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Hemshech Samech Vov

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Chassidus Rebbe Rashab

Biography of the Rebbe Rashab

Commentary:
Part 1 Centennial of a Revolution
Part 2 A Year in Perspective
Part 3 The Power of a Mitzvah
Part 4 The True You
Part 5 The Power of Human Exertion
Part 6 Flames
Part 7 Warming the Winter
Park 8 The Difficult Dance
Part 9 The Kav
Part 10 The Light
Part 11 Intimate Light
Part 12 The Tzaddik
Part 13 Divine Containers
Part 14 To Be Like G-d
Part 15 When No is Greater than Yes
Part 16 Jury Duty
Part 17 Boiling Pot
Part 18 Birthing
Part 19 Raging Waters
Part 20 Nurturing
Part 21 Greater Expectations
Part 22 Think Different I
Part 23 Think Different II
Part 24 The Three Brothers
Part 25 Soul Profit
Part 26 The Ultimate Journey

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* * *

A running summary of the 61 discourses that comprise Hemshech Samach Vav:

PURPOSE

The purpose of existence is to draw down infinite Divine energy into this universe through our work in Torah and Mitzvot, thus creating a “home” for the Divine in the lowest of worlds. In addition to drawing down infinite energy into finite existence and fully integrating matter and spirit, we introduce through our efforts a new dimension of the Divine that did not exist even before the Tzimtzum. (Maamar 1)

All experiences, both in this world and in the higher cosmic ones, are finite reflections and revelations of pleasure. Only through our labor in the material world do we generate the essence – the new dimension of the supra-conscious state of pleasure (Eden). (Maamar 2-3)

Our virtue and ethics in the marketplace manifests Divine finite energy, the dimension invested in existence, which is called “external will” (the outer dimension of Keter, crown), the will that defines and shapes all matter. Torah and mitzvot access the “inner will” (the inner dimension of Keter), the mission and purpose that drives existence – the objective to integrate matter and spirit, and transform the mundane world into a Divine home. (Maamar 4-5)

Existence consists of space and time. Time – past and future – is rooted in the dual tug of tension and resolution (“rotzo” and “shuv”). The source of these two forces is in the outer dimension of Keter, however there the two forces are within the source. The inner dimension of Keter is beyond even the source of time, and being utterly infinite and beyond any defined states it has the power to permeate time and space; to transform time and space to that which is beyond time and space. (Maamar 6)

MITZVAH

This is the power of a mitzvah: Finite infinity. A mitzvah too has finite parameters. Yet, it is fundamentally different than the finite nature of the universe. The universe is defined by its parameters; a mitzvah is not. A mitzvah is essentially a finite form of infinity, infinite energy in a finite discipline. Thus a mitzvah has the power to bridge the infinite and the finite and redeem and free us from our finite confines. (Maamar 7)

WILL AND PLEASURE

Question: A Mitzvah is the Divine will. What connection does it have to pleasure?

Supra-conscious pleasure and will are not two distinct faculties, but one. They both stem from the same source in the essence of the soul, with the only difference being that pleasure is the internal dimension and will the external one, which expresses the inner pleasure. Supra-conscious pleasure is who you are – your essential identity; Will is how your identity expresses itself, seeking and reaching outside of itself to fulfill and realize your inner self (pleasure). Thus, the Divine will of a mitzvah is rooted in the essence of Divine pleasure. (Maamar 8-9)

EXERTION IN TORAH

But how does one reach and access this supra-conscious state? Through the exertion applied in the study of Torah. There are two forms of comprehension: Wisdom that comes through “ohr yosher,” direct light, and one that comes through the process of “ohr chozer,” reflective (or returning) light. The “ohr chozer” understanding reveals a much deeper dimension – a light that emerges from grappling with darkness, providing answers that are derived from questions. The crystallization of a concept is in direct proportion to the amount of exertion applied to comprehend the thought. By delving into a concept, studying it from different angles, challenging the idea with questions and counter questions, you come out with a much deeper and clearer comprehension than one who understands the concept at first glance, even if the latter has a better mind.

Even though both types of understanding are rooted in the unconscious mind, nevertheless they express two different dimensions of the concealed unconscious: “Ohr yosher” expresses “concealment of substance,” or the “defined unconscious” (like a white-hot coal in which the flame is hidden, but it exists and is revealed by fanning the coal). “Ohr chozer” manifests “concealment of no substance,” or the “undefined unconscious” (like a flint stone in which no physical fire exists, but a spark is released by striking the stone with force). (Maamar 10)

Question: Exertion in Torah is a punishment for the sin of Moses striking the stone instead of speaking to it. How then can we benefit from a sin? Answer: The second tablets were also a result of the sin of the Golden Calf, yet they introduced new dimensions of Torah. Torah gives power to battle the evil inclination. Torah therefore provides us with additional resources to face the challenges presented by sin. Thus, the power that comes from the second tablets and the exertion in Torah, which reveal the undefined “supra-conscious” – like the advantage of the Baal Teshuvah over the Tzaddik. This is the advantage of the Babylonian Talmud over the Jerusalemite one, which derives profound clarity through the “refinement” process emerging from the questions and the “darkness,” thereby cleansing the idea from impurities. (Maamar 11)

Question: According to the above, Eden (essential pleasure) is accessed through the exertion in Torah study. How will that level be accessed by laypeople who also will earn their right to Eden of the world to come? (Answer in Maamar 48).

TWO LEVELS OF PURE PLEASURE

Also: What connection is there between the hidden unconscious of wisdom (that is accessed through exertion in Torah study) to the essence of pleasure (Eden)? Answer: Though Torah study is wisdom (chochma) it is connected to the supra-conscious pleasure, because the “inner dimension of chochma is (one with) the inner dimension of atik,” pleasure. Thus the hidden essence of wisdom, which is reached through exertion, is one with the essence of pleasure. Or we can say that it reaches into the essence of the infinite, which is even higher than the hidden essence of wisdom.

