Ch. 42, Class 5

Continuation of Chapter 42

While it is true that the soul has this capacity by dint of its being nurtured from the soul of Moses (for were the soul lacking this capacity, then even the greatest effort would be of no avail, for how can a created being possibly comprehend and feel its Creator? How can a soul enclothed in a body feel and be bound to G‑dliness?), nevertheless, even after possessing this capacity, it requires a prodigious effort to actually comprehend and feel G‑dliness.

האחת היא יגיעת בשר, לבטש את הגוף ולהכניעו, שלא יחשיך על אור הנפש

First is the “exertion of the flesh,” to throw off the bodily shackles, to pound the body, i.e., to weaken its corporeality, and gain its submission, so that it shall not obscure the light of the soul, thus making it possible for one to understand and feel G‑dliness,

כמו שנאמר לעיל בשם הזהר, דגופא דלא סליק ביה נהורא דנשמתא, מבטשין ליה, והיינו על ידי הרהורי תשובה מעומק הלב, כמו שכתוב שם

as has been mentioned above9 in the name of the Zohar, that “A body into which the light of the soul does not penetrate should be crushed,” this being accomplished by means of penitential reflections from the depths of the heart, as is explained there.

When one has weakened the grossness of the body, so that it hinders no longer, it becomes possible for the “light of the soul” to be manifest. This, then, is one manner of exertion, known as “exertion of the flesh.”

והשנית היא יגיעת הנפש, שלא תכבד עליה העבודה ליגע מחשבתה, להעמיק ולהתבונן בגדולת ה׳ שעה גדולה רצופה

And the second is the exertion of the soul — to reveal the powers of the soul, that the service of exerting one’s thought not be burdensome to it, to delve into and reflect upon the greatness of G‑d for a long and uninterrupted period,

כי שיעור שעה זו אינו שוה בכל נפש

for this measure of time necessary to immerse oneself in a G‑dly concept in order to arouse love or fear of G‑d is not the same for every soul. Some people require more time, others less.

יש נפש זכה בטבעה, שמיד שמתבוננת בגדולת ה׳, יגיע אליה היראה ופחד ה׳

There is the naturally refined soul which, immediately upon considering the greatness of G‑d, attains a fear and dread of Him.

כמו שכתוב בשלחן ערוך אורח חיים סימן א׳: כשיתבונן האדם שהמלך הגדול, מלך מלכי המלכים הקדוש ברוך הוא, אשר מלא כל הארץ כבודו, עומד עליו ורואה במעשיו, מיד יגיע אליו היראה וכו׳

As is written in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, sec. I, that “When a man reflects that the great King — the Supreme King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, with Whose glory the whole world is filled — stands over him and sees his actions, he will immediately be overcome with fear….”

And, as the Shulchan Aruch concludes, “he will be humbled and abashed before G‑d.” This is true of one whose soul is naturally refined; he is “immediately…overcome with fear,” without great effort or time required on his part.

ויש נפש שפלה בטבעה ותולדתה, ממקור חוצבה ממדרגות תחתונות די׳ ספירות דעשיה

Then there is a soul that is of lowly nature and origin, coming from the lower gradations of the TenSefirot of Asiyah,

Within the World of Asiyah itself, the lowest of all Worlds, this type of soul comes from the lowest of the Ten Sefirot.It is thus a soul of “lowly nature and origin,” which finds it difficult to conceptualize G‑dly matters.

ולא תוכל למצוא במחשבתה האלקות, כי אם בקושי ובחזקה

and it is unable to discover G‑dliness by contemplation except with difficulty and forceful insistence,10

I.e., only by expending a great amount of effort and contemplating G‑dliness for a long stretch of time will it be able to secure a degree of G‑dly illumination, and conceptualize a notion of G‑dliness. Only then will this contemplation penetrate such a person so that he will be fearful of G‑d.

ובפרט אם הוטמאה בחטאת נעורים, שהעוונות מבדילים כו׳ כמו שכתוב בספר חסידים סימן ל״ה

especially if the soul is not only of a lowly nature, but in addition it had been defiled by the “sin of youth,” for one’s sins interpose [between a Jew and G‑d] (11as is written in Sefer Chassidim, ch. 35).

ומכל מקום, בקושי ובחזקה, שתתחזק מאד מחשבתו באומץ ויגיעה רבה ועומק גדול, להעמיק בגדולת ה׳ שעה גדולה

Nevertheless, with difficulty and with forceful effort, when his thought greatly exerts itself with vigor and great toil and intense concentration, immersing [itself] in contemplation of the greatness of G‑d for a long time,

The previous Lubavitcher Rebbe of blessed memory once said in a talk that a “long time” means, “an hour today,… an hour tomorrow,” until ultimately the repetitiveness of intense concentration day after day will ensure that no matter how lowly the soul may be,

בודאי תגיע אליו על כל פנים היראה תתאה הנ״ל

there will certainly come to him at least the “lower-level fear” referred to above, i.e., enough to prevent him from doing something which is opposed to G‑d’s Will.

(With regard to the Alter Rebbe’s above assurance that no matter how lowly the soul and notwithstanding its previous sins, still with intense concentration on G‑d’s greatness it will surely attain the lower level of fear, the Rebbe comments: “We also understand from this that even before [attaining] this [level of fear], the person will surely succeed in undoing his separation [from G‑d] that was brought about through his sins; i.e., he will [regret his sins and] repent.”12)

וכמו שאמרו רז״ל: יגעתי ומצאתי, תאמין

And, as the Rabbis of blessed memory have said:13 “[If a man says,] ‘I have labored and I have found,’ believe him.”

The Rebbe explains: One’s labor not only helps a person achieve something commensurate with the amount of labor, similar to payment received for doing a job, but moreover enables him to say, “I have found.” For in the case of a person who finds an object, his find is incomparably greater in value than the labor invested in finding it.

Footnotes

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9.  Beginning of ch. 29.
10. The Rebbe notes: “The wording is from Sefer Chassidim,and so too later on.”
11.  Parentheses are in the original text.
12. The Rebbe notes: In the second edition of the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch, in which the subjects are discussed — as can plainly be seen — in more detail and in a more inward manner, the Alter Rebbe adds: “And if the person does not immediately attain fear of G‑d, he should immerse himself deeply…. He should also fully repent for his sins, for it is they that hinder him from attaining fear [of G‑d].”

This supplements the statement of the Shulchan Aruchand of the first edition of the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch (as quoted above in Tanya), that “when he will contemplate…he will immediately attain this fear….”

Thus, in the second edition of his Shulchan Aruch, the Alter Rebbe addresses the issue of what is to be done if fear is not immediately attained. The situation may be remedied by (a) “immersing himself more deeply, etc.,” and by (b) “fully repenting, etc.”

13. Megillah 6b.