As mentioned in the title-page of 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.

ברם צריך להיות לזכרון תמיד ראשית העבודה ועיקרה ושרשה

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

והוא: כי אף שהיראה היא שרש לסור מרע, והאהבה לועשה טוב

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

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,

אף על פי כן לא די לעורר האהבה לבדה לועשה טוב

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

ולפחות צריך לעורר תחלה היראה הטבעית המסותרת בלב כל ישראל, שלא למרוד במלך מלכי המלכים, הקב״ה, כנ״ל

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,

שתהא בהתגלות לבו, או מוחו על כל פנים

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

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.

דהיינו להתבונן במחשבתו על כל פנים גדולת אין סוף ברוך הוא ומלכותו

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,

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:

אשר היא מלכות כל עולמים עליונים ותחתונים

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;

ואיהו ממלא כל עלמין

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

וסובב כל עלמין

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

וכמו שכתוב: הלא את השמים ואת הארץ אני מלא

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

ומניח העליונים ותחתונים

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

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:

ומייחד מלכותו על עמו ישראל בכלל, ועליו בפרט, כי חייב אדם לומר: בשבילי נברא העולם

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 obliged to say:2 “For my sake was the world created.”

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. This is no mere hyperbole. Since the Jewish people collectively constitute a complete body comprised of individual organs, it follows that if even one Jew — one particular organ — is blemished, then the whole body, even the head, is blemished as well.

Similarly with regard to G‑d’s bestowing His Kingship upon all of Israel: if one solitary Jew is found wanting in this matter, this will affect the whole body of the Jewish people.

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.

והוא גם הוא מקבל עליו מלכותו, להיות מלך עליו, ולעבדו ולעשות רצונו בכל מיני עבודת עבד

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.

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:

והנה ה׳ ניצב עליו, ומלא כל הארץ כבודו, ומביט עליו

“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,

ובוחן כליות ולב אם עובדו כראוי

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

ועל כן צריך לעבוד לפניו באימה וביראה כעומד לפני המלך

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.

ויעמיק במחשבה זו, ויאריך בה כפי יכולת השגת מוחו ומחשבתו, וכפי הפנאי שלו

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:

לפני עסק התורה או המצוה, כמו לפני לבישת טלית ותפילין

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

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.

וגם יתבונן איך שאור אין סוף ברוך הוא, הסובב כל עלמין וממלא כל עלמין, הוא רצון העליון

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,

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.

הוא מלובש באותיות וחכמת התורה

is clothed in the letters and wisdom of the Torah,

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,

או בציצית ותפילין אלו

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,

ובקריאתו או בלבישתו

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

-הוא ממשיך אורו יתברך עליו, דהיינו על חלק אלוה ממעל שבתוך גופו

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.

ליכלל וליבטל באורו יתברך

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

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.

ודרך פרט בתפילין, ליבטל וליכלל בחינת חכמתו ובינתו שבנפשו האלקית בבחינת חכמתו ובינתו של אין סוף ברוך הוא, המלובשות דרך פרט בפרשת קדש, והיה כי יביאך

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

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?

דהיינו שלא להשתמש בחכמתו ובינתו שבנפשו בלתי לה׳ לבדו

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.

וכן ליבטל וליכלל בחינת הדעת שבנפשו, הכולל חסד וגבורה שהן יראה ואהבה שבלבו

Similarly, [he should intend that] the attribute of Daat (the third of the three components of seichel) in his soul, which includes both the Chesed (kindness) and Gevurah (severity), i.e., fear and love, in his heart,

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 —

בבחינת דעת העליון, הכולל חסד וגבורה, המלובש בפרשת שמע, והיה אם שמוע

be nullified and absorbed into the attribute of the Higher Knowledge (Daat HaElyon), which comprises kindness and severity, and which is clothed in the passage of Shema and Vehayah im shamoa.

והיינו כמו שכתוב בשולחן ערוך: לשעבד הלב והמוח כו׳

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

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.

ובעטיפת ציצית יכוין כמו שכתוב בזהר, להמשיך עליו מלכותו יתברך

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,

אשר היא מלכות כל עולמים וכו׳ ,לייחדה עלינו על ידי מצוה זו

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.

והוא כענין: שום תשים עליך מלך

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

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.