Two levels of pleasure: Hybrid and pure. The future will consist of pure pleasure, which also consists of two levels: Pleasure that is experienced, and pleasure which is beyond experience, which is accessed through avodat habirurim. Specifically through Teshuvah – the power generated through the call from the constraints, higher than the experienced pleasure of the Tzaddik. And Teshuvah imbues Torah and mitzvot with this dimension as well. (Maamar 12-13)

[After explaining how we access the supra-conscious state (Eden), which will be revealed in the future, through our exertion and struggle with darkness, a lengthy discussion begins about the power of human initiative generated from below, and its relationship with inspiration from above].

ANATOMY OF THE SOUL

The soul is comprised of two elements: Fire and air. “The flame of G-d is the soul of man.” “He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.” Just as a flame needs oxygen (air) to ignite and remain burning, the flickering nature of the soul stems from the Divine wind-like “breath” imbued in the soul (ruach), which causes the soul’s flame to transcend and descend (rotzo v’shuv) in a steady dance of tension and resolution.

However, the soul’s movement generated by the “wind” of inspiration from above, goes only so far. Every inspiration dissipates after a short while. And the very nature of inspiration is one that is not integrated in the individual. So as powerful as the inspiration may be at the time, once it fades away we have to exert ourselves with our own energy to generate the flame, and integrate it into our experience.

And it is this hard work which defines the ultimate purpose of creation.

INSPIRATION

There are two types of inspiration from above: 1) The power that comes from “supernal whiteness” – which precedes and inspires the work below, 2) The level of Aaron the High Priest who kindles the Menorah – which in itself is also a part of the Divine service, not merely an introduction that inspires service. (Maamar 14-15)

Question: Since both forms of inspiration originate in the infinite Essence, why is the former only an inspiration and the latter an actual part of the service?

Finite beings cannot contain the Infinite light. It therefore hovers “above” their parameters in a form of “makif,” hidden from (“surrounding”) their consciousness. Yet the human effort of refining the “containers” prepares them to contain even the higher makif light [The revelation of the makif is possible in three ways: Mitzvot – which create the containers; Shabbat – refines the containers, and thus internalizes the makif to a certain extent; Torah – internalizes it completely so that the makif becomes pnimi]. Thus, the first level of inspiration remains makif, while the second level is possible because it follows the work of refining the containers, therefore it becomes integrated and is very much part of the service (and does not remain a mere inspiration).

Thus the self generated work from below makes it possible to reveal dimensions that are beyond the reach of human effort, including the level of the Supra-conscious will and pleasure. “One who toils on Erev Shabbat, eats on Shabbat:” The toil in refining the animal soul and material universe in the workdays allows for the revelation of deep love from above (Shabbat).

PRAYER: REFINING THE ANIMAL SOUL

Prayer (like the Temple offerings) offers the animal soul to be consumed by the Divine fire, which consists of the fire lit below, the fire from above that relates to the animal soul and the fire from above that relates to the Divine soul, which prepares the individual to receive the great love from above.

This corresponds to the different levels of prayer: The verses of song – the fire from below that elevates the animal soul, which is aroused by the meditation in the awesome Divine power that vivifies existence; the blessings before the Shema – the fire from above that elevates the animal soul through the meditation about angels; Shema – is the fire from above aroused by the meditation of the Divine soul in the divine power that transcends existence (confirmed by Emes V’yatziv), which completely sublimates the animal soul; and all this effort, which, after all is said and done, is self generated, earns the right to the Amidah, Shemone Esreih – the great love from above, which is beyond fire, and at the same time permeates internally (pnimi). (Maamar 16-17)

RETURN (SHUV)

Just as the yearning (rotzo) of the soul is inspired from above but is achieved through human exertion below, so too the “return” (shuv), the immersion in refining the universe, is inspired from above but is implemented through our hard work.

Indeed, immersion requires more effort and exertion than does transcendence, for several reasons: 1) In a state of transcendence one senses the inspiration from above, something which is not sensed in the daily grind of immersing in mundane activities. 2) Transcendence is more natural to the soul’s yearning personality.

Thus the power to transcend comes from a more “external” level than the power to immerse. Transcendence is a state of revelation that needs a reason and cause to transcend, unlike immersion which is rooted in the Essence and its “desire” to have a “home” in the “lowest of worlds,” which is not driven by a reason or cause. Immersion therefore is a more “self-generated” state than transcendence, being that 1) Personal refinement is necessary to internalize the inner Essence (where immersion is rooted). 2) Immersion has no rational reason and is only necessary because it is rooted in the Essence. (Maamar 18)

[To understand the power of self-generated effort which draws down new, unprecedented energy, and the way the light becomes integrated and revealed in existence, a lengthy discussion begins about two types of service and two types of souls: The soul of Atzilut which is an extension of the Divine, and therefore serves like a son who has access to the inner revelations of the Divine. The soul of B’iya, which is a “new” entity outside of the Divine and serves like a servant through hard work and earns its right to the divine through exertion (unlike a son that naturally inherits his father’s wealth).

Essentially, the underlying theme is to explain how deep we can reach and how much it becomes ours; how new the revelation is and how much it is integrated into our beings; how we reach the essence and we also reveal it in our parameters].

TWO TYPES OF SOULS

Question: Why is self-generated effort ultimately necessary and what is its contribution when the revelation from above is a superior state of revelation? (Answer in Maamar 26; 40-42).

There are two ways to serve G-d, and two types of souls: One like a son, who has intimate access to the “innermost chambers and secrets of his fathers’ home,” the second like a servant, a stranger subjugating himself to serve his master. Atzilut is an extension of the Divine (like a “son” who is a biological extension of his father), a reflection and revelation of higher spiritual levels. The service of the souls of Atzilut consists of their total selflessness. While Biy”a (Beriah, Yetzirah, Asiyah) is a new entity, outside of and separate from the Divine. The service of the souls of Biy”a entails subjugating the body’s “ego.”

