"Yehudah, you are he whom your brothers shall acknowledge."1

In Torah Or2 — and in other maamarim, both those printed and those still in manuscript — the Alter Rebbe explains that Yehudah is identified with the quality of bittul, as reflected in the verse associated with his naming:3 "This time, I will acknowledge G‑d."

[As a preface,] the Alter Rebbe first explains the Divine service associated with the tribes that precede Yehudah: Reuven, Shimon, and Levi, stating that Reuven was given his name, because "G‑d saw...."4 In our individual Divine service, this refers to seeing G‑dliness. Now, seeing is from up close. Implied is that one's Divine service relates to the dimensions of G‑dliness that are close to this world, as reflected in the verse:5 "Lift your eyes heavenward and see Who created these." This is achieved through meditation [based on one's] comprehension and understanding of the greatness of G‑d, [as it is written:]6 "How great are Your works, O G‑d!" "How manifold are Your works, O G‑d!"7 In general, the focus of this approach is on [the awareness of G‑d's light that is] memale kol almin, [the light that enclothes itself in all existence]. Since this meditation involves sight and it stems from closeness, it leads to the love of G‑d, of which it is said:8 "There is no service like the service of love." For love is motivated by closeness.

Shimon was given his name, because "G‑d heard...."9 In our individual Divine service, this refers to hearing G‑dliness. Now, hearing is from a distance. This alludes to the Divine service of a person involved with those aspects of G‑dliness that are removed and distant from the world. This service focuses on hearing and understanding that there are [spiritual] matters that transcend his understanding and comprehension. This meditation from a distance leads to the fear of G‑d.

These two sons were followed by Levi who was given his name, because "this time, my man will be joined to me,"10 i.e., the root letters of Levi have the meaning "bonding" and "oneness." In our Divine service, this refers to the observance of mitzvos, for the root letters of the word mitzvos (מצוות) and the same as those of tzavta (צוותא) meaning "connection."11 [Through the mitzvos,] a person becomes one with G‑d's Essence.

To explain the connection between these matters, why this level follows the Divine service of love and fear: Love is the root and the foundation of the observance of all the 248 positive commandments and fear is the root and the foundation of the observance of all the 365 negative commandments.12 They represent the general thrusts of "Turn away from evil"13 and "do good"11 which include all the mitzvos. Therefore the love and fear of G‑d lead to "My man will be joined to me," the fulfillment of mitzvos [as acts of] connection and binding. This is the third attribute that comes about through the interrelation of the two preceding attributes.

The phrase "My man (אישי) will be joined to me" uses the term אישי which can be interpreted as אשי, "my fire." This refers to the "fire from above" and the "fire from below," i.e., the qualities of love and fear. When the two are combined, a person will come to "My man will be joined to me." This is also reflected in the simple meaning of the verse — that it refers to our Patriarch Yaakov. For Yaakov is identified [with the attribute of Tiferes] that includes the two attributes of love and fear.

After [these three phases of Divine service] comes Yehudah, who was given his name, because "This time, I will acknowledge G‑d." הודאה, acknowledgment, reflects bittul,14 as indicated by the verse:15 "And she ceased giving birth." This rung transcends the three services mentioned above. For the three services mentioned above reflect movement on man's part, while Yehudah is identified with utter bittul.

From other sources,16 it appears that man's bittul is not the highest level of Divine service, but is instead, the beginning and the foundation of Divine service. To explain, (as clarified in those sources,) there are two levels of bittul:

a) the bittul that is necessary at the initial phase of Divine service, before one begins the service of love and fear; and then there is

b) the bittul that comes when one reaches a superlative state of Divine service, having achieved love, of which it is said: "There is no service like the service of love," having served G‑d with a complete state of fear, and carrying out the service associated with the third quality, [tiferes,] in a complete manner. At that point, one is able to achieve a consummate expression of the Divine service of "Yehudah, you are he whom your brothers shall acknowledge." And it is through this service, that it is possible that "your hand shall be in the neck of your enemies,"1 as explained in the maamarim on the verse.17

From the above, instruction can be gained regarding the actual conduct of every Jew. As is well known, there is a difference between the Divine service of the Patriarchs and that of Yaakov's sons.18 The Divine service of the Patriarchs is a spiritual legacy imparted to all their descendants in every generation. With regard to Yaakov's sons, by contrast, the attributes associated with their Divine service are not possessed by everyone.

The intent, here, is the fundamental dimension of their Divine service. The Divine service of the Patriarchs is a fundamental dimension of the Divine service of every Jew. This does not apply with regard to the Divine service of Yaakov's sons. Nevertheless, [when speaking on a less fundamental level,] in a general sense, the Divine service of every one of Yaakov's sons is relevant to every Jew and thus this applies to the Divine service associated with Reuven, Shimon, Levi, and Yehudah.

This concept is also reflected in our Torah portion which relates how "He blessed them, each one according to his blessing."19 Rashi comments: "Is it possible that he did not include all of them in all the blessings? It is written, 'he blessed them,'" [implying that he did]. If so, the Divine service of each of Yaakov's sons is relevant to every Jew. This is particularly true, because they are all Yaakov's sons (and received his blessing) and the entire Jewish people were included in Yaakov's soul. As stated in Iggeres HaKodesh,20 Yaakov possessed a comprehensive soul that included the soul of every member of the Jewish people. This is also reflected in the fact that the entire Jewish people are called Yisrael, which is Yaakov's name. And it is reinforced by the fact that Yisrael is an acronym for the Hebrew phrase meaning: "There are 600,000 letters in the Torah,"21 i.e., this name reflects [the connection between all 600,000 Jewish souls] and the corresponding letter of the Torah. Thus it is relevant in Divine service, as explained above.

Through carrying out this Divine service in a complete sense, including the bittul implied by expressing the bittul of "This time, I will acknowledge G‑d," it is possible to proceed to the continuation of Yaakov's blessing: "Until Shiloh will come and nations will gather unto him." Rashi explains that Shiloh refers to "Mashiach to whom sovereignty belongs." The Midrash22 interprets Shiloh (שילה) as שי לו, "presents to him," i.e., an allusion to the tribute the nations will bring to Mashiach, as it is written:23 "They will bring presents to he who is feared."

This is also reflected in the phrase: "Nations will gather unto him," for in the era of Mashiach, there will be revelations of G‑dliness also to the nations of the world, as Rambam states:24 "He will then improve the entire world, [motivating] all the nations to serve G‑d together, as it is written:25 'I will transform the peoples to a pure language that they all will call upon the name of G‑d and serve Him with one purpose,'" and it is written:26 "The sovereignty will be G‑d's."

He will also bring about a higher level of service within the Jewish people. For, as explained in several sources,27 Mashiach will teach the Torah to Moshe, to the Patriarchs, and, certainly, to Yaakov's sons, because the revelations in the Ultimate Future will surpass those of the times of the Patriarchs. All of this will be brought about through our deeds and Divine service in the 6000 years of the world's history.28
May this take place speedily, in our days, in the immediate future.

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