Ch. 37, Class # 1


Beginning of Chapter 37 

In the previous chapter, the Alter Rebbe explained that the statement of the Sages that “G-d desired an abode in the lower realms” refers to our physical world. This is the lowest of worlds in terms of the degree of revelation of the divine creative power: it is hidden in this world as it is in no other world. G-d desired precisely this world, pervaded as it is with “doubled and redoubled darkness,” as His “abode”, where His presence would ultimately be revealed to a greater degree than it is revealed in the higher worlds, without any concealing “garments” whatever.

This will come to pass in the Messianic era, the period for which the world was originally created, when G-dliness will be manifest throughout the world, so that all the nations on earth will experience divine revelation.

והנה תכלית השלימות הזה של ימות המשיח ותחיית המתים, שהוא גילוי אור אין סוף ברוך הוא בעולם הזה הגשמי

Now this ultimate perfection of the Messianic era and [the time of] the resurrection of the dead, meaning the revelation of Ein Sof-light in this physical world,

תלוי במעשינו ועבודתנו כל זמן משך הגלות

is dependent on our actions and [divine] service throughout the period of exile(unlike the aforementioned revelation at Sinai, which was initiated by G-d).

כי הגורם שכר המצוה היא המצוה בעצמה

For it is the mitzvah itself that causes i.e., creates its reward.

The Rebbe notes: Unlike, for example, the wages paid by the owner of a field to the laborer who plows and plants in it, where the laborer does not create the money he is paid, a mitzvah actually creates its own reward.

כי בעשייתה ממשיך האדם גילוי אור אין סוף ברוך הוא מלמעלה למטה

For by performing [the mitzvah] man draws the revelation of the blessed Ein Sof-light from above downwards,

להתלבש בגשמיות עולם הזה, בדבר שהיה תחלה תחת ממשלת קליפת נוגה, ומקבל חיותה ממנה

to be clothed in the physicality of this world, i.e., in an object which had heretofore been under the dominion of kelipat nogah and had received its vitality from this kelipah;

שהם כל הדברים הטהורים ומותרים שנעשית בהם המצוה מעשיית

namely, all pure, permissible objects with which the act of the mitzvah is performed. By performing the mitzvah, man draws the Ein Sof-light upon the object with which it is performed.

The Alter Rebbe now illustrates his phrase — “pure, permissible objects with which the act of the mitzvah is performed,” citing as examples one object from each of the three categories: animal life, vegetative, and inanimate life.

כגון קלף התפילין ומזוזה וספר תורה

For example, the parchment of the tefillin, mezuzah and Sefer Torah which must be made of the skins of permissible, kosher animals.

וכמאמר רז״ל: לא הוכשר למלאכת שמים אלא טהורים ומותרים בפיך

As our Sages state:1 “For the ‘work of heaven’ i.e., mitzvah objects only that which is pure and permissible to eat may be used.”

The parchment derived from such animals is, however, under the dominion of kelipat nogah until one uses it for tefillin, etc., when the mitzvah draws upon the parchment a revelation of Ein Sof-light.

וכן אתרוג שאינו ערלה,

Similarly, an etrog which is not orlah* (the forbidden fruit of a tree’s first three harvests),

*NOTE

In reference to his earlier stipulation that an etrog not be orlah, and that charity be honestly acquired, the Alter Rebbe notes:

הגהה

שהערלה היא משלש קליפות הטמאות לגמרי שאין להם עליה לעולם, כמו שכתוב בעץ חיים

For orlah is of the three completely unclean kelipot that can never ascend into holiness, as is written in Etz Chayim; thus fruit which is orlah, deriving its vitality from these kelipot, cannot be elevated by having a mitzvah performed with it.

וכן כל מצוה הבאה בעבירה, חס ושלום

Similarly any mitzvah whose performance involved a transgression (G-d forbid).Since the sinful act receives its vitality from the three completely uncleankelipot, the resulting mitzvah cannot elevate it.

END OF NOTE

When performed, however, with pure and permissible objects, the mitzvahelevates those objects from kelipat nogah to holiness, to be united with the Ein Sof-light, as the Alter Rebbe continues:

ומעות הצדקה שאינן גזל, וכיוצא בהם

or money given to charity that has not been acquired through theft, and their like i.e., other physical objects used in performing a mitzvah, all of which were previously in the realm of kelipat nogah, and (as the Alter Rebbe will conclude presently) are now merged into the Divine Will by serving the purpose of a mitzvah.

ועכשיו שמקיים בהם מצות ה׳ ורצונו

Now that one fulfills G‑d’s commandment and Will with these objects,

הרי החיות שבהם עולה ומתבטל ונכלל באור אין סוף ברוך הוא, שהוא רצונו יתברך המלובש בהם

the vitality within them ascends and is dissolved and absorbed into the blessedEin Sof-light, which is His Will that is clothed in the mitzvot, the Divine Will that each mitzvah represents.

מאחר שאין שם בחינת הסתר פנים כלל, להסתיר אורו יתברך

For [in a mitzvah] there is no “concealment of the Countenance” whatever to hide His light, preventing the object from being absorbed in this light. As stated earlier, wherever the Ein Sof-light stands revealed, there is no separation from G‑d; everything is united with His light — in this case, the object with which the mitzvah (representing revelation of the Will and light of the Ein Sof) is performed.

* * *

Thus far, the Alter Rebbe has discussed the effect of a mitzvah on the objects used in its performance (e.g., the etrog, the parchment used for tefillin,etc.). He now discusses its effect on the power of a Jew’s animal soul that is applied to the mitzvah. This soul, like the aforementioned objects, derives its vitality from kelipat nogah; and like them it experiences a similar elevation to the realm of holiness whenever it is used in service of a mitzvah, being absorbed into the Divine Will represented by the mitzvah.

In the Alter Rebbe’s words:

וכן כח נפש החיונית הבהמית שבאברי גוף האדם המקיים המצוה, הוא מתלבש גם כן בעשיה זו

Similarly the power of the vitalizing animal soul clothed in the bodily limbs of a person who performs a mitzvah, likewise clothes itself in the deed of themitzvah.

ועולה מהקליפה, ונכלל בקדושת המצוה שהיא רצונו יתברך, ובטל באור אין סוף ברוך הוא

Thereby it ascends from the kelipah to be absorbed into the holiness of themitzvah which is His Will, and is nullified within the blessed Ein Sof-light.

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to say that those mitzvot involving speech alone likewise effect this elevation of the animal soul, even though here the animal soul’s power is not brought to bear in the performance of any mitzvah.

_____

FOOTNOTES

1. See Shabbat 108a

 

Comments are closed.