ATZILUT AND THE KAV

Atzilut reflects and is similar to (“adam”) the world of Adam Kadmon (A”k) and even to the “kav” – the thread of light that draws down the infinite light from before the tzimtzum into the post-tzimtzum existence. Yet, compared to the infinite light higher than the kav, Atzilut, and the kav itself is like a new entity.

This can be explained in two ways, based on the two opinions in the nature and personality of the “kav,” whether it is a finite light or an infinite one. According to the opinion that the kav is finite, meaning that it manifests the Divine power for finite self-expression, then the identity of Atzilut is one that reveals and is similar to the Divine light in the kav. However compared to the infinite light, Atzilut and the kav are “new” entities. [The second explanation is in Maamar 23]. (Maamar 19)

EIN SOF

Question: Since Atzilut is a reflection (not a new entity) of the kav, and the kav in turn is a reflection of the light that preceded the tzimtzum, it would seem that Atzilut too is a reflection of the pre-tzimtzum light. Why then is Atzilut called a new entity compared to the Divine light before the tzimtzum? Also: Since both the finite and infinite light come from the pre-tzimtzum light — why then are there two types of light?

The answer will be understood by first explaining the nature of light and the meaning of the Divine infinite Ein-Sof (lit. no end). Why is it called Ein-Sof and not Ein-Techila (no beginning)? Kabbalists explain, because only G-d Himself has no beginning, while the Divine emanation may have no end, being a reflection of the Divine, but it surely has a beginning – a source.

The Kabbalists have differing opinions whether Keter is part of the Sefirot system: Many Kabbalists hold that Keter is Ein-Sof and not part of the Sefirot which are all creations. (According to them we can understand why its called Ein-Sof and not Ein-Techila). The Ramak disagrees, arguing that nothing but G-d can be Ein-Sof, and Keser too is one of the created Sefirot.

The basis of their disagreement is to resolve the issue how the creation causes no change in G-d. The Kabbalists feel that since creation comes through Keter and not the Essence of G-d, then any change from before and after creation occurs in the Keter level, not in G-d’s essence. The problem with this of course is that this suggests that a level outside of G-d has the Ein-Sof power of the Creator, which is obviously unacceptable. The Ramak therefore holds that only G-d owns the title Ein-Sof, and He creates in a way that has no effect on Him, because He does not need any effort to create. But this too has its problems, because ultimately since the Essence is creating, how is it possible that creation has no effect and causes no change in the Essence.

Comes the Arizal and reconciles between the two opinions, explaining that Keter has two levels: Arich – which is the “highest level of the” defined states of the sefirot, and Atik – which manifests “the lowest level of” Ein Sof. The Arizal clearly recognizes that there is some “entity” outside of the Essence which is called Ein Sof. The Alter Rebbe explains that light is this entity which is called Ein Sof and is not the Essence. Light has no substance of its own; it always reflects its (luminary) source. Yet, precisely because of its transparent bittul (selflessness), light purely reflects and channels the deepest ‘substance’ of the source, with no ‘personality’ of its own to get in the way. This state of light allows us to reconcile between both opinions: Ein Sof is attributable only to the Essence (as the Ramak explains), but since light has no reality without the Essence and is a mere reflection of its source, the Divine Ein Sof extends into its reflected light. This also explains how creation causes no change in the Essence, because the process is implemented not through the Essence itself (as Ibn Gabbai and the Rameh explain), but also not by a force outside of the Essence: Creation is possible only through the Ein Sof power of the Essence, carried through the power of light, which is a mere emanation of the Essence. In effect, light “carries” the non-existential Essence into existence. (Maamar 20)

LIGHT

Light is unlike any other form of transmission. Shefa is the word used to define the transmission of any substance, which requires an effort and investment on the part of the transmitter, and it affects the transmitter. Light, by contrast, has no substance, and it requires no effort or investment, and it does not affect the luminary (source of the light); light is just a reflection of the source.

Similarly, Divine light is a mere reflection of its Source (but unlike involuntary sunlight, the Divine Source does not have to give off light), and the light itself is therefore Ein-Sof and carries within it, by extension of the Essence, the power to create “something from nothing” (nothing referring to the light). The light after the tzimtzum is a form of shefa relative to the light before the tzimtzum. (Maamar 21)

LIGHT WITHIN ITS SOURCE

Generally, in relation to the post-tzimtzum reality the light prior to the tzimtzum concealment is only a state of potential light. It is called the “light contained in its Source” where it does not yet have an “identity;” at this stage the light is nothing more than the Source’s ability to emanate.

More specifically the pre-tzimtzum state consists of two levels: 1) The abovementioned “light within the Source,” and 2) an actual state of light, which is “closer” to ultimately becoming the source of existence. This latter level too breaks down into two levels: 1) The light prior to manifesting the Divine “will” to create, which does not have any parameters of sefirot (or the sefirot are infinite ones), 2) The light as it manifests the will, which is the source of the parameters of existence (structure of the ten sefirot).

Each of these levels of light, especially the highest one (within the Source, which has no identity), has no “personality” of its own; light is essentially only a reflection of its Source, to the point that it is completely one with the Source, assuming and expressing the Source, thus bridging existence with the non-existential nature of the Essence.

