Ch. 25, Class # 4

End of Chapter 25

ויחוד זה למעלה הוא נצחי לעולם ועד, כי הוא יתברך ורצונו למעלה מהזמן

In the upper spheres, this union between the soul and G‑d is eternal. For G‑d, blessed be He, and His Will transcend time, and thus the union with G‑d and His Will also transcends time and is eternal.

וכן גילוי רצונו שבדבורו שהיא התורה הוא נצחי

So too even in this world His revealed Will, as expressed in His Word — the Torah, is also eternal,

וכמו שכתוב: ודבר אלקינו יקום לעולם, ודבריו חיים וקיימים כו‘, ולא יחליף ולא ימיר דתו לעולמים כו’

as it is written: 11 “But the Word of our G‑d shall stand forever”; and12 “His words live and endure (eternally)”; and13 “He will never alter or exchange His law.”

Since the revelation of G‑d’s Will as expressed in the Torah is beyond time, the union of the soul with G‑d that Torah and mitzvot effect is likewise eternal.

אלא שלמטה הוא תחת הזמן, ובאותה שעה לבדה שעוסק בה בתורה או במצוה

Here below, however, this union is within the limits of time, for in this world the soul is under the dominion of time, and the soul is united with G‑d only while it is engaged in Torah study or in the performance of a mitzvah.

כי אחר כך אם עוסק בדבר אחר, נפרד מהיחוד העליון למטה והיינו כשעוסק בדברים בטלים לגמרי שאין בהם צורך כלל לעבודת ה‘

For if he engages afterwards in anything else he becomes separated, here below, from this Supernal union (— that is, if he occupies himself with absolutely unnecessary matters that are in no way useful in the service of G‑d).

ואף על פי כן, כשחוזר ושב לעבודת ה’ אחר כך, לתורה ולתפלה, ומבקש מחילה מה‘ על שהיה אפשר לו לעסוק אז בתורה ולא עסק, ה’ יסלח לו

Nevertheless, when he repents and resumes his service of G‑d through Torah study or prayer, and he asks forgiveness of G‑d for not having studied Torah at the time of his occupation in vain matters when he could have done so, G‑d forgives him.

כמאמר רז״ל: עבר על מצות עשה ושב, לא זז משם עד שמוחלין לו

As our Sages have said, 14 “If one neglected to perform a positive precept and repented, he is pardoned forthwith,” and is thus reunited even here below, with G‑d and His Will.

ולזה תקנו ברכת סלח לנו שלש פעמים בכל יום על עון ביטול תורה, שאין אדם ניצול ממנו בכל יום

For this reason i.e., because such a request for forgiveness is immediately effective in reuniting the soul to G‑d, so that it will not be parted from Him even momentarily, the Sages ordained that the blessing beginning “Forgive us…,” in which we beg forgiveness for the sin of neglecting the study of the Torah, be recited as often as three times daily, since no one escapes this sin even a single day.

וכמו התמיד שהיה מכפר על מצות עשה

This [blessing] is like the daily burnt-offering sacrificed in the Holy Temple, that atoned for neglect of the positive precepts.

Yet it may be argued: Since this sin is repeated constantly, begging forgiveness for it is similar to saying, “I will sin and repent, sin and repent.” Our Sages have said15 that in such a case, G‑d does not grant the sinner the opportunity to repent; why then should the request beginning “Forgive us…” be effective in the case of neglecting Torah study? The Alter Rebbe now differentiates between the two cases.

ואין זה אחטא ואשוב, אלא אם כן שבשעת החטא ממש הוא סומך על התשובה ולכך חוטא, כמו שכתוב במקום אחר

This is not the same as saying, “I will sin and repent, sin and repent,” unless at the very time when one commits the sin he relies on subsequent repentance, and sins because of it, as explained elsewhere.

