D’ei Chochmah L’Nafshechah

Parshas Mishpatim

Shalosh Seudos1 of Parshas Mishpatim 5767
".‫"וְ אֵ לֶּה הַ מּשׁפָּ טים אֲ שׁר תּשׂים לִפנֵיהֶ ם‬ ְ ִ ָ ֶ ִ ְ ִ
“Now these are the ordinances which you shall set before them.”2 Rashi explains: “‘Now these are the ordinances’—Every place where scripture uses the term ‘these’ [eileh], it is meant to set the forthcoming words apart from that which preceded them. The term, ‘now these’ [v’eileh], however, is meant to bridge and add the forthcoming words to that which preceded them. [In this instance, the term ‘now these’ serves to teach that] just as the preceding subject involved laws that were given at Sinai, so too were these laws given at Sinai. And why is the subject of civil jurisprudence juxtaposed with the subject of the laws of the altar [which immediately precedes it]? To teach that we are to place the chambers of the Sanhedrin adjacent to the kodesh, the inner part of the sanctuary.” The Union of Yaakov and Leah3 The Arizal reveals that that there are various groups of Jewish souls. Some souls emerge from the “union” of Yisrael and Rachel which takes place during Mussaf on Shabbos.4 [Note: This is a very high union where Ze’ir Anpin and the Nukvah (lower feminine aspect) are elevated to the level of the higher mentalities of Abba / Chochmah and Imma / Binah. The mission of these souls is to imbue even the most mundane actions of the week with the holiness of Shabbos.] Other souls emerge from the lower
The lesson was delivered at the third meal of Shabbos. Shemos 21:1 3 When these names are italicized, they indicate their respective partzufim, their transpersonal sefirah aspects, rather than the actual historical figures of Yaakov and Leah. 4 When we discuss the unions of various partzufim known by names of the avos or imahos, we are referring to the spiritual “place” which it was their mission to rectify in order to imbue intrinsic holiness in their offspring and form the Jewish people.
2 1

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D’ei Chochmah L’Nafshechah

Parshas Mishpatim

union of Yaakov and Rachel reached during the weekday morning Shemonah Esrei prayer. [Note: When we speak of a spiritual union during prayer which gives birth to a group of Jewish souls, we mean a spiritual union which yields spiritual bounty.] A total of twenty-four groups of souls emerge from the three unions between Yaakov and Leah. At true midnight (chatzos), Rachel enters into Imma and Leah is joined with the entire expanse of Ze’ir Anpin and Nukvah. This zivug generates ten groups of souls. There is another union of Yaakov and Leah during the dawn [kadrusah d’tzafrah is an Aramaic term for alos hashachar] which generates two groups of souls. In addition, the spiritual trace that remains after Ma’ariv also brings about a unification of Yaakov and Leah. This trace lasts the entire night since Ma’ariv may be recited the whole night long, and it gives rise to twelve additional soul groups. The twenty-four students of the Arizal stemmed from the twenty-four unions which emerge from Yaakov and Leah, and it was their task to draw the light of the final redemption into the world. These souls are alluded to in the verse: äúà ,øîÉÑ øîà" È È Åù Ç È ".äìéì-íÇ Àå ø÷á— “The watchman said: The morning comes, and also the night...”5 ÈÀÈ â Æ É [These are the souls that are generated through the spiritual unions of the partzufim that take place during the day and “throughout the night.”] The verse continues: ïeéòáz-íà" È À Ä Ä "eéúà eáËÑ ,eéòa—“...If you will inquire, inquire; return, come.”6 This is meant to teach È Å ù È À that the ultimate redemption depends on the Divine service, the “inquiry,” of these souls. Their task is to petition Hashem regarding the exile of the Shechinah.7 [This results in the “returning” and “coming” of the redemption alluded to in the verse.] The Souls of Redemption Each group of souls possesses a distinct nature. The souls that stem from the union between Yisrael and Rochel are drawn primarily to learn Torah. This desire is so powerful that they often neglect to focus their formidable strengths on bringing the
5 6

