Ch. 42, Class 1

Beginning of Chapter 42

In the previous chapter the Alter Rebbe explained that fear of G‑d is a prerequisite to divine service. Every Jew is capable of attaining this level, by contemplating how “G‑d stands over him” and “searches his reins and heart [to see] if he is serving Him as is fitting.” This thought will lead him to bring forth at least some measure of fear in his mind. This in turn will enable him to study Torah properly, as well as to perform both the positive and negative commandments.

The Alter Rebbe also noted that this level of fear is known as yirah tata‘ah, “lower-level fear,” which is a preparatory step to the proper performance of Torah and mitzvot. This degree of fear must be manifest, if one’s Torah study and performance of the mitzvot are to be deemed avodah, divine service.

והנה במה שנתבאר לעיל בענין יראה תתאה

In the light of what has already been said on the subject of the lower level of fear, as summarized above,

יובן היטב מה שנאמר בגמרא על פסוק: ועתה ישראל מה ה׳ אלקיך שואל מעמך כי אם ליראה את ה׳ אלקיך, אטו יראה מילתא זוטרתי היא

one will clearly understand the Talmudic comment1 on the verse,2 “And now, Israel, what does the L‑rd your G‑d require of you? Only that you fear the L‑rd your G‑d.” The Gemara asks: “Is fear, then, such a small thing?”

אין: לגבי משה מילתא זוטרתי היא וכו׳

Answers the Gemara: “Yes, in the case of Moses it is a small thing,” and so forth.

Superficially, the answer seems to be that this was said by Moses to the Jewish people, and for him, fear of G‑d is indeed a simple thing.

דלכאורה אינו מובן התירוץ, דהא שואל מעמך כתיב

At first glance the answer of the Gemara is incomprehensible, for the verse asks, “What does [He] require of you?” — i.e., What does G‑d require of every Jew? For the majority of Jews, fear of G‑d is certainly no mean accomplishment. What, then, is the point of answering that for Moses it is a simple thing?

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to explain that the answer of the Gemara, that “in the case of Moses it is a simple thing,” does not refer to Moses alone, but to the “Moses” which is found in every Jew, for Moses imbues all Jews with the level of Daat (lit., “knowledge”), enabling them all to bind their own faculty of Daat to G‑dliness. It is concerning this level of Moses found within every Jew, that the statement is made, “…in the case of Moses it is a simple thing.” For when a Jew utilizes the power of Moses found within him, i.e., when he binds his Daat with G‑dliness, then fear of G‑d is indeed a simple thing and easy to attain, as shall presently be explained.

אלא הענין הוא כי כל נפש ונפש מבית ישראל יש בה מבחינת משה רבנו עליו השלום, כי הוא משבעה רועים

The explanation, however, is as follows: Each and every soul of the House of Israel comprises within it something of the quality of our teacher Moses, peace unto him, for he is one of the3 “seven shepherds”

הממשיכים חיות ואלקות לכללות נשמות ישראל, שלכן נקראים בשם רועים

who cause vitality and G‑dliness to flow to the community of the souls of Israel, for which reason they are called “shepherds”.

Just as a shepherd provides nourishment for his sheep, thereby supplying them with vitality, so too do the “seven shepherds” sustain Jewish souls with “vitality and G‑dliness,” each from his own spiritual level. Abraham provides the Jews with the spiritual faculty of Chesed and love, and so forth.

Chassidim relate that the Alter Rebbe pondered for a goodly number of weeks whether to write that the “seven shepherds” provide “G‑dly vitality” (חיות אלוקות), or whether he should write “vitality and G‑dliness” (חיות ואלוקות). He finally resolved to write the latter — “vitality and G‑dliness.” For “vitality” refers to love and fear of G‑d, since it is they that vitalize one’s performance of Torah and mitzvot; “G‑dliness” refers to self-nullification before G‑d. The “seven shepherds,” then, cause both “vitality and G‑dliness” to flow into Jewish souls.

ומשה רבנו, עליו השלום, הוא כללות כולם, ונקרא רעיא מהימנא, דהיינו שממשיך בחינת הדעת לכללות ישראל לידע את ה׳

Our teacher, Moses, peace unto him, comprises [aspects of] them all, and he is called “the faithful shepherd.” This means that he draws down the quality of Daat to the community of Israel, that they may know and be cognizant of the L‑rd, so that for them G‑dliness will be self-evident, and experienced by every Jew,

כל אחד כפי השגת נשמתו ושרשה למעלה

each according to the intellectual capacity of his soul and its root above, i.e., according to the height of the source of the soul as it exists above,

ויניקתה משרש נשמת משה רבנו, עליו השלום, המושרשת בדעת העליון שבי׳ ספירות דאצילות המיוחדות במאצילן, ברוך הוא

and according to [the degree of] its nurture from the root of the soul of our teacher Moses, peace unto him, which is rooted in the Daat Elyon (“Supernal Knowledge”) of the Ten Sefirot of Atzilut,which are united with their Emanator,

Just as G‑d is termed the Creator of created beings, so, too, is He called the Emanator of those entities found in the World of Atzilut, a World which, together with its beings, is an emanation of the Ein Sof.

שהוא ודעתו אחד, והוא המדע כו׳

for He and His Knowledge are one, and “He is the Knowledge….”

As explained in ch. 2 above, G‑d’s knowledge and man’s are utterly dissimilar. On the human plane, the knower and the faculty of knowledge and that which is known, are three distinct and separate entities. However, concerning G‑d: “Heis the Knowledge, He is the Knower, and he is That which is Known.” Thus, Supernal Knowledge is one with Him. And it is within this level of Daat that Moses‘ soul is rooted.

When a Jew receives the capacity for Daat from the soul of Moses, he is able to perceive G‑dliness in a truly knowing and internalized manner, so that he actually experiences Him. Utilizing this capacity enables every Jew to know and feel how “G‑d stands over him… and sees his actions.” It is therefore easy for him to summon up within himself a fear of G‑d.

However, all the above refers to the luminary aspect of Moses which is received by every Jew. The Alter Rebbe now goes on to say that there is an even higher level of Moses — a “spark” of Moses‘ soul, that is bestowed upon the spiritual leaders and sages of each generation. (A spark is an actual part of the flame, unlike rays of illumination which are not truly part of the luminary. So, too, the sparks of the soul of Moses found within the leaders and scholars throughout the generations, are a part of Moses’ soul.) The task of these leaders is to teach G‑d’s greatness to the Jewish people, so that they will serve G‑d with all their heart.

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FOOTNOTES

1.  Berachot 33b.
2. Devarim 10:12.
3. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph, David.

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