וזה כלל גדול בעבודת ה׳ לבינונים

This, then, is the important principle regarding the divine service of the Beinoni:

העיקר הוא למשול ולשלוט על הטבע שבחלל השמאלי

The essential thing is to govern and rule the nature that is in the left part of the heart,

על ידי אור ה׳ המאיר לנפש האלקית שבמוח

by means of the Divine light that illuminates the divine soul abiding in the brain,

ולשלוט על הלב

and to rule the desires of the heart.

To enable him to master his desires the Beinoni requires (in addition to the natural ability of one’s mind to govern his heart) the help of the Divine light which illuminates his mind1 upon contemplating G‑d’s greatness.

כשמתבונן במוחו בגדולת אין סוף ברוך הוא, להוליד מבינתו רוח דעת ויראת ה׳ במוחו

This mastery of one’s nature and desires is achieved when he meditates in his mind on the greatness of the blessed Infinite G‑d, so as to create through his understanding a spirit of knowledge and fear of G‑d in his mind.

להיות סור מרע דאורייתא ודרבנן, ואפילו איסור קל של דבריהם חס ושלום

This knowledge and fear will cause him to turn away from the evil condemned by the Torah or by our Sages, even from a minor Rabbinic prohibition, heaven forbid.

ואהבת ה׳ בלבו בחלל הימני

Contemplation on G‑d’s greatness will bring about also a love of G‑d which will reveal itself in the right part of his heart — the seat of the G‑dly soul’s emotional faculties,

בחשיקה וחפיצה לדבקה בו בקיום המצות דאורייתא ודרבנן, ותלמוד תורה שכנגד כולן

with a longing and desire to cleave to Him by fulfilling the precepts of the Torah and of the Rabbis, and the study of Torah which is equivalent to them all.

As the Alter Rebbe has already pointed out,2 the commandments cannot be performed fully, that is, with the totality of one’s being, unless the performance is motivated by love of G‑d (for the fulfillment of the positive commandments) and fear of G‑d (for avoiding transgression of the negative commandments). When one’s observance is so motivated, his love and fear of G‑d permeate the performance of the commandments, and enhance them with their power.

Seemingly, however, this is true only of a love and fear that are openly felt in one’s heart. What if, despite one’s efforts in meditating on G‑d’s greatness, he cannot excite himself to an arousal of love or fear of G‑d? In answer, the Alter Rebbe now goes on to say that even if the love and fear born of one’s meditation remain hidden in one’s mind and heart (in a state which the Alter Rebbe refers to as tevunah — an “intellectual love”), they still permeate his performance of the commandments, as though these emotions were open and aroused.

ויתר על כן צריך לידע כלל גדול בעבודה לבינונים

Furthermore, one must know an additional important principle in the Beinoni’s service of G‑d:

שגם אם אין יד שכלו ורוח בינתו משגת להוליד אהבת ה׳ בהתגלות לבו

Even if one’s intellect and understanding are incapable of producing a revealed love of G‑d in his heart,

שיהיה לבו בוער כרשפי אש, וחפץ בחפיצה וחשיקה ותשוקה מורגשת בלב לדבקה בו

to make it burn as it ought with fiery flames, with a desire and a longing and a passion manifestly felt in the heart, to cleave to G‑d;

רק האהבה מסותרת במוחו ותעלומות לבו

instead, the love is hidden in his mind and in the recesses of his heart* —3

At this point the Alter Rebbe inserts a note, stating that one’s inability to reveal the love in his heart does not indicate a fault in his meditation; the cause may well be inherent in the spiritual root of his soul.

הגהה

והסיבה לזה הוא מפני היות המוחין שלו ונפש רוח נשמה שלו מבחינת עיבור והעלם תוך התבונה, ולא מבחינת לידה והתגלות, כידוע ליודעי ח״ן

*NOTE

The reason for this [inhibition] is that this person’s intellect and Nefesh, Ruach and Neshamah derive from the so-called ibbur (conception) and concealment within the [Supernal] understanding, and not from the quality of leidah (birth) and revelation — as is known to those familiar with the Kabbalah.

END OF NOTE

Briefly, this means:

In human emotions born of the intellect (e.g., a love of G‑d is “born” through meditation on G‑d’s greatness), there are two states: (1) where the emotion has already been born and revealed, and (2) an earlier stage, where the emotion is still part of the intellect. In this latter state, the “emotion” consists merely of an intellectual inclination toward the object of one’s understanding.

These two stages are similarly found in the Divine attributes, to which the human emotions are analogous. The Divine attributes — the middot of kindness (Chesed), severity (Gevurah), etc. — prior to their existence in a revealed state, are concealed within and encompassed by the Supernal Intellect (Binah) which is their source. The soul, in turn, stems from the Divine attributes, and hence reflects their characteristics. Thus, those souls which derive from the attributes as they are in their revealed state possess the quality of revelation, i.e., they are capable of bringing their love of G‑d into a revealed state; whereas the souls deriving from the concealed state of the attributes lack this capacity, and their emotions remain concealed within their intellect.