Yeshayah 21:12 Ibid. 7 Sha’ar Hagilgulim, Hakdamah 39

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D’ei Chochmah L’Nafshechah

Parshas Mishpatim

redemption. Although these souls are the strongest, the light of redemption is not revealed through them. It is through the work of the souls that emerge from the union of Yaakov and Leah that the redemption will arrive. These souls naturally gravitate toward the Divine service of prayer and emunah. This is the deeper meaning of the verse,"d÷-ìläé àøáð íòå ;ïåøçà øåãì úàæ áúkz"—“This will be written for a ÆÇÀ È À Ä ÇÀ É Â Ç É À É Æ È Ä generation to come [literally, ‘the final generation’], and a people that will be created will praise G-d.”8 Our spiritual work in the end of days is to praise Hashem and pray to Him, since it is this avodah which will bring the ultimate redemption. The “Weak Eyes” of Leah Generally, the spiritual “place” of Leah [along the array of the sefiros in the anthropomorphized form of the Partzufim] is from the “chest” of Ze’ir Anpin and above. This represents praying in the usual sense for children, a healthy life, and sustenance. [One reason why this is prayer merely “from the chest and up” is because, although such prayers strengthen emunah—they generally do not enable one to overcome his baser nature. These prayers only affect the higher elements of a person but do not strongly affect his lower cravings.] After midnight, however, the union extends across the entire expanse of Ze’ir Anpin. This represents turning Torah concepts one has learned into prayers [as discussed by Rebbe Nachman at length]. These prayers are most often said with feeling and by definition are petitions regarding spirituality and are most often said with dveikus [and rarely by rote]. The ultimate redemption rests with those souls that emerge from this zivug. This is why the Arizal specifically revealed the deep kavanos in the prayers. [This itself is an aspect of turning prayer into Torah study, since when done correctly the kavanos enable us to grasp how high the prayers reach, which inspires tremendous dveikus.] This also explains why the Baal Shem Tov worked so hard to instill within people an understanding of the importance of praying with great focus and dveikus. The Arizal

8

Tehillim 102:19 5

D’ei Chochmah L’Nafshechah

Parshas Mishpatim

actually said that in the ultimate future, there will be a claim on those souls that grasped the greatness of prayer yet did not work to pray at length with dveikus. Why didn’t they rise at midnight to recite Tikkun Chatzos? There is less of a claim on simple people who did not truly grasp the power of prayer. This is the deeper meaning of the verse, "úåkø äàì éðéò Àå"—“And Leah’s eyes É Ç È Å Å Å were weak [from weeping in prayer]...”9 Leah, the paradigm of prayer, cries from neglect since people don’t often focus on praying as they should. On the contrary; they rush through their prayers and sometimes even skip segments of it. All they really want is to discharge their obligation and get on with their lives. The verse continues, ìçøå" ÅÈÀ "äàøî úôé Äå øàz-úô Àé äúéä—“...But Rachel was of beautiful and fair to look upon.”10 Æ À Ç Ç Ç É Ç ÈÀÈ Rachel—which represents Torah—is beautiful in people’s eyes. People spend as much time as possible learning, since Torah is important to them. The Torah of the Hidden Mind The Zohar states that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, his son Rabbi Elazar, and Rabbi Abba engaged in the Torah of Mochah Sesima’ah—the deep Torah of the “hidden mind.” Although every mitzvah can be performed in a superficial manner, it can also be performed in a much deeper way through this deep Torah which reveals the mystery of the essential unity between the Jewish soul and its Creator that is achieved with each mitzvah. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai began this revelation, and the earlier Kabbalists expanded on his teachings by explaining how to connect with Hashem by focusing on His Names. The Arizal revealed much more regarding how to enter the path of yichudim through contemplating the Divine Names and the Partzufim. The Baal Shem Tov went even deeper, revealing how to properly make yichudim. In a vision, the Baal Shem Tov asked Moshiach when he will arrive, and Moshiach replied, “When your wellsprings will spread and people will make yichudim and aliyos like you do.” Clearly the kavanos are not merely technical, that one
9