All these levels of light are a state of Ein-Sof, by virtue of it being nothing more than a reflection of the Essence (as opposed to the level of Keter or Ratzon which is a defined state, and therefore cannot be Ein-Sof, as the Ramak rejects the opinion of the Avodat HaKodesh). Even the two latter levels are so, but it is most understood regarding level one – which is only the potential ability for light, not actual light. (Maamar 22)

TWO ASPECTS OF ATZILUT: REFLECTS THE KAV; NEW COMPARED TO LIGHT ABOVE THE KAV

The Essence also has the ability to not give off light, and to limit or conceal the existing light. Within the Essence both abilities – the ability to emanate and the ability to not emanate (or conceal the light) – are one and the same: Both aspects of the omnipotent Divine. These two abilities evolve into the two types of light: Sovev – infinite light that remains above the parameters of existence; Memaleh – finite light that is manifests in the parameters of existence. On a lower level these two forces evolve into the infinite light and the kav (finite light).

This explains (the questions in Maamar 20): How there are two different forms of light which stem from the Source. And also how Atzilut is reflection (not a new entity) of the kav which is a reflection of the pre-tzimtzum light, and at the same time it is considered a new entity compared to the Divine light before the tzimtzum: The kav is reflection of its source in the pre-tzimtzum finite light; but it is a new entity in contrast to the pre-tzimtzum infinite light.

Another explanation: Atzilut is a reflection of the finite light of the kav, but a new entity even compared to the source of the kav – the pre-tzimtzum finite light (and definitely in comparison to the pre-tzimtzum infinite light). Because after all is said and done, the kav (and Atzilut) are an actual finite state relative to the pre-tzimtzum finite light which is only the ability to be finite, but is in itself not finite being that it chooses to be finite, and finite by choice is not actually finite (like the power of the hand to write letters: Though the letters themselves are finite, the power in the hand that limits itself is not actually finite).

All this is according to the opinion that the kav is finite light. According to the more popular position that the kav is infinite light, it is both a revelation of its source, but also like a new entity, simply because the infinite light of the kav is completely sublimated in its infinite source. (Maamar 23)

CONTAINERS

Also the containers of Atzilut are a reflection of the Divine: They are a revelation (not a new entity) of the containers of Adam Kadmon (a”k). A”k is the general plan (the Divine will to create) that encompasses the entire structure of existence. Thus, the containers (structure) of Atzilus are a revelation – an expression and manifestation – of a”k.

(Question: Since a”k encompasses all of existence, also the containers of biy”a should be a revelation (and not a new entity) compared to a”k? Two answers: 1) The Divine will in a”k itself wants the containers of Atzilut to be a revelation and those of biy”a to be a new created entity. 2) The containers of biy”a are formed after the parsa – the curtain – that creates a new entity; while the containers of Atzilut are an extension of the containers of a”k).

However the containers, and even a”k itself, are a new entity compared to the levels higher than a”k (including the reshimu, the “residue” left after the tzimtzum, which are the source of the containers). (Maamar 24)

In this context, the containers are more reflective of a”k than the lights are of the kav, because the containers are actually of the same essence as the containers of a”k, whereas the lights are only a reflection of higher levels.

Question: The rule is that all creations need to undergo a leap before they are created. How then can the containers, which by definition are creations, be revelations of the higher levels? (Answer in Maamar 26).

There are two levels in the name Havaya, a lower and higher one – Havaya de’litato and Havaya de’liayla. The creation process is carried through the four letters of Havaya de’litato: Yud – the initial tzimtzum (concealment) necessary to transmit from a higher dimension to a fundamentally lower dimension; Heh – the development of the idea contained in the Yud; Vav- the actual transmission; Heh – the devlepment of the idea in the realm of the recipient. Havaya de’litato of Atzilut is rooted in Havaya de’liayla of the will in a”k, which also consists of four letters as it carries the light down from pre-tzimtzum to the initial structural plan. There is no space between the two havayas, like by Moses, implying their similarity, yet there is a parsa (curtain), but it doesn’t change the essence of the containers. By contrast, between Atzilut and biy’a there is a parsa that does change the essence.

This answers the question how the containers, which are creations, are both a revelation and undergo a leap before they are created: The containers follow the leap of the parsa, but the leap is not one that changes the essence of the containers.

According to all the above we can understand how the souls of Atzilut are like sons, who “search the hidden archives” (the hidden lights higher than Atzilut) and intimately knows “the house secrets” of his fathers’ home (the ten Sefirot of Atzilut), being that Atzilut is an extension of the Divine – both its lights and containers – a reflection and revelation of higher spiritual levels. The service of the souls of Atzilut consists of their total selflessness. (Maamar 25-26)

[This concludes the discussion about the souls of Atzilut that began in Maamar 19. Now, the discourse continues about the two types of souls, Jacob and Israel, and their respective experiences. Israel is the son (Atzilut), who is close to the Divine. Jacob is the servant, who reveals the Divine concealed in the universe. Israel and Jacob are Torah and prayer; the positive mitzvoth and the negative ones. Through Jacobs’s hard work in repairing the concealment and avoiding evil (negative mitzvoth) he reaches into the Divine Essence, higher than the revelations of the souls of Atzilut (Israel) rooted in the kav which reflects the pre-tzimtzum light].

ISRAEL AND JACOB

This can be further understood with the verse “give truth to Jacob.” Question: Jacob is the level of truth. So what truth is given to Jacob? Jacob is the level of the servant, while Israel is the level of the son. Jacob is involved in repairing the Divine concealment in the name Elokim, which conceals the Divine light of Havaya. Jacob experiences the “lower knowledge” (daat tachton), which senses that the universe exists and the Divine is and unknown and concealed form of existence. Israel experiences the Divine revelation of Havaya – the ultimate truth of the higher knowledge (daat elyon) – that the Divine is reality and the universe is nothingness in comparison.

