Ch, 23, class # 7


Conclusion of Chapter 23

ומזה יוכל המשכיל להמשיך עליו יראה גדולה בעסקו בתורה

From this explanation of the lofty stature of Torah study the wise man will be able to draw upon himself a sense of great awe as he engages in the study of the Torah, 13

כשיתבונן איך שנפשו ולבושיה שבמוחו ובפיו הם מיוחדים ממש בתכלית היחוד ברצון העליון ואור אין סוף ברוך הוא ממש המתגלה בהם

when he considers how his soul and its “garments” of thought and speech that are found in his brain and mouth are truly fused in perfect unity with the Divine Will and the infinite light of Ein Sof that is manifest in them i.e., in the soul and its garments when he studies Torah.

מה שכל העולמות עליונים ותחתונים כלא חשיבי קמיה וכאין ואפס ממש, עד שאינו מתלבש בתוכם ממש, אלא סובב כל עלמין בבחינת מקיף להחיותם עיקר חיותם, רק איזו הארה מתלבשת בתוכם מה שיכולים לסבול שלא יתבטלו במציאות לגמרי

This infinite light manifest in one’s Torah study is of such a lofty level that all the upper and lower worlds are truly as naught in comparison with it; are in fact as absolutely nothing at all, so much so that they can only bear to have a minute glow of it clothed in them without their reverting to nothingness altogether. Their main life-force which they receive from it, however, is not clothed within them, but animates them from the outside, so to speak, in a transcendent, encompassing manner.

When he considers that the very same Divine light that is completely beyond the capacity of all the worlds manifests itself openly in his Torah study, the thinking man will naturally experience a sense of awe when he studies Torah.

וזהו שכתוב: ויצונו ה’ את כל החוקים האלה ליראה את ה‘ וגו’

This is the meaning of the verse, 14 “And G‑d commanded us [to fulfill] all these statutes, in order to fear G‑d.”

According to this verse, observing the mitzvot would appear to be the first step, and this leads to the fear of G‑d. Logically, however, the performance of G‑d’s commandments would seem to be a result of one’s fear of Him, and notvice versa. The Alter Rebbe therefore explains that the above verse speaks of a higher level of awe than that which is a prerequisite for performing the commandments. This level can only be attained as a result of one’s observance of the commandments.

Now if the commandments lead one to a higher level in the fear of G‑d, surely the study of the Torah leads one to a still higher level. This the Alter Rebbe now discusses.

ועל יראה גדולה זו אמרו: אם אין חכמה אין יראה, והתורה נקראת אצלה תרעא לדרתא, כמו שכתוב במקום אחר

(Regarding this great fear our Sages said, 15 “If there is no wisdom there is no fear.” In this context, “wisdom” represents Torah study, and “fear” — the higher level of the awe of G‑d which can be reached only by way of the Torah. By contrast, the statement, “If there is no fear, there is no wisdom,” refers to the lower level of fear which is a prerequisite for Torah study, as stated above. In relation to this level of fear, the Torah is called16 “a gateway to the dwelling,” i.e., the sole means of entering the dwelling, viz., the higher level of fear, as is explained elsewhere.)

אלא דלאו כל מוחא סביל דא יראה כזו. אך גם מאן דלא סביל מוחו כלל יראה זו, לא מינה ולא מקצתה, מפני פחיתות ערך נפשו בשרשה ומקורה במדרגות תחתונות דעשר ספירות דעשיה, אין יראה זו מעכבת בו למעשה, כמו שכתוב לקמן

Not every mind, however, can sustain such a fear. Yet even he whose mind cannot bear such a fear, nor even a minute part of it, because the root and source of his soul derives from an inferior level — the lower gradations of the Ten Sefirot of the World of Asiyah, — even he should not be deterred from the actual performance of the Torah and the mitzvot for want of this fear, as will be explained further. 17

13. The point of the following discussion of the awe of G-d that Torah study engenders in the student, and its relevance here, are explained by the Rebbe as follows: The Alter Rebbe has pointed out that the level of union with G-d’s Will found in the study of the Torah is greater than the union attained through other mitzvot. He now goes on to say that as a result of this superior quality, the study of the Torah is superior in yet another respect, viz., it creates in the student a greater awe of G-d than that which the mitzvot create in those who perform them. In fact, this latter quality is more important than the former. Since the goal of all the mitzvot (and their attendant union with G-d’s Will) is to lead us to fear Him (as the Alter Rebbe will quote shortly), the superiority of Torah over mitzvot in the attainment of this goal is more important than its intrinsic superiority – in union with G-d’s Will. The relevance of this subject here lies in the fact that the entire discussion of the qualities of Torah and mitzvot is intended to show how “it is very near to you …. in your mouth and heart ……” (see our introduction to chapter 18). Clearly, the greater one’s awe of G-d, the more is it “very near to you.”
14. Cf. Devarim 6:24.
15. Avot 3:17.
16. Shabbat 31b; Yoma 72b.
17. Ch. 41.

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