10

Bereishis 29:17 Ibid. 6

D’ei Chochmah L’Nafshechah

Parshas Mishpatim

unthinkingly contemplates a Divine Name by rote. As the Maggid of Kozhnitz said, each Name discussed in the Arizal’s work is actually an opening, a kind of spiritual ladder to enter into the light of Divine yichudim. This is how the Baal Shem Tov explained the verse, "÷ Éåìà äÆ çà éøÈÒ aîe"—“From my flesh, I will see G-d.”11 Á æÁ Æ Ä ù À Ä Despite our physicality, we can nevertheless make great yichudim and ascend to the highest spheres by truly seeing only Hashem in every experience. Rebbe Nachman of Breslov takes this a step further by explaining that one can experience the highest yichudim through practicing the 613 mitzvos. He reveals that one can attain the deep dveikus that Adam did before he sinned: to be always so absolutely connected to Hashem that one makes the yichudim of the mitzvos even when not physically engaged in the mitzvos. The verse states that at Sinai," äÈ z-ìk íúéàø àì ék”—“You did not see ðeî À È Æ Ä À É Ä any image.”12 The Tzemach Tzedek taught that this indicates that the Jewish people were not worthy at that time to reach the ultimate level of “seeing Hashem.” But in the future we will merit the fulfillment of the verse, "ïåiö 'ä áeÑ a ,eàøé ï Äéòa ï Äéò ék"—“For É Ä ùÀ ÀÄ Ç À Ç Ä you will see, eye to eye, Hashem’s return to Tzion.”13 Hashem wishes for us all to reach this towering level, one that is accessed by those who merit to become truly expert in the avodah of yichudim. This aovodah is the true character of how to fulfill the holy Torah. It is not meant to be merely a series of mindless acts. One should use the mitzvos to come to true dveikus to Hashem. There are myriads of levels in dveikus. The first step is simply connecting to Hashem and that everything is from Him, as alluded to in the verse: "ãéîú écâðì 'ä éúé ÄeÄÑ " –“I set Hashem before me always.”14 Above this level is Ä È Ä ÀÆÀ Ä ù the deeper path of connecting to Hashem through the inner dimension of the Torah. The next level is connecting to one of the Divine Names. Those on even a higher level ascend to the upper worlds and the realm of the holy Partzufim. One on this level grasps
11 12

Iyov 26:19 Devarim 4:15 13 Yeshayah 52:8 14 Tehillim 16:8 7

D’ei Chochmah L’Nafshechah

Parshas Mishpatim

Hashem as He fills all worlds and surrounds all worlds. The next level is that one grasps the level of Adam before the sin. The Arizal reveals that at this ultimate level, Adam did not perform the mitzvos through physical actions but rather through Divine unifications. As the verse states, "døîÈÑ ìe dãáòì"—“To work it and to guard it.”15 [Adam was commanded to “work” È À ùÀ È À È À and “guard” the Garden of Eden—a paradise that required no cultivation, and which did not need to be guarded from any marauding person or animal.] “To work” alludes to positive commandments, and “to guard” signifies that Adam fulfilled the negative commandments.16 [Since Adam sinned, the world became more material than it had been previously, and it is therefore impossible now to achieve or sustain this level without physically doing the mitzvos. Even so, one on this level is also connected to the deeper level of doing mitzvos through yichudim as well.] Every Jew is obligated to serve Hashem as Moshe did, every second of every day. Moshe saw Hashem, as the verse states: "èéaÇ 'ä úÇ îúe"—“He beholds the image Äé ðË À of Hashem...”17 This indicates that he truly served Hashem in an aspect of Chochmah, truly grasping Hashem’s immanence even as he grasps Hashem’s transcendence. At the same time Moshe also attained the level of Arich Anpin. This is alluded to in the verse: "äÆÑ î écáò"—“My servant, Moshe...”18 The level of Arich Anpin is reached by one ùÉ Ä À Ç who never stops being a servant of Hashem for even one instant. This indicates that he fulfills the 613 Torah commandments and the seven Rabbinic commandments as he deeply contemplates Hashem’s immanence and transcendence,. One who merits this level has grasped Kesser. This is alluded to in the numerical value of these mitzvos: 613+7= 620, the numerical value of Kesser. [20+400+200=620] On this level, one gives Hashem the greatest pleasure at all times.

15 16

Bereishis 2:16 Zohar II:165b 17 Bamidbar 12:8 18 Ibid. 7 8

D’ei Chochmah L’Nafshechah

Parshas Mishpatim

The War of Amalek This explains a seemingly enigmatic Midrash. Moshe had a difficult time understanding the form that the half-shekel was to take until Hashem showed him a coin of fire and said, "åðúé äæ"—“This is what they shall give.”19 As is well known, the Hebrew word, "äæ" alludes to the Shechinah, which is the revelation of Hashem’s Kingship in the world. The main element of Malchus is [the desire to declare Hashem King in one’s day-to-day life, which is achieved through] thinking about and deeply contemplating that Hashem is the ultimate reality. The Zohar states that every level can only be accessed through Malchus, yet people do not understand its greatness since appears to them to be very narrow. This is the significance of the verse, øönä-ïî" Ç Å Ç Ä "d÷ éúàø÷—“I called out to G-d from the narrow place...”20 Slthough emunah at first Ä ÈÈ appears to be very constrained, one must merit the end of the verse, áçøná éððò" È À Æ Ç ÄÈÈ "d÷—“...G-d answered me from the wide-open place.”21 Through connecting to emunah / Malchus despite the difficulty, one merits to add the two letters ä-é [which represent the Mochin mentalities] to ä-å [which represents the emotions and a lower state where everything seems difficult] and completes Hashem’s name. This is the main fight of Amalek in each generation: to prevent us from completing the Divine Name, as it were, by drawing down the light of the mochin through deep thought and contemplation of Hashem, each person according to his level. But one must not stay on one level. He should enter the depths of emunah through the kavanos and learn through the works of the holy Baal Shem Tov to understand the proper path of true dveikus. One must internalize that his entire life and every detail of it depends primarily on prayer, as the verse states: "éÈ ç ì÷ì älôz"—“Prayer to G-d is my iÇ À È Ä À life.”22 One must learn how to make every prayer fresh. His prayer for today should never resemble his prayer of yesterday or the day before. The tzaddik never prays in a
19 20

