The theme of the previous chapter was teshuvah ilaah and how it finds expression in the “cleaving of spirit to Spirit”—through Torah study, tzedakah, and acts of lovingkindness.

This higher level of teshuvah, the cleaving of spirit to Spirit through the study of the Torah and the performance of acts of kindness,

וְהִנֵּה, תְּשׁוּבָה עִילָּאָה זוֹ, דְּאִתְדַּבְּקוּתָא דְרוּחָא בְּרוּחָא עַל־יְדֵי תּוֹרָה וּגְמִילוּת חֲסָדִים,

comes as a downward thrust from Above,

הִיא בִּבְחִינַת הַמְשָׁכָה מִלְמַעְלָה לְמַטָּה,

Neither Torah study nor acts of lovingkindness elevate a person solely as a result of his own initiative and Divine service. Rather, he is aided from Above to reach an infinitely higher level than he would have attained alone.

so that the word of G‑d shall actually be in one’s mouth,

לִהְיוֹת דְּבַר ה' מַמָּשׁ בְּפִיו,

This too is a Divine gift.

as Scripture states, “I have placed My words in your mouth.”1

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "וָאָשִׂים דְּבָרַי בְּפִיךָ",

Torah study thus accomplishes much more than what man could attain on his own.

Similarly,

Lessons In Tanya (Kehot Publication Society)

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

“His right hand embraces me,”2 through [man’s] acts of kindness,

"וִימִינוֹ תְּחַבְּקֵנִי" בִּגְמִילוּת חֲסָדִים,

for “kindness is the [supernal] right arm….”3

דְּ"חֶסֶד דְּרוֹעָא יְמִינָא וְכוּ'".

With every act of lovingkindness, one draws down Divine benevolence: one is embraced by a far loftier level of holiness than he could possibly aspire to by dint of his own spiritual service.

However, mortal man must ascend from stage to stage

אֲבָל אָדָם הַתַּחְתּוֹן צָרִיךְ לֵילֵךְ מִמַּדְרֵגָה לְמַדְרֵגָה מִמַּטָּה לְמַעְלָה,

toward this higher level of teshuvah and this “cleaving of spirit to Spirit” through the heart’s devoted worship,

הִיא בְּחִינַת תְּשׁוּבָה עִילָּאָה וְאִתְדַּבְּקוּת רוּחָא בְּרוּחָא, בְּכַוָּונַת הַלֵּב בִּתְפִלָּה,

particularly during Shema and its blessings,

וּבִפְרָט בִּקְרִיאַת־שְׁמַע וּבִרְכוֹתֶיהָ,

so that he might in perfect truth say during the recitation of the Shema, “You shall love [the L-rd your G‑d] with all your heart and with all your soul….”4

כְּדֵי לוֹמַר: "וְאָהַבְתָּ וְגוֹ' בְּכָל לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל נַפְשְׁךָ וְגוֹ'", בֶּאֱמֶת לַאֲמִיתּוֹ:

Likewise: “These words [which I command you today] shall be [upon your heart]…. And you shall speak of them….”5

וְכֵן: "וְהָיוּ הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה וְגוֹ', וְדִבַּרְתָּ בָּם וְגוֹ'",

All the above verses speak of the study of the Torah.6

The word of G‑d must truly be in his mouth, which is the case when one’s mouth serves as a vessel for G‑d’s word,

לִהְיוֹת דְּבַר ה' בְּפִיו בֶּאֱמֶת,

and7 “there is no truth [but Torah].”8

"וְאֵין אֱמֶת וְכוּ'":

He must also perform all the mitzvot,

וְכֵן לְקַיֵּים כָּל הַמִּצְוֹת,

as it is written, “He has sanctified us with His commandments.”9

כְּמוֹ שֶׁאוֹמְרִים: "אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו",

This [sanctification] has the same sense as in the phrase, “You are sanctified unto me”10i.e., separate from all others and wholly sanctified unto G‑d through the performance of His commandments.

כְּמוֹ: "הֲרֵי אַתְּ מְקוּדֶּשֶׁת לִי",

This is the level of kodesh ha’elyon (“supernal holiness”), which one draws upon himself through the performance of the mitzvot.

