Ch. 39, Class # 3

Continuation of Chapter 39

ומה שזוכות נשמות אלו לעלות למעלה מהמלאכים, אף שעבדו בדחילו ורחימו טבעיים לבד

These souls (who served G‑d with natural love and fear) are privileged to riseoccasionally to Beriah, higher than the angels, whose abode is in Yetzirah, as mentioned above, never rising to Beriah, although they too, like the angels, served G‑d only with natural fear and love; why, then, is their service of G‑d considered superior to that of the angels?

היינו מפני שעל ידי דחילו ורחימו שלהם, אתכפיא סטרא אחרא המלובשת בגופם

because through their fear and love, the sitra achra clothed in their body is subdued,

בין בבחינת סור מרע, לכבוש התאוות ולשברן

whether (in the case of fear) in the realm of “turning away from evil” (refraining from doing evil, and thereby) conquering and crushing their desires through not giving their illicit desires expression in thought, speech and action,

ובין בבחינת ועשה טוב, כנ״ל

or whether (in the case of love) subduing the sitra achra in the realm of “doing good” as mentioned above, i.e., actively pursuing the observance of the mitzvot out of love for G‑d, despite the contrary desire of the animal soul which is rooted in the sitra achra.

והם היו בעלי בחירה, לבחור ברע, חס ושלום

These souls, while in the physical world, had freedom of choice; they might have chosen evil, G‑d forbid,

ובחרו בטוב, לאכפיא לסטרא אחרא, לאסתלקא יקרא דקודשא בריך הוא כו׳ כיתרון האור כו׳, כנ״ל

yet they chose good — to subdue the sitra achra, so that G‑d’s glory be elevated… [in all Worlds], with an elevation similar to the superiority of light… [emerging from the darkness] over ordinary light, as mentioned above. By dispelling the darkness of sitra achra, these souls added to the light of holiness.

Thus, although these souls served G‑d as angels do, with love and fear that are natural, not intellectual, yet their service ranks higher than that of an angel; for the soul acts out of free choice, while the angel is a creature of compulsive instinct (albeit holy instinct). Therefore it is occasionally granted to the soul, unlike the angel, to rise to the Higher Garden of Eden in Beriah.

In the following paragraphs, the Alter Rebbe will differentiate between the respective stations of the souls on the one hand, and of their divine service(i.e., the actual Torah and mitzvot that the soul studies and observes) on the other. But before examining his words, an introduction is in order:

Although we spoke above of the Sefirot of each of the Four Worlds, it must nevertheless be understood that the Sefirot of each World do not constitute that World itself. The Sefirot represent, rather, the G‑dliness inherent in each World — its divine life-force. The World itself, on the other hand, is a Yesh, a separate being, which comes about through the Sefirot.

The significance of this distinction with regard to our discussion is as follows: The Alter Rebbe spoke above of the abode of the soul in either the World of Yetzirah or the World of Beriah (depending on the level of its divine service). The emphasis here is on the word “World”: the soul’s abode is in theWorld of Beriah or Yetzirah (also described as the heichalot (“Chambers”) of these Worlds), not in the Sefirot of these Worlds.

The soul’s divine service, on the other hand, ascends to the Sefirot (of the appropriate World); this means, in effect, that it is absorbed in the Ein Sof.

In fact, the soul’s reward in the Garden of Eden, described before as the pleasure of “basking in the radiance of the Shechinah,” is actually the radiance of the Torah and mitzvot that the person observed while in this physical world, which have ascended to the supernal Sefirot.

In the Alter Rebbe’s words:

והנה כל זה הוא במדור הנשמות ומקום עמידתן

All the aforesaid concerns the abode and station of the souls. (The Rebbe notes: “Station” is not necessarily synonymous with “abode”; a soul whose abode is in Yetzirah may rise periodically (on Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh) to a temporary station in Beriah, as said above.)

