Ch. 23, Class # 3


Middle of Chapter 23

The Alter Rebbe has thus far discussed two levels of union with the Divine Will, one analogous to the chariot and its rider, and the second, to the unity of body and soul. Both these levels of unity are achieved by performing themitzvot. He now goes on to describe a third and higher level of unity, that is achieved through the study of the Torah.

אך המחשבה וההרהור בדברי תורה שבמוח, וכח הדבור בדברי תורה שבפה, שהם לבושים הפנימים של נפש האלקית

But the thought and meditation on the words of Torah, which is accomplished in the brain, and the power of speech engaged in the words of Torah, which is in the mouth — these being the innermost garments of the divine soul, and thus closer to the soul itself than the faculty of action, the “external” garment,

וכל שכן נפש האלקית עצמה המלובשת בהם

and surely the divine soul itself which is clothed in them i.e., in the thought and speech engaged in Torah study,

כולם מיוחדים ממש ביחוד גמור ברצון העליון, ולא מרכבה לבד

all of them are fused in perfect unity with the Divine Will, and are not merely a vehicle, a “chariot” for it4, as are the mouth and brain in which the thought and speech of Torah study take place.

The term “perfect unity” indicates that the two become one and the same; unlike, for example, the unity of body and soul, which retain their separate identities even when they are joined together and form one unit. An example of a “perfect” unity can be found in the unity of the soul with its faculties, which are a part of it, and are thus completely united with it. In the same way the divine soul and its faculties of speech and thought are united with the Divine Will, when one thinks or speaks of matters of Torah.

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to explain how Torah study is able to effect this level of unity.

כי רצון העליון הוא הוא הדבר הלכה עצמה שמהרהר ומדבר בה, שכל ההלכות הן פרטי המשכות פנימיות רצון העליון עצמו

For the Divine Will is identical with the halachic subject of which one thinks and speaks, inasmuch as all the laws of the Halachah are particular expressions of the innermost Divine Will itself;

שכך עלה ברצונו יתברך, שדבר זה מותר או כשר, או פטור או זכאי, או להפך

for G‑d willed it thus — that a particular thing be deemed permissible or kosher, or that this person be found exempt and another innocent, or the reverse.

Since every halachah expresses the Divine Will, the unity which the study of the Halachah effects between the soul and the Divine Will surpasses even the unity of body and soul.

וכן כל צרופי אותיות תנ״ך הן המשכת רצונו וחכמתו המיוחדות באין סוף ברוך הוא בתכלית היחוד, שהוא היודע והוא המדע כו’

Similarly, all the letter combinations of the Pentateuch, Prophets and the Holy Writings (Ketuvim), are also expressions of G‑d’s Will and wisdom which are united with the blessed Ein Sof in a perfect unity — since He is the Knower, the Knowledge, and the [subject] Known.

Thus, when one studies the Torah, Prophets, and the Writings, he becomes united with the Divine Will and wisdom, which are absolutely one with G‑d Himself.

* * *

The difference between the two levels of unity with G‑d achieved through Torah and mitzvot respectively, may be clarified by the following analogy:

A king orders his servants to build a palace for him, and draws up a detailed blueprint for it. When they carry out his wishes, they are united with his desire as expressed in the palace. However, the palace walls themselves do not represent the king’s will and wisdom. But the blueprint does, and the architects who study it are actually involved in the study of the king’s will and wisdom.

So too in our case. The actual performance of the mitzvot, although dictated by G‑d’s Will, does not actually constitute this Will. Not so the wisdom of Torah, which is itself G‑d’s wisdom, and the halachic rulings are actually expressions of His Will; and thus, when one speaks or thinks words of Torah, he attains the greatest possible level of union with G‑d, Who is one with His Will and wisdom.

וזהו שכתוב דאורייתא וקודשא בריך הוא כולא חד, ולא אברין דמלכא לחוד כפיקודין

This is what is meant by the statement that “The Torah and G‑d are absolutely one” — they are not merely “organs” of the King, as are the mitzvot.

For, as explained above, the unity of the mitzvot with G‑d is like that of body and soul, where two separate entities are joined, whereas Torah is entirely one with G‑d.

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FOOTNOTES

4. In saying “and not merely a `chariot’ for it,” the Alter Rebbe contrasts the thought and the power of speech engaged in Torah with the brain and mouth which do the thinking and speaking. The latter become (merely) a “chariot” for G-d’s Will, while the former are “fused in perfect unity” with it. If we were to contrast the faculty of speech engaged in Torah study with that same faculty as it engages in observing a mitzvah (reciting the grace after meals, for example), we would say that in the act of Torah study the faculty of speech is fused in perfect unity with the Divine Will; it is not merely as an organ of the body is to the soul in relation to this Will, as the Alter Rebbe indeed states shortly. ( – Based on a comment by the Rebbe.)

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