Ch. 34, Class # 1

Beginning of Chapter 34

והנה מודעת זאת שהאבות הן הן המרכבה

It is known that “the Patriarchs constitute the Divine Chariot.“1

שכל ימיהם לעולם לא הפסיקו אפילו שעה אחת מלקשר דעתם ונשמתם לרבון העולמים

Throughout their lives, they did not cease even momentarily from binding their mind and soul to the Master of the universe,

בביטול הנ״ל ליחודו יתברך

with the aforementioned absolute surrender to His unity.

I.e., their constant awareness of G‑d’s unity led them to be continuously in a state of self-nullification before G‑d; and, as explained more fully in ch. 23, this self-nullification is what is meant by the term “chariot”, a vehicle submissive to the will of its pilot.

ואחריהם כל הנביאים, כל אחד לפי מדרגת נשמתו והשגתו

After them came all the prophets who similarly nullified themselves before G‑d’s unity in varying degrees, each according to the level of his soul and his understanding.

ומדרגת משה רבנו עליו השלום היא העולה על כולנה, שאמרו עליו: שכינה מדברת מתוך גרונו של משה

The rank of our teacher Moses, peace be upon him, surpassed them all; of him our Sages said:2 “The Shechinah (the Divine Presence) spoke out of Moses‘ throat.”

His was such a total surrender to G‑dliness, that the very words he uttered were Divine speech; the relation of Moses’ throat to Divine speech was that of one’s throat to his own speech.

ומעין זה זכו ישראל במעמד הר סיני

At Mount Sinai, Israel were privileged to experience a glimmer of this level of self-nullification.

רק שלא יכלו לסבול, כמאמר רז״ל: שעל כל דיבור פרחה נשמתן כו׳, שהוא ענין ביטול במציאות הנ״ל

But they could not endure it; as our Sages have said,3 “At every Divine utterance their souls took flight,” and G‑d resurrected them each time. This flight of their soul actually represents the self-nullification spoken of previously.4

לכן מיד אמר להם לעשות לו משכן ובו קדשי הקדשים להשראת שכינתו, שהוא גילוי יחודו יתברך, כמו שיתבאר לקמן

Therefore, because they were unable to live with this feeling of self-surrender before G‑d,He commanded them immediately to erect for Him a Sanctuary, in which would be the Holy of Holies, wherein His presence would dwell; i.e., there His unity would be revealed, as will be explained further.5

The Alter Rebbe points out below that when one specific place is singled out as an abode for G‑d’s presence, despite the fact that “his glory fills the entireearth,” the uniqueness of this site lies in the revelation of G‑dliness which occurs there. In contrast to the rest of the world, where G‑d’s unity as the sole existing being stands concealed, in “the abode of G‑d’s presence” it is clearly apparent that “there is naught besides Him.” We thus see that the revelation of G‑d’s unity which the Jewish people experienced at Mount Sinai, but which they could not endure, was continued by means of the Sanctuary.

ומשחרב בית המקדש אין להקב״ה בעולמו משכן ומכון לשבתו, הוא יחודו יתברך, אלא ארבע אמות של הלכה

Ever since the Temple was destroyed, “the four cubits of the Halachah” — i.e., Torah study — is the only sanctuary and abode which the Holy One, blessed be He, has in His world; i.e., Torah is the only abode for the revelation of His unity.

FOOTNOTES
1. See above, ch. 23.
2. Cf. Zohar III, 232a; commentary of Rabbi David Luria on Shemot Rabbah, end of ch. 3.
3. Shabbat 88b.
4. See also below, end of ch. 36.
5. Ch. 53.