ואזי אף אם בכל זאת לא תפול עליו אימה ופחד בהתגלות לבו

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

מכל מקום מאחר שמקבל עליו מלכות שמים וממשיך עליו יראתו יתברך בהתגלות מחשבתו ורצונו שבמוחו

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,

וקבלה זו היא אמיתית בלי שום ספק, שהרי היא טבע נפשות כל ישראל שלא למרוד במלך הקדוש יתברך

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 —

הרי התורה שלומד או המצוה שעושה מחמת קבלה זו ומחמת המשכת היראה שבמוחו נקראות בשם עבודה שלימה

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,

ככל עבודת העבד לאדונו ומלכו

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

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.

מה שאין כן אם לומד ומקיים המצוה באהבה לבדה כדי לדבקה בו על ידי תורתו ומצותיו, אינה נקראת בשם עבודת עבד

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,”

והתורה אמרה: ועבדתם את ה׳ אלקיכם וגו׳ ואותו תעבודו וגו׳

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

וכמו שכתוב בזהר פרשת בהר : כהאי תורא דיהבין עליה עול בקדמיתא, בגין לאפקא מיניה טב לעלמא כו׳, הכי נמי איצטריך לבר נש לקבלה עליה עול מלכות שמים בקדמיתא כו׳, ואי האי לא אשתכח גביה לא שריא ביה קדושה כו׳

As explained in the Zohar (Parshat Behar): “Just like the ox on which one first places a yoke in order to make it useful to the world, 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....”

וברעיא מהימנא שם דף קי״א עמוד ב׳, שכל אדם צריך להיות בשתי בחינות ומדריגות

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

והן בחינת עבד ובחינת בן

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.

ואף דיש בן שהוא גם כן עבד, הרי אי אפשר לבא למדריגה זו בלי קדימת היראה עילאה, כידוע ליודעים

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 ila‘ah, as is known to the initiated.

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 above-mentioned 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.

והנה אף מי שגם במוחו ומחשבתו אינו מרגיש שום יראה ובושה

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

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,

מפני פחיתות ערך נפשו ממקור חוצבה ממדריגות תחתונים די׳ ספירות דעשיה

on account of the limited grade of his soul, originating in the lower degrees of the Ten Sefirot of Asiyah,

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.

אף על פי כן מאחר שמתכוין בעבודתו כדי לעבוד את המלך, הרי זו עבודה גמורה

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

כי היראה והעבודה נחשבות לשתי מצות במנין תרי״ג, ואינן מעכבות זו את זו

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

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, yet since he thinks about those ideas which should evoke fear, he is fulfilling the command of fearing G‑d.

ועוד, שבאמת מקיים גם מצות יראה במה שממשיך היראה במחשבתו

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,

כי בשעה ורגע זו, על כל פנים, מורא שמים עליו, על כל פנים כמורא בשר ודם הדיוט לפחות, שאינו מלך, המביט עליו

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,

שנמנע בעבורו מלעשות דבר שאינו הגון בעיניו

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

שזו נקראת יראה, כמו שאמר רבן יוחנן בן זכאי לתלמידיו: יהי רצון שיהא מורא שמים עליכם כמורא בשר ודם כו׳

This — even this simple expression of fear — is termed fear; as Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai said to his disciples:11 “May it be G‑d’s Will that the fear of heaven be upon you like the fear of a human being.”

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

תדעו כשאדם עובר עבירה, אומר: שלא יראני אדם כו׳

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!’...”

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.

רק שיראה זו נקראת יראה תתאה ויראת חטא, שקודמת לחכמתו

Such fear, however, is termed yirah tata‘ah (“lower-level fear”) and yirat chet (“fear of sin”), which precedes wisdom;12 i.e., it is only a lower level of fear, a fear of transgressing, rather than a fear of G‑d Himself,

For “wisdom” is an appelation for the fulfillment of Torah and mitzvot, inasmuch as13 “the ultimate purpose of wisdom is repentance and good deeds.” This lower level of fear is therefore considered a prelude to Torah and mitzvot. And, indeed, in this spirit our Sages state:14 “If there is no fear, there is no wisdom.”

Conversely,15 however, our Sages also state:16 “If there is no wisdom, there is no fear,” which would seem to imply the very opposite — that wisdom precedes fear.

In fact there is no contradiction between the two statements. For there are two levels of fear: (a) yirah tata‘ah, the lower level of fear, and (b) yirah ila’ah, the higher level of fear.

The lower level of fear is a necessary prelude to “wisdom”, to the proper fulfillment of Torah and mitzvot. The higher level of fear, however, can only be attained after “wisdom”, i.e., after the proper performance of Torah and mitzvot. Hence, “If there is no wisdom, there is no fear.”

