is the law [of the burnt offering and the meal offering…].”36

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "זֹאת הַתּוֹרָה כוּ'".

The Gemara comments on this, “He who occupies himself with these laws is considered as if he had actually offered a burnt offering and a meal offering.”37

Mastering the revealed laws of the commandments is thus in one sense superior to delving into the innermost dimension (the pnimiyut) of the Torah on esoteric subjects such as the order of Hishtalshelut. For the study of the laws relates to the essence of the subject at hand, such as the physical objects with which the commandments are performed.

G‑d’s wisdom, moreover, which is inherent in these laws, descends and permeates the physical objects around which the laws revolve. It is thus the essence of G‑d’s wisdom that the student comprehends, and thereby, he becomes involved in the “wondrous union” described in the Tanya, Part I, ch. 5, whereby his mortal intellect simultaneously “encompasses and is encompassed by” the Divine wisdom embodied in the Torah which he is studying. This intellectual union in turn unites his soul (which transcends his intellect) with the infinite light that is vested in the wisdom of the Torah.

The above is true only when he understands the essence of his subject. This is the case when he studies (for example) the laws regulating the observance of the commandments. If, by contrast, his subject is the hierarchies of angels in the Worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah, or, yet higher, the configurations of sefirot within the World of Atzilut, then his grasp is no more than external: he may indeed be aware of his subject’s existence, but he will be unable to know its essence.

Now, all the above notwithstanding, the Alter Rebbe is about to point out the superior aspect of the study of Hishtalshelut.

However, the knowledge of the existence of the Hishtalshelut is also a lofty and exalted mitzvah.38 Indeed, it outweighs them all, all of the mitzvot and the study of their laws in the Torah.

אֶלָּא שֶׁיְּדִיעַת הַמְּצִיאוּת מֵהַהִשְׁתַּלְשְׁלוּת, הִיא גַּם כֵּן מִצְוָה רָמָה וְנִשָּׂאָה, וְאַדְּרַבָּה – עוֹלָה עַל כּוּלָּנָה,

Thus, it is written, “Know this day […that the L-rd is G‑d],”39

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "וְיָדַעְתָּ הַיּוֹם כוּ'",

and “Know the G‑d of your father…”40; i.e., there is an obligation to attain a knowledge or apprehension of Divinity.

"דַּע אֶת אֱלֹקֵי אָבִיךָ כוּ'",

Moreover, this leads to a “whole heart,” for the latter verse concludes, “and serve Him with a whole heart”; i.e., a knowledge of G‑d leads one to serve Him with one’s entire being,

וּמְבִיאָה לְ"לֵב שָׁלֵם" כוּ',

As explained in Likkutei Torah, in the discourse beginning V’Lo Tashbit, this refers to serving G‑d with awe—and this is the ultimate intent of all the mitzvot, as the Torah states, “G‑d has commanded us to perform all these statutes so that we may fear the L-rd our G‑d.”41 And it is the study of the innermost dimensions of the Torah and a knowledge of the various spiritual levels which comprise the order of Hishtalshelut that enable one to fulfill the mitzvah of “knowing G‑d,” which leads in turn to the “whole heart” of “fearing Him.” Thus, the Alter Rebbe concludes:

And this is the essential thing: the wholehearted awe of G‑d is the ultimate purpose of all the commandments.

שֶׁהוּא הָעִיקָּר,

As mentioned above, one can attain this state only through a knowledge of the order of Hishtalshelut, even though this knowledge is merely an awareness of its existence and not a grasp of its essence.

The comprehension of existence entails divesting [this subject] of any physicality….

וְהַשָּׂגַת הַמְּצִיאוּת הוּא לְהַפְשִׁיט מִגַּשְׁמִיּוּת כוּ'.

In other words, one should endeavor to picture its spirituality. Hence, as the Rebbe has often stressed, one should study the innermost and mystical dimension of the Torah in such a way that one “derives sustenance from it”42—viz., the “sustenance” derived from comprehension. And soundly-based comprehension can be secured only when this dimension of the Torah is studied with the intellectual elucidation afforded by the teachings of Chabad.

However, this mitzvah (of knowing G‑d and apprehending Divinity) is but one mitzvah of the 613,

רַק שֶׁזּוֹ הִיא מִצְוָה אַחַת מִתַּרְיַ"ג,

and a man must fulfill all 613,

וְהָאָדָם – צָרִיךְ לְקַיֵּים כָּל תַּרְיַ"ג,

for they descend from the essence of the external aspect of the vessels of Atzilut, a source whose standing was explained above.

לְפִי שֶׁהֵן הִשְׁתַּלְשְׁלוּת הַמַּהוּת דְּחִיצוֹנִית דְּכֵלִים דַּאֲצִילוּת,

Hence, one must extensively study all 613 mitzvot and [hence] fulfill them in actual practice in thought, speech, and deed—which parallel Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah respectively—

לְכָךְ, צָרִיךְ לְהַרְבּוֹת בְּלִימּוּד כָּל הַתַּרְיַ"ג וְקִיּוּמָן בְּפוֹעַל מַמָּשׁ בְּמַחֲשָׁבָה דִּבּוּר וּמַעֲשֶׂה, שֶׁהֵן בְּרִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה,

in order to purify whatever needs purification (beirur) there.

לְבָרֵר בֵּירוּרִין אֲשֶׁר שָׁם.

As previously explained, the extraction and elevation of the sparks exiled in the various worlds is the ultimate purpose of creation.

In addition:

וְעוֹד זֹאת,

The Alter Rebbe will now state that beyond the above-discussed superior quality of mitzvot requiring action (as well as the study of their laws), they are also essentially superior to the source of the soul by virtue of their source.

Thus, the love and awe experienced by the soul, though spiritual in nature, pale in comparison to these mitzvot (even though they are performed with physical entities), not only because these mitzvot and the extraction of the sparks accomplished thereby are the ultimate purpose of creation, but in essence, too, they are superior to the source of the soul.

For the truth is that the purifications in Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah of the 288 [sparks of Tohu] by means of the Torah and mitzvot that man fulfills in thought, speech, and deed,

שֶׁבֶּאֱמֶת הַבֵּירוּרִין שֶׁבִּבְרִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה מֵרַפַּ"ח, עַל־יְדֵי תּוֹרָה וּמִצְוֹת בְּמַחֲשָׁבָה דִּבּוּר וּמַעֲשֶׂה,

are superior in their source to the nefesh-ruach-neshamah of man that possess the love and fear of G‑d.

גְּבוֹהִין בְּשָׁרְשָׁן מִנֶּפֶשׁ־רוּחַ־נְשָׁמָה שֶׁבָּאָדָם,

For they derive from the Divine Name Sag of the internal aspect of Adam Kadmon,

כִּי הֵן מִ"סַּ"ג" שֶׁבִּפְנִימִית "אָדָם קַדְמוֹן",

while the nefesh-ruach-neshamah that has already been corrected through the Divine Name Mah issues (i.e., this Name issues) from the “forehead” [of Adam Kadmon], being a mere reflection [of it], but not of its essence.

וְנֶפֶשׁ־רוּחַ־נְשָׁמָה שֶׁכְּבָר נִתְקְנוּ עַל־יְדֵי "מַ"ה", הוּא יוֹצֵא מֵהַ"מֵּצַח" הֶאָרָה בְּעָלְמָא.

The Divine Names Sag and Mah are two of the four Names that echo the varying numerical values which result when the names of the four letters that comprise the Name Havayah are spelled out in any of four different ways. For example, one possible spelling entails the repeated use of the letter vav while another possible spelling entails the repeated use of the letter alef.

