As mentioned in the title page of the Tanya, this work is based on the verse, “For this thing is very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.” This means that observing the Torah and the mitzvot with one’s heart, with a love and fear of G‑d, is very “near”—within simple reach.

The Alter Rebbe devoted the first twenty-five chapters of his work to an explanation of the role of love and fear (awe) in a Jew’s divine service. He also explained how they may be readily attained.

It is the love of G‑d, wrote the Alter Rebbe, that motivates one to fulfill all the positive mitzvot. In order for a Jew to perform them properly and eagerly, he must be imbued with a love for G‑d and a desire to cleave to Him, for performing them will enable him to cleave to G‑d.

Similarly, fear of G‑d lies at the root of one’s observance of the prohibitive mitzvot: when one stands in true fear and awe of G‑d, he will refrain from transgressing and thereby rebelling against His will.

In the last few chapters, the Alter Rebbe went on to explain that love and fear are the wings that elevate one’s mitzvot, causing them to ascend to the sefirot of the upper Worlds. Conversely, mitzvot fulfilled without the spiritual intent fostered by the love and fear of G‑d are likened to a body bereft of its soul.

In ch. 41, the Alter Rebbe now goes on to say that fear of G‑d is the beginning and core of divine service. This is so not only regarding the negative precepts but also with regard to the positive precepts. While it is true that love of G‑d motivates one’s observance of the positive commands, nevertheless, the observance of these commands too must be impelled by some measure of fear as well. For avodah (“divine service”) implies an analogy with the manner in which an eved (“servant”) serves his master—service out of fear. Fear of G‑d is therefore the beginning and the mainstay of spiritual service.

One must, however, constantly bear in mind what is the beginning of [divine] service as well as its core and root.

בְּרַם, צָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת לְזִכָּרוֹן תָּמִיד רֵאשִׁית הָעֲבוֹדָה וְעִיקָּרָהּ וְשָׁרְשָׁהּ.

This means: Although fear is the root of “turn away from evil” and love [is the root of] “do good,”

וְהוּא, כִּי אַף שֶׁהַיִּרְאָה הִיא שֹׁרֶשׁ לְ"סוּר מֵרָע" וְהָאַהֲבָה לְ"וַעֲשֵׂה טוֹב",

I.e., fear of G‑d is what basically urges one to refrain from evil and not to transgress the negative precepts, while love of G‑d is what basically motivates one to perform good deeds and positive commands,

nevertheless, it is not sufficient to awaken the love alone to “do good,”

אַף־עַל־פִּי־כֵן, לֹא דַי לְעוֹרֵר הָאַהֲבָה לְבַדָּהּ לְ"וַעֲשֵׂה טוֹב",

but at the very least, before performing the positive command, one must first arouse the innate fear which lies hidden in the heart of every Jew not to rebel against the supreme King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, as has been stated above,

וּלְפָחוֹת צָרִיךְ לְעוֹרֵר תְּחִלָּה הַיִּרְאָה הַטִּבְעִית הַמְסוּתֶּרֶת בְּלֵב כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל, שֶׁלֹּא לִמְרוֹד בְּמֶלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְּלָכִים הַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא, כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל,

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so that [this fear] should manifest itself in his heart or, at least, in his mind.

שֶׁתְּהֵא בְּהִתְגַּלּוּת לִבּוֹ אוֹ מוֹחוֹ עַל כָּל פָּנִים.

Optimally, a Jew should be able to create a feeling of fear in his heart through meditating upon G‑d’s greatness. If, however, this proves to be beyond his capacity, he should at least arouse the innate fear which lies hidden in his heart. This degree of fear is attainable to all inasmuch as it does not require such profound meditation.

This innate fear may be aroused either (a) to such a degree that it is actually felt in his heart or (b), if the individual is incapable of evoking palpable fear in his heart, he will at least be able to summon up his innate fear in his mind so that he will be able to apprehend and experience the fear of G‑d intellectually.

This means that in order to arouse within himself the latter category of fear, he should at least contemplate in his mind the greatness of the blessed Ein Sof and His Kingship,

דְּהַיְינוּ, לְהִתְבּוֹנֵן בְּמַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ עַל כָּל פָּנִים גְּדוּלַּת אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא, וּמַלְכוּתוֹ

To arouse the former category of fear, that which is palpably felt in the heart, one must engage one’s daat in profound meditation. He who is unable to do so should contemplate, at least superficially, G‑d’s greatness:

which extends to all worlds, both higher and lower, bearing in mind that the greater the king’s dominion, the more awe it inspires in his subjects,

אֲשֶׁר הִיא "מַלְכוּת כָּל עוֹלָמִים" – עֶלְיוֹנִים וְתַחְתּוֹנִים,

and let him further consider that “He fills all worlds,” animating them with an indwelling life-force that created beings can experience and comprehend,

וְאִיהוּ "מְמַלֵּא כָּל עָלְמִין"

“and encompasses all worlds,” i.e., He also animates them with a life-force that transcends the experience and comprehension of created beings,

וְ"סוֹבֵב כָּל עָלְמִין",

as it is written: “Do I not fill heaven and earth?”1

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "הֲלֹא אֶת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת הָאָרֶץ אֲנִי מָלֵא",

Yet He leaves aside [the creatures of] the higher [worlds] and [the creatures of] the lower [worlds],

וּמַנִּיחַ הָעֶלְיוֹנִים וְתַחְתּוֹנִים,

Neither the higher nor the lower creatures represent the Creator’s ultimate intention. He therefore does not bestow His Kingship upon them so that He be called their G‑d and King; rather:

He uniquely bestows His Kingship upon His people Israel in general—for G‑d is known as “King of Israel”—and upon him in particular, for a man is obligated to say: “For my sake was the world created.”2

וּמְיַיחֵד מַלְכוּתוֹ עַל עַמּוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל בִּכְלָל, וְעָלָיו בִּפְרָט, כִּי חַיָּיב אָדָם לוֹמַר: "בִּשְׁבִילִי נִבְרָא הָעוֹלָם",

A Jew should remind himself that the whole purpose and intent of creation, viz., G‑d’s Sovereignty, relates to himself specifically, that G‑d become King over him.

The realization that G‑d bestows His Kingship upon each individual in particular touches a responsive chord within one; he is then more apt to demand of himself that he accept the heavenly yoke.

And he for his part accepts His Kingship upon himself, that He be King over him, to serve Him and do His will in all kinds of servile work.

וְהוּא גַם הוּא מְקַבֵּל עָלָיו מַלְכוּתוֹ, לִהְיוֹת מֶלֶךְ עָלָיו, וּלְעָבְדוֹ וְלַעֲשׂוֹת רְצוֹנוֹ בְּכָל מִינֵי עֲבוֹדַת עָבֶד.

This acceptance of the yoke of divine service is required of all Jews.

The Rebbe points out that the Alter Rebbe will now go on to say that the above meditation—aimed at awakening innate awe in one’s mind—does not suffice: an individual must also realize that G‑d not only bestows His Kingship upon him in a general manner but that He also does so in a (so to speak) personal manner. In the Alter Rebbe’s words:

“And, behold, G‑d [Himself] stands over him,”3 and “The whole world is full only with His Glory,” and not only being omnipresent does He see everything but moreover He scrutinizes him in particular,

"וְהִנֵּה ה' נִצָּב עָלָיו", וּ"מְלֹא כָל הָאָרֶץ כְּבוֹדוֹ", וּמַבִּיט עָלָיו,

and searches his reins and heart i.e., his innermost thoughts and emotions [to see] if he is serving Him as is fitting.

