In ch. 39 the Alter Rebbe explained that the ascent of one’s Torah and mitzvot is commensurate with the level of kavanah that one invests in study and performance. If one’s kavanah stems from love and fear of G‑d created by one’s understanding of His greatness, his Torah and mitzvot ascend to the Sefirot of Beriah, a World of intellect. If one’s kavanah stems from natural love and fear, his Torah and mitzvot ascend to the Sefirot of Yetzirah, a World of emotion.

If, however, one’s study and observance are not lishmah (“for its own sake”), because he feels no love or fear of G‑d, his Torah and mitzvot cannot ascend at all to “stand before G‑d” by being absorbed in the Sefirot. This is true even where his observance is not strictly shelo lishmah (not for its own sake), i.e., for some selfish motive, but even where he acts out of habit. In the case of Torah studied by rote, however, the Torah ascends before G‑d when he reviews the subject lishmah, joining it to his present study.

אך כל זמן שלא חזר ולמד דבר זה לשמה

But as long as he does not review this subject lishmah,

אין לימודו עולה אפילו בי׳ ספירות המאירות בעולם היצירה והעשיה

his study does not ascend even to the Ten Sefirot which radiate in the Worlds of Yetzirah and Asiyah (not to mention the Sefirot of Beriah).

כי הספירות הן בחינת אלקות, ובהן מתלבש ומתייחד אור אין סוף ברוך הוא ממש

For the Sefirot are a level of G‑dliness, and the blessed Ein Sof-light is clothed within them and is united with them; and therefore, were this person’s Torah to ascend into the Sefirot, it would actually ascend to the Ein Sof-light,

ובלא דחילו ורחימו לא יכלא לסלקא ולמיקם קדם ה׳, כמו שכתוב בתיקונים

and without fear and love [the Torah] cannot rise to stand before G‑d — the Ein Sof-light — as is written in Tikkunei Zohar.

רק לימודו עולה להיכלות ומדורין, שהן חיצוניות העולמות

Instead, his Torah study rises to the “chambers” and “abodes” of Yetzirah and Asiyah, which are the externality of the Worlds,

The Sefirot are the internal aspect of each World, i.e., its divine creative power; the “chambers” constitute the (created) World itself.

שבהן עומדים המלאכים

where the angels are situated.

וכמו שכתב הרב חיים ויטל ז״ל בשער הנבואה פרק ב׳, שמהתורה שלא בכוונה נבראים מלאכים בעולם היצירה, ומהמצות בלי כוונה נבראים מלאכים בעולם העשיה

Rabbi Chayim Vital, of blessed memory, writes in ch. 2 of his Shaar HaNevuah (“The Portal of Prophecy”) that from Torah [studied] without kavanah angels are created in the World of Yetzirah, and from mitzvot [performed] without kavanah angels are created in the World of Asiyah.

This indicates that Torah and mitzvot without kavanah are not absorbed in the Sefirot, but rise only to the level of angels, who are created beings and are thus on the level of the “externality” of the Worlds.

But one might argue that Rabbi Chayim Vital’s statement cannot be cited in support of the Alter Rebbe’s statement: the former speaks of Torah and mitzvot “without kavanah,” while the latter deals with Torah and mitzvot that were not observed “lishmah”. Perhaps the meaning of “without kavanah‘” is that one recited words of Torah or performed a mitzvah in a mechanical manner, without involving his thought at all. Accordingly, we might say that only such a lowly level of observance is incapable of rising any higher than the level of angels, whereas Torah and mitzvot lacking only the quality of “lishmah” may indeed — we might argue — rise to be absorbed into the Sefirot.

To forestall such an argument the Alter Rebbe adds to Rabbi Chayim Vital’s words:

וכל המלאכים הם בעלי חומר וצורה

Now, all angels are possessed of matter and form.

Similarly with angels created of Torah and mitzvot: the angels‘ “matter” is formed by the “matter” of Torah and mitzvot, and their “form” — by the “form” of Torah and mitzvot.

