Ch. 23, Class # 1

Beginning of Chapter 23

In the previous chapters the Alter Rebbe explained that from G‑d’s perspective nothing is ever separate from Him. For the Divine “Word” which creates everything is unlike a word spoken by a human being. The latter becomes separated from the speaker, while the former remains always within its source — G‑d. It is only from the subjective viewpoint of the created beings that they are considered as separate, independent entities. They are able to regard themselves as such because they receive the Divine life-force which animates them by way of many tzimtzumim and through the concealment of the Divine “Countenance”, i.e., the concealment of the inner, ultimate aspect of G‑d’s Will.

The logical corollary to this idea is that anything in which the Divine Will stands revealed, is completely nullified before G‑d, and absolutely one with Him. In this chapter the Alter Rebbe applies this idea to the Torah and the mitzvot, in which G‑d’s Will is manifest. He demonstrates how one can unite with G‑d’s Will and wisdom, and thereby with G‑d Himself, through study of the Torah and observance of the mitzvot.

ועם כל הנ״ל יובן ויבואר היטב בתוספת ביאור מה שאמרו בזהר, דאורייתא וקודשא בריך הוא כולא חד

In light of all that has been said above, we can better under­stand and more fully and clearly elucidate the statement in the Zohar1 that “The Torah and G‑d are entirely one,”

ובתיקונים פירשו דרמ״ח פיקודין אינון רמ״ח אברין דמלכא

and the commentary in the Tikkunei Zohar2 that “The 248 commandments are the 248 ‘organs’ of the [Divine] King.”

Just as every organ in the human body is a repository for the particular faculty of the soul that is vested in that organ (e.g., the eye is the receptacle for the faculty of sight, and the ear for the faculty of hearing), so too is every commandment a channel and a repository for the Divine Will that is vested and expressed in that particular commandment. (The commandments in general represent G‑d’s Will, and each individual mitzvah is an expression of a particular aspect of this Will.)

It should be noted, however, that according to this analogy the mitzvot are no more than G‑d’s “organs”. An organ of the body is not one with the soul. True, when any particular soul-power is vested in its corresponding organ, they function together as one. But they remain two separate entities that have been joined together. By the same token, the mitzvot are not actually one with G‑d: they are merely (as it were) joined to Him. Yet the Torah, whose whole purpose is to explain the mitzvot, is “entirely one with G‑d,” as quoted earlier from the Zohar. What is the meaning of this greater unity with G‑d found in the Torah (and in the act of Torah study), that surpasses even the unity in the mitzvot and in their fulfillment? This the Alter Rebbe now goes on to explain.

לפי שהמצות הן פנימיות רצון העליון וחפצו האמיתי, המלובש בכל העולמות העליונים ותחתונים להחיותם

For the mitzvot constitute G‑d’s innermost Will and His true desire, which is clothed in all the upper and lower worlds, thereby giving them life.

All the worlds are a product of G‑d’s Will. He desired that they exist, and this desire is what brought them into being. However, this desire is but an external manifestation of His underlying, internal Will — the desire for mitzvot. Why, in fact, does G‑d desire that the worlds exist? Because He desires that the mitzvot be performed — and this is possible only when there is someone to perform them, and when there are objects with which to perform them. To this end G‑d created all the worlds.

This can be illustrated by the analogy of a man who travels abroad on business. Naturally, he travels because he wishes to do so. But his “internal” (i.e., ultimate) desire in the journey, his underlying motive, lies in the profit he expects to reap. When we probe still deeper, we find that the desire for profit is itself an external expression of an even more “internal” desire — the desire for the things which he will be able to buy with the proceeds of his business. Here lies the true object of his pleasure. It is this desire which creates the desire for profit, which leads in turn to his desire to travel. So too in the case of the worlds and the mitzvot. G‑d’s external Will, His desire that the worlds exist, is motivated by His desire for the true object of His pleasure — the mitzvot. Thus, the mitzvot represent His innermost will. It is for their sake that G‑d gives life to all the worlds.

כי כל חיותם ושפעם תלוי במעשה המצות של התחתונים כנודע

The very life and sustenance of all the worlds is dependent upon the performance of the mitzvot by the creatures of the lower worlds, as is known — that performing a mitzvah draws G‑dly life and sustenance into all the worlds.

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FOOTNOTES

 

1. Cf. I, 24a; II, 60a; Tikkunei Zohar 21b.
2. Tikkun 30.

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