וּבוֹחֵן כְּלָיוֹת וָלֵב אִם עוֹבְדוֹ כָּרָאוּי.

Therefore, he must serve in His Presence with awe and fear (i.e., notes the Rebbe, not merely like one who is located in the King’s domain, but moreover) like one standing before the King.

וְעַל כֵּן צָרִיךְ לַעֲבוֹד לְפָנָיו בְּאֵימָה וּבְיִרְאָה, כְּעוֹמֵד לִפְנֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ.

One must meditate profoundly and at length on this concept, according to the capacity of apprehension of his brain and thought and the time available to devote to this contemplation, this time being:

וְיַעֲמִיק בְּמַחֲשָׁבָה זוֹ וְיַאֲרִיךְ בָּהּ כְּפִי יְכוֹלֶת הַשָּׂגַת מוֹחוֹ וּמַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ, וּכְפִי הַפְּנַאי שֶׁלּוֹ,

before he engages in [the study of] Torah or [before the performance of] a commandment, such as before putting on his tallit or tefillin.

לִפְנֵי עֵסֶק הַתּוֹרָה, אוֹ הַמִּצְוָה, כְּמוֹ לִפְנֵי לְבִישַׁת טַלִּית וּתְפִילִּין.

This meditation will enable him to then serve G‑d with awe.

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to explain another form of meditation. Unlike the above thoughts, which should preface divine service in general, this meditation relates to the particular mitzvah that the individual is about to perform—to the content of this mitzvah, its distinctive effect, and its influence on his soul.

He should also reflect how the light of the blessed Ein Sof, which encompasses all worlds and pervades all worlds and which is identical with the Higher will,

וְגַם יִתְבּוֹנֵן, אֵיךְ שֶׁאוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא, הַ"סּוֹבֵב כָּל עָלְמִין" וּ"מְמַלֵּא כָּל עָלְמִין", הוּא רָצוֹן הָעֶלְיוֹן,

Previous chapters have stated that G‑d’s will is the source of the life-force that animates all worlds in both a transcendental and an indwelling mode.

is clothed in the letters and wisdom of the Torah,

הוּא מְלוּבָּשׁ בְּאוֹתִיּוֹת וְחָכְמַת הַתּוֹרָה,

In the very letters of Torah that the person utters and in the Torah wisdom that he comprehends, G‑d’s will is to be found. As explained in ch. 4, the Divine will clothed itself in the ink and parchment of the Torah scroll and similarly clothed itself in the wisdom of Torah. Thus, when the wisdom of the Torah determines that a certain object is either kosher or invalid, it is expressing the Divine will.

Accordingly, before a person commences his Torah study, he should ponder on how the Ein Sof-light—the Divine will—is vested in the letters and wisdom of the Torah he is now about to study,

or, if his meditation takes place before he puts on his tallit and tefillin, he should contemplate how the Divine will is clothed in these tzitzit and tefillin, it being G‑d’s will that a Jew wear them,

אוֹ בְּצִיצִית וּתְפִלִּין אֵלּוּ,

and through his recitation or study of the Torah or by his wearing tzitzit and tefillin,

וּבִקְרִיאָתוֹ אוֹ בִּלְבִישָׁתוֹ

he draws upon himself His blessed light, that is, over the “part of G‑d above”—his soul—which abides in his body and animates it.

הוּא מַמְשִׁיךְ אוֹרוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ עָלָיו, דְּהַיְינוּ עַל "חֵלֶק אֱלוֹהַּ מִמַּעַל" שֶׁבְּתוֹךְ גּוּפוֹ,

This he does with the intent that it may be absorbed and nullified in His blessed light.

לִיכָּלֵל וְלִיבָּטֵל בְּאוֹרוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ.

The individual’s intent, then, is that the aforementioned study and performance have an effect on his soul. In particular, as will soon be explained, the intellectual and emotional faculties of the soul are affected by tefillin.

Specifically, through tefillin, [he should intend that] the attributes of wisdom and understanding which are in his divine soul should be nullified and absorbed into the attributes of wisdom and understanding of the blessed Ein Sof, these being clothed, in particular, in the passages of Kadesh and Vehayah ki yeviacha.4

וְדֶרֶךְ פְּרָט בִּתְפִילִּין, לִיבָּטֵל וְלִיכָּלֵל בְּחִינַת חָכְמָתוֹ וּבִינָתוֹ שֶׁבְּנַפְשׁוֹ הָאֱלֹהִית, בִּבְחִינַת חָכְמָתוֹ וּבִינָתוֹ שֶׁל אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא, הַמְלוּבָּשׁוֹת דֶּרֶךְ פְּרָט בְּפָרָשִׁיּוֹת: "קַדֶּשׁ", "וְהָיָה כִּי יְבִיאֲךָ",

In these passages, both of which are found in the tefillin, G‑d’s wisdom (chochmah) and understanding (binah) are enclothed, wisdom in the former and understanding in the latter. By putting on tefillin, the individual’s wisdom and understanding are absorbed in G‑d’s. How does this find expression?

That is to say that he should use the wisdom and understanding that are in his soul for G‑d alone—only in pursuit of Torah and mitzvot and for understanding G‑dliness.

דְּהַיְינוּ, שֶׁלֹּא לְהִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בְּחָכְמָתוֹ וּבִינָתוֹ שֶׁבְּנַפְשׁוֹ, בִּלְתִּי לַה' לְבַדּוֹ,

Similarly, [he should intend that] the attribute of daat (the third of the three components of intellect) in his soul, which includes both the chesed (kindness) and gevurah (severity), i.e., fear and love, in his heart,

וְכֵן לִיבָּטֵל וְלִיכָּלֵל בְּחִינַת הַדַּעַת שֶׁבְּנַפְשׁוֹ, הַכּוֹלֵל חֶסֶד וּגְבוּרָה, שֶׁהֵן יִרְאָה וְאַהֲבָה שֶׁבְּלִבּוֹ,

The attribute of daat comprises kindness and severity insofar as these attributes exist on an intellectual level. Moreover, as is explained at the end of ch. 3, the profound and involved meditation that characterizes the level of daat actually creates love and fear insofar as they exist independently on an emotional level. This faculty of daat, then, should—

be nullified and absorbed into the attribute of the higher knowledge (daat ha’elyon), which comprises kindness and severity and which is clothed in the passage of Shema and Vehayah im shamoa.

בִּבְחִינַת דַּעַת הָעֶלְיוֹן הַכּוֹלֵל חֶסֶד וּגְבוּרָה, הַמְלוּבָּשׁ בְּפָרָשִׁיּוֹת: "שְׁמַע", "וְהָיָה אִם שָׁמוֹעַ",

This accords with the statement of the Shulchan Aruch [that while putting on the tefillin, one should intend] “to make one’s heart and brain subservient to G‑d.”5

וְהַיְינוּ כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּשֻׁלְחָן עָרוּךְ: "לְשַׁעְבֵּד הַלֵּב וְהַמּוֹחַ כוּ'";

In this way, then, the divine soul as a whole, and its intellective and emotive faculties in particular, are affected by one’s wearing tefillin.

And while putting on the tzitzit, one should bear in mind what is written in the Zohar, namely, that he should draw upon himself His blessed Kingdom,

וּבַעֲטִיפַת צִיצִית, יְכַוֵּין כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּזֹּהַר: לְהַמְשִׁיךְ עָלָיו מַלְכוּתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ,

which is the Kingdom over all worlds; nevertheless,6 we should intend and endeavor to focus [G‑d’s Kingdom] specifically over ourselves through this mitzvah—for the commandment of tzitzit is particularly effective in enhancing one’s acceptance of the yoke of heaven.