Thus, any mitzvah of which an angel is created must consist of more than mere mechanical action, which is the “matter” of a mitzvah; it must also contain some thought (such as an understanding of the words of Torah that one recites, or the realization that he is performing a mitzvah); and this thought is the “form” of the mitzvah.

Clearly, then, Rabbi Chayim Vital is not dealing with mechanical observance when he says that Torah and mitzvot “without kavanah” produce angels in Yetzirah or Asiyah. The term “without kavanah” (as used here) must refer to Torah and mitzvot lacking the intention of lishmah.1 Yet, for lack of lishmah the Torah and mitzvot can ascend only to the level of angels, not to the Sefirot.

All the aforesaid concerns Torah and mitzvot which lack the intention of lishmah, but which were not performed expressly shelo lishmah, for personal motives.

אבל תורה שלא לשמה ממש, כגון להיות תלמיד חכם, וכהאי גוונא

But Torah [studied] strictly shelo lishmah, for selfish reasons, as, for example, for the purpose of becoming a scholar and the like,

אינה עולה כלל למעלה, אפילו להיכלות ומדור המלאכים דקדושה

does not ascend on high at all, not even to the “chambers” or to the abode of the holy angels (for even the “externality” of the Worlds is, after all, in the realm of holiness; therefore Torah studied with such intention does not ascend even to this level),

אלא נשארת למטה בעולם הזה הגשמי, שהוא מדור הקליפות

but remains instead below, in this physical world, which is the abode of the kelipot.* Since the selfish motive stems from kelipah, the Torah study that it elicits remains in the abode of kelipot.


כמו שכתוב בזהר חלק ג׳, דף ל״א עמוד ב׳, ודף קכ״א עמוד ב׳, עיין שם:


Note Zohar, Part III, pp. 31b and 121b, where it is similarly written,

ההיא מלה סלקא ובקעא רקיעין כו' ואתער מה דאתער

“That [spoken] word ascends and pierces the heavens...and evokes what it evokes:

אי טב טב כו' ע"ש

if [the word is] good — a word of Torah or the like — [it evokes] good...“; note there.

ודף ק"ה ע"א מלה דאורייתא אתעביד מיניה קלא וסליק כו'

Note also on p. 105a: “From a word of Torah a voice is formed which rises...”;

וד' קס"ח ע"ב קלין דאורייתא וצלותא בקעין רקיעין כו'

and on p. 168b: “The voices of Torah and prayer [ascend on high and] pierce the heavens....”


All three passages from the Zohar indicate that words of Torah ascend on high, rending the heavens.

וכמו שכתוב בזהר על פסוק: מה יתרון לאדם מכל עמלו שיעמול תחת השמש

It is similarly written in the Zohar, commenting on the verse,2 “What profit has a man of all his toil that he labors under the sun?”

Our Sages point out that only man’s labor “under the sun,” i.e., toil in mundane matters, does not realize any profit; the labor of Torah, however, is “above the sun” and does indeed profit a man. The Zohar, though, stipulates:

דאפילו עמלא דאורייתא, אי עביד בגין יקריה כו׳

“Even with the toil of Torah, if one does it for his own glory... it belongs to the category of ‘labor under the sun,’ and there is no profit in it.”

וזה שאמרו: אשרי מי שבא לכאן ותלמודו בידו

This is also the meaning of the saying [of our Sages]:3 “Happy is he who arrives here on high with his Torah study in his hand,”

פירוש: שלא נשאר למטה בעולם הזה

meaning that [his Torah study] did not remain below in this world.

The saying thus means: “Happy is he who studies Torah lishmah, so that his Torah ascends on high.” Had he not studied Torah lishmah his Torah would not be with him (“in his hand”) when his soul ascends, but would have remained in this world.

It has been demonstrated above that Torah studied out of habit, without personal motive yet lacking any intention of lishmah, cannot ascend on high to be absorbed into the Sefirot. The Alter Rebbe now explains why this is so.

The difficulty: The Torah and G‑d are altogether one, for the Torah is G‑d’s Will. Thus, the Torah is higher even than the Sefirot, just as G‑d’s Will transcends the Sefirot. Why then does the Torah need one’s kavanah to elevate it to the Sefirot?

