We are told in the Torah Portion Re’eh ,1 “Follow G‑d your L-rd, fear Him, observe His commandments, hearken to His voice, serve Him and cleave to Him.” On the words “cleave to Him,” Rashi explains: “Cleave to His ways, perform acts of loving kindness, bury the dead, visit the sick, just as G‑d has done.”

Rashi’s comment must be understood: Since, according to Rashi , the verse means to tell us that we should cleave to G‑d’s ways and act as He does, why doesn’t the verse explicitly state “cleave to His ways” rather than “cleave to Him?”

Moreover, since the command to cleave to G‑d’s ways is stated as “cleave to Him ,” it is understandable that the ultimate unity with G‑d is accomplished specifically through following G‑d’s example and performing acts of loving kindness.

In other words, the highest form of cleaving to G‑d can only be accomplished through these latter actions, and not by performing the actions and commandments referred to earlier when the verse declared “obey His commandments.”

This, too, must be understood: All mitzvos bring about an attachment between man and G‑d; what greater attachment is achieved by doing those things that fall under the heading of “cleaving to G‑d”?

G‑d commanded us to perform Mitzvos , and we perform them because we are so obligated. It therefore follows that the attachment achieved by performing mitzvos is one in which the performer is continuously aware of his own self; it is he who is becoming attached to G‑d through his performance.

This is not so with regard to “cleaving to G‑d.” Although “cleaving to G‑d” begins as the result of a command, the performance, completion, and totality of the command involves the total loss of any sense of self, for the person is wholly engulfed within Him — he cleaves to Him.

The difference between mitzvos in general and performing those actions that result in “cleaving to Him” is thus the difference between “attachment to G‑d” and “cleaving to G‑d”:2

“Attachment to G‑d” — the state achieved through the regular performance of Torah and mitzvos — is similar to attaching two separate objects one to another and tying them together. Even after the objects have become bound together, they are still viewed as two things. “Cleaving to G‑d,” however, is so strong a form of unification that there are no two separate entities — they are truly one.

We thus understand that the same act — extending a loan for example — when performed with the intent of “cleaving to G‑d” is infinitely greater than the same act performed as a separate mitzvah ; the latter lacks total loss of self and only attains attachment — not cleaving — to G‑d.

This also explains why the verse states “cleave to Him.” Although this requires “cleaving to His ways,” no action is specified, for the intent here is not to speak of the act itself — “His ways” — but the result of the act; when one is so at one with G‑d, following in His ways will come as a matter of course.

Thus it is told of the Alter Rebbe that on Fridays towards evening he would automatically fall asleep, since it was then a time of sleep Above.3 I.e., his cleaving to G‑d was so intense that the proper actions — “ways” — followed spontaneously.

Acting in such an unprompted and unpremeditated manner in consonance with G‑d’s desires reveals the tremendous degree of innate cleaving that a Jewish soul has to G‑d. When the Torah commands us to “cleave to G‑d,” it empowers all of us to reveal our latent qualities.

Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. XIV, pp. 53-63.