The ultimate objective is that the “truth of Havaya [should be revealed] in the universe,” and this is the truth that is given to Jacob: Not only the revelation of the Divine force that is concealed in existence, not only the revelation that the concealment of the Divine is in itself a Divine energy (which is all still the revelation of the inner truth of Elokim), but above all the awareness of the truth of Havaya (Havaya de’liayla) – that the Divine is the only true existence. This is the awareness of the souls of Atzilut (Israel), which is “similar” to and reflects the truth of the “higher knowledge” – the son who “searches the hidden archives,” the hidden lights higher than Atzilut (Havaya de’liayla). (Maamar 27)

TORAH AND PRAYER: FRONT AND BACK

In the level of Divine service Israel and Jacob are Torah and prayer. Torah reveals the Divine from above down – the frontal revelation of the “face” (panim). This is the meaning of the verse a man’s wisdom makes his face shine: “Man” (adam) refers to Atzilut, and its root – Adam Kadmon; the Divine manifesting in the image of man (“upon the figure of the throne a figure in the shape of a human”). “The thought of Israel [which] precedes all things” is rooted in the mind (thought) of a”k. “Man’s wisdom” refers to Torah, which “makes his face shine” – revealing the glow of the pleasure of Atik in the souls of Israel. Torah reveals the front (face) by being the ultimate metaphor that bridges matter and spirit, revealing in the material universe the highest levels of the Divine. Mitzvot too reveal the face of the Divine – the level of Atzilut and Atik, that are reflections of the Divine.

Prayer accesses the divine from the bottom up, through distance – through the “back” (ochor). Even when the Divine is hidden – and it seems as G-d has forsaken and forgotten us (two levels of concealment) – we connect through faithful prayer, thereby invoking “I remember the devotion of your youth…how you followed Me in the wilderness.” Like a father who hides from his son in order to evoke the child’s ingenuity to find the hidden father; the wise son is not perturbed by the concealment, but recognizes that it is G-d’s way of testing him, so he exerts himself to find his father, and thereby eliciting an even deeper expression of Divine love and kisses, transforming the “back” to an even more powerful “front.” This is the profound love generated by our struggle in exile, when the Divine is utterly concealed – a love which will be revealed in the Redemption. (Maamar 28-30)

POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE MITZVOTH

Positive mitzvoth generate the light of the “close encompassing” (makif hakorov), rooted in the light of the kav and even in “tehira ila’ah” – the conscious levels of light that associate with the universe. Negative mitzvoth generate the “distant encompassing” (makif harochok), extending from the Essence of the light, which is beyond any manifestation and relationship with the universe, one that cannot be contained in any particular act, only in a non-act.

And it is these negative mitzvoth that most manifest the potent strength and devotion of the child searching for the concealed father (“I remember the devotion of your youth…how you followed Me in the wilderness,” when you did not see My Divine face and did not experience revelation). Positive acts of virtue express love; but the deepest love is expressed, and the strongest effort exerted, in protecting from destructive forces. (Maamar 31)

Thus, negative mitzvoth protect the positive ones from any corruptive forces. Positive energy has the potential for feeding the negative for two reasons: 1) Negative and evil forces don’t have any power of their own. What sustains them is the level of “makif,” a hovering form of energy that is somewhat removed from the internal details and therefore can tolerate and energize the negative. Since positive mitzvoth are connected to the level of makif, they therefore can be affected by negative energy fed by the makif. 2) Positive mitzvoth manifest in the material world, which conceals the Divine and is under the influence of kelipot. Therefore good actions can potentially “feed” negative forces in the process.

The protection comes from the higher level of makif, which we access through the negative mitzvoth: The sheer effort of withstanding temptation to do something wrong builds defenses and draws down the Essential energy that shields us from all harm. Torah too protects the mitzvoth from negative energy.

The distant makif of negative mitzvoth is revealed in the close makif of positive mitzvoth, which help it permeate internally – which is the ultimate purpose: To integrate the distant makif internally. “How you followed Me in the wilderness,” through the negative mitzvoth (shemi and yud heh) causes “I remember the devotion of your youth” through the positive ones (zichri and vov heh). (Maamar 32)

Question: Havaya is the level of pnimi. How then caw we say that the mitzvoth, which correspond to the yud heh and vav heh, are connected to makif? Answer: There are three levels – the crown, the skull and the mind. The positive mitzvoth draw down Havaya of the distant makif (crown) through the skull (close makif) – makif which is beyond defined structures – and internalize it into the pnimiut. (Maamar 33)

THE ELEVATION OF MALCHUT

What connection is there between Shemi (my name), Malchut, and and yud heh? Malchut and Z”a (Zeir Anpin, the six emotions) are the intermediary bridging the Divine and created existence: Z”a draws down the Divine into structure; Malchut draws the energy of Z”a into existence, like speech that communicates higher wisdom and feelings to the recipient. There are three levels in the elevation of Malchut: The “point beneath the foundation,” in which Malchut is in completely concealed in its infancy. 2) Malchut elevates to the level of Z”a. 3) Malchut elevates to stand face to face with the wisdom of chabad.

Through our efforts (especially in keeping the negative mitzvoth) in revealing the concealed through the “back,” “how you followed Me in the wilderness,” we reach the yud heh of the third and highest elevation of Malchut and reach the “face,” standing face to face with the Divine, while also generates “I remember the devotion of your youth” (through the positive mitzvoth).

This explains why prayer is called the “back of G-d” (see Maamar 29), because it reveals the Divine in its concealment, as the son who looks for his hidden father. Another reason for calling it the “back” is because the process of revealing the Divine within the concealment is by meditating in prayer that all of existence is related merely to the “back,” i.e. the lowest levels of the Divine as it manifests in creation (Maamar 34-35)

SON AND SERVANT

[Here concludes the discussion about “give truth to Jacob” in Maamar 27].