הִיא בְּחִינַת קֹדֶשׁ הָעֶלְיוֹן,

“kodesh” (translated holiness”) connotes something apart, or transcendent,

לְשׁוֹן פְּרִישׁוּת וְהַבְדָּלָה,

that cannot be contained within the created worlds, permeating each of them with Divine life-force commensurate with its particular capacity,

שֶׁאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְהִתְלַבֵּשׁ תּוֹךְ עָלְמִין,

since “everything is considered as naught before Him.”11

מִשּׁוּם דְּ"כוּלָּא קַמֵּיהּ כְּלָא חֲשִׁיב",

Relative to this transcendent level, the differing levels of spirituality of the various created beings are of no consequence.

Rather, this is a level [of holiness] that transcends (lit., “encompasses”) all worlds, and hence affects them all equally from afar, so to speak;

אֶלָּא בִּבְחִינַת סוֹבֵב כָּל עָלְמִין,

this is [the level of] the supreme will, and so on, which is drawn down into this world through the performance of mitzvot,

הוּא רָצוֹן הָעֶלְיוֹן בָּרוּךְ־הוּא וְכוּ',

as discussed in the first part of the Tanya, Likkutei Amarim, ch. 46.

כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּלִקּוּטֵי־אֲמָרִים פֶּרֶק מ"ו.

After prayer as well we say, “To You, O G‑d, I lift my soul,”12 referring to the initiative of the worshipper below in raising his soul upward to its Source,

וְגַם אַחַר הַתְּפִלָּה אוֹמְרִים: "אֵלֶיךָ ה' נַפְשִׁי אֶשָּׂא",

so that through the performance of mitzvot, spirit will cleave to Spirit throughout the day….

דְּהַיְינוּ, לְאִתְדַּבְּקָא רוּחָא בְּרוּחָא כָּל הַיּוֹם וְכוּ'.

All this is brought about through meditation on the grandeur of the Infinite One,

וְכָל זֶה, עַל־יְדֵי הַהִתְבּוֹנְנוּת בִּגְדוּלַּת אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא

concentrating the mind deeply during the two blessings preceding Shema and during the preparatory hymns of praise known as Pesukei Dezimrah, as is known.

בְּהַעֲמָקַת הַדַּעַת, בִּ"שְׁתַּיִם לְפָנֶיהָ" וּבִ"פְסוּקֵי דְזִמְרָה", כַּנּוֹדָע.

Meditating in this fashion gives birth to a love for G‑d, which is translated into the study of the Torah and the performance of mitzvot. This form of Divine service is teshuvah ilaah that takes the direction called מִלְמַטָה לְמַעֲלָה: it works its way upward from the initiative taken by the enterprising worshipper, who elevates himself by his own bootstraps.

Since prayer is an expression of teshuvah ilaah, the higher level of return,

וּמֵאַחַר שֶׁהַתְּפִלָּה הִיא בְּחִינַת תְּשׁוּבָה עִילָּאָה –

it must be preceded by teshuvah tataah, the lower level of return that is reached by the contriteness of a penitent heart.”

צָרִיךְ לְהַקְדִּים לְפָנֶיהָ בְּחִינַת תְּשׁוּבָה תַּתָּאָה.

This is what the Sages intended in the Mishnah: “One should embark on worship only in an earnest frame of mind.”13

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁאָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה בַּמִּשְׁנָה: "אֵין עוֹמְדִין לְהִתְפַּלֵּל אֶלָּא מִתּוֹךְ כּוֹבֶד רֹאשׁ",

Rashi explains this to mean “humility”.

וּפֵירֵשׁ רַשִׁ"י: "הַכְנָעָה",

This is the state of teshuvah tataah,

וְהִיא בְּחִינַת תְּשׁוּבָה תַּתָּאָה

in which one arouses Divine compassion for oneself, as noted above, in chs. 7 and 8.