When the Hebrew names of the four letters yud and hey and vav and hey are written out with the full complement (milui) of the letter vav, the numerical equivalent of the letters used totals 63 (hence the Divine Name ס"ג). When it is written with the full complement of the letter alef, the numerical equivalent of the letters used totals 45 (hence the Divine Name מ"ה).

The Kabbalah explains how the Name Sag is related to the World of Tohu while the Name Mah is related to the World of Tikkun, which is inferior to it.

The Alter Rebbe is thus stating here that the purifications of the action-related mitzvot find their source in the Divine Name Sag that derives from the internal aspect of Adam Kadmon, the primal Divine thought of creation that encompasses all subsequent stages and levels of creation.

By contrast, since the souls of Jews derive from the World of Tikkun (lit., “correction”), the nefesh or ruach or neshamah is of a level at which it was already corrected by means of the Divine Name Mah. And this Name is but a glimmer that derives from the “forehead” of Adam Kadmon.

Hence, it is written, “before a king ruled [over the Children of Israel].”43

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "לִפְנֵי מְלוֹךְ מֶלֶךְ כוּ'".

The verse reads thus: “These are the kings who ruled in the land of Edom before a king ruled over the Children of Israel.” The Kabbalah understands these “kings” as a reference to the sefirot in the World of Tohu who reigned before (i.e., on a superior level to) “a king who ruled over the Jews,” i.e., the World of Tikkun, which is the source of their souls. For the World of Tikkun is merely a glimmer of Adam Kadmon while Tohu (from whence derive the exiled sparks and their purification) stems from the Divine Name Sag, which is rooted in the internal level of Adam Kadmon.

For this reason, man is sustained by food of the inorganic, vegetative, and living classes and purifies them by the Mah within him,

וְהַיְינוּ טַעֲמָא שֶׁהָאָדָם חַי בִּמְזוֹנוֹת דּוֹמֵם־צוֹמֵחַ־חַי, וּמְבָרְרָן בְּ"מַ"ה" שֶׁבּוֹ,

Since the soul derives from the World of Tikkun and incorporates the Divine Name Mah, it is thereby able to extract and purify the sparks found within the inorganic, vegetative, and living classes.

and lives through them,

וְחַי בָּהֶם,

Having refined these sparks that are found within the inorganic, vegetative, and living classes and having drawn Divine energy upon them from their lofty source in Tohu, man in turn is then invigorated by them with an additional measure of spiritual vitality.

because they derive from Sag.

לְפִי שֶׁהֵם מִ"סַ"ג".

However, is it not paradoxical that man, who is so far superior to the inorganic, vegetative, and living classes, should derive his sustenance from them?

The teachings of Chasidut find the answer in the verse, “Not on bread alone does a man live but on all that comes forth from G‑d’s mouth does a man live.”44 It is not the physical, vegetative bread alone that sustains man, but the creative Divine utterance that is found within the bread.

However, since man is provided with his ongoing existence by his own creative Divine utterance, viz., “Let us make man,”45 why does he need to be sustained by the creative word that sustains vegetative growth (or, for that matter, the inorganic and living classes of existence)?

The answer lies in the fact that the creative utterance that animates bread derives from a loftier source (the World of Tohu) than the source of the creative utterance that animates man (the World of Tikkun). In terms of the Divine Names, Sag transcends Mah.

Furthermore, there is yet another reason as to why action-related mitzvot are loftier than the soul’s love and fear of G‑d,

וְעוֹד זֹאת,

as it is written,46 “My Face—i.e., My innermost dimension, My pnimiyut, as implied by the word panim—shall not be seen.”47

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "וּפָנַי לֹא יֵרָאוּ" –

This means that the inwardness of a truly higher degree cannot descend below in a revealed manner,

שֶׁפְּנִימִית הָעֶלְיוֹן אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לֵירֵד לְמַטָּה,

but only the external aspect and the hinderpart,

רַק חִיצוֹנִיּוּתוֹ וּבְחִינַת אֲחוֹרַיִים,

which are the withered vestige of the supreme wisdom.

שֶׁהוּא נוֹבְלוֹת חָכְמָה עִילָּאָה.

Thus, the love and awe by which a man connects with the supernal attributes (middot), which are the innermost essence of the sefirot, cannot draw down into the soul the innermost essence of these attributes but merely their external aspects.

The action-related mitzvot, by contrast, derive from the netzach-hod-yesod—the external and revelatory aspect—of the sefirot. This lower level can descend below in its essential and inward state in action-related mitzvot.

Another point in which the mitzvot requiring action are superior to the love and awe experienced by the soul:

וְעוֹד זֹאת,

The Alter Rebbe will now explain that since love and fear are essentially spiritual in nature, they resemble the mere glimmer (and not the essence) of the master’s own intellectual illumination that he imparts to his disciple. In contrast, a physical seminal drop is capable of creating a child—it imparts the entire essence. So much so, in fact, that it is possible for the “power of the child to outshine the power of his father”48 so that gifts dormant within the father can become manifest in the child.

The Alter Rebbe will now use this analogy to explain the difference between love and awe, which are spiritual, and the action-related mitzvot, which are physical. Love and awe are “illuminations” (orot), like the illumination of intellect, while the practical mitzvot are “vessels” (kelim) that give forth the essence, similar to the physical drop that gives forth the entire essence of its source.

For verbalizing any phrase of the supreme wisdom does not procreate—imparting wisdom does not create any being ex nihilo,

שֶׁהֲרֵי הַדִּבּוּר מִדִּבְרֵי חָכְמָה עִילָּאָה אֵינוֹ מוֹלִיד,

whereas the drop drawn from the vessel of the supreme wisdom, like the drop that derives from the father’s brain,49 has the power to procreate and bring about existence ex nihilo.

וְהַטִּפָּה שֶׁנִּמְשְׁכָה מֵהַכְּלִי דְּחָכְמָה עִילָּאָה יֵשׁ בָּהּ כֹּחַ הַמּוֹלִיד וּמְהַוֶּוה יֵשׁ מֵאַיִן.

Also, a flow of the supreme wisdom—an illumination which is paralleled by a person’s capacity for wisdom—is incorporated within it (i.e., within the drop that derives from the vessel of supernal wisdom).

וְגַם הַמְשָׁכַת חָכְמָה עִילָּאָה, כְּלוּלָה בָּהּ.

The reason is that into it, there is drawn the essence and nature of the supreme wisdom.

וְהַטַּעַם, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁבָּהּ נִמְשָׁךְ מַהוּתָהּ וְעַצְמוּתָהּ דְּחָכְמָה עִילָּאָה.

All the above refers to the drop that derives from the vessels of wisdom.

This is not the case with thought and speech, where the intellect they draw forth does not possess the essence of the original wisdom;

מַה־שֶּׁאֵין־כֵּן בְּדִבּוּר וּמַחֲשָׁבָה,

even in intellectual conception in any field of wisdom,

וַאֲפִילוּ בְּהַשְׂכָּלַת הַשֵּׂכֶל בְּאֵיזוֹ חָכְמָה,

Though this is a rarefied level of conceptualization, transcending even the subtle articulation sketched by “letters of thought,” nevertheless:

this wisdom is a mere reflection that extends from the essence of intellect in the soul.

הֲרֵי חָכְמָה זוֹ רַק הֶאָרָה מִתְפַּשֶּׁטֶת מִמַּהוּת הַשֵּׂכֶל שֶׁבַּנֶּפֶשׁ וְעַצְמוּתוֹ,

Then, too, this reflection is a mere garment for the very essence of the intellect,

וְהֶאָרָה זוֹ הִיא רַק לְבוּשׁ לְמַהוּתוֹ וְעַצְמוּתוֹ שֶׁל הַשֵּׂכֶל,

and the intellect in turn is but a reflection and garment for the essence of the soul.