ואף דאורייתא וקודשא בריך הוא כולא חד, שהוא ורצונו אחד

Although the Torah and the Holy One, blessed be He, are altogether one, for He and His Will are one, and the Torah represents His Will, nevertheless the Torah will not ascend on high without kavanah.

The reason (presently stated) in brief:

The words of Torah that one speaks are physical, as are all things in this material world. True, they are holy words; the divine life-force within them is not concealed and veiled, as it is in other material beings. Yet, being physical, the words of Torah share with all physical existence a divine life-force that is greatly contracted and limited.

Therefore they cannot ascend to the G‑dly Sefirot unless they are impelled by kavanah, i.e., a spiritual intention generated by love and fear of G‑d, which elevate the words of Torah and cause the Divine Will to be revealed in them.

In the Alter Rebbe’s words:

הרי קודשא בריך הוא איהו ממלא כל עלמין בשוה, ואף על פי כן אין העולמות שוים במעלתם

The Holy One, blessed be He, fills all the worlds alike, yet the worlds are not equal in rank.

והשינוי הוא מהמקבלים בב׳ בחינות

The difference [between one world and another] is due to the recipients [of the divine life force], and is twofold:

האחת: שהעליונים מקבלים הארה יותר גדולה לאין קץ מהתחתונים

(a) The higher [worlds and beings] receive an illumination infinitely greater than [the illumination received by] the lower;

והשנית: שמקבלים בלי לבושים ומסכים רבים כל כך כהתחתונים

b) The higher ones receive [this illumination] without as many garments and veils as the lower ones.

ועולם הזה הוא עולם השפל בב׳ בחינות

This world is the lowest of worlds in both respects.

כי ההארה שבו מצומצמת מאד, עד קצה האחרון, ולכן הוא חומרי וגשמי

For (a) the illumination [of divine life-force] within it is greatly contracted, to the furthest degree; it is therefore corporeal and material.

וגם זאת היא בלבושים ומסכים רבים

Furthermore, (b) even this [contracted illumination] is clothed in many garments and veils,

עד שנתלבשה בקליפת נוגה, להחיות כל דברים הטהורים שבעולם הזה, ובכללם הוא נפש החיונית המדברת שבאדם

until it is clothed in kelipat nogah, to give life to all clean permitted things of this world, including the animating intelligent soul in man.

As mentioned in earlier chapters, all permitted objects receive their vitality via kelipat nogah, and can therefore serve either a good or an evil purpose.

ולכן כשמדברת דברי תורה ותפלה בלא כוונה

Therefore, when the animating soul speaks words of Torah or prayer without kavanah, the concealment characteristic of this world is absent, yet the contraction still applies, as follows:

אף שהן אותיות קדושות, ואין קליפת נוגה שבנפש החיונית מסך מבדיל כלל להסתיר ולכסות על קדושתו יתברך המלובשת בהן

Though these are holy letters and thus, in this case, the kelipat nogah of the animating soul does not constitute a veil of separation, concealing or covering the divine holiness clothed in these letters,

כמו שהיא מסתרת ומכסה על קדושתו יתברך שבנפש החיונית כשמדברת דברים בטלים

as [kelipat nogah] conceals and covers the divine holiness in the animating soul when it utters idle chatter,

ושבנפש החיונית שבשאר בעלי חיים הטהורים

and [the divine holiness] in the animating souls of other ritually clean living creatures, where kelipat nogah likewise conceals the divine life-force,

דאף דלית אתר פנוי מיניה

for although4 “no place is devoid of Him,” and His presence is found in man’s animating soul even when he engages in idle talk, and in the soul of all living creatures —

-מכל מקום איהו סתימו דכל סתימין, ונקרא אל מסתתר

yet, He is the5 “Most Hidden One of all the hidden,” and is called6 “a hidden G‑d,” for He is hidden from his creations.

וגם ההארה והתפשטות החיות ממנו יתברך מסתתרת בלבושים ומסכים רבים ועצומים

Similarly, the illumination and extension of vitality from Him is hidden in many dense garments and veils,

עד שנתלבשה ונסתתרה בלבוש נוגה

and is finally clothed and hidden in the garment of nogah, which completely conceals man’s divine life-force when he engages in idle talk, and the life-force in other animals, as stated.

