Ch. 38, Class # 5

Continuation of Chapter 38

The Alter Rebbe now expands the analogy of body and soul to mitzvot andkavanah. He states that just as in the analogy all existence is classified into four categories, with two of them (mineral and vegetable) belonging in turn to the broader category of “body-beings”, and two (animal and man) to the broader category of “soul-beings”, so it is also with regard to mitzvot andkavanah.

The Alter Rebbe now resumes the thought intercepted by the above Note.

ונחלקת גם כן לארבע מדרגות

They, too (the mitzvot and their kavanah), are differentiated into four levels.

כי גוף המצות עצמן ממש הן ב׳ מדרגות, שהן מצות מעשיות ממש

For the “body” of the mitzvot themselves comprises two levels, namely,mitzvot consisting of real action (as opposed to speech, which is merely “regarded as action”),

ומצות התלויות בדבור ומחשבה, כמו תלמוד תורה וקריאת שמע ותפלה וברכת המזון ושאר ברכות

and mitzvot performed with speech and thought, such as Torah study, reciting the Shema, praying, saying the grace after meals, and other blessings. Both these levels — (a) action, and (b) thought and speech — are subdivisions of the category of the “body” of mitzvot.

וכוונת המצות, לדבקה בו יתברך, שהיא כנשמה לגוף

The kavanah of mitzvot, i.e., one’s intention to attach oneself to G‑d by performing the mitzvah, this (the kavanah) being like a soul for the body of the mitzvah,

נחלקת גם כן לשתי מדרגות, כמו שתי מדרגות הנשמה שהן בגוף החומרי שהן חי ומדבר

is likewise divided into two levels — corresponding to the two levels of soul found in material bodies, namely (a) in animals, and (b) in man.

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to discuss two levels in kavanah, the higher one of which is comparable to the soul of man, and the lower to the soul of animals.

כי מי שדעתו יפה לדעת את ה׳ ולהתבונן בגדולתו יתברך

The first level is that of a person discerning enough to know G‑d and to reflect on His greatness,

ולהוליד מבינתו יראה עילאה במוחו, ואהבת ה׳ בחלל הימני שבלבו

and to create out of his understanding a lofty fear in his mind and a love of G‑d in the right part of his heart (the seat of the divine soul’s emotions),

להיות נפשו צמאה לה׳ לדבקה בו

so that his soul thirsts for G‑d [seeking] to cleave to Him

על ידי קיום התורה והמצות, שהן המשכת והארת אור אין סוף ברוך הוא על נפשו לדבקה בו

by fulfilling the Torah and mitzvot, which are the extension and illumination of the Ein Sof-light upon one’s soul by which one may cleave to Him.

In other words, this person’s desire to cleave to G‑d through the only means of doing so, viz., Torah and mitzvot, stems from a love and awe of G‑d created by intellectual appreciation of His greatness. His kavanah in mitzvot(i.e., his desire to cleave to G‑d through mitzvot) thus has an intellectual basis.

ובכוונה זו הוא לומד ומקיים המצות, וכן בכוונה זו מתפלל ומברך

When he studies [Torah] and fulfills the mitzvot [it is] with this kavanah, and likewise when he prays and recites blessings [it is] with this kavanah of cleaving to G‑d Whose greatness he has come to understand.

הרי כוונה זו על דרך משל כמו נשמת המדבר, שהוא בעל שכל ובחירה, ובדעת ידבר

Such kavanah is analogous to the soul of a human being, who possesses intelligence and freedom of choice and who speaks with wisdom, for suchkavanah is likewise based on intellect and choice.

ומי שדעתו קצרה לידע ולהתבונן בגדולת אין סוף ברוך הוא

The second level of kavanah is that of a person whose understanding is too limited to know and to reflect on the greatness of the blessed Ein Sof,

להוליד האהבה מבינתו בהתגלות לבו, וכן היראה במוחו, ופחד ה׳ בלבו

so as to create out of his understanding a revealed love in his heart, and also awe in his mind and dread of G‑d in his heart. His level of understanding is inadequate to create a palpable spiritual emotion.

Comments are closed.