וְהַשֵּׂכֶל הוּא הֶאָרָה וּלְבוּשׁ לְמַהוּת הַנֶּפֶשׁ.

Thus, the soul’s essence is not to be found even within intellectual conception—unlike the drop, which, though physical, comprises within it the essence of the soul, as the Alter Rebbe now goes on to say.

In contrast, there is also drawn into the drop something of the very essence of the soul, which is clothed within the brain.

מַה־שֶּׁאֵין־כֵּן הַטִּפָּה, נִמְשָׁךְ בָּהּ גַּם מִמַּהוּת הַנֶּפֶשׁ וְעַצְמוּתָהּ הַמְלוּבֶּשֶׁת בְּמוֹחִין,

Hence, it begets offspring precisely similar to itself, to the soul itself.

וְלָכֵן מוֹלִידָה בְּדוֹמֶה לָהּ מַמָּשׁ.

This is the difference between the Divine service of angels, which are born of a spiritual kiss, and hence, their Divine service is likewise spiritual,

וְזֶהוּ הַהֶפְרֵשׁ בֵּין עֲבוֹדַת הַמַּלְאָכִים הַיּוֹצְאִין מִ"נְּשִׁיקִין"

and that of souls, which issue from the “vessels” that contain an element of the “essence” and which thus resemble the tangible product of the seminal drop which incorporates the entire essence of its source.

לְהַנְּשָׁמוֹת הַיּוֹצְאִין מֵהַכֵּלִים.

According to the above, however, it would seem that within the love and awe of souls as well, there should be an element of essence—whereas we learned above that the love and awe of souls are likened to the mere reflection (and not the essence) of his own illumination, which a master imparts to his disciple.

The Alter Rebbe anticipates this query by explaining that since the vessels of Atzilut become a neshamah to Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah, there are therefore two forms of issue from the soul itself: one is a radiance, which is intellectual love and fear; the other is an issue of essence that finds expression in action-related mitzvot.

However, the vessels of Atzilut become the soul of Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyahand from this soul emanate two manners of issue.

אַךְ הַכֵּלִים דַּאֲצִילוּת נַעֲשׂוּ נְשָׁמָה לִבְרִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה,

Therefore, intellectual love and awe are comparable to the angels that issue from the spiritual kiss, which irradiates only the external aspect of ChaBaDchochmah, binah, and daat, the three intellective sefirot—in Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah.

וְהִלְכָּךְ, דְחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ שִׂכְלִיִּים הֵן כְּמַלְאָכִים דִּ"נְשִׁיקִין" מֵהֶאָרַת חִיצוֹנִית דְּחָכְמָה־בִּינָה־דַּעַת בִּבְרִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה.

Though it derives from the vessels of Atzilut, it is still not of the degree of essence.

The reason is that the innermost dimension of ChaBaD and the essential nature of the indwelling light (or pnimi) cannot be revealed except through the radiance of the vessels that descend below,

וְהַטַּעַם, מִשּׁוּם דִּפְנִימִית חָכְמָה־בִּינָה־דַּעַת וּמַהוּתוֹ וְעַצְמוּתוֹ שֶׁל אוֹר פְּנִימִי, אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְהִתְגַּלּוֹת, אֶלָּא עַל־יְדֵי הֶאָרַת הַכֵּלִים דַּוְקָא, הַיּוֹרְדִים לְמַטָּה

as does the seminal drop of man issuing from the brain.

כְּטִפַּת הָאָדָם מִמּוֹחִין,

As it is written, “My Face—My innermost dimension—shall not be seen.” 42

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "וּפָנַי לֹא יֵרָאוּ".

Not being manifest, it must therefore descend in a concealed manner, similar to the drop.

The Alter Rebbe will now point out the superior quality inherent in the very service of action-related mitzvot in comparison to intellectually generated love and awe. For the direction of the latter form of Divine service is merely elevation (haalaah), which causes a corresponding “elevation of the lights” above. The ultimate intent of creation is fulfilled not by this but by the practical commandments, for their function is the drawing down (hamshachah) of Divinity to a state of revelation in this world below.

Besides all the above,50 i.e., all the above-mentioned ways in which the action-related mitzvot are superior to intellectually aroused love and fear, there is yet another superior quality to the practical mitzvot:

וּבַר מִן כָּל דֵּין,

Even in the case of a soul of Atzilut, though it derives from the vessels of Atzilut,

אֲפִילוּ בִּנְשָׁמָה דַאֲצִילוּת, אַף שֶׁהִיא מִכֵּלִים דַּאֲצִילוּת,

and equally in the case of nefesh-ruach, which derive from the vessels of Yetzirah-Asiyah,51

וְכֵן בְּנֶפֶשׁ־רוּחַ מִכֵּלִים דִּיצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה

their intellectual [52fear and] love, which themselves are a mode of elevation, also arouse in the vessels of Yetzirah-Asiyah a state of upward elevation through an arousal initiated from below.

הִנֵּה רְחִימוּ [אולי צריך להיות: דְּחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ] שִׂכְלִיִּים שֶׁלָּהֶם – מְעוֹרְרִים גַּם כֵּן בְּכֵלִים דִּיצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה בְּחִינַת הַעֲלָאָה מִמַּטָּה לְמַעְלָה בְּ"אִתְעָרוּתָא דִלְתַתָּא",

However, this is a state of departure alone, G‑d forbid.

וְזֶהוּ בְּחִינַת הִסְתַּלְּקוּת לְבַד חַס וְשָׁלוֹם.

The effect on the vessels is that they depart upward and do not fulfill their purpose, just as love and fear that do not descend into expression in mitzvot are also in a state of elevation and departure. When love and fear do descend into mitzvot, they enhance the effect of the mitzvot in drawing down Divine light.

But eliciting from above downward is effected only by means of the practical mitzvot, which draw light into the vessels,

אֲבָל בְּחִינַת הַמְשָׁכָה מִלְמַעְלָה לְמַטָּה, הוּא עַל־יְדֵי מִצְוֹת מַעֲשִׂיּוֹת דַּוְקָא, לְהַמְשִׁיךְ אוֹר בַּכֵּלִים,

and specifically into the external aspect of the vessels so that the external aspect of the superior level descends while the internal aspect of the inferior level rises.

וּבְחִיצוֹנִית הַכֵּלִים דַּוְקָא, שֶׁחִיצוֹנִיּוּת הָעֶלְיוֹן יוֹרֵד לְמַטָּה וּפְנִימִיּוּת הַתַּחְתּוֹן עוֹלֶה לְמַעְלָה.

As created beings thus experience an upward-directed longing for the Divine, Divinity descends into this world.

This is the intent of the above-quoted Zohar in Parashat Pekudei,53 that “there is an order [of elevation and an order of descent].”

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּזֹּהַר פָּרָשַׁת פְּקוּדֵי הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל "דְּאִית סִדּוּרָא כוּ'".

Both are needed for the Divine purpose, i.e., for man’s spiritual service, the elevation and the elicitation,

וּשְׁתֵּיהֶן צוֹרֶךְ גָּבוֹהַּ, הַעֲלָאָה וְהַמְשָׁכָה,

by the elevation of mayin nukvin from the Divine Name Sag that is accomplished (by the elevation of the sparks) by deed and speech.

עַל־יְדֵי הַעֲלָאַת "מַיִּין נוּקְבִין" מִ"סַּ"ג", בִּבְחִינַת עוֹבָדָא וּמִלּוּלָא.