Bamidbar Rabbah 12:3 Tehillim 118:5 21 Ibid. 22 Ibid. 42:9 9

D’ei Chochmah L’Nafshechah

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stagnant manner. Every prayer is said with true dveikus and with new holy yichudim before Hashem. Every Jew has a spark of his soul that stems from Yaakov and Leah that prompts him to do the avodah of prayer that will bring Moshiach. It is our task to uncover and broaden this during every prayer of each day. The Union of Prayer The first step is the union between Yaakov and Leah before chatzos, which alludes to praying on a simple level [with as much fervor as one can by working to pay careful attention to the meaning of each word of prayer]. The next step is to connect to the union of Yaakov and Leah after chatzos. This alludes to making one’s prayer an aspect of Torah through praying with dveikus and kavanos. This level is the level attained in the month of Shevat, which is represented by the letter ö / tzaddik. This is the avodah of tzaddikim who are always occupied with dveikus and yichudim. But the main tikkun is to achieve the level of Adar and change the aspect of night into day. This transformational third step is alluded to in the description of Rav Brunah who was “glad the entire day because he juxtaposed his prayers with redemption.”23 This is the yichud of kadrusah d’tzafrah, of the dawn, where one joins the morning and night together with prayer. This indicates that one enters so completely into the light of emunah and dveikus that he truly feels completely subsumed in Hashem. At this level, one merits to attain the aspect of Adam before the sin and fulfills the 613 commandments by his deep contemplation and connection. This was the level required of the four who entered the pardes to enter and exit safely. This joining of redemption and prayer is symbolized by the placement of the Sanhedrin next to the altar. The altar represents one’s Divine service, and the Sanhedrin represents the Torah. This teaches that one’s avodah must reach the level where he fulfills the mitzvos of the Torah through it. This is the light of David HaMelech. On the one hand, the halachah always follows

23

Berachos 9b 10

D’ei Chochmah L’Nafshechah

Parshas Mishpatim

David, which indicates that he is the ultimate in Torah.24 Yet he says about himself, "älôú éðàÇ "—“And I am prayer.”25 È Ä À Ä Âå The Rectification of Purim The Baal Shem Tov and Rebbe Nachman of Breslov revealed that these avodos are not merely the province of tzaddikim. On the contrary, they apply to every Jew who is connected to true tzaddikim and learns their holy works. By doing so, a spark of the tzaddik enters into a person such that even the most distant Jew can also make holy unifications. One may think this is a very strange thing: How can people so distant and lacking in good be brought to such a high level that they can make yichudim? This is actually the rectification of Purim. Even the most distant person puts on a completely new garment of holiness even though he is not fitting for it. [This is one reason why we wear costumes on Purim.] Although he has not yet done complete teshuvah in the areas of personal purity and his fulfillment of mitzvos, he can still make such a yichud. This person is “aping” the true tzaddikim who are worthy of performing yichudim, and his “antics” cause a very elevated degree of mirth on high. This is the holy aspect of a kof— a monkey or ape. For in truth, every Jewish soul is completely distant from even the smallest sin. No Jew truly sins of his own volition. Every sin we violate is only at a superficial and external level. Our inner most selves always remain pure. When we reveal the ultimate laughter of the future by doing yichudim despite our shortcomings, we arouse our innermost identities and move ever closer to becoming our true selves. This is our task: to transform the elements of night, which represent the exile, into day, which alludes to the ultimate redemption. This explains the laughter of the entire month of Adar. We must be filled with mirth as if we were already tzaddikim. We must act like the tzaddikim even though we are not yet on their level.