אֲשֶׁר הִיא "מַלְכוּת כָּל עוֹלָמִים" וְכוּ', לְיַיחֲדָהּ עָלֵינוּ עַל יְדֵי מִצְוָה זוֹ,

This is similar to [the commandment]: “You shall surely set a king over yourself.”7

וְהוּא כְּעִנְיַן "שׂוֹם תָּשִׂים עָלֶיךָ מֶלֶךְ".

The Rebbe notes: The verse implies8 that before one set a king over himself, he had no king, and it is he who now sets the king over himself.

In such a case, i.e., having contemplated this matter, then even though after all this [meditation], no dread or fear descends upon him in a manifest manner in his heart,

וַאֲזַי, אַף אִם בְּכָל זֹאת לֹא תִפּוֹל עָלָיו אֵימָה וָפַחַד בְּהִתְגַּלּוּת לִבּוֹ,

nevertheless, since he accepts the Kingdom of Heaven upon himself and draws upon himself the fear of Him in his conscious thought and rational volition,

מִכָּל מָקוֹם, מֵאַחַר שֶׁמְּקַבֵּל עָלָיו מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם, וּמַמְשִׁיךְ עָלָיו יִרְאָתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ בְּהִתְגַלּוּת מַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ וּרְצוֹנוֹ שֶׁבְּמוֹחוֹ,

and this submission to G‑d and his fear of Him is beyond doubt a sincere one—for it is the nature of all Jewish souls not to rebel against the blessed Holy King—

וְקַבָּלָה זוֹ הִיא אֲמִיתִּית בְּלִי שׁוּם סָפֵק, שֶׁהֲרֵי הִיא טֶבַע נַפְשׁוֹת כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁלֹּא לִמְרוֹד בַּמֶּלֶךְ הַקָּדוֹשׁ יִתְבָּרֵךְ –

then the Torah he studies or the commandment he performs because of his submission to the heavenly yoke and because of the fear that he has drawn into his mind are termed “complete service,” of the kind that can result only from a fear of G‑d, as the Alter Rebbe soon goes on to say,

הֲרֵי הַתּוֹרָה שֶׁלּוֹמֵד אוֹ הַמִּצְוָה שֶׁעוֹשֶׂה מֵחֲמַת קַבָּלָה זוֹ וּמֵחֲמַת הַמְשָׁכַת הַיִּרְאָה שֶׁבְּמוֹחוֹ, נִקְרָאוֹת בְּשֵׁם "עֲבוֹדָה שְׁלֵימָה",

like all service [performed] by a servant for his master or king, which is, of course, prompted by fear and awe.

כְּכָל עֲבוֹדַת הָעֶבֶד לַאֲדונוֹ וּמַלְכּוֹ.

All this can be accomplished by arousing—even if only in his mind—at least a minimal level of fear and utilizing it in the study of Torah and the performance of the commandments.

On the other hand, if one studies [Torah] and performs a commandment with love alone in order to cleave to Him through [the study of] His Torah and [the performance of] His commandments, then this is not termed “service of a servant,”

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן אִם לוֹמֵד וּמְקַיֵּים הַמִּצְוָה בְּאַהֲבָה לְבַדָּהּ, כְּדֵי לְדָבְקָה בוֹ עַל יְדֵי תּוֹרָתוֹ וּמִצְוֹתָיו – אֵינָהּ נִקְרֵאת בְּשֵׁם עֲבוֹדַת הָעֶבֶד,

whereas the Torah has declared: “You shall serve (vaavadetem) the L-rd your G‑d….”9 This verb is cognate with the noun eved (“servant”) and thus signifies service motivated by the fear and awe of G‑d, and it is likewise written: “Him shall you serve (taavodu)….”10

וְהַתּוֹרָה אָמְרָה: "וַעֲבַדְתֶּם אֵת ה' אֱלֹהֵיכֶם וְגוֹ'", "וְאוֹתוֹ תַעֲבוֹדוּ וְגוֹ'";

As explained in the Zohar (Parashat Behar): “Just like the ox on which one first places a yoke in order to make it useful to the world…so, too, must a human being first of all submit to the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven…and only then engage in divine service, and if this [submission] is not found in him, holiness cannot rest within him….’’11

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּזֹּהַר [פָּרָשַׁת בְּהַר]: "כְּהַאי תּוֹרָא דְּיָהֲבִין עֲלֵיהּ עוֹל בְּקַדְמֵיתָא בְּגִין לְאַפָּקָא מִינֵּיהּ טַב לְעָלְמָא כוּ', הָכֵי נַמֵי אִצְטְרִיךְ לְבַר נַשׁ לְקַבָּלָא עֲלֵיהּ עוֹל מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם בְּקַדְמֵיתָא כוּ', וְאִי הַאי לָא אִשְׁתְּכַח גַּבֵּיהּ – לָא שַׁרְיָא בֵּיהּ קְדוּשָּׁה כוּ'";

And (in Raaya Mehemna, ibid. 111b) it is written that every man must in his divine service belong to two categories and levels,

[וּבְרַעְיָא מְהֵימְנָא שָׁם דַּף קי"א עַמּוּד ב'] שֶׁכָּל אָדָם צָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת בִּשְׁתֵּי בְּחִינוֹת וּמַדְרֵגוֹת,

namely, the category of a servant, who serves his master out of fear, and the category of a son, who serves his father out of love.

וְהֵן: בְּחִינַת "עֶבֶד" וּבְחִינַת "בֵּן".

And although one may find a son who is also a servant, it is impossible to attain to this degree without the prerequisite of the higher level of fear and awe known as yirah ilaah, as is known to the initiated.

וְאַף דְּיֵשׁ "בֵּן" שֶׁהוּא גַם כֵּן "עֶבֶד", הֲרֵי אִי אֶפְשָׁר לָבֹא לְמַדְרֵגָה זוֹ, בְּלִי קְדִימַת הַיִּרְאָה עִילָּאָה, כַּיָּדוּעַ לַיּוֹדְעִים:

It is clear from all the above that even if one loves G‑d but lacks a fear of Him, his spiritual labors will not be of the kind that the Torah calls avodah, divine service. And should he fail in his attempts at awakening a fear of G‑d in his heart, he should at least arouse a feeling of fear and awe in his mind.

But what of one who finds it impossible to arouse even a feeling of intellectual awe of G‑d? The Alter Rebbe will now go on to say that since this individual, too, meditates upon the abovementioned concepts, and, furthermore, his intent during the study of Torah and the performance of mitzvot is to serve G‑d, these activities are therefore also deemed to constitute a completely valid form of service.

Furthermore, even in the case of an individual, who even in his mind and thought feels no fear or shame,

וְהִנֵּה, אַף מִי שֶׁגַּם בְּמוֹחוֹ וּבְמַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ אֵינוֹ מַרְגִּישׁ שׁוּם יִרְאָה וּבוּשָׁה,

I.e., an individual who is not moved by his contemplation of G‑d uniquely bestowing His Kingdom upon him and furthermore is not moved by the consideration that G‑d is scrutinizing him to see if he is serving Him as is fitting,

on account of the limited grade of his soul, originating in the lower degrees of the ten sefirot of Asiyah,

מִפְּנֵי פְּחִיתוּת עֵרֶךְ נַפְשׁוֹ מִמְּקוֹר חוּצְבָּהּ, מִמַּדְרֵגוֹת תַּחְתּוֹנוֹת דְּי' סְפִירוֹת דַּעֲשִׂיָּה,

The soul of this individual derives from Asiyah, the lowest of the Four Worlds. Moreover, within this World itself, it originates from the lowest degrees of the ten sefirot that span it. Since his soul stems from such a lowly level, he finds it impossible to reveal within himself a sensitivity to G‑dliness to experience even an intellectual fear of G‑d.

nevertheless, since he is intent in his service to serve the King, this is unequivocally a complete service.