Jacob the servant is the level of the “back”; Israel the son is the level of the “front.” Jacob, through exertion in prayer, works hard at repairing the Divine concealment in the name Elokim. And also his Torah is primarily focused on the hard work necessary in “birurim,” refining the hidden sparks, through exertion in Torah as it manifests and deals with the material world (see Maamar 11). By contrast, Israel’s service in prayer and Torah comes much easier, being that Israel, the soul of Atzilut, is naturally aware and connected to Divine revelation, and his prayer and Torah is about revealing the Divine, not battling the concealment. (Maamar 36)

According to this Israel is higher than Jacob. But in truth, Jacob has an advantage over Israel: The self generated effort of the servant, as opposed to the inherited strength of the son. The son is a natural extension of his father. He therefore does not need exertion to fulfill his father’s will; his interests are one with his father’s. So too the soul is a natural extension of the Divine. The body, however, is like a servant that needs to exert himself to fulfill his master’s will. Against his nature the servant chooses to dedicate himself entirely and absolutely to serve his master, to the extent that the servant is no longer a separate entity, but his entire being is merely an extension of his master’s. All his accomplishments and achievements are considered those of his master’s. He constantly goes beyond his own nature to serve. Thus, the self-initiated effort of the servant – the soul as it manifests in the body – who chooses with his own free will to serve reaches higher and generates additional dimensions of energy, more than the son who does not require effort being a natural extension of his father.

There are two types of servants: The faithful servant (eved nee’man), who serves with pleasure, joy and love. He appreciates the awesome virtues of the master and the value of serving the master. The second type of servant is the “simple servant” (eved poshut) who serves out of duty, without the feeling and awareness of the Divine. The faithful servant is an exalted level of soul who perceives the Divine that transcends creation (but not quite on the same intimate level as does the son, the soul of Atzilut). He is not one with the Divine (as is the son), but due to his appreciation he serves with deep love and devotion, and therefore generates additional levels of energy, beyond those that are inherent in existence.

Being that he serves out of duty, not as a result of feelings of love, the simple servant has an advantage even over the faithful servant, for several reasons: 1) His service is against his natural will, it therefore requires more exertion than the faithful servant who serves with feelings of love and devotion which overshadows the exertion. 2) His service is constant, never fluctuating. 3) All types of service are equal to him. (Maamar 37-38)

Also the simple servant has pleasure in his work (which motivates him to excel), but his pleasure is not due to his love for the master (as it is with the faithful servant), but is derived from the pleasure of his master: Being that the servant is completely subjugated to his master, the master’s pleasure becomes his own.

This complete fusion of servant and master defines two more reasons that the service of the simple servant is greater than that of the faithful one: 4) All the credit of his service is attributed to his master. 5) The fruit of one’s own labor brings infinite more pleasure than that which is achieved through the work of others. Since the servant’s service is considered the master’s, the master derives deep pleasure from the servant’s service, the same pleasure as if he had done the work himself (while the work done by the faithful servant is another person doing the work for him, thus resulting in less pleasure).

The reason for the profound pleasure that comes from self-generated exertion is due to the novelty – a twofold newness: 1) The simple servant is under the control of the material domain and has no natural spiritual inclination. Thus his choice of Divine service is a complete and unprecedented transformation from a materially driven individual to one totally subjugated to the Divine. 2) The effort – and its results – is completely self generated, not due to any other infusion or help, or a result of a ready-made product. When someone else does the work for you, you are getting a ready made product. It therefore does not contain the innovation, and resulting pleasure, of self-initiated effort.

The ultimate purpose of creation is fulfilled by the simple servant, one who is immersed in and consumed by the material world, has no natural sense of the Divine, no revelation, no feelings of love, and still totally dedicates his life to serve G-d, and exerts himself, against his will and nature, to refine the material world. This overwhelming effort, in its innovative nature, generates a completely new, unprecedented Divine energy, higher than the source of the “kav” (the ray of light), which is the source of all existence. Like the earth that produces new vegetation through the hard work of tilling the land. (Maamar 39)

Question: Why is innovation more in the domain of the simple servant than of the faithful servant and son? True they serve as a result of their natural or generated love, they don’t have quite the same material challenges, but they still exert themselves to refine the material world. So why don’t they generate a new energy as does the simple servant?

Answer: Like the earth that produces new fruit (unlike heaven), only Malchut carries the power to create something new. All the sefirot are spiritual expressions of the Divine, which do no not innovate or create anything new, only reveal that which is higher than them. Malchut, however, is rooted in the Essence (“the end is wedged in the beginning”), which is beyond any revelation, and includes many things that are not transmitted in the light. Therefore Malchut has the power to actually create anew, while even Keter creates levels that are relatively new, but they are still sublime and ultimately rooted in higher states of being. Malchut carries the power of creating the material existence, which is a truly new entity. (Maamar 40-41)

The same is true in our work of refining the sparks: The primary objective of refining the material universe is fulfilled on earth, in our “lowest” world, where the Divine is completely concealed. Here, you have to create a new state of being; matter must be converted into spirit, the inclination to narcissistic survival must be transformed into becoming a selfless channel that serves a higher calling. This transformative work of the simple servant (Jacob) from below in turn generates a completely new energy from the essence of the light as it is one with the Essence itself, beyond the level of light as it manifests and has some relationship with existence (which is accessed through the faithful servant and the son, the level of Israel). (Maamar 42-43)

Israel (the son and faithful servant) and Jacob (the simple servant) correspond generally to Torah and Mitzvot respectively. There are three levels of selflessness (ayin): 1) The selflessness of (the outer level of) wisdom (chitzoinios ha’chochma) which stands nullified (botol) by its sense of a reality greater than itself. 2) The selflessness of the deeper, inner level of wisdom (pnimius ha’chochma), which is an essential state of selflessness (bitul atzmi), not merely one that has substance nullified by a greater light (outer wisdom). Yet, this level is still only a reflection of 3) The essence of selflessness of keter (ayin b’etzem), which has absolutely no self of its own (chochma is the essential color white, unlike the other colors which are superimposed, yet white is still a color, the bridge between no color and color. Keter is beyond any color).