מה שאין כן באותיות הקדושות של דברי תורה ותפלה

It is different, however, with the holy letters in words of Torah and prayer:

דאדרבה, קליפת נוגה מתהפכת לטוב, ונכללת בקדושה זו, כנ״ל

Here,not only does kelipat nogah not obscure G‑dliness, but on the contrary, kelipat nogah is transformed to good and is absorbed into this holiness, as explained above.7

Thus, the second of the two aforementioned traits that make this world the lowest of worlds — namely, the complete concealment of divine life-force in the garment of kelipat nogah — is absent in words of Torah and prayer. But the first trait, the Alter Rebbe will now state, is present even in these holy words: they are physical, as are all things of this world, so that the contraction of divine life-force that characterizes physical matter in general, applies to these words as well.

מכל מקום, ההארה שבהן מקדושתו יתברך הוא בבחינת צמצום עד קצה האחרון, מאחר שהקול והדבור הוא גשמי

Nevertheless, the illumination from His holiness that [these words] contain is contracted to the furthest degree, since the voice and speech uttering words of Torah and prayer are material.

Therefore, although Torah is one with G‑d, words of Torah will not ascend to the Sefirot without kavanah, since the G‑dliness within them is so greatly contracted.

אבל בתפלה בכוונה ותורה בכוונה לשמה

But in the case of prayer [recited] with kavanah and Torah [studied] with kavanah lishmah,

הרי הכוונה מתלבשת באותיות הדבור, הואיל והיא מקור ושרש להן

the kavanah is clothed in (i.e., permeates) the letters of speech, since it is their source and root,

שמחמתה ובסיבתה הוא מדבר אותיות אלו

for he speaks these words for, and because of, this kavanah.

לכן היא מעלה אותן עד מקומה

Therefore, the kavanah elevates the words to its own level,

בי׳ ספירות דיצירה או דבריאה

meaning to the Ten Sefirot of either Yetzirah or Beriah,

לפי מה שהיא הכוונה, בדחילו ורחימו שכליים או טבעיים כו׳, כנ״ל

depending on the type of kavanah — whether a kavanah of intellectual fear and love, in which case they ascend to Beriah, or natural fear and love, which elevates them to Yetzirah, as explained above.

At any rate, the kavanah which is spiritual elevates the material words to the Sefirot of Yetzirah or Beriah.

ושם מאיר ומתגלה אור אין סוף ברוך הוא

There, in the Sefirot, the Ein Sof-light shines forth and is revealed,

שהוא רצון העליון ברוך הוא המלובש באותיות התורה שלומד ובכוונתן, או בתפלה בכוונתה, או במצוה ובכוונתה

meaning the blessed Divine Will vested in the letters and in the kavanah of the Torah that one studies, or the Divine Will in prayer and in its kavanah or in a mitzvah and in its kavanah.

One’s kavanah, too, expresses the Divine Will, for G‑d desires that man cleave to Him with love and fear.

בהארה גדולה לאין קץ , מה שלא יכול להאיר ולהתגלות כלל בעוד האותיות והמצוה בעולם הזה הגשמי

This Ein Sof-light of the Divine Will radiates in the Sefirot with an infinitely great brightness, that can by no means shine forth and be revealed while the letters of Torah and prayer and the mitzvah are still in this physical world.

The Torah and the mitzvot contain the radiance of Divine Will even as they are in this physical world. But this radiance is altogether incomparable to the radiance of Divine Will that Torah and mitzvot contain when they ascend to the Sefirot of Yetzirah or Beriah, for —

לא מינה ולא מקצתה

neither the radiance itself that shines forth in the Sefirot nor any part of it can be revealed in this physical world.

