In the previous chapter, the Alter Rebbe taught that when one is bitterly remorseful over his sorry spiritual state, he must strive for joy by considering the following: True, on account of his body and his animal soul, he is utterly remote from G‑dliness. Yet, he has within him a divine soul, veritably a part of G‑d. This soul, in exile within the body and the animal soul, is to be greatly pitied. One should therefore strive constantly to release it from this exile and to return it to its divine source through engaging in the Torah and the mitzvot. Such a return will bring one great joy, the joy of freedom. The knowledge that the body and the animal soul remain in their unfortunate state should not disturb one’s joy on account of his divine soul, for the soul should be infinitely more precious in one’s eyes.

Acting on the advice mentioned above—to view one’s body with scorn and contempt and to find joy in the joy of the soul alone—

וְהִנֵּה, עַל יְדֵי קִיּוּם הַדְּבָרִים הַנִּזְכָּרִים לְעֵיל, לִהְיוֹת גּוּפוֹ נִבְזֶה וְנִמְאָס בְּעֵינָיו, רַק שִׂמְחָתוֹ תִּהְיֶה שִׂמְחַת הַנֶּפֶשׁ לְבַדָּהּ,

is a direct and easy path toward fulfilling the mitzvah, “You shall love your fellow as yourself,”1 with regard to every Jew both great and small—in spiritual stature.

הֲרֵי זוֹ דֶּרֶךְ יְשָׁרָה וְקַלָּה לָבֹא לִידֵי קִיּוּם מִצְוַת "וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹךָ" לְכָל נֶפֶשׁ מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל – לְמִגָּדוֹל וְעַד קָטָן.

Since his body is despised and loathsome, he will not love himself on account of his body more than he loves his fellow, and as for the soul and spirit, the differences between his own soul and that of his fellow surely will not diminish the love between them, for who can know their (the soul and spirit’s) greatness and excellence in their source and root—the living G‑d?

כִּי מֵאַחַר שֶׁגּוּפוֹ נִמְאָס וּמְתוֹעָב אֶצְלוֹ, וְהַנֶּפֶשׁ וְהָרוּחַ מִי יוֹדֵעַ גְּדוּלָּתָן וּמַעֲלָתָן בְּשָׁרְשָׁן וּמְקוֹרָן בֵּאלֹקִים חַיִּים.

How, then, can one claim that his soul is superior to his fellow’s?

Furthermore, they are actually all equal,2 and not only equal yet separate, but, furthermore, they all have one father—one source, and within their source, they all comprise one entity.

בְּשֶׁגַּם שֶׁכּוּלָּן מַתְאִימוֹת, וְאָב אֶחָד לְכוּלָּנָה,

It is on account of this common root in the One G‑d that all of Israel are called “brothers”—in the full sense of the word, and not only figuratively, in the sense of “relatives” or “similar in appearance” and the like;3

וְלָכֵן נִקְרְאוּ כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל "אַחִים" מַמָּשׁ, מִצַּד שׁוֹרֶשׁ נַפְשָׁם בַּה' אֶחָד

only the bodies are distinct from each other.

רַק שֶׁהַגּוּפִים מְחוּלָּקִים.

This explains how it is at all possible to demand that one love his fellow as he loves himself. Self-love is innate, natural to man; love for one’s fellow is not. How can a generated love match a natural one?

According to the principle stated here, this is readily understood. One Jew need not create a love for another. The love is an inborn characteristic of his soul on account of its root in G‑dliness which is common to all souls; it is as natural as the love between brothers.

Therefore, there can be no true love and fraternity between those who regard their bodies as primary and their souls secondary but only a love based on an external factor.

וְלָכֵן, הָעוֹשִׂים גּוּפָם עִיקָּר וְנַפְשָׁם טְפֵלָה – אִי אֶפְשָׁר לִהְיוֹת אַהֲבָה וְאַחֲוָה אֲמִיתִּית בֵּינֵיהֶם, אֶלָּא הַתְּלוּיָה בְדָבָר לְבַדָּהּ.

Since the body separates us from each other, whereas the soul is that which binds us together, the greater value one places on his body at the expense of his soul, the more conscious he is of the differences between himself and his fellow. These differences require that he create a love for his fellow, and, as said above, a created love can never equal a natural, innate love. Therefore, love between people who consider their bodies as primarily important must be only a love based on some external factor, in which case the love is (a) limited to the importance of the motivating factor and (b) destined to endure only as long as that factor is valid.

Up to now, the Alter Rebbe has discussed the mitzvah of loving one’s fellow on its own merits. He now proceeds to discuss the value of this mitzvah as the basis for all the commandments, thereby elucidating yet further the importance of “rejoicing with the joy of the soul alone.”

The Talmud relates that it was Hillel the Elder who authored the well-known statement that ahavat Yisrael (the love of one’s fellow Jew) is the basis of the entire Torah. Hillel had been approached by a gentile who declared that he wished to convert to Judaism but only if Hillel would teach him the entire Torah while he stood on one foot. Hillel replied, “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is but commentary….”

An obvious difficulty presents itself. All mitzvot fall into either of two categories: (a) bein adam lachaveiro—“between man and man” and (b) bein adam laMakom—“between man and G‑d.”

It is readily understood how all the mitzvot of the former category may be motivated by one’s love of his fellow. But how can this love motivate one to fulfill any of the mitzvot belonging to the latter category—to observe the Shabbat, for example?

The Alter Rebbe’s answer follows from his previously stated principle that the essence of ahavat Yisrael lies in giving priority to one’s soul rather than to his body. This indeed is the basis of the entire Torah—as the Alter Rebbe continues:

This explains Hillel the Elder’s statement concerning the fulfillment of this mitzvah: “This is the entire Torah; the rest is but commentary.”4

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁאָמַר הִלֵּל הַזָּקֵן עַל קִיּוּם מִצְוָה זוֹ: "זֶהוּ כָּל הַתּוֹרָה כוּלָּהּ, וְאִידָךְ פֵּירוּשָׁא הוּא כוּ'".

For the basis and root purpose of the entire Torah is to elevate and exalt the soul high above the body to [G‑d], the source and root of all worlds,

כִּי יְסוֹד וְשׁוֹרֶשׁ כָּל הַתּוֹרָה – הוּא לְהַגְבִּיהַּ וּלְהַעֲלוֹת הַנֶּפֶשׁ עַל הַגּוּף מַעְלָה מַּעְלָה עַד עִיקָּרָא וְשָׁרְשָׁא דְּכָל עָלְמִין

and also to draw down the infinite light of the Ein Sof into the Community of Israel—as will be explained further,5 meaning into the fountainhead of the souls of all Israel, so that “the One [G‑d] will reside within [Israel—but only insofar as they are] one,” i.e., united.

וְגַם, לְהַמְשִׁיךְ אוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא בִּכְנֶסֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל, כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר לְקַמָּן, דְּהַיְינוּ, בִּמְקוֹר נִשְׁמוֹת כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל, לְמֶהֱוֵי אֶחָד בְּאֶחָד דַּוְקָא,

But this indwelling of the light of the Ein Sof in the Community of Israel is impossible if there is disunity between the souls, G‑d forbid, for “G‑d does not dwell in an imperfect, fragmented place.”6

וְלֹא כְּשֶׁיֵּשׁ פֵּירוּד חַס וְשָׁלוֹם בַּנְּשָׁמוֹת, דְּ"קוּדְשָׁא־בְּרִיךְ־הוּא לָא שַׁרְיָא בַּאֲתַר פְּגִים",

So do we say in our prayers: “Bless us, our Father, all as one with the light of Your Countenance,”7 indicating that “the light of G‑d’s Countenance” can be revealed only when we are united “all as one,” as explained elsewhere at length.

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁאוֹמְרִים: "בָּרְכֵנוּ אָבִינוּ כּוּלָּנוּ כְּאֶחָד בְּאוֹר פָּנֶיךָ", וּכְמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּמָקוֹם אַחֵר בַּאֲרִיכוּת:

Since every Jew has a divine soul, and since the commandment to love one’s fellow is based on the essential unity of the souls, it follows that this commandment applies to every Jew without exception. In fact, however, we find the Talmud exhorting us to hate certain fellow Jews. How do we reconcile these apparently contradictory requirements? The Alter Rebbe proceeds to clarify:

As for the Talmudic statement8 that if one sees his friend sinning, he should hate him, and should also relate the fact to his teacher so that he too will hate him—how does this conform with what was said above?

וּמַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב בַּגְּמָרָא, שֶׁמִּי שֶׁרוֹאֶה בַּחֲבֵירוֹ שֶׁחָטָא – מִצְוָה לִשְׂנֹאותוֹ, וְגַם לוֹמַר לְרַבּוֹ שֶׁיִּשְׂנָאֵהוּ.

This applies only to one’s companion—one’s equal—in the study of Torah and the observance of the mitzvot.

הַיְינוּ – בַּחֲבֵירוֹ בְּתוֹרָה וּמִצְוֹת,

The sinner in question is a Torah-observant scholar but has lapsed in this one instance. In this case, his sin is much more severe than usual, since it is written that even the inadvertent misdeeds of a scholar are as grave as deliberate sins.9 But even this general assumption of the gravity of his conduct is not sufficient cause to hate him, as the Alter Rebbe continues. Yet another condition must first be satisfied:

He has also fulfilled with him—with the sinner—the injunction, “You shall repeatedly rebuke your friend.”10 The word used here for “your friend” (עֲמִיתֶךָ) also indicates, as the Talmud points out, עַם שֶׁאִתְּךָ“he who is on a par with you in the Torah and the mitzvot,”11 who, nevertheless, has not repented of his sin, as it is written in Sefer Charedim.

וּכְבָר קִיֵּים בּוֹ מִצְוַת "הוֹכֵחַ תּוֹכִיחַ אֶת עֲמִיתֶךָ" – עַם שֶׁאִתְּךָ בְּתוֹרָה וּבְמִצְוֹת, וְאַף־עַל־פִּי־כֵן לֹא שָׁב מֵחֶטְאוֹ, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּסֵפֶר חֲרֵדִים.

At this point, there is no need to exaggerate the gravity of his sin: it is clearly a deliberate transgression.

But as to one who is not his companion—his equal—in the Torah and the mitzvot so that (as our Sages say concerning the ignorant in general) even his deliberate transgressions are regarded as inadvertent acts, since he is unaware of the gravity of sin, nor is he on intimate terms with him,—not only is one not enjoined to hate him, on the contrary, he must, in fact, strive to become closer to him, as the Alter Rebbe states shortly.

אֲבָל מִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ חֲבֵירוֹ וְאֵינוֹ מְקוֹרָב אֶצְלוֹ,

To hate such a sinner is surely unjustifiable, since no sin that he commits is considered deliberate. There is also no reason to keep one’s distance from him out of fear that he will learn from his evil ways (in fulfillment of the exhortation of the Mishnah, “Do not fraternize with a wicked man”), since he is not on close personal terms with him in any case.

Therefore, on the contrary: Of this situation, Hillel said, “Be one of the disciples of Aharon, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving creatures and drawing them near to the Torah.”12

הִנֵּה עַל זֶה אָמַר הִלֵּל הַזָּקֵן: "הֱוֵי מִתַּלְמִידָיו שֶׁל אַהֲרֹן, אוֹהֵב שָׁלוֹם וְכוּ', אוֹהֵב אֶת הַבְּרִיּוֹת וּמְקָרְבָן לַתּוֹרָה".

This usage of the term “creatures” in reference to human beings means that even those who are far from G‑d’s Torah and His service, for which reason they are classified simply as “creatures”—indicating that the fact that they are G‑d’s creations is their sole virtue—even those, one must attract with strong cords of love.

לוֹמַר, שֶׁאַף הָרְחוֹקִים מִתּוֹרַת ה' וַעֲבוֹדָתוֹ, וְלָכֵן נִקְרָאִים בְּשֵׁם "בְּרִיּוֹת" בְּעָלְמָא – צָרִיךְ לְמָשְׁכָן בְּחַבְלֵי עֲבוֹתוֹת אַהֲבָה,

Perhaps thereby one will be able, after all, to draw them close to the Torah and the service of G‑d.

וְכוּלֵּי הַאי וְאוּלַי יוּכַל לְקָרְבָן לְתוֹרָה וַעֲבוֹדַת ה';

And even if one fails in this, he has not forfeited the merit of the mitzvah of neighborly love, which he has fulfilled by his efforts in this direction.

וְהֵן לָא – לֹא הִפְסִיד שְׂכַר מִצְוַת אַהֲבַת רֵיעִים.

Furthermore, even those whom one is enjoined to hate—for they are close to him, and he has rebuked them, but they still have not repented of their sins—one is obliged to love them too.

וְגַם הַמְקוֹרָבִים אֵלָיו וְהוֹכִיחָם וְלֹא שָׁבוּ מֵעֲוֹנוֹתֵיהֶם שֶׁמִּצְוָה לִשְׂנֹאותָם – מִצְוָה לְאָהֳבָם גַּם כֵּן.

But is it possible to love a person and hate him at the same time? The Alter Rebbe explains that since the love and the hatred stem from two different causes, they do not conflict.

And both the love and the hatred are truthful emotions in this case, [since] the hatred is on account of the evil within them, while the love is on account of the good hidden in them, which is the divine spark within them that animates their divine soul. For this spark of G‑dliness is present even in the most wicked of one’s fellow Jews; it is merely hidden.

וּשְׁתֵּיהֶן הֵן אֱמֶת: שִׂנְאָה – מִצַּד הָרָע שֶׁבָּהֶם, וְאַהֲבָה – מִצַּד בְּחִינַת הַטּוֹב הַגָּנוּז שֶׁבָּהֶם, שֶׁהוּא נִיצוֹץ אֱלֹקוּת שֶׁבְּתוֹכָם הַמְחַיֶּה נַפְשָׁם הָאֱלֹקִית.

One may now be faced with the anomaly of a fellow Jew whom he must both love and hate. But what attitude should he adopt toward the person as a whole who possesses both these aspects of good and evil? When, for example, the sinner requests a favor of him, should his hatred dictate his response or his love?

The Alter Rebbe goes on to say that one’s relationship with the sinner as a whole should be guided by love. By arousing one’s compassion for him, one restricts one’s own hatred so that it is directed solely at the evil within the sinner, not at the person himself.

One must also arouse compassion on [the divine soul of the sinner], for in the case of the wicked, it is in exile within the evil of the sitra achara, which dominates it.

וְגַם, לְעוֹרֵר רַחֲמִים בְּלִבּוֹ עָלֶיהָ, כִּי הִיא בִּבְחִינַת גָּלוּת בְּתוֹךְ הָרָע מִסִּטְרָא אָחֳרָא הַגּוֹבֵר עָלֶיהָ בָּרְשָׁעִים,

Compassion banishes hatred and arouses love, as is known from the verse, “Jacob, who redeemed Abraham.”13

וְהָרַחֲמָנוּת – מְבַטֶּלֶת הַשִּׂנְאָה וּמְעוֹרֶרֶת הָאַהֲבָה, כַּנּוֹדָע מִמַּה שֶּׁכָּתוּב: לְ"יַעֲקֹב אֲשֶׁר פָּדָה אֶת אַבְרָהָם"

Jacob” represents compassion and “Abraham” love. When “Abraham,” love, must be “redeemed,” i.e., brought out of concealment, it is “Jacob,” compassion, that accomplishes this redemption for as said, compassion banishes hatred and arouses love.

(14As for the statement by King David, peace upon him: “I hate them with a consummate hatred,”15 reserving no love for them whatsoever; this refers only to [Jewish] heretics and atheists who have no part in the G‑d of Israel,

[וְלֹא אָמַר דָּוִד הַמֶּלֶךְ עָלָיו הַשָּׁלוֹם: "תַּכְלִית שִׂנְאָה שְׂנֵאתִים וְגוֹ'", אֶלָּא עַל הַמִּינִים וְהָאֶפִּיקוֹרְסִים, שֶׁאֵין לָהֶם חֵלֶק בֵּאלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל,

as stated in the Talmud, beginning of ch. 16 of Tractate Shabbat.)

כִּדְאִיתָא בַּגְּמָרָא רֵישׁ פֶּרֶק ט"ז דְּשַׁבָּת]:

Any sinner who is not, however, a heretic must not be hated with “a consummate hatred,” for the mitzvah of ahavat Yisrael embraces him as well.