This is the ultimate purpose of the downward progression of all the various worlds—that the supernal light be revealed below,

וְזֶהוּ תַּכְלִית הַהִשְׁתַּלְשְׁלוּת, לְהִתְגַּלּוֹת אוֹר עֶלְיוֹן לְמַטָּה,

and not that the inferior level be elevated, for this [elevation] can only be momentary, until a further descent.

וְלֹא לַעֲלוֹת הַתַּחְתּוֹן לְמַעְלָה, שֶׁזֶּה, אֵינוֹ אֶלָּא לְפִי שָׁעָה.

And even so, when an elevation is necessary, this involves—not the ascent of the light, for that would be a move toward departure, but—specifically an elevation of the vessels toward the supernal lights.

וְאַף גַּם זֹאת, דַּוְקָא עֲלִיּוֹת הַכֵּלִים לְאוֹרוֹת עֶלְיוֹנִים

This is the specific quality of Shabbat and Yom Kippur, at which time there is an “elevation of the worlds” (aliyat haolamot), where the vessels are in a state of elevation toward the supernal lights,

הִיא מַעֲלַת הַשַּׁבָּת וְיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים,

but not the elevation and departure of the lights, G‑d forbid, as is written in Pri Etz Chaim.54

אֲבָל לֹא עֲלִיּוֹת וְהִסְתַּלְּקוּת הָאוֹרוֹת חַס וְשָׁלוֹם, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בִּפְרִי עֵץ חַיִּים,

The nefesh-ruach-neshamah of man relative to his physical body in This World are considered as lights relative to vessels.

וְנֶפֶשׁ־רוּחַ־נְשָׁמָה שֶׁל הָאָדָם לְגַבֵּי גוּפוֹ בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה חֲשִׁיבֵי כְּאוֹרוֹת לְגַבֵּי כֵּלִים,

So, too, are intellectual fear and love relative to mitzvot of action; they, too, are considered as lights relative to vessels.

וְכֵן דְּחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ שִׂכְלִיִּים לְגַבֵּי מִצְוֹת מַעֲשִׂיּוֹת דַּוְקָא.

This is why Moses offered [515] prayers equivalent in number to [the Hebrew word] Va’etchanan,55 asking that he be privileged to enter the Holy Land, specifically so that he could fulfill the practical mitzvot.

וְלָכֵן הִתְפַּלֵּל מֹשֶה רַבֵּינוּ עָלָיו־הַשָּׁלוֹם תְּפִלּוֹת כְּמִנְיַן "וָאֶתְחַנַּן", עַל קִיּוּם מִצְוֹת מַעֲשִׂיּוֹת דַּוְקָא.

Only in the Holy Land can the practical mitzvot be fulfilled in their entirety—and the fulfillment of the practical mitzvot is the ultimate purpose of the entire Hishtalshelut, for through them, Divinity is drawn down to this nether world.

So, too, as regards the physical utterance of their laws.

וְהוּא הַדִּין לְדִבּוּר גַּשְׁמִי שֶׁל הִלְכוֹתֵיהֶן.

For by uttering and studying the laws of the mitzvot with physical speech, one also draws down the light below.

But let us understand how an etrog, which derives from the 288 sparks that have not yet been purified,

אַךְ לְהָבִין, אֵיךְ הָאֶתְרוֹג שֶׁהוּא מֵרַפַּ"ח שֶׁלֹּא נִבְרְרוּ עֲדַיִין,

Since this physical fruit derives its life-force from kelipat nogah, it contains some element of the 288 sparks of Tohu which have not yet been elevated to Divinity.

and so, too, the parchment scroll of the tefillin, upon which the Torah passages are inscribed,

וְכֵן קְלַף הַתְּפִילִּין,

can elicit light into the vessels of z’eyr anpin and nukva of Atzilut that have already been purified and rectified through the [purifying] Name Mah so that they are a state of G‑dliness.

יַמְשִׁיךְ אוֹר בְּכֵלִים דִּזְעֵיר אַנְפִּין וְנוּקְבָא דַּאֲצִילוּת, שֶׁכְּבָר נִבְרְרוּ וְנִתְקְנוּ עַל־יְדֵי שֵׁם "מַ"ה" לִהְיוֹת בְּחִינַת אֱלֹקוּת?

The analogy for this is the process of sowing and planting.

הִנֵּה הַמָּשָׁל לָזֶה – הִיא הַזְּרִיעָה וְהַנְּטִיעָה,

The seed stimulates the power of growth within the soil,

שֶׁהַגַּרְעִין מְעוֹרֵר כֹּחַ הַצּוֹמֵחַ שֶׁבָּאָרֶץ,

which is G‑d’s command, “Let the earth sprout forth…fruit trees…”56

שֶׁהוּא דְּבַר ה': "תַּדְשֵׁא הָאָרֶץ כוּ', עֵץ פְּרִי כוּ'",

The actual growth is not from the seed but from the power of growth (as explained above in Epistle 20). The seed merely serves as an “arousal from below,” stimulating the particular aspect of the power of growth that finds expression within it. After the seed decomposes, this particular power becomes incorporated within the universal power of growth that is found in the ground.

It then stimulates the power of growth within the earth to produce the same sort of fruit tree as the seed that was implanted. The essence of the power of growth is the Divine decree, “Let the earth sprout forth…,” which is the ultimate source of all vegetative growth.

The G‑d-given ability of the seed to rouse the power of growth acts:

through the elevation of mayin nukvin to its source.

עַל־יְדֵי הַעֲלָאַת "מַיִּין נוּקְבִין" לְשָׁרְשׁוֹ,

The seed, whose source is within the power of growth, serves as an “arousal from below,” from the recipient below to the benefactor. Although the seed that is planted can in no way compare to the power of growth, it can nevertheless arouse this power, for this is its source.

In this manner, the parchment of the tefillin and the etrog of the “Four Species” arouse unto the loftiest of levels; this is the Name Sag, which precedes (and transcends) the shattering of the vessels,

כָּכָה מְעוֹרְרִים הַקְּלָף וְהָאֶתְרוֹג – עַד רוּם הַמַּעֲלוֹת, שֶׁהוּא שֵׁם "סַ"ג" שֶׁלִּפְנֵי הַשְּׁבִירָה,

and which is the very essence of the lights of Adam Kadmon,

שֶׁהוּא מַהוּת וְעַצְמוּת אוֹרוֹת שֶׁבְּ"אָדָם קַדְמוֹן",

As explained above, Adam Kadmon is the first visage and thought of the infinite light as it encompasses all of creation. Here is to be found the essence of the visage and not merely a radiance. Thus, the Divine Name Sag relates to the essence of the illuminations of Adam Kadmon.

and not merely a reflection, as is the Name Mah, which issues from the “forehead.”

וְלֹא הֶאָרָה בְּעָלְמָא כְּמוֹ שֵׁם "מַ"ה" שֶׁמִּמִּצְחוֹ.

All this is accomplished through the actual performance of the commandments of the tefillin and the etrog.

Similarly, the study and careful examination of their laws, the laws regulating these mitzvot,

וְכֵן בְּלִימּוּד וְעִיּוּן הִלְכוֹתֵיהֶן

arouses the chochmah-binah-daat of the ten sefirot of the vessels of z’eyr anpin and nukva,

מְעוֹרֵר בְּחִינַת חָכְמָה־בִּינָה־דַּעַת שֶׁבְּעֶשֶׂר סְפִירוֹת דְּכֵלִים דִּזְעֵיר אַנְפִּין וְנוּקְבָא,

and so upward to the greatest heights, including chochmah-binah-daat of Sag of the inner dimension of Adam Kadmon issuing through the “eyes” [of Adam Kadmon].