עד עת קץ הימין, שיתעלה העולם מגשמיותו, ונגלה כבוד ה׳ וגומר, כנ״ל באריכות

This disparity between the respective levels of radiance of the Divine Will in the Sefirot and in this world, will remain until the era of the End of Days, when the world will rise out of its materiality, and8 “The glory of G‑d will be revealed...for all flesh to behold,” as explained above9 at length.*

At that time the Divine Will contained in the Torah and mitzvot of this world will shine forth in all its splendor. Until then, however, this radiance is incomparable to that of the Divine Will contained in the Torah and mitzvot insofar as they ascend to the Sefirot.


In the following note the Alter Rebbe states that the revelation of Divine Will in a particular World, caused by the ascent of Torah and mitzvot thereto — a revelation which he describes as “an hour of ‘(Divine) Will,’ or ‘(Divine) Favor’” — produces a reaction in the middot of that World: With the revelation of Divine Will the middot fuse, and the attributes of Severity are “sweetened”, or tempered, with Kindness. This in turn results in an increased flow of Divine Kindness into our world.

This effect of the mitzvot is felt primarily in the fusion of the middot of Atzilut.


ושם מאיר ומתגלה גם כן היחוד העליון הנעשה בכל מצוה ותלמוד תורה

There in the higher Worlds, there also shines forth and is revealed the Supernal union effected by every mitzvah and by Torah study,

שהוא יחוד מדותיו ית'

namely, the union of G‑d’s middot.

שנכללות זו בזו ונמתקות הגבורות בחסדים

These middot fuse with each other, and the Gevurot (the attributes of “Severity”) are “sweetened” by Chassadim (the attributes of “Kindness”)

ע"י עת רצון העליון א"ס ב"ה המאיר ומתגלה בבחי' גילוי רב ועצום

through the ‘Hour of Will (favor) of the blessed Ein Sof,’ i.e., the revelation of the Will of the Ein Sof, which shines forth and reveals itself in abundant and intense revelation,

באתערותא דלתתא היא עשיית המצוה או עסק התורה שבהן מלובש רצון העליון א"ס ב"ה

by reason of the “arousal (of man) below,” consisting of the performance of a mitzvah or occupation in Torah in which the Supernal Will of the blessed Ein Sof is clothed.

The revelation of Divine Will (i.e., the Will clothed in Torah and mitzvot) produces a fusion of the middot and a “sweetening” of Gevurot in whatever World the Torah and mitzvot ascend to.

אך עיקר היחוד הוא למעלה מעלה, בעולם האצילות

But the main unity caused by Torah and mitzvot takes place far higher, in the World of Atzilut,

ששם הוא מהות ועצמות מדותיו ית' מיוחדו' במאצילן א"ס ב"ה

where the core and essence of G‑d’s middot are united with their Emanator, the Ein Sof, blessed be He,

ושם הוא מהות ועצמות רצון העליון א"ס ב"ה

and there is found the core and essence of the Supernal Will of the blessed Ein Sof,

והארתן לבד היא מאירה בבי"ע בכל עולם מהן לפי מעלתו

of which a mere glimmer radiates in Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah — in each of these Worlds according to its rank.

ואף שנפש האדם העוסק בתורה ומצוה זו אינה מאצילות

Now, although the soul of the person engaging in this Torah study or mitzvah does not stem from Atzilut,

מ"מ הרי רצון העליון המלובש במצוה זו והוא הוא עצמו הדבר הלכה והתורה שעוסק בה

nevertheless he is able to effect unity in the middot of Atzilut because the Supernal Will, which is clothed in this mitzvah, and in the case of Torah it is not merely “clothed” in it, but furthermore — it is indeed the very halachah and Torah that he is studying, —

הוא אלהות ואור א"ס המאציל ב"ה שהוא ורצונו אחד

this Supernal Will is G‑dliness, and is the Ein Sof-light of the Emanator [of the Sefirot of Atzilut], since He and His Will are one;

וברצונו ית' האציל מדותיו המיוחדות בו ית'

and this Supernal Will is actually the source of the middot, since it was by His Will that He emanated His middot, which are united with Himself.

וע"י גילוי רצונו המתגלה ע"י עסק תורה ומצוה זו הן נכללות זו בזו

Therefore, by means of the revelation of His Will caused by one’s engaging in Torah or in a particular mitzvah, the middot fuse with each other,

ונמתקות הגבורות בחסדים בעת רצון זו

and the Gevurot are sweetened by Chassadim at this “hour of revealed, favorable Will.”


