Ch. 23, Class # 2

Middle of Chapter 23

ונמצא שמעשה המצות וקיומן הוא לבוש הפנימי לפנימית רצון העליון

It follows that the performance and fulfillment of the mitzvot is the innermost garment for the innermost aspect of G‑d’s Will,

שממעשה זה נמשך אור וחיות רצון העליון להתלבש בעולמות

since it is due to this performance of the mitzvot that the light and life of the worlds issues forth from the Divine Will, to be clothed in them —

I.e., since G‑d desires the worlds only as a vehicle for the performance of themitzvot, as explained above, and it is only for this reason that He animates the worlds.

ולכן נקראות אברי דמלכא, דרך משל, כמו שאברי גוף האדם הם לבוש לנפשו, ובטלים לגמרי אליה מכל וכל

Hence the mitzvot are figuratively described as “organs of the King.” For just as the organs of the human body are a garment for its soul, and are completely and utterly surrendered to it,

כי מיד שעולה ברצונו של אדם לפשוט ידו או רגלו הן נשמעות לרצונו תכף ומיד, בלי שום צווי ואמירה להן, ובלי שום שהייה כלל

as is evident from the fact that as soon as a person desires to stretch out his hand or foot, they obey his will immediately, without any command or instruction to them and with no delay whatever,

אלא כרגע ממש כשעלה ברצונו

but at the very instant that it entered his will.

The response of his organs is automatic; one need not consciously occupy himself with activating his hand. As to the phrase, “without any command or instruction”: When one must exert effort in activating his faculties (e.g., when one dislikes a particular task, but forces himself to do it on the strength of logic) this effort is spoken of as an internal command from one faculty to another. However, when one’s will activates the organs of his body, there is no such command involved.

כך דרך משל החיות של מעשה המצות וקיומן הוא בטל לגמרי לגבי רצון העליון המלובש בו, ונעשה לו ממש כגוף לנשמה

Just as the organs of the human body are completely united with one’s soul and are surrendered to it, so too is the life-force animating the performance and fulfillment of the commandments completely surrendered to the Divine Will which is clothed therein, and this life-force becomes, in relation to the Divine Will, like a body to a soul.

וכן הלבוש החיצון של נפש האלקית שבאדם המקיים ועושה המצוה, שהוא כח ובחינת המעשה שלה

Likewise the external garment of the divine soul, i.e., its faculty of action which is external compared to the faculties of speech and thought, since it functions outside oneself, of the person fulfilling and practicing the commandment,

הוא מתלבש בחיות של מעשה המצוה, ונעשה גם כן כגוף לנשמה לרצון העליון, ובטל אליו לגמרי

clothes itself in the vitality of the performance of the mitzvah, and thus it, too, becomes like a body to a soul in relation to the Divine Will; i.e., the soul’s power of action becomes united with the Divine Will in the same way as one’s body is united with his soul, and is completely surrendered to the Divine Will.

ועל כן גם אברי גוף האדם המקיימים המצוה, שכח ובחינת המעשה של נפש האלקית מלובש בהם בשעת מעשה וקיום המצוה, הם נעשו מרכבה ממש לרצון העליון

In this way, those organs of the human body which perform the mitzvah — i.e., those organs in which the divine soul’s faculty of action is clothed during the performance and fulfillment of the mitzvah — they, too, become a veritable vehicle (lit., merkavah — a “chariot”) for the Divine Will.

כגון היד המחלקת צדקה לעניים או עושה מצוה אחרת

For example, the hand which distributes charity to the poor, or performs another commandment becomes, in the act of performing the mitzvah, a “chariot” for the Divine Will.

ורגלים המהלכות לדבר מצוה, וכן הפה ולשון שמדברים דברי תורה, והמוח שמהרהר בדברי תורה ויראת שמים ובגדולת ה‘ ברוך הוא

Similarly the feet which walk for the purpose of fulfilling a mitzvah, or the mouth and tongue which speak words of Torah, or the brain reflecting on the Torah or on the fear of heaven, or on the greatness of G‑d, blessed be He.

When these organs are occupied with the mitzvot they are totally surrendered, like a chariot, to the Divine Will clothed in these mitzvot.

Note that a physical organ becomes merely a chariot for the Divine Will. It does not become surrendered to and unified with the Divine Will to the same extent as the divine soul’s faculty of action, whose unity the Alter Rebbe previously compared to the unity of body and soul. The unity of body and soul surpasses that of the chariot with its rider. Body and soul, although originally two separate, disparate entities, one physical and the other spiritual, become one entity when united. No part of the body is devoid of the soul; conversely, the soul completely adapts itself to the body, becoming transformed into a corporeal life-force. The divine soul’s faculty of action, being a G‑dly power, can achieve this level of unity with G‑d when it is employed in the performance of a mitzvah.

The organs of the body, on the other hand, although they too are involved in fulfilling the mitzvah, can reach no higher than the level illustrated in the analogy of the chariot. A chariot, having no will of its own, is indeed completely subservient to its rider — yet it is not united with him.

וזהו שאמרו רז״ל: האבות הן הן המרכבה

This is what the Sages meant when they said that3 “The Patriarchs are truly the [Divine] chariot,”

שכל אבריהם כולם היו קדושים ומובדלים מענייני עולם הזה, ולא נעשו מרכבה רק לרצון העליון לבדו כל ימיהם

for all their organs were completely holy and detached from mundane matters, and throughout their lives they served as a vehicle for nothing but the Divine Will.

The reason for the Sages’ designating specifically the Patriarchs as G‑d’s chariot, although every Jew’s body becomes a “chariot” when he performs amitzvah, is that the Patriarchs‘ submission to the Divine Will was unique in its power, its scope, and its consistency. All their organs were totally surrendered to the Divine Will throughout their lives — whereas with other Jews, only those organs which perform a mitzvah are a “chariot”, and then only during the act. In fact, the same organ which today served as a “chariot” to G‑d’s Will might conceivably serve the opposite purpose tomorrow.

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FOOTNOTES 
3. Bereishit Rabbah 47:6.

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