24 25

Sanhedrin 93b Tehillim 109:4 11

D’ei Chochmah L’Nafshechah

Parshas Mishpatim

For in truth each of us is a tzaddik inside; it is our task to reveal this inner self. This then is the spiritual work of the month of Adar. This month is symbolized by the letter ÷. At first we must “ape” the higher levels in an aspect of kof. If we are pleased with every spiritual effort we make and rely on Hashem to help us truly transform our actions by doing what we can, we transform this kof into kadosh, holiness, which also starts with the letter kuf. In this manner we merit the fulfillment of the verse, äÈ äå" éÈ À "åì øîàÅ ,ùåã÷--íÄìÈÑ eøéa øúåpäå ï Éåiöa øàÀÑ pä—“And it will come to pass that he É Æ Èé ÑÉ È Çù Ä ÈÉ ÇÀ Ä À È ùÄ Ç who is left in Tzion and he who remains in Yerushalayim will be called holy.”26 This is the aspect of holy mirth that is dominant during this month. May Hashem draw upon us the light of the holy tzaddikim through learning their holy works and fulfilling them. May we never be distanced from Hashem through feeling alone. We must believe in the tzaddikim who teach us that we are never truly lost. The Arizal reveals that the evil within always tries to erode our resolve by weakening our belief in the tzaddikim. In this vein, the Baal HaTanya taught that one can be a great sage and pray with fervor but still lack emunah in the tzaddikim. This is caused by having never eradicated the evil within which sometimes remains from earlier incarnations. Since such a person doesn’t believe in the tzaddikim, he also doubts their levels or the importance of following their ways. Sadly, this causes him to completely miss fulfilling his mission in life [despite his learning and prayer, which are nonetheless very precious]. But one who believes in the tzaddikim will learn their words and merit the avodah of yichudim until the heavens are opened to him. As each person merits to follow the way of the tzaddikim, their avodos that were formerly hidden will spread throughout the entire world and reveal the inherent holiness of each and every Jewish soul. We will then merit to see our righteous redeemer. He will come when we unify the avodos of Chochmah and Binah. This is the meaning of the [Tikkunei Zohar and the]
26

Yeshayah 4:3 12

D’ei Chochmah L’Nafshechah

Parshas Mishpatim

Arizal’s statement that the soul of Moshiach is waiting in the heavenly chamber of Kan Tzippur, the “bird’s nest.” Kan is a nest and alludes to Imma / Binah [because it is the place where the mother dwells]. Tzippur is an allusion to Chochmah [since one can only access Chochmah by flying high above the seemingly mundane nature of this world].27 “Let Your Soul Know Wisdom” This is the meaning of: "êùàøì øúë àéäå êùôðì äîëç äòã"—“Let your soul (nefesh) know (d’ei) wisdom (Chochmah) and it will be a crown (Kesser) for your head.”28 Nefesh is an aspect of prayer. With the advent of Adar one must prepare for Purim by recognizing the importance of prayer when it is created out of Torah and joined together with it. Through this, one ascends step by step until he fulfils the writings of the Baal Shem Tov, the Vilna Gaon, and their students and fulfills the deep unifications of dveikus and emunah that Adam was slated to perform before he sinned. This deep level is an aspect of Kesser; through rising incrementally in the avodos of prayer one comes to have “a crown to his head.” But this level can only be accessed if he fulfills the continuation of the zemer, “...Guard your holy Shabbos.” Shabbos alludes to the righteous, and this indicates that one can only attain such great yichudim by being connected to tzaddikim and learning their works. One must truly believe in their greatness and trust that Hashem plants them in each generation. One who has not yet merited to believe in the greatness of the tzaddikim must repent and rectify the source of the evil within. He must trust in the tzaddikim who are an aspect of Mordechai HaTzaddik. It is only in this way that he can truly connect to the highest level of prayer which is joined to Torah and access the powerful luminescence of the oral Torah. This Torah is continuously renewed in every generation in an aspect of Megillas Esther. The megillah does not mention the Name of Hashem outright. There are only allusions in the first and last letters of certain verses. This teaches that the main yichudim cannot be attained by focusing on Hashem’s Name alone. One must
27 28

Sefer Adam Yashar, inyan Tzelem Ha’adam From the Shabbos zemer “D’ror Yikrah,” based on Mishlei 24:14. 13

D’ei Chochmah L’Nafshechah

Parshas Mishpatim

understand that he needs to access the deep secrets that these Names unlock. He must climb the rungs of the ladder of true connection and fulfill the 613 Torah commandments and the seven main rabbinical ordinances through yichudim until he is on the level of Adam before the sin. In this way we will merit the true redemption speedily in our days. Amen.

