The Torah portion Vayishlach begins by relating how Yaakov sent messengers to his brother Esav.1 His underlying purpose in doing so was to rectify and elevate Esav by revealing the good concealed within him.2

This is similar to the mission entrusted to every Jew, for all Jews are G‑d’s messengers,3 charged with the mission of “making an abode for G‑d in the nethermost levels”4 — this physical world.

In order for a Jew to be able to transform the physical universe into an abode for the Creator, G‑d caused Torah and mitzvos to descend to this world.5 By studying Torah, performing mitzvos and spreading their light, a Jew is able to perform his mission.

To make an abode for G‑d “in the nethermost levels,” however, two seemingly opposite things are necessary:

First and foremost, an individual must be completely self-effacing, aware that he is merely G‑d’s emissary, and as such may not, Heaven forbid, act in a manner contrary to G‑d’s desire as expressed in the Torah, even when he thinks that by doing so he can have a greater effect on his environment. If an emissary acts contrary to the dictates of the one that appointed him, he ceases to be an emissary.6

On the other hand, in order for an individual to succeed in disseminating the light of Judaism and influencing others, he must use his own intellect — the opposite of self-effacement. This ability to use one’s own faculties is also a precondition to becoming an emissary, as it is clearly stated7 that an emissary must be mentally competent.

These two attributes, so essential to the mission of “making an abode for G‑d in the nethermost levels,” reflect the two components of that mission: “an abode” and “in the nethermost levels.”

The concept of “an abode” stresses that the revelation of G‑dliness in this world must have the same qualities as a person in his own home. When a person is among others he is constrained and cannot be truly himself; when he is at home the restraints are lifted and he reveals himself fully.

The concept of “in the nethermost levels” emphasizes that this revelation is so intense that it permeates the very essence of the nethermost levels.8

This also explains why there are two aspects to the mission of “making an abode for G‑d in the nethermost levels”: On the one hand, all Jews are entrusted equally with this mission; on the other, each has his specific tasks to fulfill.

With regard to the preparation of an “abode,” all Jews are entirely equal, in that they each possess a soul that is “truly a part of G‑d above,”9 and are thus G‑d’s emissaries. Therefore every good deed performed by a Jew serves to reveal G‑d’s essence, helping make an “abode” for Him.

However, in order to permeate the many entities that constitute the “nethermost levels” with this intense degree of holiness, it is necessary that actions be undertaken appropriate to each entity and level. Here, each Jew has his own mission through which he purifies and elevates his portion in the world.

In light of the above, we can readily understand why it is necessary to display both complete self-effacement and independent thought in order to “make an abode for G‑d in the nethermost levels.”

In order to be a proper emissary, a person must be wholly dedicated and nullified before G‑d, for G‑d resides only among the humble.10 At the same time, in order to better influence the “nethermost levels” a person must be able to reach out to them — something that requires applied intelligence.

Based on Sefer HaSichos 5748 , pp. 138-143, Likkutei Sichos , Vol. XXV, p. 364.