אַף־עַל־פִּי־כֵן, מֵאַחַר שֶׁמִּתְכַּוֵּין בַּעֲבוֹדָתוֹ כְּדֵי לַעֲבוֹד אֶת הַמֶּלֶךְ, הֲרֵי זוֹ עֲבוֹדָה גְמוּרָה,

For fear and service are accounted as two commandments of the total of 613, and they do not exclude each other.

כִּי הַיִּרְאָה וְהָעֲבוֹדָה נֶחְשָׁבוֹת לִשְׁתֵּי מִצְוֹת בְּמִנְיַן תַּרְיַ"ג, וְאֵינָן מְעַכְּבוֹת זוֹ אֶת זוֹ.

Thus, although this individual fails to fulfill the command of fearing G‑d, for fear must be felt in one’s heart and at the very least in one’s mind, he is nevertheless able to fulfill the precept of divine service by studying Torah and performing the commandments with the intention that he is thereby serving G‑d, his King.

After all this has been said, the Alter Rebbe will now say that although this person fails to experience the fear even in his mind, since he thinks about those ideas which should evoke fear, he is fulfilling the command of fearing G‑d.

Furthermore, as a matter of fact, he not only fulfills the obligation of service, he also fulfills the commandment of fearing [G‑d] by introducing the fear into his thought, by thinking about it and seeking to arouse it,

וְעוֹד, שֶׁבֶּאֱמֶת מְקַיֵּים גַּם מִצְוַת יִרְאָה בְּמַה שֶּׁמַּמְשִׁיךְ הַיִּרְאָה בְּמַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ,

for at this hour and moment, at any rate, there rests upon him the fear of heaven, at least like one’s fear in the presence of an ordinary mortal, even not a king, who is watching him,

כִּי בְּשָׁעָה וְרֶגַע זוֹ עַל כָּל פָּנִים, מוֹרָא שָׁמַיִם עָלָיו עַל כָּל פָּנִים, כְּמוֹרָא בָּשָׂר וָדָם הֶדְיוֹט לְפָחוֹת, שֶׁאֵינוֹ מֶלֶךְ, הַמַּבִּיט עָלָיו,

when he would refrain from doing anything unseemly in the other’s eyes.

שֶׁנִּמְנָע בַּעֲבוּרוֹ מִלַּעֲשׂוֹת דָּבָר שֶׁאֵינוֹ הָגוּן בְּעֵינָיו,

This—even this simple expression of fear—is termed fear, as Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai said to his disciples: “May it be G‑d’s will that the fear of heaven be upon you like the fear of a human being.”12

שֶׁזּוֹ נִקְרֵאת יִרְאָה, כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָמַר רַבָּן יוֹחָנָן בֶּן זַכַּאי לְתַלְמִידָיו: "יְהִי רָצוֹן שֶׁיְּהֵא מוֹרָא שָׁמַיִם עֲלֵיכֶם כְּמוֹרָא בָּשָׂר וָדָם כוּ',

Whereupon his disciples protested: “No more than this?!”

He responded that the proof that this is indeed a true form of fear is as follows: “…For you know that when a person commits a sin, he says [to himself]: ‘May no one see me!.’”

תֵּדְעוּ כְּשֶׁאָדָם עוֹבֵר עֲבֵירָה אוֹמֵר שֶׁלֹּא יִרְאַנִי אָדָם כוּ'".

Such fear, held Rabbi Yochanan, would ensure that they refrain from sinning.

At any rate, we note that this manner of fear is duly designated as “fear of heaven,” because it distances a person from sin. Accordingly, attaining this level of fear through meditation amounts to a proper fulfillment of the command to fear G‑d.

Such fear, however, is termed yirah tataah (“lower-level fear”) and yirat chet (“fear of sin”), which precedes wisdom,13 i.e., it is only a lower level of fear, a fear of transgressing, rather than a fear of G‑d Himself,

רַק שֶׁיִּרְאָה זוֹ נִקְרֵאת "יִרְאָה תַּתָּאָה" וְ"יִרְאַת חֵטְא" שֶׁקּוֹדֶמֶת לְחָכְמָתוֹ,

while the higher fear is a “shamefaced fear,” i.e., the state of being abashed and overawed in G‑d’s presence.

וְ"יִרְאָה עִילָּאָה" הוּא "יְרֵא בֹּשֶׁת" כוּ',

For there are two kinds of fear…—the lower level of fear, which leads to the performance of Torah and mitzvot, and the higher level of fear, which results from the proper performance of Torah and mitzvot.14

דְּ"אִית יִרְאָה וְאִית יִרְאָה כוּ'",

Without any fear at all, however, it i.e., one’s fulfillment of Torah and mitzvot does not soar on high to the supernal sefirot through love alone, just as a bird cannot fly with one wing,15

אֲבָל בְּלִי יִרְאָה כְּלָל, לָא פָרְחָא לְעֵילָּא בְּאַהֲבָה לְבַדָּהּ, כְּמוֹ שֶׁהָעוֹף אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לִפְרוֹחַ בְּכָנָף אֶחָד,

for fear and love are the two wings (16as stated in Tikkunei Zohar).

דִּדְחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ הֵן תְּרֵין גַּדְפִין [כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּתִּיקּוּנִים].

The spiritual wings of love and fear of G‑d elevate the Torah and mitzvot performed under their impetus to the supernal sefirot, as explained in the previous chapters. When one lacks a fear of G‑d and acts only out of love, he is operating with only one “wing,” thus making it impossible for his Torah and mitzvot to soar on high.

Similarly, fear alone is but one wing, and [one’s service] cannot ascend with it on high, even though it is termed the “service of a servant,” duly motivated by awe or fear,

וְכֵן הַיִּרְאָה לְבַדָּהּ – הִיא כָּנָף אֶחָד, וְלָא פָרְחָא בָּהּ לְעֵילָּא, אַף שֶׁנִּקְרֵאת "עֲבוֹדַת עֶבֶד".

for there must also be [the service characteristic of] a “son,” i.e., service motivated by love,

וְצָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת גַּם כֵּן בְּחִינַת "בֵּן",

in order to awaken at least the natural love for G‑d that is hidden in one’s heart so that he should at least become conscious of it in his mind,

לְעוֹרֵר הָאַהֲבָה הַטִּבְעִית עַל כָּל פָּנִים, הַמְסוּתֶּרֶת בְּלִבּוֹ, שֶׁתְּהֵא בְּהִתְגַּלּוּת מוֹחוֹ עַל כָּל פָּנִים,

to recall his love of the One G‑d in his thought and in his desire to cleave to Him. This recollection of his hidden love for G‑d should arouse within him a desire to cleave to Him.

לִזְכּוֹר אַהֲבָתוֹ לַה' אֶחָד בְּמַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ וּבִרְצוֹנוֹ, לְדָבְקָה בּוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ.

This should be his intent when occupying himself with the Torah or with the particular commandment he is about to perform, viz.,

וְזֹאת תִּהְיֶה כַּוָּונָתוֹ בְּעֵסֶק הַתּוֹרָה אוֹ הַמִּצְוָה הַזּוֹ,

that his divine soul as well as his vivifying soul, together with their “garments,” shall cleave to Him, as has been explained above.