Having stated that love and fear of G‑d elevate one’s Torah and mitzvot on high, the Alter Rebbe continues:

ובזה יובן היטב הא דדחילו ורחימו נקראים גדפין, דרך משל, כדכתיב: ובשתים יעופף

This explains clearly why fear and love are figuratively called “wings”, as it is written:10 “And with two wings he flies,” alluding to the two middot of love and fear.

וכמו שכתב הרב חיים ויטל ז״ל בשער היחודים פרק י״א שהכנפיים בעוף הן זרועות האדם כו׳

(11As Rabbi Chayim Vital, of blessed memory, stated in Shaar HaYichudim, ch. 11:) For wings are for a bird what arms are for a man; just as it is written,Chesed (corresponding to love) is the right arm, and Gevurah (fear) the left arm,” similarly, the “wings” represent these two middot.

ובתיקונים פירשו שהעוסקים בתורה ומצות בדחילו ורחימו נקראים בנים

It is also explained in Tikkunei Zohar, that those who engage in Torah and mitzvot out of fear and love are called “children”;

ואם לאו, נקראים אפרוחים דלא יכלין לפרחא

otherwise (i.e., if their Torah and mitzvot lack the fear and love of G‑d), they are called “fledgelings” who cannot fly.*


In this note, the Alter Rebbe elaborates on the correspondence of “wings” to fear and love. He quotes Tikkunei Zohar, where the subject is treated extensively.

ובתיקון מ״ה דעופא הוא מט״ט

In Tikkun 45 it is written that [the figure of] a bird represents the archangel Metatron.

רישא דיליה י' וגופא וא"ו ותרין גדפין ה' ה' כו'

His head is the letter yud of the Divine Name (yud-hei-vav-hei), the yud representing Chochmah; his body is the vav, the six middot; and his two wings are the two letters hei and hei, representing Binah and Malchut, respectively.

והיינו עולם היצירה שנקרא מט"ט

This corresponds to the World of Yetzirah, which is called Metatron.

Thus, applying the various elements of the figure to their corresponding aspects in Yetzirah, we obtain:

ובו12 הן גופי הלכות שבמשנה

Vav, the “body” of Metatron, represents the “body” of the laws in the Mishnah (since Mishnah is at the level of Yetzirah, as will soon be explained), for the “body” of the laws, i.e., the actual rulings determining what is permitted or forbidden, who is guilty or innocent, and the like, are related to the middot, which are represented by the letter vav.

ורישא דיליה הן המוחין ובחי' חב"ד שהן פנימיות ההלכות וסודן וטעמיהן

His head represents intelligence — the level of ChaBaD, which are, in terms of the Mishnah, the inner depth of the laws, their esoteric meaning and their reasons.

ותרין גדפין דחילו ורחימו הן ה' עילאה שהיא רחימו

The two “wings” denoting flight, namely fear and love, represent [respectively]: the higher hei, which is an allusion prevalent in the literature of the Kabbalah to love;

וה' תתאה היא יראה תתאה עול מלכות שמים ופחד ה' כפחד המלך ד"מ

and the lower hei, alluding to “lower-level fear,” namely “the yoke of the Heavenly Kingdom,” and the dread of G‑d similar to the dread of a king.

שהיא יראה חיצונית ונגלית

Such fear is external and revealed, and is therefore alluded to by the lowest level (i.e., letter) of the Divine Name.

משא"כ יראה עילאה ירא בושת היא מהנסתרות לה' אלקינו

“Higher-level fear,” however, meaning “awe consisting of shame before G‑d’s greatness,” is of those “hidden matters belonging to G‑d, our L‑rd.

והיא בחכמה עילאה יו"ד של שם הוי"ה ב"ה כמ"ש בר"מ

It is on the level of Supernal Wisdom, alluded to by the yud of the Four-letter Divine Name, blessed be He, as is written in Ra‘aya Mehemna.