* * *

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to describe a love of G‑d as it is concealed within one’s intellect.

דהיינו שהלב מבין ברוח חכמה ובינה שבמוחו

This means that the heart comprehends, with the spirit of wisdom and understanding in the brain (i.e., instead of being excited with the love of G‑d, as it ought to be, the heart merely experiences an understanding of)

גדולת אין סוף ברוך הוא, דכולא קמיה כלא חשיב ממש

the greatness of the blessed Infinite G‑d, before Whom all else is as naught,

אשר על כן יאתה לו יתברך שתכלה אליו נפש כל חי לידבק ולהכלל באורו

for which reason it is fitting and due unto Him, blessed be He, that the soul of every living thing should pine for Him, to cleave to and become absorbed in His Divine light.

וגם נפשו ורוחו אשר בקרבו, כך יאתה להן, להיות כלות אליו בחשיקה וחפיצה לצאת מנרתקן הוא הגוף, לדבקה בו

It is likewise fitting for his own soul, the Nefesh and Ruach within him,4 to languish for Him with a fervent desire to leave their sheath, i.e., the body, which surrounds and conceals the soul like a sheath, in order to cleave to Him.

רק שבעל כרחן חיות הנה בתוך הגוף, וצרורות בו כאלמנות חיות

So intensely, his thoughts continue, should his Nefesh and Ruach long for G‑d, that only against their will do they dwell in the body; they are bound to it like deserted wives (literally, “living widows,” who are bound to their husbands and are forbidden to remarry as long as the husbands who left them are alive).

ולית מחשבה דילהון תפיסא ביה כלל, כי אם כאשר תפיסא ומתלבשת בתורה ובמצותיה

In their present state their thought cannot grasp G‑d at all, except when it grasps and vests itself in the Torah and its commandments. By studying Torah and observing its commandments, one grasps G‑d’s Will and His wisdom, which are one with G‑d Himself,

כמשל המחבק את המלך, הנזכר לעיל

as illustrated previously5 by the example of one who embraces the king.

Although the king is dressed in his robes, this does not detract from the royal embrace; similarly, although the Torah and its commandments are clothed in material matters, yet, since they express G‑d’s Will and wisdom, when one grasps them it is as though he grasped G‑d Himself.

ואי לזאת יאתה להן לחבקו בכל לב ונפש ומאד

All the above thoughts pass through his mind and heart, and lead him to resolve that: It is therefore fitting and proper for them — for his Nefesh and Ruach to embrace G‑d with all their heart, soul and might.

דהיינו קיום התרי״ג מצות במעשה ובדבור ובמחשבה, שהיא השגת וידיעת התורה כנזכר לעיל

This means, in a practical sense, to fulfill the 613 commandments in act, speech and thought, the thought being the comprehension and knowledge of the Torah, as explained above in the previous chapters, that through Torah and the commandments one grasps G‑d Himself, so to speak.

Thus we see that what motivates this person’s actual observance of the commandments is meditation on G‑d’s greatness; this brings about the realization that one ought to strive to bind himself to G‑d — a bond which can be achieved only through the commandments.

הנה כשמעמיק בענין זה בתעלומת תבונות לבו ומוחו

Consequently, when the Beinoni ponders this subject in the recesses of his heart’s and mind’s understanding,

ופיו ולבו שוין

and his mouth and heart are in accord, i.e., what his heart feels, finds full expression in his speech,

שמקיים כן בפיו כפי אשר נגמר בתבונת לבו ומוחו

in that he fulfills with his mouth, in his speech, the resolve of his mind’s and heart’s understanding —

דהיינו להיות בתורת ה׳ חפצו, ויהגה בה יומם ולילה בפיו

namely, to direct his desire towards G‑d’s Torah, meditating on it day and night in oral study,

וכן הידים ושאר אברים מקיימים המצות כפי מה שנגמר בתבונת לבו ומוחו

and when his hands and other bodily organs, too, carry out the commandments, as was resolved in his mind’s and heart’s understanding;

הרי תבונה זו מתלבשת במעשה דבור ומחשבת התורה ומצותיה להיות להם בחינת מוחין וחיות וגדפין לפרחא לעילא

then when he implements his resolution this tevunah — the “intellectual emotion,” which cannot properly be called love or fear, but tevunah, literally, “understanding” — is clothed in the act, speech and thought of the Torah and its commandments, providing them with intellectual power, and vitality, and “wings” that enable them to soar on high,

for so it is written in the Zohar:6 “Torah without love and fear (of G‑d) does not soar aloft.”

כאלו עסק בהם בדחילו ורחימו ממש אשר בהתגלות לבו

The love and fear referred to as tevunah, although not heartfelt emotions, nevertheless serve as “wings” for one’s Torah and mitzvot in the same way as if he practiced them with real fear and love as revealed in the heart,

בחפיצה וחשיקה ותשוקה מורגשת בלבו ונפשו הצמאה לה׳, מפני רשפי אש אהבתו שבלבו כנ״ל

(7in which case he would have performed them with a desire, fervor and passion that are felt in the heart and soul thirsting for G‑d, due to the flaming love of G‑d in his heart, as explained above — that a revealed love of G‑d elevates one’s Torah and mitzvot, by lending warmth and vitality to one’s actions).

However, the statement that the tevunah-love too possesses this power requires further elucidation. When does the tevunah-love add to the quality of one’s observance, that would enable it to elevate his actions? This the Alter Rebbe now goes on to explain.

הואיל ותבונה זו שבמוחו ותעלומות לבו היא המביאתו לעסוק בהם

For it is this tevunah in his mind and in the recesses of his heart that leads him to engage in the Torah and mitzvot, as explained above.

ולולי שהיה מתבונן בתבונה זו לא היה עוסק בהם כלל, אלא בצרכי גופו לבד

Had he not meditated on this tevunah, he would not have occupied himself with them at all, but with his physical needs alone.

וגם אם הוא מתמיד בלמודו בטבעו, אף על פי כן אוהב את גופו יותר בטבעו

(8Even if he is an assiduous student by nature, nevertheless he naturally loves his body more.)

What is it, then, that diverts one from his natural inclination to engage in his bodily wants, and that enables his diligence to overcome his physical self-love? It is the love of G‑d — in this case, the hidden tevunah-love. For this reason, the tevunah provides his Torah and mitzvot with “wings”, enabling them to rise heavenward, as though motivated by a revealed and conscious love of G‑d.

וזה רמזו רבותינו ז״ל

Our Sages, of blessed memory, hinted at this principle stated here, that the tevunah-love, too, has the power of elevating one’s Torah and mitzvot

באמרם: מחשבה טובה הקב״ה מצרפה למעשה

when they said:9 “The Holy One, blessed be He, joins a good thought to the deed.”

והוה ליה למימר: מעלה עליו הכתוב כאלו עשאה

The simple meaning of the phrase, that when one intends to do a mitzvah, but is prevented from doing so, G‑d ascribes it to him as though he had actually performed it, warrants the expression: “Torah considers him as though he had actually done it.”

Why the oblique expression, “G‑d joins the thought to the deed,” which seems to indicate that the thought was indeed implemented, but that the action is somehow detached from it, and requires that G‑d join the two together?

אלא הענין

The explanation, however, lies in the previously-mentioned principle:

כי דחילו ורחימו שבהתגלות לבו הם המתלבשים במעשה המצות, להחיותם לפרחא לעילא

It is the revealed fear and love of G‑d in the heart that vest themselves in one’s performance of the commandments, giving them vitality to soar on high.

כי הלב הוא גם כן חומרי, כשאר אברים שהם כלי המעשה

For the heart is also corporeal, like the other organs of the body which are the instruments of action.

Therefore, when one feels a palpable love in his heart — which indicates that the revelation in the soul has become “materialized” to the point where it can be experienced as a feeling of love in the corporeal heart — then this soul-revelation, this love, can also be received by and expressed in the other corporeal organs of the body. When it is so received, and when the organs act in accordance with the love in the heart, then this love lends vitality to these actions, for the heart is the source of vitality for all the organs, as the Alter Rebbe goes on to say.

אלא שהוא פנימי וחיות להם

The heart is, however, internal and is the organs‘ source of vitality.

ולכן יכול להתלבש בהם להיות להם גדפין להעלותם

Therefore, because the heart, in its corporeality, is close to the other organs, and also provides their vitality, it can clothe itself in their actions, to be their “wings”, elevating them.

As we see in practice: When one acts out of love, his hands suddenly become animated; for, as stated, when the soul’s revelation reaches the point where it is felt in a revealed love, it has become so materialized that it can be experienced in the other organs of the body, and can therefore animate their actions.

אך הדחילו ורחימו שבתבונות מוחו ותעלומות לבו הנ״ל

However, the above-mentioned fear and love that are in the intelligence of the brain and the recesses of the heart

גבהו דרכיהם למעלה מעלה מבחינת המעשה

are of a far higher order than the level of “action”.

ואי אפשר להם להתלבש בבחינת מעשה המצות, להיות להם בחינת מוחין וחיות, להעלותן לפרחא לעילא

Therefore, they cannot clothe themselves in the performance of the commandments, to become their intellectual power and vitality, to elevate them, so that they may soar on high;

The inability of the love to find expression beyond the mind — which is far more spiritual than the other organs — indicates that the revelation of soul present in the tevunah-love has not become materialized enough to affect the other, more corporeal organs. As we see, when one’s actions are motivated, not by the desire of his heart, but solely by his understanding that he ought to act in a particular manner, then his actions lack vitality. So it is too of the tevunah-love, and tevunah-fear; they are so far removed from the organs, that they are incapable of lending vitality to the actual performance of the mitzvot, and to elevate them thereby.

אם לא שהקב״ה מצרפן ומחברן לבחינת המעשה

if not for the fact that G‑d joins and unites them together with the action, so that they may serve as its “wings”.

והן נקראות בשם מחשבה טובה, כי אינן דחילו ורחימו ממש בהתגלות לבו

They — the tevunah-fear and love — are called “good thought,” for they are not actual fear and love in a revealed state in the heart,

כי אם בתבונת מוחו ותעלומות לבו כנ״ל

but only in the intelligence of the brain and the recesses of the heart, as mentioned above;* since they express themselves in the mind, they are called “good thought.”

This, then, is the allusion contained in the statement, “G‑d joins the good thought to the deed”: G‑d joins the “good thought” — the tevunah-love and fear — to the good deed (that one has actually performed), so that the deed is not separate from the thought, but instead is elevated by it.

In the following note, the Alter Rebbe states that this idea is expressed in the Kabbalah in terms of the Sefirot (the Divine attributes), and from this we may understand its parallel in the human faculties.

הגהה

וכמו שכתוב בזוהר ועץ חיים, דתבונה אותיות ב״ן וב״ת שהן דחילו ורחימו

*NOTE

Thus it is also written in the Zohar and Etz Chayim, that the Hebrew word תבונה (“understanding”) comprises the letters which form the words בן and בת (“son” and “daughter”), which, in terms of human emotions, represent love and fear.

ולפעמים התבונה יורדת להיות מוחין בנוקבא דזעיר אנפין, שהן אותיות התורה והמצות

Sometimes the tevunah descends to become the intelligence in the feminine aspect of the “small image” (i.e., the recipient of the Divine middot, or attributes, which are referred to collectively as the “small image”), which, in the human sphere, refers to the letters of Torah and mitzvot.

The normal order would be that the tevunah descend first to the “small image” (the middot) and thence to the “feminine aspect” (the attribute of Malchut). Sometimes, however, there is a direct flow from Binah to Malchut, bypassing the intervening middot. In terms of one’s service to G‑d this means: The normal procedure should be that the understanding derived from one’s meditation should affect his emotions, arousing a love and fear within him, and these emotions should, in turn, express themselves in one’s actual performance of the commandments. There is, however, an alternative method of affecting one’s actions — through the direct influence of the tevunah.

והמשכיל יבין

The initiated shall understand. I.e., the kabbalistic references contained in the note will be more fully elucidated in the course of further study.

END OF NOTE

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to say that the effect of G‑d’s joining the “good thought” of tevunah to one’s good deeds, is that in this way the mitzvot are able to ascend to the World of Beriah. This is a “world of comprehension,” and all the mitzvot motivated by emotions arising from an understanding of G‑d’s greatness ascend thereto. But even without this act of joining the good thought to the deed, one’s Torah and mitzvot ascend to the (lower) World of Yetzirah, a “world of feeling,” since one’s performance is motivated (at the very least) by the inherent love and fear of G‑d that is hidden in the heart of every Jew.

אך צירוף זה מצרף הקב״ה כדי להעלות מעשה המצות ועסק התורה, הנעשים על ידי מחשבה טובה הנ״ל, עד עולם הבריאה

But G‑d effects this joining of tevunah to action in order to elevate the performance of the commandments and the Torah study — which are carried out through the influence of the “good thought” (viz., the tevunah) mentioned above — into the World of Beriah;

מקום עליית התורה והמצות הנעשים על ידי דחילו ורחימו שכליים, אשר בהתגלות לבו ממש

the World of Beriah being the level to which ascends the performance of Torah and mitzvot when motivated by a fear and love deriving from one’s meditation, and which are truly revealed in one’s heart.

אבל בלאו הכי נמי עולים לעולם היצירה על ידי דחילו ורחימו טבעיים המסותרים בלב כל ישראל בתולדותם, כמו שכתוב לקמן באריכות

However, even without this joining they rise to the World of Yetzirah, by means of the natural fear and love which are latent in the heart of all Jews from birth, as will be later explained at length.10

In summary: Even he who cannot create a conscious, palpable love and fear of G‑d in his heart, can serve G‑d with a perfect service through the tevunah-emotions. Thereby, too, his performance of the Torah and mitzvot will ascend to the same level as that motivated by a revealed love and fear of G‑d.

——— ● ———