Translated and Adapted by Rav Micha Golshevsky.

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Derech Eitz Hachayim

Part Seven

Derech Eitz Hachayim
Part Seven: The Baal Shem Tov’s Path

Chassidus: Binding Each Individual to the One A further benefit that chassidus conferred on the study of Kabbalah was that it made the concept of yichud [and its practice] accessible to the heart and mind of each individual, in accordance with his own ability. To accomplish this, the Baal Shem Tov brought various parables that helped to clarify subtle matters and allow them to be absorbed. For example, he used the example of a flame and its connection with the burning coal; of the connection between the sun itself and the illumination that emanates from it; the vitality of the soul that pervades the body; the force of the actor which remains forever active within that which he has acted upon; the yichud which “touches and does not touch;” the yichud that exists between the light and the source of the light…among many others. [Note: All of these metaphors are meant to help us attain unity with Hashem. We do this by understanding that the Infinite is bound to and acts within the primary vessels of creation, the ten sefiros. One of the reasons for this is to reveal Elokus in various ways. For example, one who does a great kindness reveals Hashem in the sefirah of Chessed; one who overpowers his yetzer hara reveals Elokus in Gevruah, etc.] The Mittler Rebbe likewise brought a number of parables to help clarify the concept of yichud.1 Rav Hillel of Paritsch went on to explain what is unique to each of the metaphors, and what each one helps to further define that which is lacking in the other.2 The chassidic works as a whole abound with teachings on the proper understanding of such parables. In the final analysis, however, all of these metaphors are only meant to accomplish a single task, which is to make the concept of yichud more
1 2

Sha’ar HaYichud, #3 Sefer Likutei Beiurim 15

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accessible to the individual mind and heart. We have already explained that the concept of the yichud is completely abstract and always remains removed from human grasp to some degree. As one attempts to understand it more clearly, we find that there are many levels and sub-concepts. The common denominator among them all is that their great subtlety makes them indecipherable to those who only understand them superficially and literally. Such an approach also involves the added risk of hagshamah [“materialization”], which we have already discussed at length. The danger is best summed up by the Tzemach Tzedek: “Anyone who does not know how to strip the concepts away from the garment of their material parable becomes an even more material and base person from learning these ideas. When he, in his failure to understand, ascribes some form or image to Hashem that can fit within measurable parameters, [he falls to a very low level].” And, what is worse, he is guilty of a very grave sin, as we have already explained in the name of the Raavad.3 Nevertheless, it is vital that we attempt to understand the nature of the yichud to whatever extent we can, for we are proclaiming the oneness of Hashem’s great Name four times every day, with love, when we recite the Shema and Boruch Shem. [We need to know what it is that we are trying to accomplish.] It is well known that the first statement of Shema is the expression of the “upper yichud,” and Boruch Shem is the expression of the “lower yichud.” The yichud must comprise the upper and lower yichudim—the two go together. The upper yichud is first, after it is the lower yichud, and then we return and ascend from the lower yichud to the upper yichud, and the cycle continues onward in perpetual and gradual ascent from level to level. This parallels the yichud of “memalei kol almin” [the light that fills all worlds] which is the lower yichud, and that of “soveiv kol almin” [the light that surrounds all worlds] which is the upper yichud. One rises in this way until he comes to the highest degree of dveikus possible for him—the dveikus of “one world,” as the Rashash explains.4

3 4

See Derech Eitz Hachayim, Part 4 Nahar Shalom, p. 13b 16

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Part Seven

This was the primary focus and goal of the Baal HaTanya throughout his lifetime in this world, as his son the Mittler Rebbe confirmed: “It is well known to all those had entered into the gates of the light of the Torah’s truth that emanated from the holy mouth of my father, the Baal HaTanya—in all of his weekly lessons on Shabbos, and every day of his life, in his public lessons as well as his private audiences—that his entire purpose was to establish Hashem’s simple and absolute unity. His only purpose was to inculcate awareness of the essential Ohr Ein Sof within the minds and hearts of every individual to whatever extent the student could bear. The basis of his teachings that have been recorded are all fundamentally focused on the matter of the true yichud, which comprises the upper and lower yichudim—the [unification of the] two Names HaVaYaH and Elokim. This is expressed by the command, ‘And you shall know today and restore it to your heart that HaVaYaH is Elokim;’ ‘You have been shown today, to know, that HaVaYaH is Elokim;’ there are many other verses of this nature throughout scripture. “The Zohar in Parshas Terumah makes clear that this is the principle that underlies all of the written and oral Torah, it is the foundation of all of the mitzvos because all mitzvos are meant to bring about a yichud between the Holy One and His Shechinah—in other words, between the Names HaVaYaH and Elokim. In the Zohar, the former [which is the upper yichud, and parallels the concept of ‘the Holy One’ or Ze’ir Anpin] is called ‘the light that surrounds all worlds.’ The latter [which is the lower yichud and parallels the concept of Shechinah and knesses Yisroel] is called ‘the light that fills all worlds.’ Their unification is expressed in the joining of Shema Yisrael with Boruch Shem. This is known to all those who know and understand [the deeper teachings], both the old and the new [i.e. different revelations of this wisdom that have come to us at different periods], who have tasted in their souls even just the least bit [of wisdom] so that the simple unity of Hashem has entered into their minds and hearts. [Different means have been engaged] to draw [this knowledge] toward the intellect and the heart in any number of ways, each person [absorbing what he can] in accordance