לְדָבְקָה בוֹ נַפְשׁוֹ הָאֱלֹהִית וְהַחִיּוּנִית וּלְבוּשֵׁיהֶן, כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל.

In summary: a Jew’s divine service must embrace both that of a son who serves his father out of love and that of a servant who serves his master out of fear and awe.

The Alter Rebbe had stated earlier that a person’s intention while performing Torah and mitzvot should be that his soul cleave to G‑d.

He now goes on to say that a Jew’s spiritual service also includes the goal of becoming one with all the Jewish people. For this reason, his intentions should not be limited to having his own soul cleave to G‑d but also that the source of his soul and the source of all the souls of Israel cleave to Him.

By doing so, the individual brings about the union (yichud) of the higher and lower levels of G‑dliness known respectively as Kudsha Brich Hu (“the Holy One, blessed be He”) and His Shechinah (“the Divine Presence”), for the former is the source of Torah and mitzvot, and the latter is the source of all Jewish souls.

This explains the concluding phrase of the formula recited before the performance of certain mitzvot: “For the sake of the union of Kudsha Brich Hu with His Shechinah…in the name of all Israel. As the Rebbe notes: “In the name of all Israel” implies that the union achieved through the performance of the mitzvah is for the sake of, and in the name of, all of Israel. For it is with the Shechinah that Kudsha Brich Hu is united, and the Shechinah is the source of all Jewish souls. In the Alter Rebbe’s words:

Yet, in fact, the Sages, of blessed memory, have said that “a man should never separate himself from the community.”17

אַךְ אָמְנָם, אָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: "לְעוֹלָם אַל יוֹצִיא אָדָם עַצְמוֹ מִן הַכְּלָל",

Therefore, he should intend to unite and attach to Him, blessed be He, the source of his divine soul and in addition the source of the souls of all Israel,

לָכֵן יִתְכַּוֵּין לְיַחֵד וּלְדָבְקָה בּוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ, מְקוֹר נַפְשׁוֹ הָאֱלֹהִית וּמְקוֹר נַפְשׁוֹת כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל,

[this source] being the spirit of His mouth, called by the name “Shechinah” because it dwells (shochenet) and clothes itself in all worlds, animating them and giving them existence,

שֶׁהוּא רוּחַ פִּיו יִתְבָּרֵךְ, הַנִּקְרָא בְּשֵׁם "שְׁכִינָה", עַל שֵׁם שֶׁשּׁוֹכֶנֶת וּמִתְלַבֶּשֶׁת תּוֹךְ כָּל עָלְמִין לְהַחֲיוֹתָן וּלְקַיְּימָן,

and it is the Shechinah which imbues him with the power of speech to utter his current words of Torah or with the power of action to perform the particular commandment at hand.

וְהִיא הִיא – הַמַּשְׁפַּעַת בּוֹ כֹּחַ הַדִּבּוּר הַזֶּה שֶׁמְּדַבֵּר בְּדִבְרֵי תוֹרָה, אוֹ כֹּחַ הַמַּעֲשֶׂה הַזֶּה לַעֲשׂוֹת מִצְוָה זוֹ.

One should thus intend to become united with the infinite Ein Sof-light through speaking words of Torah or performing a commandment. For it is the Shechinah which is the source of his power of speech and action as well as the source of his divine soul and the souls of all Israel.

This union of the source of Jewish souls with G‑d is attained through drawing forth the light of the blessed Ein Sof here below by being occupied in the Torah and the commandments wherein it (the light of the Ein Sof) is clothed.

וְיִחוּד זֶה, הוּא עַל יְדֵי הַמְשָׁכַת אוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא לְמַטָּה, עַל יְדֵי עֵסֶק הַתּוֹרָה וְהַמִּצְוֹת שֶׁהוּא מְלוּבָּשׁ בָּהֶן.

And he should be intent on drawing His blessed light over the source of his soul and of the souls of all Israel so as to unite them with Him.

וְיִתְכַּוֵּין לְהַמְשִׁיךְ אוֹרוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ עַל מְקוֹר נַפְשׁוֹ וְנַפְשׁוֹת כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל לְיַיחֲדָן,

The meaning of this union will be discussed at length later on; note there.

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר לְקַמָּן פֵּירוּשׁ יִחוּד זֶה בַּאֲרִיכוּת, עַיֵּין שָׁם.

This, then, is the meaning of the words we recite before performing various commandments: “For the sake of the union of Kudsha Brich Hu with His Shechinah…in the name of all Israel.”

וְזֶהוּ פֵּירוּשׁ "לְשֵׁם יִחוּד קוּדְשָׁא־בְּרִיךְ־הוּא וּשְׁכִינְתֵּיהּ בְּשֵׁם כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל".

That is to say, one’s observance of the commandments unites Kudsha Brich Hu (the source of Torah and mitzvot) with the Shechinah in the name of all the Jewish people, for the Shechinah is the source of the souls of them all.

The Alter Rebbe now notes that much more than the union of divine souls and G‑d is accomplished by the study of Torah and the performance of mitzvot. These activities also bring about hamtakat hadinim, the tempering (lit., “sweetening”) of harsh judgment and Gevurot and their transformation into kindness and Chasadim.

This is effected through the coalescing of the supernal sefirot of chesed and gevurah (kindness and severity). These sefirot, which by nature are opposites, are fused into one through the revelation and diffusion of a divine light which is spiritually superior to them both.

This light is the supernal will drawn down upon these two attributes through the performance of Torah and mitzvot, for inasmuch as Torah and mitzvot are expressions of the Divine will, their spirituality far surpasses the spirituality of the sefirot of chesed and gevurah.

When the Divine will—the source of supernal kindness—is revealed through the study of Torah and the performance of mitzvot, the attributes of kindness and severity are united, and severity is transformed into kindness.

In the Alter Rebbe’s words:

Thereby, i.e., through the performance of Torah and mitzvot, the Gevurot will, of themselves, also be sweetened by the Chasadim through the coalescence of the middot and their union,

וְגַם ﬠַל יְדֵי זֶה יִתְמַתְּקוּ גַם כֵּן הַגְּבוּרוֹת בַּחֲסָדִים מִמֵּילָא, בְּהִתְכַּלְלוּת הַמִּדּוֹת וְיִחוּדָם,

by means of the revelation of the supernal will, which is revealed on high through the stimulus from below,

ﬠַל יְדֵי גִילּוּי רָצוֹן הָﬠֶלְיוֹן בָּרוּךְ־הוּא, הַמִּתְגַּלֶּה לְמַﬠְלָה בְּאִתְﬠָרוּתָא דִלְתַתָּא,

namely, its revelation here below in one’s occupation in the Torah and commandments, for they are His blessed will.

הוּא גִילּוּיוֹ לְמַטָּה בְּﬠֵסֶק הַתּוֹרָה וְהַמִּצְוָה שֶׁהֵן רְצוֹנוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ;

Thus, when a Jew reveals and draws down G‑d’s will into this world as a result of his spiritual activities, the Divine will will also be revealed in the supernal sefirot, resulting in the unification and coalescing of the middot so that the Gevurot are sweetened by and transformed into Chasadim.

Thus it is written in Idra Rabba and in Mishnat Chassidim, Tractate Arich Anpin, ch. 4,

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּאִדְרָא רַבָּא וּבְמִשְׁנַת חֲסִידִים מַסֶּכֶת אֲרִיךְ אַנְפִּין פֶּרֶק ד',

that the 613 commandments of the Torah are derived from the “whiteness”—the Chasadim—of Arich Anpin, which is the supernal will, the source of the Chasadim.