ויראה עילאה הוא ירא בושת כו׳

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

דאית יראה ואית יראה כו׳

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.

אבל בלי יראה כלל, לא פרחא לעילא באהבה לבדה, כמו שהעוף אינו יכול לפרוח בכנף אחד

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,17

דדחילו ורחימו הן תרין גדפין כמו שכתוב בתיקונים

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

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.

וכן היראה לבדה היא כנף אחד, ולא פרחה בה לעילא, אף שנקראת עבודת עבד

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,

וצריך להיות גם כן בחינת בן

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

לעורר האהבה הטבעית על כל פנים המסותרת בלבו, שתהא בהתגלות מוחו על כל פנים

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,

לזכור אהבתו לה׳ אחד במחשבתו וברצונו לדבקה בו יתברך

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.

וזאת תהיה כוונתו בעסק התורה או המצוה הזו

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

לדבקה בו נפשו האלקית והחיונית ולבושיהן כנ״ל

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

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 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:

אך אמנם אמרו רז״ל: לעולם אל יוציא אדם עצמו מן הכלל

Yet in fact, the Sages, of blessed memory, have said18 that “a man should never separate himself from the community.”

לכן יתכוין ליחד ולדבקה בו יתברך, מקור נפשו האלקית ומקור נפשות כל ישראל

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,

שהוא רוח פיו יתברך, הנקרא בשם שכינה על שם ששוכנת ומתלבשת תוך כל עלמין להחיותן ולקיימן

[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,

והיא היא המשפעת בו כח הדבור הזה שמדבר בדברי תורה, או כח המעשה הזה לעשות מצוה זו

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.

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.

ויחוד זה הוא על ידי המשכת אור אין סוף ברוך הוא למטה, על ידי עסק התורה והמצות שהוא מלובש בהן

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.

ויתכוין להמשיך אורו יתברך על מקור נפשו ונפשות כל ישראל לייחדן

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.

וכמו שכתוב לקמן פירוש יחוד זה באריכות, עיין שם

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

וזהו פירוש לשם יחוד קודשא בריך הוא ושכינתיה בשם כל ישראל

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 the name of all Israel.”*

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 Chassadim.

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:

וגם על ידי זה יתמתקו גם כן הגבורות בחסדים ממילא

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

על ידי גילוי רצון העליון ברוך הוא, המתגלה למעלה באתערותא דלתתא

by means of the revelation of the Supernal Will, which is revealed on high through the stimulus from below,

הוא גילוי למטה בעסק התורה והמצוה, שהן רצונו יתברך

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

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 Chassadim.

וכמו שכתוב באדרא רבא ובמשנת חסידים מסכת אריך אנפין פרק ד׳

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

שתרי"ג מצות התורה נמשכות מחיורתא דאריך אנפין, שהוא רצון העליון מקור החסדים

that the 613 commandments of the Torah are derived from the “whiteness” — the Chassadim — of Arich Anpin, which is the Supernal Will, the source of the Chassadim.

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.

ואף שלהיות כוונה זו אמיתית בלבו, שיהיה לבו חפץ באמת יחוד העליון הזה, צריך להיות בלבו אהבה רבה לה׳ לבדו

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

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,

לעשות נחת רוח לפניו לבד ולא לרוות נפשו הצמאה לה׳

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

אלא כברא דאשתדל בתר אבוי ואמיה, דרחים לון יתיר מגרמיה ונפשיה כו׳ כמו שנתבאר לעיל בשם רעיא מהימנא

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 Ra‘aya Mehemna),

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?

מכל מקום יש לכל אדם להרגיל עצמו בכוונה זו

nevertheless, every person should habituate himself to this intent.

כי אף שאינה באמת לאמיתו לגמרי בלבו שיחפוץ בזה בכל לבו

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,

מכל מקום מעט מזעיר חפץ לבו בזה באמת, מפני אהבה הטבעית שבלב כל ישראל לעשות כל מה שהוא רצון העליון ב״ה

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.

ויחוד זה הוא רצונו האמיתי

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

והיינו יחוד העליון שבאצילות, הנעשה באתערותא דלתתא על ידי יחוד נפש האלקית והתכללותה באור ה׳ המלובש בתורה ומצות שעוסקת בהן

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,

והיו לאחדים ממש, כמו שכתוב לעיל

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.