אך תורתן ועבודתן נכללות בי׳ ספירות, שהן בחינת אלקות, ואור אין סוף מתייחד בהן בתכלית היחוד

Their Torah and divine service, however, are actually absorbed in the TenSefirot, which are a manifestation of G‑dliness, and with which the Ein Sof-light unites, in perfect unity i.e., the Ein Sof-light radiating in each World is completely unified with the Sefirot of that World.

והיינו בי׳ ספירות דבריאה על ידי דחילו ורחימו שכליים, ובי׳ ספירות דיצירה על ידי דחילו ורחימו טבעיים

Specifically, this means that one’s Torah and divine service ascend to the Ten Sefirotof Beriah, when generated by intellectual fear and love, and to the Ten Sefirot ofYetzirah when prompted by natural fear and love.

ובתוכן מלובשות י׳ ספירות דאצילות, ומיוחדות בהן בתכלית

Now, within them (within the Sefirot of Beriah and Yetzirah) are clothed the TenSefirot of the World of Emanation — Atzilut, and they are completely unified with them: the Sefirot of Atzilut are clothed in, and completely unified with, the Sefirot of Beriahand Yetzirah.

וי׳ ספירות דאצילות מיוחדות בתכלית במאצילן, אין סוף ברוך הוא

The Ten Sefirot of Atzilut are, in turn, perfectly united with their Emanator, the Blessed Ein Sof. It follows, then, that by ascending to the Sefirot of Beriah or Yetzirah, the soul’s Torah and divine service actually unite with the Ein Sof.

מה שאין כן הנשמות אינן נכללות באלקות די׳ ספירות

The souls, on the other hand (in contrast with their Torah and divine service), are not absorbed into the G‑dliness of the Ten Sefirot,

אלא עומדות בהיכלות ומדורין דבריאה או יצירה

but stand instead in the “chambers” and “abodes” of Beriah or Yetzirah, which are the Worlds of Beriah and Yetzirah, separate beings that are not united with G‑d as are theSefirot.

ונהנין מזיו השכינה, הוא אור אין סוף ברוך הוא, המיוחד בי׳ ספירות דבריאה או דיצירה

There [the souls] delight in the radiance of the Shechinah, meaning the Blessed Ein Sof-light [as it is] unified with the Ten Sefirot of Beriah or Yetzirah;

והוא זיו תורתן ועבודתן ממש (עיין זהר, ויקהל, )דף ר״י

and this radiance that they enjoy is actually a “ray” of [the light of] their own Torah and divine service (see Zohar, Parshat Vayakhel, p. 210),

כי שכר מצוה היא מצוה עצמה

for “The reward of a mitzvah is the mitzvah itself.”

A “ray” issuing from the mitzvot that they have performed, and that have become united with the Ein Sof, shines forth upon the tzaddikim in the Garden of Eden; it is the revelation of this ray that delights the soul.

From this we may catch a glimpse of the stature of a mitzvah performed in this world. From a mere glimmer of the light radiated by a mitzvah, a soul in Paradise derives pleasure so exquisite that, as our Sages say, all the suffering of Purgatory — a suffering so acute that one moment of it is worse than enduring seventy years of Job’s afflictions — is worthwhile, so long as it enables one subsequently to experience the boundless delight of Paradise.

In fact, were the soul when in Paradise to apprehend the essence of themitzvah instead of a mere ray of it, it would expire — it would dissolve out of existence in the intensity of its light.

This is the meaning of the Mishnah,5 “Better one hour of repentance and good deeds in this world, than all the life of the World to Come.” For in the World to Come the soul has only a glimmer of the light of mitzvot, whereas in this world we have the essence of mitzvot, whereby we are united with G‑d Himself.

The soul’s great pleasure in Paradise is due only to its clear perception of the ray of light given off by the mitzvah, a perception that we lack in this physical world; wherefore the Mishnah concludes, “Better one hour of bliss in the World to Come, than all the life of this world” — better even than the bliss of fulfilling the Torah and mitzvot in this world, for true bliss can be experienced only in Paradise, where the soul actually perceives and grasps the G‑dliness of the Torah and mitzvot.

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Footnotes

5.  Avot 4:17

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