לְעוֹרֵר רַחֲמִים כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל,

This the Talmud14 infers from a phrase which states with regard to Chanah,

וְכִדְיָלִיף הָתָם בַּגְּמָרָא מִקְּרָא, דִּכְתִיב:

“She was bitter of spirit, [and she prayed to G‑d].”15

"וְהִיא מָרַת נָפֶשׁ".

At the same time, we must note the Baraita there: “Our Sages taught, ‘One should embark on worship only with joy.’”16

אָכֵן, בַּבָּרַיְיתָא שָׁם: "תָּנוּ רַבָּנָן, אֵין עוֹמְדִין לְהִתְפַּלֵּל אֶלָּא מִתּוֹךְ שִׂמְחָה".

Thus, while the individual is to begin his preparations for prayer by achieving a state of bitterness of spirit, he is expected to begin his actual prayers in a state of joy.

In our bereaved generation, however, when not all are capable of turning their hearts instantly from one extreme [to the other], from humility to joy,

וְעַכְשָׁיו בְּדוֹר יָתוֹם הַזֶּה, שֶׁאֵין הַכֹּל יְכוֹלִין לַהֲפוֹךְ לִבָּם כְּרֶגַע מִן הַקָּצֶה,

it is advised that teshuvah tataah be practiced earlier, at Tikkun Chatzot; this is an especially appropriate time for the spiritual stocktaking that leads to the humility of a “broken and contrite heart,” as noted above.17

אֲזַי, עֵצָה הַיְּעוּצָה לְהַקְדִּים בְּחִינַת תְּשׁוּבָה תַּתָּאָה בְּתִיקּוּן חֲצוֹת כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל.

Whoever cannot do this nightly18 should maintain an absolute minimum of once every week, before the Shabbat.

וּמִי שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר לוֹ בְּכָל לַיְלָה – עַל כָּל פָּנִים לֹא יִפְחוֹת מִפַּעַם אַחַת בַּשָּׁבוּעַ, לִפְנֵי יוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת,

It is familiar to the initiates in the mysteries of the Torah that Shabbat is of the order of teshuvah ilaah;

כַּנּוֹדָע לַיּוֹדְעִים, שֶׁהַשַּׁבָּת הִיא בְּחִינַת תְּשׁוּבָה עִילָּאָה,

indeed, the very letters of the word Shabbat spell tashev (“You return”),19 as in the phrase, “You cause man to return.”20

וְשַׁבָּ"ת – אוֹתִיּוֹת "תָּשֵׁ"ב אֱנוֹשׁ",

For on Shabbat, all the worlds ascend to their Source…, and this, too, is the time of the ascent of the soul to its Source—which constitutes the act of teshuvah.

כִּי בְּשַׁבָּת הִיא עֲלִיּוֹת הָעוֹלָמוֹת לִמְקוֹרָם כוּ',

The prayers of Shabbat in particular—even more than the weekday prayers—[are an act of teshuvah ilaah]. This will suffice for the perceptive.

וּבִפְרָט תְּפִלּוֹת הַשַּׁבָּת, וְדַי לַמֵבִין.

(21We can now understand the phrase, “Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”22

(וּבָזֶה יוּבַן מַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב: "שׁוּבָה אֵלַי כִּי גְאַלְתִּיךָ",

For since [as in the preceding phrase] “I have erased your sins like a thick cloud,” removing the sitra achara,

פֵּירוּשׁ, כִּי מֵאַחַר שֶׁ"מָּחִיתִי כָעָב פְּשָׁעֶיךָ" הִיא הַעֲבָרַת הַסִּטְרָא אָחֳרָא,

and “I have redeemed you” from the evil (lit., “extraneous”) forces through the arousal of supreme compassion following the initiative taken by man below in his teshuvah tataah, as explained above,

וּ"גְאַלְתִּיךָ" מִן הַחִיצוֹנִים בְּהִתְעוֹרְרוּת רַחֲמִים עֶלְיוֹנִים, בְּאִתְעָרוּתָא דִלְתַתָּא בִּתְשׁוּבָה תַּתָּאָה כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל –

therefore, “Return to Me”—with teshuvah ilaah.”)

אֲזַי – "שׁוּבָה אֵלַי" בִּתְשׁוּבָה עִילָּאָה):