We see, at any rate, that love and fear of G‑d are described as “wings”. According to what has been said above concerning the role of love and fear in elevating one’s Torah and mitzvot, the analogy is clearly understood, as follows:

כי כמו שכנפי העוף אינם עיקר העוף, ואין חיותו תלוי בהם כלל

The wings of a bird are not its main components; its life does not depend on them at all,

כדתנן: ניטלו אגפיה כשרה

for as the Mishnah implies,13 a bird whose wings were removed is kosher.

והעיקר הוא ראשו וכל גופו, והכנפיים אינם רק משמשים לראשו וגופו לפרחא בהון

Rather, the main parts are its head and the rest of its body; the wings merely serve the head and body, enabling them to fly.

וכך, דרך משל, התורה ומצות הן עיקר היחוד העליון, על ידי גילוי רצון העליון המתגלה על ידיהן

Likewise with Torah and mitzvot: They constitute the essential Supernal union by the revelation of Supernal Will which they cause;

והדחילו ורחימו הם המעלים אותן למקום שיתגלה בו הרצון, אור אין סוף ברוך הוא, והיחוד, שהן יצירה ובריאה

fear and love, like wings, [merely] elevate the Torah and mitzvot to a place where this Will — the blessed Ein Sof-light — and this unity can be revealed, namely, Yetzirah and Beriah.*


To his statement that Beriah and Yetzirah are the place to which Torah and mitzvot are elevated, and where the union caused by them is revealed, the Alter Rebbe adds:


או אפילו בעשיה, בי׳ ספירות דקדושה, מקום מצות מעשיות

Or even in Asiyah, in the ten holy Sefirot [of that World], the abode of the mitzvot consisting of action.

Performing these mitzvot out of “submission to the heavenly yoke” elevates the mitzvot to the Sefirot of Asiyah and reveals the Supernal union there. For such submission is related to G‑d’s attribute of Sovereignty (Malchut), which pervades Asiyah; moreover, these mitzvot are performed at the level of action, which corresponds to Asiyah.

וכן מקרא

Likewise with [the study of] Scripture.

This, too, is related to Asiyah, for the mitzvah of studying Scripture requires one to recite the holy words, and speech is considered a minor form of action.

אבל במשנה, מתגלה היחוד ואור אין סוף ברוך הוא ביצירה

But in the case of Mishnah, the union and the blessed Ein Sof-light are revealed in Yetzirah.

For the halachic rulings contained in the Mishnah are derived from the middot: the attribute of Chesed dictates that a particular object be deemed kosher, or a litigant judged innocent, while Gevurah dictates that it be ruled unkosher, and the litigant pronounced guilty, and so on. The Mishnah is therefore on the level of Yetzirah, the World of middot.

ובתלמוד בבריאה

In the case of Talmud [the union and Ein Sof-light are revealed] in Beriah14 — for the Talmud seeks out the logic underlying the Mishnaic laws; it is thus related to ChaBaD, which are manifest in Beriah.

This does not mean, however, that the union effected by the study of Mishnah, for example, takes place only in Yetzirah, and that effected by study of Scripture only in Asiyah, etc. Were this the intention, an obvious difficulty would arise: Scripture is holier than Mishnah (as indicated by the law that one may place the Scriptures on top of a book of Mishnah, but not vice versa), and Mishnah holier than Talmud. Why then should the revelation of Ein Sof-light created by their (respective) study be in reverse order, with Talmud, the least holy of the three, effecting a revelation in Beriah, the highest of the three Worlds?

We must, perforce, say that —

דהיינו שבלימוד מקרא מתפשט היחוד ואור אין סוף ברוך הוא מאצילות עד העשיה

This means that by the study of Scripture the union and [revelation of] the blessed Ein Sof-light extends from Atzilut downward till the World of Asiyah;

ובמשנה עד היצירה לבדה ובתלמוד עד הבריאה לבדה

through study of Mishnah, only till Yetzirah; and through Talmud, only till Beriah;

כי כולן באצילות

for all of them (Scripture, Mishnah and Talmud) are in Atzilut, and effect the union and revelation there. The difference between them lies only in how “far” from Atzilut the impact of the study reaches.