Torah is the level of chochma – the selflessness of wisdom, which is only a reflection of Keter. Torah is rooted in the “hair strands” of the skull which are a limited transmission, and manifest in many different levels (like the faithful servant, who distinguishes one type of service from the next). Mitzvot, on the other hand, are rooted in the “skull” itself – the level of ayin of Keter itself, which equalizes all levels (like the simple servant for whom all types of service are equal). (Maamar 44-45)

THE SON WHO BECOMES A SERVANT

The son, with inherited access to the Divine, has the power to become a servant, who serves with self-generated exertion and thus creates new, unprecedented energy (unlike the son who only develops that which is already existent). This exertion is expressed in the study of the oral Torah, through which the scholar generates new revelations, unlike the study of the written Torah which only reveals the revelation that comes from above. (Maamar 46)

There are two types of spiritual nourishment: 1) Food from heaven – Torah nourishes the soul, by connecting it to the revelations of the Divine. 2) Food from earth – the soul connects Torah to the Divine Essence (beyond all revelations), which is accessed through self-generated exertion in the oral Torah – the depth of wisdom that comes only through real experience. In the written Torah the ideas are clear, but it has not been tested and challenged in practice. When an idea has to be actualized it requires an entirely new level of focus and clarity, which crystallizes and affirms the truth of the theoretical concept, and also draws new, innovative ideas from the “hidden essence.”

This is the difference between the birur of the direct light and of the refractive light. There are two methods to refine gold: 1) First you extract the purest gold, then you extract the less pure gold, and so on, until you’re left with the least refined gold and the coarsest dross. Or 2) the other way around: First you extract the coarsest dross, then the less coarse impurities, and so on, until you are left with the purest gold. (Maamar 47)

Both levels of birur require power from above, but in one the power is revealed and obvious and in the other it remains hidden. This too has two forms: The refinement comes primarily from the power above, but it is not felt, creating the illusion that the work is self-generated. Like a child who is prodded to walk by his parent. Though the refinement comes from power above and it is revealed, the work is self-generated, like a child who walks on his own feet. The oral Torah derives its power from the written Torah, but only through self-generated exertion of the student new revelations are extracted from the oral Torah.

This answers the question (in Maamar 12) how Eden (essential supra-conscious pleasure), which is generated through the exertion in Torah study, will be accessed by laypeople, and how scholars access this undiluted pleasure through study (though wisdom on its own is hybrid): The lay person is the “simple servant” who serves through his self-generated exertion (unlike the son who inherits his strengths and is privy to revelation), and thus create new, unprecedented energy. The scholar achieves this not through regular study (of the written Torah) but through the equivalent self-generated effort he exerts in struggling with the Oral Torah. (Maamar 48)

MENTAL EXERTION

The exertion necessary in understanding the oral Torah is compared to combing hair, untangling each strand, separating them from one another and ensuring that each lies in its proper place.

The analogy of hair is used in order to explain the paradox of the unconscious mind – which emerges through the mental exertion necessary in plumbing the depths of the oral Torah. The laws of the oral Torah are like the strands of hair which originate from the cosmic “skull” (unconscious) and are rooted in the highest dimensions. But they manifest (precisely because they carry such potency) in “thin strands” as they descend into the depths of existence and address the way we should conduct our lives on earth.

Yet, these laws remain obscure and unknown, until we exert ourselves in the strenuous process of “combing” and excavating the hair strands of the Torah’s wisdom to discover its message. The hair itself therefore represents the wisdom of Torah, as it is ostensibly understood. Combing the hair is the challenging process to analyze a Torah idea from all angles, “turn it and turn it” in all directions, questions, counter questions, arguments and counter-arguments – all in an exerted effort to untangle the contradictions, organize and categorize the ideas, and finally reach the ultimate clarity. Because the Torah’s message is concealed in a confused world, this arduous “combing process” accesses the “skull” itself – the essential “ayin” (nothingness) of the supra-conscious, which is higher than the conscious and revealed wisdom of the hair strands. (Maamar 49)

HUMILITY

The “combing” of the oral Torah has two dimensions, “turn it and turn it:” Exertion that results from the pleasure of the intellectual pursuit for clarity. Exertion out of “kabolos oyl” – the profound awe of heaven that motivates the student to discover the Torah’s truth. The former reaches the hidden “ayin” of wisdom; the latter reaches the essential “ayin” of keter, similar to that which is achieved through the act of mitzvoth.

This will explain the nature of all the different opinions in Torah and the halachik consensus which rules according to one of the two opinions. The opinions are both Divine and true, but on the level of Elokim – which is only a Divine reflection of the Divine, not its Essence; Halacha is the clarity that comes through the exertion out of deep humility, which accesses Havaya, the Essence – the truth of truths. Thus, the halacha rules according to Hillel over Shammai, being that he was humbler. Similarly, the halacha rules according to the mediator, who reaches higher into the essential truth than the two who disagree.

Thus, the son who becomes a servant refers to the student of Torah who exerts himself out of humility to access the essential truth of truths that comes only through the self generated, difficult effort from below. This has the power to reach the essential light and draw it down into the lowest universe – fulfilling the ultimate purpose of creation. While the other reasons for creation– so that the Divine be known and that G-d reveal His potential (see Maamar 1) – are legitimate on the level of the son (who knows the “secrets of his father’s chambers” – Atzilus), the ultimate purpose is achieved through the exertion of the servant (Jacob), through mitzvoth which refine the material and Torah study which “comb” through the complications. (Maamar 50-52)

[Now begins a discussion on the nature of the soul as the Divine manifesting in an “independent” entity, rooted in the Divine containers. To appreciate the uniqueness of the soul we first must understand the difference between souls and angels, which will explain the power of a soul on earth to draw down and reveal the hidden essence of the Divine, and the effect this work has on the soul: The hard effort of the soul’s descent in the body reveals the soul’s source in the soul as it manifests in the body, and it reveals a new, unprecedented dimension in the soul.