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with the preparedness of his heart and mind to seek Hashem in truth and simplicity, and with persistent effort and work with all his mind and heart, all the days of his life on earth.”5 The Mittler Rebbe goes on to explain that this is also the purpose of the practice of kavanos: “The sum total of all that is discussed in this work… [Their purpose] is to render these concepts of yichud—the upper and lower yichudim—accessible to the individual soul so that the soul can absorb and integrate them. ‘The wise will hear and add knowledge and understanding,’ to then discover the details of the kavanos within the Zohar and the writings of the Arizal through his own efforts. All of the particulars of the kavanos are geared toward one focal point, which is G-d’s simple and absolute unity. The purpose of the study is not to gain knowledge and ascend in one’s grasp of the implications of the Divine Names and yichudim as is practiced among the Kabbalists, because this is not what Hashem desires.6 For Hashem only wants us to focus on a single goal, which is to bind the soul to the truth of His essence. Our tendency to overcomplicate this is alluded to in the verse, ‘G-d made man straight, but they sought numerous calculations.’ “All hearts of G-dseeking people… [Know that there are those who see to grasp the yichud through the study of Kabbalah in the manner of, ‘My secret is to me, my secret is to me’ [for self-seeking reasons]. So if a person’s heart is not truly and simply directed toward Hashem’s essence alone, he is tending toward the very opposite of the mitzvah of Shema, which must be ‘to Him,’ specifically. To people of my caliber, I must say that they should not get ahead of themselves and entertain notions of meditating on the more detailed kavanos instead of pursuing the simple focus on Hashem’s absolute unity; this is self-serving and they will not find that the experience of Hashem’s unity lies in that path if they pursue it. It is well known that His unity and essence is

5 6

Introduction to Imrei Binah He is referring to meditating on the particulars of the sheimos and the yichudim without keeping the simple unity of G-d in mind at all times which brings to dveikus. If a person masters the details without dveikus with Hashem’s unity, he has missed the main purpose of this wisdom. 18

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discovered only where the ego is nullified completely. All those who seek closeness to G-d know that the more humble the soul, the stronger does G-d’s infinite light shine there. As the verse affirms: ‘I dwell in the place that is high and holy, and among the downtrodden and lowly of spirit;’ ‘To whom do I look? To the poor man…’ It is axiomatic that the One who dwells in the ‘depths of the heights’ will only rest on the one who is at the ‘depths of the bottom’ [here he means in the sense of humility]. ‘Hashem is lofty, and He sees the lowly.’ “The sages spoke similarly of Torah scholars in general: ‘You will not find her [the Torah] among the haughty of spirit…’7 So, too, when it comes to the revelation of His absolute and simple unity during the recitation of Shema, it is certain that it will only be discovered by one who is in a state of complete humility and self-effacement. ‘He gives wisdom to the wise’—Hashem gives the experience of His absolute unity which is ‘supernal Chochmah’ to those who have achieved the nullification of the ego, which is the ‘lower Chochmah.’ Anyone who uplifts himself to say, ‘My secret is to me,’ and so on, it is completely impossible for him to really experience the light of the Infinite Source of life, Blessed is He. For it is certain that, ‘Anyone haughty of heart is an abomination to G-d,’ and that should be sufficient.” This, then, is the great and necessary accomplishment of chassidus with regard to the study of Kabbalah. In the words of Rav Aharon of Strasheleh: “The Baal Shem Tov made the teachings accessible, so that the concepts could be absorbed in a way that made sense and could be understood. In this way, Hashem’s yichud could be grasped by the heart of every single person in accordance with his ability, so that he could bind his soul to His yichud and scale the worlds up and down, and in so doing bind himself to the Creator.” His student, the Maggid of Mezeritch, likewise taught the people how to, “Bind themselves to His unity and to unify the Holy One and His Shechinah.” Following him, the Maggid’s student—the Baal HaTanya—taught how to, “Seek HaVaYaH and His
7