וְעַד רוּם הַמַּעֲלוֹת גַּם כֵּן, בְּחִינַת חָכְמָה־בִּינָה־דַּעַת שֶׁבְּ"סַ"ג" דִּפְנִימִית "אָדָם קַדְמוֹן", הַיּוֹצֵא דֶּרֶךְ הָ"עֵינַיִם" כוּ'.

“Eyes,” signifying sight, denote an inner and essential level of Divinity, unlike the external aspect denoted by “forehead.”

In summary, practical mitzvot performed with physical objects arouse their source unto the loftiest of levels, unto the Divine Name Sag, the level that transcends the “breaking of the vessels.” This is also true with regard to studying the laws of these mitzvot; study likewise effects an elevation to this lofty level, for the study of a mitzvah is likened to its actual performance.

What, however, happens when one studies the laws of prohibitory commands? One cannot say that this study too is regarded “as if he performed them.” Particularly so, with regard to those instances that do not occur in practice at all. For with regard to those that can occur, we at least say that “if one remains passive and does not transgress, he is rewarded as if he had performed a positive command.”57 However, when the relevant opportunity does not occur at all, this obviously does not apply. Yet despite all this, it was stated above that one should study the laws to an even greater extent than one studies the order of Hishtalshelut, even though a study of the latter leads to a love and fear of G‑d!

The Alter Rebbe now addresses this issue, explaining that there is a certain aspect of Torah study that is common to both positive and negative commandments: Simply studying a subject, even if it has no practical application, binds the individual to supernal wisdom, inasmuch as this is the source from which all the detailed laws emanate.

All the foregoing, i.e., as to how through observing the practical mitzvot and studying their laws one attains to the Divine Name Sag that transcends the “breaking of the vessels,”

וְכָל הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

concerns positive commandments but not, it would seem, the study of particulars of the prohibitions,

הוּא בְּמִצְוֹת עֲשֵׂה, אֲבָל לֹא בְּלִימּוּד פְּרָטֵי הִלְכוֹת אִיסּוּרֵי לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה לִכְאוֹרָה,

particularly those that do not occur in practice at all, for in these cases, we cannot even state that “if one remains passive and does not transgress, he is rewarded as if he had performed a positive command,”

וּבִפְרָט בִּדְלָא שְׁכִיחֵי כְּלָל

for example, the detailed laws of pigul and the like, which presently have no practical application.

כְּמוֹ פְּרָטֵי הִלְכוֹת פִּיגּוּל וּכְהַאי גַּוְנָא.

Why should these laws too be studied extensively, and in fact even more than one studies the order of hishtalshelut, which can rouse one to a love and awe of G‑d?

There is yet another common characteristic58 shared by all the laws of the positive and prohibitory commandments, including those that have no practical application.

אַךְ עוֹד זֹאת הַשָּׁוֶה בַּכֹּל,

For (in contradistinction) all intellectually generated fear and love experienced by the angels are created ex nihilo,

כִּי כָּל דְּחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ שִׂכְלִיִּים שֶׁל הַמַּלְאָכִים הֵן בְּחִינוֹת נִבְרָאִים מֵאַיִן לְיֵשׁ,

and they are the (created levels of) nefesh and ruach (and not the G‑dly level of neshamah) of the Worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah.

וְהֵן בְּחִינוֹת נֶפֶשׁ רוּחַ דִּבְרִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה.

Now, if the intellectually generated awe and love experienced by mortals can likewise not be compared to the study of the laws, why does the Alter Rebbe here choose to speak of angels?

To explain: (a) The love and fear experienced by souls is different from the souls themselves, for souls are not actual created beings; (b) the love and fear experienced by souls is, after all, a mitzvah, while that of the angels is not. Thus, the angels’ love and fear better stresses their created aspect, and this enables us to understand that even with regard to souls, the essential aspect of love and fear is a created entity. The laws, by contrast, are G‑dliness.

However, the detailed laws of the various mitzvot are drawn from the supreme wisdom of the Emanator, blessed be He, which is clothed in physicality within the physical objects to which a particular law applies, such as the law governing the case of “he who exchanges a cow for a donkey,”59 and the like.

אֲבָל פְּרָטֵי הַהֲלָכוֹת – הֵן הַמְשָׁכוֹת חָכְמָה עִילָּאָה דְהַמַּאֲצִיל בָּרוּךְ־הוּא הַמְלוּבֶּשֶׁת בְּגַשְׁמִיּוּת,

This investment of supreme wisdom in the physical aspects of the laws is not similar to the investment of supreme wisdom in intellectually generated fear and love,

וְהַלְבָּשָׁה זוֹ, אֵינָהּ כְּהַלְבָּשַׁת חָכְמָה עִילָּאָה בִּדְחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ שִׂכְלִיִּים,

Supreme wisdom is actually vested in all things, as is soon to be explained. This is especially so with regard to the love and awe which are aroused by intellectual activity, for the source of all such activity is supreme wisdom. In intellectually aroused love and awe, however, the vestiture takes on a different form.

for there, the garment conceals and completely obscures the supreme wisdom that is vested within it,

דְּהָתָם, הַלְּבוּשׁ הוּא מַעֲלִים וּמַסְתִּיר לְגַמְרֵי,

just as the material earth thoroughly conceals the supreme wisdom clothed within it,

כְּהֶסְתֵּר וְהֶעְלֵם הָאָרֶץ הַחוּמְרִיִּית לְגַבֵּי חָכְמָה עִילָּאָה הַמְלוּבֶּשֶׁת בָּהּ,

as it is written concerning all created beings, “All of them You made with Wisdom.”60

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "כּוּלָּם בְּחָכְמָה עָשִׂיתָ",

Supreme wisdom is thus vested within all physical things as well, even the earth—which, however, completely conceals it, just as intellectually aroused love and awe conceal the supreme wisdom vested in them.

This [supreme wisdom] is the externality of the externality of the vessels of malchut of Atzilut found in Asiyah that is absolutely hidden in the ruach-nefesh of Asiyah.

וְהַיְינוּ, חִיצוֹנִיוּת דְּחִיצוֹנִיּוּת דְּכֵלִים דְּמַלְכוּת דַּאֲצִילוּת שֶׁבַּעֲשִׂיָּה, שֶׁהִיא מְסוּתֶּרֶת לְגַמְרֵי בְּרוּחַ־נֶפֶשׁ דַּעֲשִׂיָּה,

Malchut of Atzilut with the externality of the externality of its vessels is wholly concealed in ruach-nefesh of Asiyah. Malchut of Atzilut itself, even the externality of the externality of its vessels, belongs to the realm of the neshamah and of Divinity proper—yet it is entirely hidden within nefesh-ruach, which belongs to the realm of created beings.

Since supreme wisdom is vested in malchut of Atzilut, and malchut of Atzilut illumines Asiyah with its ten sefirot, containing as they do the element of Wisdom as well, we thus have supreme wisdom entirely concealed within the physical earth.

So, too, in Beriah, it is completely hidden in the ruach-nefesh [of Beriah],

וְכֵן בִּבְרִיאָה הִיא מְסוּתֶּרֶת לְגַמְרֵי בְּרוּחַ־נֶפֶשׁ,

which are beings that are created by the concealment and hiding of the Creator from the created.

שֶׁהֵם בְּחִינוֹת נִבְרָאִים בְּהֶסְתֵּר וְהֶעְלֵם הַבּוֹרֵא מֵהַנִּבְרָא.

We thus have here an element of supreme wisdom concealed within intellectually aroused love and fear, the source of which is the World of Beriah, the realm of comprehension.

This is not so, however, with regard to the laws, in which a radiance of the wisdom illuminates them manifestly; they do not conceal it.

מַה־שֶּׁאֵין־כֵּן הַהֲלָכוֹת, הֲרֵי הֶאָרַת הַחָכְמָה מְאִירָה בָּהֶן בְּגִילּוּי,

The garment of Asiyah serves merely as a passage,

וּלְבוּשׁ הָעֲשִׂיָּה הוּא דֶּרֶךְ מַעֲבָר לְבַד,

Though the laws vested in the physical things of this world (the physical World of Asiyah) are thus subject to the concealment that pervades Asiyah, they are not garbed in it to the point that the garment essentially affects the wearer, for they merely pass through the garment of Asiyah.

just as on the festivals, when chesed of Atzilut, which is completely clothed in chesed of Beriah, vivifies this physical world,

כְּמוֹ בְּיוֹם טוֹב, שֶׁחֶסֶד דַּאֲצִילוּת הַמְלוּבָּשׁ לְגַמְרֵי בְּחֶסֶד דִּבְרִיאָה מְחַיֶּה עוֹלָם הַזֶּה הַגַּשְׁמִי,

by passing through the chesed of Yetzirah and of Asiyah;

עַל־יְדֵי מַעֲבַר חֶסֶד דִּיצִירָה וַעֲשִׂיָּה,

this [passage] is also called investment,61

הַנִּקְרָא גַּם כֵּן הִתְלַבְּשׁוּת,

for otherwise, it would not affect the physicality of This World.

שֶׁאִם לֹא כֵן, לֹא הָיָה פּוֹעֵל בְּגַשְׁמִיּוּת עוֹלָם הַזֶּה.

Thus, just as with regard to the festivals, though the animating light first passes through Yetzirah and Asiyah, it is still considered to be an illumination of chesed of Beriah; so, too, with regard to the laws: The light within the laws merely “passes through” the physicality with which they deal; it always retains a radiance of supreme wisdom.

Now, though the physicality of This World as discussed in the law unquestionably conceals completely even the chesed of Asiyahand surely, then, it conceals the diffusion of supreme wisdom,

וְאַף שֶׁגַּשְׁמִיּוּת עוֹלָם הַזֶּה וַדַּאי מַסְתִּיר לְגַמְרֵי אֲפִילוּ הַחֶסֶד דַּעֲשִׂיָּה,

still, the law proper is not actually physical;

מִכָּל מָקוֹם, הַהֲלָכָה עַצְמָהּ – אֵינָהּ גַּשְׁמִיּוּת מַמָּשׁ,

it is the Divine will, drawn from the supreme wisdom, for leniency or severity.

שֶׁהִיא בְּחִינַת רָצוֹן הַנִּמְשָׁךְ מֵחָכְמָה עִילָּאָה לְהָקֵל אוֹ לְהַחֲמִיר,

G‑d’s wisdom affirms that it be His will that a particular legal ruling be either lenient or strict.

It is only that this [will] descends and illuminates in revealed fashion in the realm of the physical, just as water descends from a high place, and so on.

רַק שֶׁיּוֹרֵד וּמֵאִיר בִּבְחִינַת גִּילּוּי בְּגַשְׁמִיּוּת, כְּמַיִם הַיּוֹרְדִים מִמָּקוֹם גָּבוֹהַּ כוּ',

It is the very same water that is now to be found in a low place.

The physical object itself which the law discusses does, in fact, utterly obscure,

וְהַדָּבָר הַגַּשְׁמִי עַצְמוֹ שֶׁבּוֹ מְדַבֶּרֶת הַהֲלָכָה, בֶּאֱמֶת – הוּא מַסְתִּיר לְגַמְרֵי,

as, for example, in the law of “one who exchanges a cow for a donkey,”59 or the laws concerning flesh that is pigul, or is not pigul and is kosher.

כְּמוֹ "הַמַּחֲלִיף פָּרָה בַּחֲמוֹר", וְכֵן בְּשַׂר הַפִּיגּוּל אוֹ לֹא פִיגּוּל וְכָשֵׁר.

The actual cow or donkey or flesh do in fact completely conceal the radiance from the supreme wisdom.

In contrast, it was stated above that when holding a physical etrog, one is grasping the G‑dly essence of Atzilut. The difference lies in the fact that the etrog is part of the mitzvah. As such, it has no identity other than G‑dliness and thus does not conceal it. Since, by contrast, the physical cow or donkey are not part of the law, they can conceal G‑dliness. With regard to the human intellect, however, which studies this law, since the “intellectual” cow and donkey are part of the law, they in fact do not act as a concealment.

Only the legal ruling itself with its revealed rationale are from malchut of Beriah (i.e., the reasoning of the Gemara) and of Yetzirah (i.e., the rulings of the Mishnah), of the State of neshamah,

רַק הַהֲלָכָה בְּעַצְמָהּ עִם הַטַּעַם הַנִּגְלֶה, הִיא מִבְּחִינַת מַלְכוּת דִּבְרִיאָה וִיצִירָה דִּבְחִינַת נְשָׁמָה,

which is G‑dliness that vivifies and brings into being the nefesh-ruach of Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah, which are in the category of created beings,

שֶׁהוּא אֱלֹקוּת, הַמְחַיֶּה וּמְהַוֶּה נֶפֶשׁ־רוּחַ דִּבְרִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה,

and which are the awe and love of angels and souls and their ChaBaD, i.e., the contemplation of G‑d’s greatness that leads to love and fear—all this is created and vivified ex nihilo, as are all created beings.

שֶׁהֵן דְּחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ שֶׁל הַמַּלְאָכִים וְהַנְּשָׁמוֹת וְחָכְמָה־בִּינָה־דַּעַת שֶׁלָּהֶם, מֵאַיִן לְיֵשׁ.

As to this radiance of supreme wisdom that descends through malchut of Beriah and Yetzirah, in the form of Torah as it is found in those worlds prior to its descent below, it therefore slakes [the] thirst of the souls and angels in the Worlds of Beriah and Yetzirah,

וְלָכֵן הִיא מְרַוָה צִמְאוֹנָם

before its descent into This World like descending waters….62

קוֹדֶם שֶׁיָּרְדָה לָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה, כְּמַיִם הַיּוֹרְדִים כוּ'.

Even after it descends into Asiyah, it transcends by far ChaBaD of Asiyah, even of the state of neshamah, which is G‑dliness.

וְגַם אַחַר שֶׁיָּרְדָה לַעֲשִׂיָּה, הִיא לְמַעְלָה מַּעְלָה מִבְּחִינַת חָכְמָה־בִּינָה־דַּעַת דַּעֲשִׂיָּה, אֲפִילוּ דִּבְחִינַת נְשָׁמָה – שֶׁהִיא אֱלֹקוּת.

For this is G‑dliness of Asiyah while the illumination of supreme wisdom within the laws is the G‑dliness of Atzilut.

The reason for this transcendence is that the ChaBaD of Asiyah of the state of neshamah is the source of life of ChaBaD of nefesh-ruach

וְהַטַּעַם, מִשּׁוּם דְּחָכְמָה־בִּינָה־דַּעַת דַּעֲשִׂיָּה דִּבְחִינַת נְשָׁמָה הוּא מְקוֹר הַחַיּוּת דְּחָכְמָה־בִּינָה־דַּעַת דְּנֶפֶשׁ־רוּחַ

and their offspring, and their coming into being ex nihilo with their offspring, unto the ultimate stage of Asiyah, namely the earth and all its hosts.

וְתוֹלְדוֹתֵיהֶן, וְהִתְהַוּוּתָן מֵאַיִן לְיֵשׁ עִם תּוֹלְדוֹתֵיהֶן, עַד סוֹף הָעֲשִׂיָּה, הִיא הָאָרֶץ וְכָל צְבָאָהּ.

The ChaBaD of Asiyah (in the state of neshamah) is thus a source for created beings.

However, as to the ChaBaD of the laws with their rationales that are in malchut of Beriah and Yetzirah,

אֲבָל חָכְמָה־בִּינָה־דַּעַת דַּהֲלָכוֹת בְּטַעֲמֵיהֶן שֶׁבְּמַלְכוּת דִּבְרִיאָה וִיצִירָה,

This level of ChaBaD is not a source of created beings; rather:

the function of the chochmah [within them] is the rectification of the visages of Atzilut,

עִנְיַן הַחָכְמָה – הִיא בְּתִיקּוּן פַּרְצוּפֵי הָאֲצִילוּת,

upon which are dependent all the rationales of the commandments—

שֶׁבָּהֶן תְּלוּיִן כָּל טַעֲמֵי הַמִּצְוֹת,

[the rationales of] the positive commandments [depend] on the Five Attributes of Kindness of za of Atzilut and [the rationales of] the prohibitions in the Five Attributes of Severity of za of Atzilut.

מִצְוֹת עֲשֵׂה – בְּה' חֲסָדִים, וּמִצְוֹת לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה – בְּה' גְּבוּרוֹת.

Therefore, even when they descended to be clothed in created beings,

וּמִשּׁוּם הָכֵי נַמֵי, כְּשֶׁיָּרְדוּ לְהִתְלַבֵּשׁ בַּנִּבְרָאִים –

Even when the rationales for the laws, that essentially derive from visages of Atzilut, descended to become rationales for laws for created beings—

they are in malchut of Beriah and Yetzirah of the specific [G‑dly] state of neshamah, which is of the vessels of Atzilutfor the thirty vessels of z’eyr anpin and nukva of Atzilut become a neshamah for Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah

הֵן בְּמַלְכוּת דִּבְרִיאָה־וִיצִירָה דִּבְחִינַת נְשָׁמָה דַוְקָא, שֶׁהוּא מִכֵּלִים דַּאֲצִילוּת,

and not of the degree of ruach and nefesh; the rationales for the laws did not vest themselves within ruach and nefesh, which are created beings.

וְלֹא בִּבְחִינַת נֶפֶשׁ־רוּחַ.

Now, though ChaBaD of Beriah-Yetzirah of the state of neshamah by far transcend malchut of Beriah-Yetzirah of the state of neshamah, for ChaBaD is the highest of the sefirot of the world while malchut is the lowest,

וְאַף דְּחָכְמָה־בִּינָה־דַּעַת דִּבְרִיאָה־יְצִירָה דִּבְחִינַת נְשָׁמָה, שֶׁגָּבְהָה מְאֹד מַעֲלָתָן עַל בְּחִינַת מַלְכוּת דִּבְרִיאָה יְצִירָה דִּנְשָׁמָה,

still, [the ChaBaD of Beriah and Yetzirah] are the source for ChaBaD of Beriah-Yetzirah of the state of nefesh-ruach, namely the angels.

וְאַף־עַל־פִּי־כֵן הֵן מָקוֹר לְחָכְמָה־בִּינָה־דַּעַת דִּבְרִיאָה־יְצִירָה שֶׁל בְּחִינוֹת נֶפֶשׁ־רוּחַ שֶׁהֵן הַמַּלְאָכִים?

How do we then say that malchut of Beriah and Yetzirah of the state of neshamah cannot descend to become a source for created beings when ChaBaD of Beriah and Yetzirah of the state of neshamah that is far loftier than malchut does serve as a source for created beings?

This is not a question at all.

לֹא קָשֶׁה מִידֵי –

For in truth, the angels and souls that are created of ChaBaD of Beriah and Yetzirah are only of a drop drawn from ChaBaD of the neshamah to the attribute of yesod of za, and then transmitted to nukva, i.e., to malchut,

דְּבֶאֱמֶת הַמַּלְאָכִים וְהַנְּשָׁמוֹת אֵינָן אֶלָּא מִטִּפָּה הַנִּמְשֶׁכֶת מֵחָכְמָה־בִּינָה־דַּעַת דִּנְשָׁמָה לִ"יסוֹד זְעֵיר אַנְפִּין" וְנִיתַּן לְ"נוּקְבָא",

and from there, they (the souls and angels) went forth in a state of “birth”—a new entity resulted.

וּמִשָּׁם יָצְאוּ בִּבְחִינַת "לֵידָה".

Thus, this is not a mere emanation from ChaBaD, as is the case with laws, for such an emanation cannot in fact serve as a source of created beings. Rather, it resembles the drop that brings about a birth. For this reason, it is possible that created beings should result even from ChaBaD of Beriah and Yetzirah.

For even if it is proposed that they are created from the radiance of the vessels of nukva of Atzilut, nevertheless, they themselves descend into Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah and become a neshamah unto them.

כִּי אַף אִם תִּמְצָא לוֹמַר שֶׁנִּבְרְאוּ מֵהֶאָרַת הַכֵּלִים דְּנוּקְבָא דַאֲצִילוּת, הֲרֵי, הֵם הַיּוֹרְדִים וְנַעֲשִׂים נְשָׁמָה.

But the essence of ChaBaD of neshamah extends into the “six directions” of z’eyr anpin and nukva,

אֲבָל עַצְמוּת חָכְמָה־בִּינָה־דַּעַת דִּנְשָׁמָה, מִתְפַּשֵּׁט בְּו' קְצָווֹת דִּזְעֵיר אַנְפִּין וְנוּקְבָא,

and there they are the Six Orders of Mishnah and the Gemara—the laws of the Torah.

וְשָׁם הֵם שִׁיתָּא סִדְרֵי מִשְׁנָה וּגְמָרָא.

The essence of ChaBaD thus descends specifically within the laws of the Torah, which are Divinity. Torah, in turn, descends within the level of neshamah, which is also Divinity.

As to the statement in Etz Chaim63 (and in Shaar Hayichudim64) that through intention, a neshamah-garment is formed,

וּמַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב בְּעֵץ חַיִּים (וְשַׁעַר הַיִּחוּדִים) שֶׁעַל־יְדֵי הַכַּוָּונָה נַעֲשֶׂה לְבוּשׁ נְשָׁמָה,

and through Torah study, a ruach-of-ruach garment of Yetzirah is formed through [the study of] Mishnah, which derives from Yetzirah, and a ruach-of-neshamah [garment] of Beriah [is formed] through Gemara, which derives from Beriah:

וְעַל־יְדֵי הַתּוֹרָה לְבוּשׁ רוּחַ דְּרוּחַ עַל־יְדֵי מִשְׁנָה דִיצִירָה, וְרוּחַ דִּנְשָׁמָה דִבְרִיאָה עַל־יְדֵי הַגְּמָרָא,

It would thus seem that Torah precipitates a garment of ruach, which is a created being.

This can be understood as referring only to Torah studied by man in This World as it ascends above; it then becomes a garment of ruach since it derives from created man.

יֵשׁ לוֹמַר דְּהַיְינוּ דַוְקָא עַל־יְדֵי תּוֹרַת הָאָדָם בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה הָעוֹלָה לְמַעְלָה.

But the Talmud itself that was given at Sinai, i.e., the Torah as it was given from above, is at the level of neshamah, which is a degree of Divinity.

אֲבָל הַתַּלְמוּד עַצְמוֹ שֶׁנִּיתַּן בְּסִינַי הוּא בִּנְשָׁמָה,

Therefore, it (the study of the Talmud) refines ruach.

וְלָכֵן הוּא מְבָרֵר הָרוּחַ,

So, too, with Mishnah of Yetzirah: as it was given from above at Sinai, it too is of the degree of neshamah.

וְכֵן בְּמִשְׁנָה דִיצִירָה.