Essentially, the souls’ sublime nature, a fusion of spirit and substance, enables us to integrate matter and spirit. The discourse maps out the gradations of spirit evolving into substance. As spirit diminishes substance intensifies – each level lower more substance, less spirit; each level higher less substance, more spirit.

But the goal is the seamless fusion of the two: where substance meets spirit and the container senses not itself, but it being merely a channel for spiritual expression.

The different stages of fusion of matter and spirit consist of an eloquent journey, reflected in the way we think and speak. Thought and speech are metaphors for the entire cosmic experience. They are conveyors of communication – channels of energy. And like all channels they are comprised of the two dimensions they are coming to bridge. The perfect state is complete fusion between energy and container, between light and vessel. Moreover, not only does this show us amazing fusion symmetry, but it also demonstrates for us the process how spirit converts into matter, allowing us to reverse the process, and transform matter into spirit].

All these accomplishments are achieved by the soul as it descends below into a body in the material universe. To understand this we will now discuss the nature of the soul. The soul comes from the Divine breath, from within the Divine Essence. Question: Souls “arose in the [Divine] thought,” which is below the Essence. [Answer in Maamar 56: The letters of thought originate and are one with the light, Beriah, Atzilus, all the way to the engraved letters of Keser and A”k, all the way to the source in the letters of the Reshimu of the hidden sefirot before the Tzimtzum, rooted in the hidden essence, which imbued the soul with its Divine breath].

The letters (containers) of thought are connected and one with the light (of the idea). These are the letters of Beriah, which is not yet a true yesh, unlike and higher than the letters of speech of Yetzirah, which create angels and all creations – letters of yesh, separate from the light. Higher: like the written letters of Binah of Atzilus, beneath the supernal throne. Even higher: Souls originate in the supernal man of Atzilus.

The difference between the root origin of souls and that of angels is the difference between thought and speech. The letters of speech – angels – are separate, concealed, tangible, intermediary. They are rooted in the power of speech, Malchut of Atzilus, which then goes through a concealment to energize the creation in Biy”a.

Souls are letters of thought, connected to the light of the idea. They originate in the power of thought, the inner dimension of the letters – the Divine Throne, which is a garment that conceals the supernal man (kos alef), the essential emotions.

The Divine Throne of Beriah is rooted in Binah of Atzilus, where the letters originate, a garment and throne to Chochma, Atzilus.

Angels are creations; souls – Divine that became yesh, but a separate (and concealed) entity (mehus); Torah is the revealed Divine.

If souls originate in thought, Beriah, why does it say “the soul is tehorah hi,” higher than Beriah?

Souls originate in the Supernal Man, Odom. All of creation is only a reflection from the light, and the light is only a reflection that does not in any way convey Atzmus. All of these levels and containers – are possible only as a result of the Tzimtzum, which happened because of the souls which originated in the Divine thought (so that they descend and fulfill their mission on earth). Thus the existence of the containers is because of the souls. Indeed the “souls arose in the thought” means that they manifest in the defined containers of the Supernal man. The Divine manifested in the containers because of the souls that originate in the thought, in A”k, all the way before the Tzimtzum in Tehira I’loah.

Though angels also originate in the containers – their source is in the outer containers, intermediaries, not united with light. While souls originate in the inner containers and are the purpose themselves, united with light. Torah is the level of the Divine light itself.

The soul originates in the letters of thought, which are rooted in the power of thought, which is the level of Beriah, and higher – Atzilus. Written letters are Atzilus. Engraved letters – Keser, A”k. Engraved through and through – Reshimu, Tehria O’loah. And from there it descends into Beriah etc. (Maamar 53-56)

SOULS DESCENT

The root of the soul (in the Divine containers and letters in their highest root) is revealed in its descent and work below.

The soul is rooted in the deepest levels of the Essence. But that level is completely consciously detached from the soul as it manifests into a form of energy. The soul is the Divine as it manifests as an independent entity; Torah is Divine revelation (and therefore reveals the soul’s connection with the Essence, as discussed later in Maamar 60). (Maamar 57)

Furthermore: The soul’s hard work does not only achieve the revelation of its source, it also generates something new: Through exertion below souls elevate higher than their source – from containers to light, and in the light – into the essential light, up till the hidden essence.

There are three levels of light: 1) Essence of light, 2) revealed light but only to yourself, 3) revealed light for others. The containers (source of souls) emerge in level three. But through the soul’s descent and its hard work below it accesses level two and one. And ultimately it reaches the light as it is in Atzmus, Divine Essence (Maamar 58-59)

Even souls of Atzilus (the level of the son) – whose souls are revealed – also have the power to reach the source through their Torah study with kabolat ol and their exertion in Torah. This allows them to reach the level of the “son who becomes a servant.”

Torah – which is the level of Divine light (its connection to the Divine is revealed) – reveals in the soul its source in the Divine light all the way to its source in Atzmus. Light reveals the virtues of the containers.

Mitzvos – are connected to the Essence itself, even higher than Torah. Torah reveals the light above, mitzvos access the hidden essence.

Exertion in Torah has both virtues. But all people, even the simple (who are not scholars), can access the essence of the Divine through their mitzvos (the level of the servant).

These three levels of light correspond with the three levels of malchiyot, zochronot and shofrot: Memaleh, Sovev and Atzmus. (Maamar 60-61)

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sarah sweet

Excellent summary of points in maamorim from alter rebbe and mittler rebbe. Really explains simply and clearly.

diane macher

The discourses are wonderful and challenging thought – eventually will a book be published reproducing all of them in print?

sarah chaya elisha

i would like to thank you for generously summarizing these maamarim. it helps to get the point clear.