Eruvin 55a 19

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unity and His service…and to plant within their hearts His unity and the love and awe of Him.” They accomplished this through the use of various metaphors and parables, explanations of the depth of matter of yichud which are brought throughout the range of the chassidic works. These far-ranging teachings train the soul to bear the contradictory concepts that underlie the matter of the yichud. [Note: The essential contradiction that needs to be “borne” is the all-pervasiveness of G-d’s light and the apparent individuated existence of ourselves and all of the varied reality that we see around us and experience.] We can see for ourselves that before the advent of chassidus, students of Kabbalah did get confused about the concepts, but since its introduction the seekers of this wisdom have gained more clarity and they have advanced very well. The Unification of the Holy One and His Shechinah Through gaining an understanding of all of the degrees of the upper and lower yichud one comes to understand the statement of the sages, that the Avos are themselves the merkavah, and also how the concept of the unification of the Holy One and His Shechinah applies to each and every level in its own way. The Infinite Light that surrounds all worlds—what we call “the aspect of soveiv”—is also called ‫קודשא בריך‬ ‫ ,הוא‬the “Holy One.” The aspect of “memalei”—the light that fills all worlds—is the sum total of all of the worlds that extend from the area of the kav and below it. This aspect is called, “His Shechinah.” The roots of these concepts of “the Holy One and His Shechinah” are soveiv and memalei, and they are always in a state of complete and absolute unity. [Note: According to the Ramchal, the Vilna Gaon and the Baal Shem Tov, the apparent constriction of Elokus to make place for the worlds is only from our limited point of view. For Hashem there was no tzimtzum at all. It merely appears as though there is a tzimtzum to enable the exercise of free will. So, in truth, the entire universe is no more than a sophisticated illusion. When one reaches a high enough level, he can feel—at least for a short time—this deep truth that is paradoxical and cannot be articulated fully.]

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One should focus his mind on unifying every level with this yichud of, “the Holy One and His Shechinah,” because all of the levels are in a sense a reflection of Ze’ir Anpin [the “Holy One”] and Nukva [“His Shechinah”]. Each sefirah-configuration or partzuf is called Z”A and Nukva relative to that which is above it. Even Adam Kadmon is called “Ze’ir Anpin and Nukva,” as we find in the Sha’ar HaHakdamos.8 [Note: Every level expresses a different means through which Hashem is revealed, either in this world, when we are all but blind to spiritual reality, or in the next world when it is time to receive our reward. The Ramchal explains that we are rewarded in the next world by grasping various levels of the higher aspects of what eminates from Adam Kadmon.9] The aspect of Z”A relative to Nukva is always that of the higher level of Gdliness which is hidden, relative to G-dliness that dwells within the lower degrees. This latter aspect is the Shechinah, so called because it dwells [‫ ]שוכן‬within the lower degrees, which are the souls of the Jewish people. [Note: On a simple level the Shechinah alludes to bringing Hashem into the world while Ze’er Anpin alludes to the illumination that exists on high, as we find in the writings of the Ramchal, the Vilna Gaon and the Baal Shem Tov. Rebbe Nachman of Breslov explains that when one reaches a higher level, what used to be the higher illumination of Ze’ir Anpin becomes one’s Malchus, received indwelling light. The new level from on high which is as yet unreached is the Ze’er Anpin which is now accessed. This continues as one reveals more and more Shechinah in our lowly world.]10 This concept is explained more clearly in the work Yosher Divrei Emes: “The created beings are called as a whole, ‘a throne for G-d.’ As we find in the verse, ‘The heavens are My throne…and the creatures…’11 When the created entities are bound to and feel a longing for a single thing—dveikus with Hashem—then all of their purpose and desire is unified toward the One. This dveikus unites Hashem with the created

8 9

Sha’ar HaHakdamos, p. 12b; Rechovos HaNahar, p. 3b Kalach Pischei Chochmah 10 This is explained at length in the Introduction to the work Rechovos HaNahar. 11 Yeshayah 66:1 21

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beings, so that they continue to exist by virtue of Hashem who is One. This bond is called a covenant, and this is why Shabbos is called ‘an eternal covenant’12—it is the time of the uniting of the Holy One and His Shechinah. You are already aware of the meaning of ