Ch. 53, Class 3

Continuation of chapter 53

כי תרי״ג מצות התורה רובן ככולן הן מצות מעשיות, וגם התלויות בדבור ומחשבה, כמו תלמוד תורה, ברכת המזון, קריאת שמע ותפלה

For the 613 commandments of the Torah are by and large precepts which involve action, including even those mitzvot which are fulfilled by word and thought, such as Torah study, the Grace after Meals, the recital of the Shema, and prayer,

This is so even though these mitzvot involve thought — seeking to grasp the concepts in one’s studies, and to experience the kavanot of the Shema and prayer — and as such they are not bound up with action,

הא קיימא לן דהרהור לאו כדבור דמי, ואינו יוצא ידי חובתו בהרהור וכוונה לבד, עד שיוציא בשפתיו

for it has been ruled that meditation has not the validity of speech, and one does not fulfill one’s obligation by meditation [in a manner of hirhur] and kavanah alone, even when his manner of meditation is close to speech, as is the case when one thinks about the way in which he will utter certain words, which is called hirhur, until he gives it utterance with his lips;

וקיימא לן דעקימת שפתיו הוי מעשה

moreover, it has been ruled that the motion of the lips while one is speaking is considered an “action” — in which case all these mitzvot involve a form of action.

The Rebbe explains that the Alter Rebbe will now anticipate the following question: It still remains to be understood why specifically the four cubits of Halachah take the place of the Holy of Holies; why should this be not so when a Jew studies a subject in Torah which is not Halachah, for there too the Shechinah is with him? The Alter Rebbe therefore explains that Halachah possesses the especial merit of expressing the Divine Will (as explained at length in Iggeret HaKodesh, Epistle 29).

ותרי״ג מצות התורה, עם שבע מצות דרבנן, בגימטריא כת״ר, שהוא רצון העליון ברוך הוא

And the 613 commandments of the Torah, together with the seven commandments of our Rabbis, combine to total the numerical equivalent of Keter (“crown”), which is the Supernal Will,

Will is called a crown, for like a crown it encompasses the head and brain; Iggeret HaKodesh, loc. cit., where this is discussed at length.

המלובש בחכמתו יתברך

which is clothed in His wisdom,

Thus, in addition to the fact that Torah is G‑d’s wisdom, which in its descent in the downward progression of Worlds becomes the shrine of the Holy of Holies for the Shechinah, there is the additional quality of its being the Supernal Will, which is even loftier than wisdom. This is uniquely found in the Halachah and the mitzvot, as they are expressions of the Supernal Will.

המיוחדות באור אין סוף ברוך הוא בתכלית היחוד

and they (G‑d’s Will and wisdom) are united with the light of the Ein Sof in a perfect union.

Further to an earlier statement that Torah derives from Supernal Wisdom, the Alter Rebbe will now say that the Oral Law also emanates from that source.

וה׳ בחכמה יסד ארץ, היא תורה שבעל פה דנפקא מחכמה עילאה, כמו שכתוב בזהר, דאבא יסד ברתא

“G‑d founded the earth with wisdom.”9 This refers to the Oral Law that is derived from Supernal Wisdom, as it is written in the Zohar, “The father (Chochmah) begat the daughter” (i.e., Malchut, the Oral Law; as it is written, “Malchut — the mouth, which we call the Oral Law”).

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FOOTNOTES

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  1. Mishlei 3:19.