Since he perverted the idea of repentance by using it as an excuse for sinning, he is not given the opportunity to practice it. However, in our case of the oft-repeated sin of neglecting to study Torah, the offender does not rely onteshuvah at the time of his sin, and he is therefore granted the opportunity to ask for forgiveness thrice daily in the blessing of “Forgive us.”

* * *

At any rate, we see that the union of the soul with G‑d that is effected through the mitzvot is eternal. When one considers that he would gladly give up his life so as not to be (even momentarily) parted from G‑d by practicing idolatry, he will realize that he surely ought to exert himself in performing themitzvot which bind him to G‑d forever.

The Alter Rebbe has thus demonstrated how being aware of one’s willingness to sacrifice his life for G‑d, affects both the areas of “turning away from evil” and “doing good,” i.e., the observance of the negative and positive commandments respectively. It follows that this awareness should constantly be on one’s mind, so that he will always be ready to apply it to his performance of the mitzvot.

ובזה יובן למה צוה משה רבינו עליו השלום במשנה תורה לדור שנכנסו לארץ, לקרות קריאת שמע פעמים בכל יום, לקבל עליו מלכות שמים במסירת נפש

In light of the above, it will be understood why Moshe Rabbeinu, peace be upon him, commanded in the Book of Devarim (— not in the earlier Books of the Bible addressed to the generation of Jews who wandered in the desert, 16 but) to the generation that entered the Holy Land that they (too, and not only the subsequent generations17)recite the Shema twice daily, the intention in the Shema being to acknowledge the Kingdom of Heaven with self-sacrifice; i.e., the Shema teaches us to accept martyrdom for the sanctification of G‑d’s Name.

והלא הבטיח להם: פחדכם ומוראכם יתן ה’ וגו‘

Now one may ask: Why was it necessary for our forefathers to prepare themselves for martyrdom? Had they not been promised that18 “G‑d will lay the fear and dread of you [upon all the inhabitants of the land]”?

They had no reason to fear that anyone would attempt to force them to deny the Kingdom of Heaven, necessitating self-sacrifice to resist such efforts. In this sense, they were as well protected as the Jews who traveled the desert with Moses (who were not commanded to recite the Shema.)19 We must therefore conclude that preparation for martyrdom is necessary not only to ensure that it will be put into practice if and when necessary,

אלא משום שקיום התורה ומצותיה תלוי בזה שיזכור תמיד ענין מסירת נפשו לה’ על יחודו, שיהיה קבוע בלבו תמיד ממש יומם ולילה לא ימיש מזכרונו

but because the fulfillment of the Torah and its commandments is contingent on one’s being constantly aware of his readiness to surrender his life to G‑d for the sake of His unity, i.e., that a person remember that he would be willing to sacrifice his life for the sake of G‑d’s unity, if the situation would warrant it — which is the message contained in the Shema; he must therefore recite it twice daily, morning and evening, so that this awareness will be fixed permanently in his heart, and will not depart from his memory night and day.

כי בזה יוכל לעמוד נגד יצרו לנצחו תמיד בכל עת ובכל שעה

In this way, one is able to withstand his Evil Inclination and to vanquish it at every time and every moment, even after Moses‘ passing, whenever Jews are engaged in an intense struggle with the Evil Inclination, as it is written: 20 “G‑d said to Moses, ’Behold, you are about to sleep with your fathers, and this people will rise up and stray,‘21

כנ״ל

as explained above — that when one remembers that he would be prepared to suffer martyrdom for his love of G‑d and his belief in G‑d’s unity, he will surely be able to overcome his Evil Inclination and perform all the mitzvot.

FOOTNOTES
11 Yeshayahu 40:8.
12 From the prayer following the morning Shema.
13 From the medieval hymn Yigdal, based on the Thirteen Principles of Faith formulated by Rambam
14 Yoma 86a.
15 Ibid. 85b.
16 Based on a comment by the Rebbe.
17 Based on a comment by the Rebbe.
18 Devarim 11:25.
19 Based on a comment by the Rebbe.
20 Ibid. 31:16.
21 Based on a comment by the Rebbe.

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