שֶׁתַּרְיַ"ג מִצְוֹת הַתּוֹרָה נִמְשָׁכוֹת מֵ"חִיוַּורְתָּא דַּאֲרִיךְ אַנְפִּין", שֶׁהוּא רָצוֹן הָﬠֶלְיוֹן, מְקוֹר הַחֲסָדִים:

Although this is stated in Kabbalistic terms, the intent is clear: kindness and benevolence are drawn down into the world through the study of Torah and the performance of mitzvot.

It has been previously noted that it is not enough to intend to unify one’s own soul with G‑d through the performance of Torah and mitzvot; one must also seek to unite the source of all the souls of Israel with the infinite Ein Sof-light.

In point of fact, there is quite a difference between these two intentions. A Jew’s personal desire to cleave to G‑d because of his love for Him is surely an utterly truthful intention: since his love of G‑d is sincere, his desire to cleave to Him is likewise sincere.

However, for a Jew to sincerely desire that his performance of Torah and mitzvot connect the source of all the souls of Israel with the infinite Ein Sof-light (i.e., that it effect the union of Kudsha Brich Hu and His Shechinah, as explained above)—this presupposes a far greater love of G‑d, a love so fierce that his only desire is to cause G‑d pleasure through his actions, thinking of himself not at all. It is thus entirely possible that this general intention is not completely genuine.

Now, we are constantly taught that one should be wary of spiritual intentions which outstrip one’s current spiritual pace; spirituality must be earned in an environment of honesty. How, then, are we to expect that every Jew study Torah and perform mitzvot for the sake of uniting all of Israel with G‑d when he himself knows that he does not mean it wholeheartedly?

The Alter Rebbe therefore goes on to explain that although an individual may not be entirely sincere in this intention, his integrity is not compromised thereby. For every Jew desires to fulfill G‑d’s will—and uniting Jews with G‑d is surely His will.

One should therefore not be apprehensive about his own sincerity to the point that he refrains from this comprehensive intention of unity, for to a certain degree, his intention is consciously sincere. Moreover, there is no self-delusion here, for this unity is what his soul desires.

And although in order that this intent should be sincere in his heart,

וְאַף שֶׁלִּהְיוֹת כַּוָּונָה זוֹ אֲמִיתִּית בְּלִבּוֹ,

so that his heart should truly desire this Higher Union, uniting all Jewish souls with their source in G‑dliness, his heart must harbor a great love (ahavah rabbah) for G‑d alone,

שֶׁיִּהְיֶה לִבּוֹ חָפֵץ בֶּאֱמֶת יִחוּד הָעֶלְיוֹן הַזֶּה, צָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת בְּלִבּוֹ אַהֲבָה רַבָּה לַה' לְבַדּוֹ,

Often, loving another is ultimately a result of self-love: a person loves that which is good for him. The same is true with regard to loving G‑d and desiring to cleave to Him through the study of Torah and the performance of mitzvot: the individual desires his own welfare and that which will benefit his own soul—and there can be no better way of achieving this than by cleaving to G‑d.

If, however, he is to truly desire the unification of all Jewish souls with their source in G‑d, a much deeper love is required, a love untainted by the faintest vestige of self-interest, a love wholly and exclusively directed toward G‑d,

to do what is gratifying to Him alone and not for the purpose of quenching his soul’s thirst for G‑d,

לַעֲשׂוֹת נַחַת רוּחַ לְפָנָיו לְבַד, וְלֹא לְרַוּוֹת נַפְשׁוֹ הַצְּמֵאָה לַה',

but he must be “like a son who strives for the sake of his father and mother, whom he loves more than his own body and soul…” (as explained above in ch. 10, citing Raaya Mehemna);

אֶלָּא כִּבְרָא דְּאִשְׁתַּדֵּל בָּתַר אֲבוֹי וְאִמֵּיהּ, דְּרָחִים לוֹן יַתִּיר מִגַּרְמֵיהּ וְנַפְשֵׁיהּ כוּ' [כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְעֵיל בְּשֵׁם רַעְיָא מְהֵימְנָא],

As explained above, this degree of love was experienced by Moses, who sacrificed himself utterly in order to secure the unification of the Jewish people with G‑d. His love was similar to that of a child who is ready to give his very life for his parents’ sake. How, then, can every Jew be expected to summon up this lofty level of love, which is a prerequisite for the desire to unite all Jewish souls with their G‑dly source?

nevertheless, every person should habituate himself to this intent.

מִכָּל מָקוֹם, יֵשׁ לְכָל אָדָם לְהַרְגִּיל עַצְמוֹ בְּכַוָּונָה זוֹ,

For though it may not be in his heart in perfect and complete truth so that he should long for it with all his heart, for in order to truly do so, one must have attained a totally selfless love for G‑d,

כִּי אַף שֶׁאֵינָהּ בֶּאֱמֶת לַאֲמִיתּוֹ לְגַמְרֵי בְּלִבּוֹ שֶׁיַּחְפּוֹץ בָּזֶה בְּכָל לִבּוֹ,

nevertheless, to some small extent, his heart genuinely desires it because of the inborn love in every Jewish heart to do whatever is the supernal will of G‑d.

מִכָּל מָקוֹם, מְעַט מִזְּעֵר חָפֵץ לִבּוֹ בָּזֶה בֶּאֱמֶת, מִפְּנֵי אַהֲבָה הַטִּבְעִית שֶׁבְּלֵב כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל לַעֲשׂוֹת כָּל מַה שֶּׁהוּא רָצוֹן הָעֶלְיוֹן בָּרוּךְ־הוּא,

And this union—the union of the source of all Jewish souls with the infinite Ein Sof-light—is His true desire,

וְיִחוּד זֶה הוּא רְצוֹנוֹ הָאֲמִיתִּי.

namely, the supernal union in the World of Atzilut, which is produced by an arousal from below through the divine soul’s union and absorption in G‑d’s light that is clothed in the Torah and the commandments in which it is engaged,

וְהַיְינוּ יִחוּד הָעֶלְיוֹן שֶׁבַּאֲצִילוּת, הַנַּעֲשֶׂה בְּאִתְעָרוּתָא דִלְתַתָּא, עַל יְדֵי יִחוּד נֶפֶשׁ הָאֱלֹהִית וְהִתְכַּלְלוּתָהּ בְּאוֹר ה' הַמְלוּבָּשׁ בַּתּוֹרָה וּמִצְוֹת שֶׁעוֹסֶקֶת בָּהֶן,

so that they—the divine soul and G‑d—become One in reality, as has been explained above. And thus, one effects the union in the World of Atzilut.

וְהָיוּ לַאֲחָדִים מַמָּשׁ, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְעֵיל,

For by reason of this, the source of the Torah and the commandments, i.e., the Holy One, blessed be He, is united with the source of the individual’s divine soul, which is called ‘Shechinah.’

כִּי עַל יְדֵי זֶה מִתְיַחֲדִים גַּם כֵּן מְקוֹר הַתּוֹרָה וְהַמִּצְוֹת, שֶׁהוּא הַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא, עִם מְקוֹר נַפְשׁוֹ הָאֱלֹהִית, הַנִּקְרָא בְּשֵׁם "שְׁכִינָה",

Expressed in terms of the different levels of supernal illumination, these are the categories of “filling all worlds” and of “encompassing all worlds,” as is explained elsewhere at length.

שֶׁהֵן בְּחִינַת "מְמַלֵּא כָּל עָלְמִין" וּבְחִינַת "סוֹבֵב כָּל עָלְמִין", כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּמָקוֹם אַחֵר בַּאֲרִיכוּת.

In summary: Since all Jews desire to do G‑d’s will, and He desires that their souls all unite with their source, there is a measure of truth in a Jew’s intent to bring about this union, even if his love of G‑d is not completely selfless.

The Alter Rebbe will now go on to say that a Jew’s desire for his own soul to be united with its source is an utterly honest one, for every Jew possesses an innate love of G‑d.

But the union of the person’s own soul with, and its absorption into, the light of G‑d, making them one,

אֲבָל יִחוּד נַפְשׁוֹ וְהִתְכַּלְלוּתָהּ בְּאוֹר ה' – לִהְיוֹת לַאֲחָדִים,

this is what every member of Israel desires in absolute and utter truth, with all his heart and all his soul,

בָּזֶה חָפֵץ כָּל אָדָם מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל בֶּאֱמֶת לַאֲמִיתּוֹ לְגַמְרֵי בְּכָל לֵב וּבְכָל נֶפֶשׁ,

because of the natural love that is hidden in every Jewish heart to cleave to G‑d and not, under any circumstances, to be parted or sundered or separated, G‑d forbid, from His blessed Unity and Oneness, even at the cost of his very life.

מֵאַהֲבָה הַטִּבְעִית הַמְסוּתֶּרֶת בְּלֵב כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל לְדָבְקָה בַּה', וְלֹא לִיפָּרֵד וְלִהְיוֹת נִכְרָת וְנִבְדָּל חַס וְשָׁלוֹם מִיִּחוּדוֹ וְאַחְדּוּתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ בְּשׁוּם אוֹפֶן, אֲפִילוּ בִּמְסִירַת נֶפֶשׁ מַמָּשׁ.

This readiness for self-sacrifice surfaces, for example, when a Jew is forced by heathens to bow down to an idol. Even if merely going through the motions would satisfy them and they do not impose their belief upon him, the Jew will be ready to literally sacrifice his life so as not to be sundered from his unity with G‑d.

Being engaged in the Torah and commandments and prayer is also a matter of actual surrender of the soul, just as when it leaves the body at the end of seventy years,

וְעֵסֶק הַתּוֹרָה וּמִצְוֹת וְהַתְּפִלָּה, הוּא גַם כֵּן עִנְיַן מְסִירַת נֶפֶשׁ מַמָּשׁ, כְּמוֹ בְּצֵאתָהּ מִן הַגּוּף בִּמְלֹאת שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה,

for then it does not think of bodily needs, but its thought is united with, and clothed in, the letters of the Torah and prayer, which are the word and thought of G‑d, and they (the soul and the letters of Torah and prayer—G‑d’s thought and speech) truly become one.

שֶׁאֵינָהּ מְהַרְהֶרֶת בְּצָרְכֵי הַגּוּף, אֶלָּא, מַחֲשַׁבְתָּהּ מְיוּחֶדֶת וּמְלוּבֶּשֶׁת בְּאוֹתִיּוֹת הַתּוֹרָה וְהַתְּפִלָּה, שֶׁהֵן דְּבַר ה' וּמַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ, וְהָיוּ לַאֲחָדִים מַמָּשׁ,

This is [also] the whole occupation of the souls in the Garden of Eden, as is stated in the Gemara and in the Zohar,

שֶׁזֶּהוּ כָּל עֵסֶק הַנְּשָׁמוֹת בְּגַן עֵדֶן, כִּדְאִיתָא בַּגְּמָרָא וּבַזֹּהַר,

Just as the soul in heaven has no other occupation apart from Torah and prayer, so, too, a person occupied in Torah and prayer in this world is immersed in it to the exclusion of all material needs and desires. As such, he is then renouncing all materiality and is totally surrendering his soul to G‑d. This comes as a result of the love of G‑d concealed within every Jewish heart.

except that there, i.e., when souls in Gan Eden are immersed in the letters of Torah and prayer, they delight in their apprehension of, and absorption into, the light of G‑d.

אֶלָּא שֶׁשָּׁם מִתְעַנְּגִים בְּהַשָּׂגָתָם וְהִתְכַּלְלוּתָם בְּאוֹר ה'.

Though this delight is lacking in this world, the manner of service remains the same.

This is why it was ordained by the Men of the Great Assembly that one recite at the beginning of the morning blessings before the prayers: “My G‑d, the soul [which you have placed within me is pure]…You have breathed it [into me]…and You will eventually take it from me….”

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁתִּקְּנוּ בִּתְחִלַּת בִּרְכוֹת הַשַּׁחַר קוֹדֶם הַתְּפִלָּה: "אֱלֹהַי, נְשָׁמָה וְכוּ' וְאַתָּה נְפַחְתָּהּ כוּ' וְאַתָּה עָתִיד לִיטְּלָהּ מִמֶּנִּי כוּ'",

That is to say: Inasmuch as You have breathed it into me and You will eventually take it from me, I therefore as of now hand it over and return it to You to unite it with Your Oneness,

כְּלוֹמַר, מֵאַחַר שֶׁ"אַתָּה נְפַחְתָּהּ בִּי וְאַתָּה עָתִיד לִיטְּלָהּ מִמֶּנִּי", לָכֵן, מֵעַתָּה אֲנִי מוֹסְרָהּ וּמַחֲזִירָהּ לְךָ לְיַיחֲדָהּ בְּאַחְדּוּתְךָ,

as it is written: “To You, O L-rd, I lift my soul”18 in order to unite it with G‑d,

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "אֵלֶיךָ, ה', נַפְשִׁי אֶשָּׂא",

that is, through binding my thought with Your thought and my speech with Your speech by means of the letters of the Torah and prayer which I utter,

וְהַיְינוּ, עַל יְדֵי הִתְקַשְּׁרוּת מַחֲשַׁבְתִּי בְּמַחֲשַׁבְתְּךָ וְדִיבּוּרִי בְּדִיבּוּרְךָ – בְּאוֹתִיּוֹת הַתּוֹרָה וְהַתְּפִלָּה,

and, especially, when one addresses G‑d in the second person, as in the phrase, “Blessed are You,” and the like.

וּבִפְרָט בַּאֲמִירָה לַה' לְנֹכֵחַ, כְּמוֹ "בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה", וּכְהַאי גַּוְונָא.

With this preparedness to surrender his soul to G‑d, i.e., through engaging in Torah and prayer in the same spirit in which a man surrenders his soul to G‑d before his demise,

וְהִנֵּה, בַּהֲכָנָה זוֹ שֶׁל מְסִירַת נַפְשׁוֹ לַה',

one should begin to recite the morning benedictions: “Blessed are You…” and so on, these benedictions being the beginning of one’s prayers.

יַתְחִיל בִּרְכוֹת הַשַּׁחַר, "בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה כוּ'",

Similarly, with this preparedness, one should also begin a regular course of study immediately after prayer.

וְכֵן בַּהֲכָנָה זוֹ יַתְחִיל לִלְמוֹד שִׁיעוּר קָבוּעַ מִיָּד אַחַר הַתְּפִלָּה,

In the words of the Sages, “From the House of Prayer (lit., ‘the House of Assembly’) to the House of Study.” As with prayer, this regular study session should also be preceded by the resolve to surrender one’s soul wholly to G‑d.

So also, in the course of the day, before one begins to study, such preparation at least is necessary,

וְכֵן בְּאֶמְצַע הַיּוֹם, קוֹדֶם שֶׁיַּתְחִיל לִלְמוֹד, צְרִיכָה הֲכָנָה זוֹ לְפָחוֹת,

as is known, that in the case of beinonim, the essential preparation and intent “for its own sake,” where it is indispensable, is before the beginning of study.

כַּנּוֹדָע, שֶׁעִיקַּר הַהֲכָנָה לִשְׁמָהּ לְעַכֵּב – הוּא בִּתְחִלַּת הַלִּימּוּד בַּבֵּינוֹנִים,

This is the same as in the case of [writing] a bill of divorce or a scroll of the Torah, where “for their own sake” is an indispensable requirement, and should this intention be lacking, they are invalid,

וּכְמוֹ בְּגֵט וְסֵפֶר תּוֹרָה, שֶׁצְּרִיכִים לִשְׁמָהּ לְעַכֵּב,

and it is sufficient if at the commencement of writing a Torah scroll, [the scribe] says: “I am now about to write for the sacred purpose of the scroll of the Torah” or in the case of a bill of divorce, “For him and for her,” and so on.

וְדַיּוֹ שֶׁיֹּאמַר בִּתְחִלַּת הַכְּתִיבָה: "הֲרֵינִי כּוֹתֵב לְשֵׁם קְדוּשַּׁת סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה", אוֹ "לִשְׁמוֹ וְלִשְׁמָהּ" כוּ'.

Similarly, it is sufficient for a beinoni to have the intention of “for its own sake” at the beginning of his study.

And when he studies for a number of consecutive hours, he should reflect on the preparedness referred to above, at least at hourly intervals.

וּכְשֶׁלּוֹמֵד שָׁעוֹת הַרְבֵּה רְצוּפוֹת, יֵשׁ לוֹ לְהִתְבּוֹנֵן בַּהֲכָנָה זוֹ הַנִּזְכֶּרֶת לְעֵיל, בְּכָל שָׁעָה וְשָׁעָה עַל כָּל פָּנִים,

For in each hour, there is a different flow from the higher worlds to animate those who dwell here below, while the flow of vitality from on high of the previous hour returns to its source,

כִּי, בְּכָל שָׁעָה וְשָׁעָה הִיא הַמְשָׁכָה אַחֶרֶת מֵעוֹלָמוֹת עֶלְיוֹנִים לְהַחֲיוֹת הַתַּחְתּוֹנִים, וְהַמְשָׁכַת הַחַיּוּת שֶׁבְּשָׁעָה שֶׁלְּפָנֶיהָ – חוֹזֶרֶת לִמְקוֹרָהּ

(in accordance with the esoteric principle of “Advancing and Retreating” expounded in Sefer Yetzirah),

[בְּסוֹד "רָצוֹא וָשׁוֹב" שֶׁבְּסֵפֶר יְצִירָה]

As the divine life-force animates the world, alternately “Advancing and Retreating,” it is first drawn down into this world and then it returns to its source in the higher spiritual worlds. Each hour, then, the creative life-force of the previous hour returns to its source,

together with all the Torah and good deeds of those who dwell here below.

עִם כָּל הַתּוֹרָה וּמַעֲשִׂים טוֹבִים שֶׁל הַתַּחְתּוֹנִים,

For in each of the twelve hours of the day, there rules one of the twelve combinations of [the letters that form] the Four-Letter Name of G‑d,19 while the combinations of [the letters that comprise] the Divine Name A-D-N-Y rule at night, as is known.

כִּי בְּכָל שָׁעָה שׁוֹלֵט צֵירוּף אֶחָד מִי"ב צֵירוּפֵי שֵׁם הֲוָיָ"ה בָּרוּךְ־הוּא בְּי"ב שְׁעוֹת הַיּוֹם, וְצֵירוּפֵי שֵׁם אַדְנַ"י בַּלַּיְלָה, כַּנּוֹדָע.

Speaking of the form of service that was earlier deemed surrender of the soul, the Alter Rebbe will now go on to say that it should be undertaken not for the sake of returning the soul to its original source but only to cause G‑d pleasure.

Now, all one’s intent in the surrender of his soul to G‑d through Torah and prayer to elevate the spark of G‑dliness therein—in the soul—back to its source,

וְהִנֵּה, כָּל כַּוָּונָתוֹ בִּמְסִירַת נַפְשׁוֹ לַה' עַל יְדֵי הַתּוֹרָה וְהַתְּפִלָּה, לְהַעֲלוֹת נִיצוֹץ אֱלֹהוּת שֶׁבְּתוֹכָהּ לִמְקוֹרוֹ,

should be solely for the purpose of causing Him gratification, like the joy of a king when his only son returns to him after having been released from captivity or imprisonment, as has been explained earlier.

תְּהֵא רַק כְּדֵי לַעֲשׂוֹת נַחַת רוּחַ לְפָנָיו יִתְבָּרֵךְ, כִּמְשַׁל שִׂמְחַת הַמֶּלֶךְ בְּבוֹא אֵלָיו בְּנוֹ יְחִידוֹ, בְּצֵאתוֹ מִן הַשִּׁבְיָה וּבֵית הָאֲסוּרִים, כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל.

In ch. 31, the Alter Rebbe compared the soul’s return to G‑d through Torah and prayer to the return of a captive prince to his overjoyed father, the king. For a Jewish soul is G‑d’s child, hence His great joy when it is reunited with Him after its imprisonment within the body and animal soul. Accordingly, as a Jew prepares to study Torah and engage in prayer, his spiritual objective should be that this reunion come about for the sole purpose of bringing joy to the soul’s father, the King.

However, the Alter Rebbe explained earlier that in order to attain this degree of selfless love, one must have attained an extremely lofty degree of spirituality, a level possessed only by tzaddikim. How, then, is this to be expected of every Jew?

The Alter Rebbe therefore goes on to explain that when the purpose of one’s service is simply to restore his own soul to its source—and not the souls of all Jews to their source—then this lofty degree of selfless love is not a prerequisite. The latent love of G‑d possessed by all Jews is sufficient to cause one to desire to bring Him this manner of gratification.

Now, this intent, solely to bring gratification to G‑d by returning one’s own soul to G‑d, is genuine and truly and completely sincere in every Jewish soul at all times and at every hour,

וְהִנֵּה, כַּוָּונָה זוֹ הִיא אֲמִיתִּית בֶּאֱמֶת לַאֲמִיתּוֹ לְגַמְרֵי, בְּכָל נֶפֶשׁ מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל, בְּכָל עֵת וּבְכָל שָׁעָה,

by virtue of the natural love which is a heritage bequeathed to us by our ancestors.

מֵאַהֲבָה הַטִּבְעִית שֶׁהִיא יְרוּשָּׁה לָנוּ מֵאֲבוֹתֵינוּ.

Nevertheless, one should not be satisfied merely with this level of service: one needs to establish set periods for reflecting on the greatness of G‑d in order to attain intellectually generated fear and love,

רַק שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לִקְבּוֹעַ עִתִּים לְהִתְבּוֹנֵן בִּגְדוּלַּת ה', לְהַשִּׂיג דְּחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ שִׂכְלִיִּים,

and with all that, perhaps [one may succeed] in attaining such fear and love, as has been stated previously.

וְכוּלֵּי הַאי וְאוּלַי וְכוּ', כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל:

Thus, although one already possesses a hidden love of G‑d which enables him to study Torah and pray out of a readiness to surrender his very soul, he should still seek to attain that level of fear and love of G‑d that is born of his own intellectual endeavor.