כי על ידי זה מתיחדים גם כן מקור התורה והמצות, שהוא הקב״ה, עם מקור נפשו האלקית, הנקרא בשם שכינה

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’.

שהן בחינת ממלא כל עלמין ובחינת סובב כל עלמין, כמו שכתוב במקום אחר באריכות

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.

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.

אבל יחוד נפשו והתכללותה באור ה׳ להיות לאחדים

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

בזה חפץ כל אדם מישראל באמת לאמיתו לגמרי, בכל לב ובכל נפש

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

מאהבה הטבעית המסותרת בלב כל ישראל, לדבקה בה׳ ולא ליפרד ולהיות נכרת ונבדל חס ושלום מיחודו ואחדותו יתברך בשום אופן, אפילו במסירות נפש ממש

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.

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.

ועסק התורה ומצות והתפלה הוא גם כן ענין מסירת נפש ממש, כמו בצאתה מן הגוף במלאת שבעים שנה

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,

שאינה מהרהרת בצרכי הגוף, אלא מחשבתה מיוחדת ומלובשת באותיות התורה והתפלה, שהן דבר ה׳ ומחשבתו יתברך, והיו לאחדים ממש

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.

שזהו כל עסק הנשמות בגן עדן, כדאיתא בגמרא ובזהר

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

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.

אלא ששם מתענגים בהשגתם והתכללותם באור ה׳

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.

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

וזהו שתקנו בתחלת ברכות השחר קודם התפלה: אלקי נשמה וכו׳ אתה נפחתה וכו׳ ואתה עתיד ליטלה ממני כו׳

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....”

כלומר: מאחר שאתה נפחתה בי ואתה עתיד ליטלה ממני, לכן מעתה אני מוסרה ומחזירה לך, לייחדה באחדותך

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,

וכמו שכתוב: אליך ה׳ נפשי אשא

as it is written:19 “To You, O L‑rd, I lift my soul,” in order to unite it with G‑d,

והיינו על ידי התקשרות מחשבתי במחשבתך ודיבורי בדבורך, באותיות התורה והתפלה

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;

ובפרט באמירה לה׳ לנכח, כמו: ברוך אתה, וכהאי גוונא

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

והנה בהכנה זו של מסירת נפשו לה׳

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,

יתחיל ברכות השחר: ברוך אתה כו׳

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

וכן בהכנה זו יתחיל ללמוד שיעור קבוע מיד אחר התפלה

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

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.

וכן באמצע היום קודם שיתחיל ללמוד, צריכה הכנה זו לפחות

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

כנודע שעיקר ההכנה לשמה לעכב, הוא בתחלת הלימוד בבינונים

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.

וכמו בגט וספר תורה שצריכים לשמה לעכב

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,

ודיו שיאמר בתחלת הכתיבה: הריני כותב לשם קדושת ספר תורה או לשמו ולשמה כו׳

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.

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

וכשלומד שעות הרבה רצופות, יש לו להתבונן בהכנה זו הנ״ל בכל שעה ושעה על כל פנים

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

כי בכל שעה ושעה היא המשכה אחרת מעולמות עליונים להחיות התחתונים, והמשכת החיות שבשעה שלפניה חוזרת למקורה

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,

בסוד רצוא ושוב שבספר יצירה

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

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,

עם כל התורה ומעשים טובים של התחתונים

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

כי בכל שעה שולט צירוף אחד מי״ב צירופי שם ה׳ ברוך הוא בי״ב שעות היום, וצרופי שם אדנ״י בלילה, כנודע

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,20 while the combinations of [the letters that comprise] the Divine Name A-D-N-Y rule at night, as is known.

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.

והנה כל כוונתו במסירת נפשו לה׳ על ידי התורה והתפלה, להעלות ניצוץ אלקות שבתוכה למקורו

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,

תהא רק כדי לעשות נחת רוח לפניו יתברך, כמשל שמחת המלך בבוא אליו בנו יחידו בצאתו מן השביה ובית האסורים כנ״ל

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.

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.

והנה כוונה זו היא אמיתית באמת לאמיתו לגמרי בכל נפש מישראל בכל עת ובכל שעה

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,

מאהבה הטבעית שהיא ירושה לנו מאבותינו

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

רק שצריך לקבוע עתים להתבונן בגדולת ה׳, להשיג דחילו ורחימו שכליים

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,

וכולי האי ואולי וכו׳ כנ״ל

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

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.