אבל קבלה אינה מתפשטת כלל מאצילות לבי"ע כמ"ש בפרע"ח

Kabbalah, however, effects a union and revelation in Atzilut that does not extend at all to the lower Worlds Beriah, Yetzirah or Asiyah, as is written in Pri Etz Chayim.


The Alter Rebbe previously compared love and fear of G‑d to the wings of a bird; the wings are not the essential part of the bird, but merely serve it, enabling it to fly; likewise, love and fear merely serve the mitzvot, which are the essential objective, by elevating them to a level where the union effected by them can be revealed.

He now raises a question: Love and fear of G‑d are themselves enumerated among the 613 mitzvot; why, then, are they assigned a secondary status?

והנה אף דדחילו ורחימו הם גם כן מתרי״ג מצות

Although fear and love are also among the 613 mitzvot,

אף על פי כן נקראין גדפין

they are nevertheless described as [mere] wings for other mitzvot,

להיות כי תכלית האהבה היא העבודה מאהבה

because the goal of love is the service of G‑d resulting from this love.

Its purpose lies, not in itself, but in its role as motivation for serving G‑d via the mitzvot. For this reason it is likened to “wings”, which are secondary to the bird itself.

ואהבה בלי עבודה היא אהבה בתענוגים, להתענג על ה׳

Love without “service” i.e., a love that is not a means to an end, but an end in itself is a “love of delights,” a supremely high level of love, in which one delights in G‑dliness.

מעין עולם הבא, וקבלת שכר

This is in the nature of the World to Come, and thus constitutes reward.

I.e., such love for G‑d is actually a foretaste and part of the reward to be given in the World to Come; it does not in itself represent service of G‑d.

והיום לעשותם כתיב, ולמחר לקבל שכרם

But it is written,15 “Today — to do them (i.e., ‘today’, this life in the time of action and service), and tomorrow (in the World to Come) to receive their reward.” Thus, in this life, the time of service, the love that leads to service is the love most prized.

ומי שלא הגיע למדה זו, לטעום מעין עולם הבא

He, however, who has not attained to this level of savoring a foretaste of the World to Come, and has not reached the level of “a love of delights,”

אלא עדיין נפשו שוקקה וצמאה לה׳ וכלתה אליו כל היום

but whose soul yet yearns and thirsts for G‑d and goes out to Him all day long,

ואינו מרוה צמאונו במי התורה שלפניו, הרי זה כמי שעומד בנהר וצועק: מים מים לשתות

and he does not quench his thirst for G‑dliness with the “water” of Torah that is in front of him, — such a person is comparable to one who stands in a river and cries: “Water, water to drink!”

כמו שקובל עליו הנביא: הוי כל צמא לכו למים

Thus the Prophet laments over him:16 “Ho, all of you who thirst, go to the waters!”, on which our Sages comment17 that “water” refers to Torah.

Surely the Prophet is not addressing (as the simple meaning of the words would indicate) one who thirsts for Torah, for such a person will surely quench his thirst and study Torah without the Prophet’s exhortation. Clearly, then, these words are addressed to one who thirsts for G‑d; and the Prophet tells him that he must quench the thirst of his love by studying and practicing the Torah.

In the Alter Rebbe’s words:

כי לפי פשוטו אינו מובן

For in its simple meaning the verse is incomprehensible:

דמי שהוא צמא ומתאווה ללמוד, פשיטא שילמוד מעצמו

he who is thirsty and desires to study [Torah], will surely do so of his own accord.

ולמה לו לנביא לצעוק עליו: הוי

Why must the Prophet cry over him, “Ho”? Clearly, then, the verse refers to one who loves G‑d and thirsts for Him.

Now if love of G‑d were an end in itself, the service of prayer could suffice, for it creates a love and thirst for G‑d. But because the purpose of love is that it lead one to serve G‑d, the Prophet exhorts us not to rest content with love itself, but to study Torah — and thereby quench the thirst for G‑dliness, and also realize the purpose of love.

וכמו שכתוב במקום אחר באריכות

This matter is discussed elsewhere at length.