Even if it be suggested that even what was given from above at Sinai is at the level of ruach of Beriah-Yetzirah,

וְאַף אִם תִּמְצָא לוֹמַר, שֶׁגַּם הַנִּיתָּן מִסִּינַי הוּא בְּרוּחַ דִּבְרִיאָה־יְצִירָה,

Even so, it is not like an independent created entity but rather like an emissary, who merely expresses the power of his principal.

it is known that every angel that is an emissary from above is literally called at that time by the Name of G‑d, which then dwells within him.

הֲרֵי נוֹדָע, שֶׁכָּל מַלְאָךְ שֶׁהוּא שָׁלִיחַ מִלְמַעְלָה, אֲזַי נִקְרָא בְּשֵׁם ה' מַמָּשׁ הַשּׁוֹכֵן בְּקִרְבּוֹ

However, when he is not a messenger, he has some other name according to his manner of service.

מַה־שֶּׁאֵין־כֵּן כְּשֶׁאֵינוֹ שָׁלִיחַ יֵשׁ לוֹ שֵׁם אַחֵר כְּפִי עֲבוֹדָתוֹ,

Then he proclaims, “Holy, holy, holy is G‑d…,”21

וַאֲזַי קוֹרֵא "קָדוֹשׁ קָדוֹשׁ קָדוֹשׁ ה' כוּ'",

meaning that the Name of G‑d is separate from him, for the word kadosh (“holy”) implies separateness.

כְּלוֹמַר שֶׁשֵּׁם ה' מוּבְדָּל מִמֶּנּוּ,

We thus see that it is entirely possible for a created being to be called by the name of actual Divinity.

Exactly this is the case with the investment of the Talmud in the ruach state of Beriah and the Mishnah in the ruach of Yetzirah, ruach being a created being:

וְכֵן הוּא מַמָּשׁ בִּבְחִינַת הִתְלַבְּשׁוּת הַתַּלְמוּד בִּבְחִינַת רוּחַ דִּבְרִיאָה, וְהַמִּשְׁנָה בְּרוּחַ דִיצִירָה,

they are messengers of G‑d, meaning vessels of nukva (malchut) of Atzilut;

הֵם שְׁלוּחֵי ה', דְּהַיְינוּ כֵּלִים דְּנוּקְבָא דַאֲצִילוּת,

the external vessels in Talmud and the intermediate vessels in Mishnah.

הַחִיצוֹנִים בַּתַּלְמוּד, וְהָאֶמְצָעִים בַּמִּשְׁנָה,

For the Mishnah and Talmud that are within them (i.e., within the ruach of Beriah and Yetzirah) issue from yesod of abba (i.e., of chochmah), which receives influence from chochmah stimaah of arich anpin (i.e., from chochmah of keter), in which is clothed the [infinite] Ein Sof-light.

אֲשֶׁר הַמִּשְׁנָה וְהַתַּלְמוּד שֶׁבָּהֶם נִמְשָׁכִים מִ"יסוֹד אַבָּא", הַמְקַבֵּל מֵ"חָכְמָה סְתִימָאָה" דַ"אֲרִיךְ אַנְפִּין", שֶׁבּוֹ מְלוּבָּשׁ אוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא,

The result is that the infinite light, namely the Name of G‑d, abides in the ruach of Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah in Scripture, Mishnah, and Talmud.

וְנִמְצָא, שֶׁאוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף, הוּא שֵׁם ה', שׁוֹכֵן בְּרוּחַ דִּבְרִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה, בְּמִקְרָא וּמִשְׁנָה וְתַלְמוּד,

And when a man studies [them], he draws forth the [infinite] Ein Sof-light into This World,

וּכְשֶׁהָאָדָם לוֹמֵד, מַמְשִׁיךְ אוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה

so that it will be incorporated and nullified in the Divine light.

לִהְיוֹת נִכְלָל וּבָטֵל בְּאוֹרוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ,

For this is all of man.65

"כִּי זֶה כָּל הָאָדָם".

The entire purpose of man’s creation is to make the world become nullified in G‑d’s light. And this is accomplished through Torah study.

This was the spiritual service of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and of all the tannaim and amoraim who studied the revealed aspect of the Torah—

וְזֹאת הָיְתָה עֲבוֹדַת רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בַּר יוֹחָאִי וְכָל הַתַּנָּאִים וְאַמוֹרָאִים בַּנִּגְלֶה,

to call forth the Divine light within this world, and to effect the purifications of kelipat nogah,

לְהַמְשִׁיךְ אוֹרוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ, וּלְבָרֵר בֵּירוּרֵי נוֹגַהּ

throughout the entire period of the exile, the time of dominion of the Tree of Good and Evil, for the life-force of this world derives from kelipat nogah, which is composed of both good and evil;

כָּל מֶשֶׁךְ זְמַן הַגָּלוּת דְּשָׁלְטָא אִילָנָא דְּטוֹב וָרַע,

as the verse states, “The time that [the evil] man dominates the man [of holiness].”66

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "עֵת אֲשֶׁר שָׁלַט הָאָדָם בְּאָדָם כוּ'",

For this is the ultimate purpose of the chain of descent which brings the worlds into being

כִּי זֶהוּ תַּכְלִית הַהִשְׁתַּלְשְׁלוּת

that the One Above descend and that there be a dwelling for Him among the nethermost creatures

שֶׁיֵּרֵד הָעֶלְיוֹן לְמַטָּה וְיִהְיֶה לוֹ דִּירָה בַּתַּחְתּוֹנִים,

in order to elevate them so that there be “one in one”—that the “one” of the lower level of Unity (yichuda tataah) of the Worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah be similar to the “one” of the higher level of Unity (yichuda ilaah).

כְּדֵי לְהַעֲלוֹתָן "לְמֶהֱוֵי אֶחָד בְּאֶחָד".

In contrast, the spiritual service of the angels with intellectual fear and love does not call forth G‑dliness [within the world] at all; rather, it is a mode of departure alone…, for they are in a state of longing and self-nullification to G‑dliness.

מַה־שֶּׁאֵין־כֵּן עֲבוֹדַת הַמַּלְאָכִים, דְּחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ שִׂכְלִיִּים, אֵינָהּ בִּבְחִינַת הַמְשָׁכָה כְּלָל וּכְלָל, רַק הִסְתַּלְּקוּת כוּ'.

The true intention of creation is that G‑dliness be drawn down below, not a state of departure.

Thus, we may understand how angels are created ex nihilo through the study of the Torah, even without proper intent,

וּבָזֶה יוּבַן מַה שֶּׁנִּבְרָאִים מַלְאָכִים מֵאַיִן לְיֵשׁ עַל־יְדֵי עֵסֶק הַתּוֹרָה אֲפִילוּ שֶׁלֹּא בְכַוָּונָה,

when [such study] is only in a state of ruach, which is not Divinity at all.

שֶׁהוּא בְּחִינַת רוּחַ בִּלְבַד – שֶׁאֵינָהּ אֱלֹקוּת כְּלָל,

The intended state is neshamah, which is Divinity. However, when the kavanah is lacking, and one’s study is merely at the level of ruach, how are angels created ex nihilo when such creation derives only from Divinity?

Still, nevertheless, i.e., even though these words of Torah are studied without proper intent, the Name of G‑d does dwell [within them].

אֶלָּא לְפִי שֶׁאַף־עַל־פִּי־כֵן שֵׁם ה' שׁוֹכֵן וְכוּ',

As explained earlier, even a created angel is called by the Divine Name at the time that he is carrying out his mission because at that time, G‑d abides within him. So, too, since G‑d abides within the words of the Torah, angels can be created ex nihilo.

This will suffice for the understanding.

וְדַי לַמֵּבִין: