It is known that “The Patriarchs are truly the Divine Chariot.”1

וְהִנֵּה, מוּדַעַת זֹאת שֶׁ"הָאָבוֹת הֵן הֵן הַמֶּרְכָּבָה",

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

שֶׁכָּל יְמֵיהֶם לְעוֹלָם, לֹא הִפְסִיקוּ אֲפִילוּ שָׁעָה אַחַת מִלְּקַשֵּׁר דַּעְתָּם וְנִשְׁמָתָם לְרִבּוֹן הָעוֹלָמִים –

with the aforementioned absolute surrender to His unity.

בַּבִּיטּוּל הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל לְיִחוּדוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ.

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

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

וְאַחֲרֵיהֶם כָּל הַנְּבִיאִים, כָּל אֶחָד לְפִי מַדְרֵגַת נִשְׁמָתוֹ וְהַשָּׂגָתוֹ,

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

וּמַדְרֵגַת מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּינוּ עָלָיו הַשָּׁלוֹם הִיא הָעוֹלָה עַל כּוּלָּנָה, שֶׁאָמְרוּ עָלָיו: "שְׁכִינָה מְדַבֶּרֶת מִתּוֹךְ גְּרוֹנוֹ שֶׁל מֹשֶׁה",

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

Lessons In Tanya (Kehot Publication Society)

Lessons in Tanya is a well-lit and accessible gateway to the Tanya - the fundamental, classic work upon which all concepts of Chabad Chasidism are based.

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

וּמֵעֵין זֶה זָכוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּמַעֲמַד הַר סִינַי,

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

רַק שֶׁלֹּא יָכְלוּ לִסְבּוֹל, כְּמַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה, שֶׁעַל כָּל דִּיבּוּר פָּרְחָה נִשְׁמָתָן כוּ', שֶׁהוּא עִנְיַן בִּיטּוּל בִּמְצִיאוּת הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל.

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

לָכֵן, מִיָּד אָמַר לָהֶם לַעֲשׂוֹת לוֹ מִשְׁכָּן וּבוֹ קָדְשֵׁי הַקֳּדָשִׁים – לְהַשְׁרָאַת שְׁכִינָתוֹ, שֶׁהוּא גִּילּוּי יִחוּדוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ, כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר לְקַמָּן.

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

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

וּמִשֶּׁחָרַב בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ – אֵין לְהַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא בְּעוֹלָמוֹ מִשְׁכָּן וּמָכוֹן לְשִׁבְתּוֹ, הוּא יִחוּדוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ, אֶלָּא אַרְבַּע אַמּוֹת שֶׁל הֲלָכָה,

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

שֶׁהוּא רְצוֹנוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ וְחָכְמָתוֹ הַמְלוּבָּשִׁים בַּהֲלָכוֹת הָעֲרוּכוֹת לְפָנֵינוּ.

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

וְלָכֵן, אַחַר שֶׁיַּעֲמִיק הָאָדָם מַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ בְּעִנְיַן בִּיטּוּל הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל כְּפִי יְכָלְתּוֹ, זֹאת יָשִׁיב אֶל לִבּוֹ:

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

"כִּי מִהְיוֹת קָטָן שִׂכְלִי וְשֹׁרֶשׁ נִשְׁמָתִי מֵהָכִיל, לִהְיוֹת מֶרְכָּבָה וּמִשְׁכָּן לְיִחוּדוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ בֶּאֱמֶת לַאֲמִיתּוֹ,

for my thought cannot grasp or apprehend His unity at all with any degree of comprehension in the world,

מֵאַחַר דְּלֵית מַחֲשָׁבָה דִילִי תְּפִיסָא וּמַשֶּׂגֶת בּוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ כְּלָל וּכְלָל שׁוּם הַשָּׂגָה בָּעוֹלָם,

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

וְלֹא שֶׁמֶץ מֶנְהוּ מֵהַשָּׂגַת הָאָבוֹת וְהַנְּבִיאִים,

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

אֵי לָזֹאת, אֶעֱשֶׂה לוֹ מִשְׁכָּן וּמָכוֹן לְשִׁבְתּוֹ, הוּא הָעֵסֶק בְּתַלְמוּד תּוֹרָה כְּפִי הַפְּנַאי שֶׁלִּי, בִּקְבִיעוּת עִתִּים בַּיּוֹם וּבַלַּיְלָה,

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

כְּדָת הַנִּיתְּנָה לְכָל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד בְּהִלְכוֹת תַּלְמוּד תּוֹרָה,

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

וּכְמַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: 'אֲפִילוּ פֶּרֶק אֶחָד שַׁחֲרִית כוּ''"

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

וּבָזֶה יִשְׂמַח לִבּוֹ וְיָגִיל, וְיִתֵּן הוֹדָאָה עַל חֶלְקוֹ בְּשִׂמְחָה וּבְטוּב לֵבָב,

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

עַל שֶׁזָּכָה לִהְיוֹת אוּשְׁפְּזִיכָן לַגְּבוּרָה פַּעֲמַיִם בְּכָל יוֹם, כְּפִי הָעֵת וְהַפְּנַאי שֶׁלּוֹ, כְּמִסַּת יָדוֹ אֲשֶׁר הִרְחִיב ה' לוֹ:

If G‑d grants him a greater abundance of time for Torah study, then “He whose hands are pure will increase his effort’’8; i.e., he should resolve that as more time becomes available to him, he will devote it to Torah study. Moreover, “[G‑d reckons] a good intention [as an actual deed].”9

וְאִם יַרְחִיב ה' לוֹ עוֹד, אֲזַי "טְהוֹר יָדַיִם יוֹסִיף אוֹמֶץ", וּ"מַחֲשָׁבָה טוֹבָה כוּ'",

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

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

וְגַם שְׁאָר הַיּוֹם כּוּלּוֹ, שֶׁעוֹסֵק בְּמַשָּׂא וּמַתָּן, יִהְיֶה מָכוֹן לְשִׁבְתּוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ, בִּנְתִינַת הַצְּדָקָה שֶׁיִּתֵּן מִיגִיעוֹ,

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

שֶׁהִיא מִמִּדּוֹתָיו שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא – "מַה הוּא רַחוּם וְכוּ'", וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּתִּיקּוּנִים: "חֶסֶד דְּרוֹעָא יְמִינָא".

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

וְאַף שֶׁאֵינוֹ נוֹתֵן אֶלָּא חוֹמֶשׁ,

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

הֲרֵי הַחוֹמֶשׁ מַעֲלֶה עִמּוֹ כָּל הָאַרְבַּע יָדוֹת לַה', לִהְיוֹת מָכוֹן לְשִׁבְתּוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ,

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

כַּנּוֹדָע מַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה שֶׁמִּצְוַת צְדָקָה שְׁקוּלָה כְּנֶגֶד כָּל הַקָּרְבָּנוֹת,

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

וּבְקָרְבָּנוֹת הָיָה כָּל הַחַי עוֹלֶה לַה' עַל יְדֵי בְּהֵמָה אַחַת, וְכָל הַצּוֹמֵחַ עַל יְדֵי עִשָּׂרוֹן סֹלֶת אֶחָד בָּלוּל בַּשֶּׁמֶן כוּ'.

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

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

וּמִלְּבַד זֶה, הֲרֵי בִּשְׁעַת הַתּוֹרָה וְהַתְּפִלָּה, עוֹלֶה לַה' כָּל מַה שֶּׁאָכַל וְשָׁתָה וְנֶהֱנָה מֵאַרְבַּע הַיָּדוֹת לִבְרִיאוּת גּוּפוֹ, כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר לְקַמָּן.

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

From the end of ch. 30 up to this point, the Alter Rebbe discussed various forms of joy which one ought to strive to attain when saddened over his spiritual shortcomings: the joy of one’s soul on its being released from exile within one’s body and animal soul; the joy of being close to G‑d through awareness of His unity; the joy occasioned by contemplating G‑d’s joy in the crushing of the sitra achara; and so on.

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to state that all these forms of joy do not conflict with the bitter remorse and sadness that one experiences over one’s spiritual failings. For, although joy and sadness are opposites, they can nonetheless coexist when each has its own, distinct cause.

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

וְהִנֵּה, בְּכָל פְּרָטֵי מִינֵי שִׂמְחוֹת הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַנִּזְכָּרִים לְעֵיל – אֵין מֵהֶן מְנִיעָה לִהְיוֹת "נִבְזֶה בְעֵינָיו נִמְאָס", וְ"לֵב נִשְׁבָּר", וְרוּחַ נְמוּכָה – בִּשְׁעַת הַשִּׂמְחָה מַמָּשׁ,

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

מֵאַחַר כִּי הֱיוֹתוֹ נִבְזֶה בְעֵינָיו וְכוּ' – הוּא מִצַּד הַגּוּף וְנֶפֶשׁ הַבַּהֲמִית,

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

וֶהֱיוֹתוֹ בְּשִׂמְחָה – הוּא מִצַּד נֶפֶשׁ הָאֱלֹהִית וְנִיצוֹץ אֱלֹהוּת הַמְלוּבָּשׁ בָּהּ לְהַחֲיוֹתָהּ, כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל [בְּפֶרֶק ל"א].

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

וּכְהַאי גַּוְנָא אִיתָא בַּזֹּהַר: "בְּכִיָּה תְּקִיעָא בְּלִבַּאֵי מִסִּטְרָא דָא, וְחֶדְוָה תְּקִיעָא בְּלִבַּאֵי מִסִּטְרָא דָא":

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

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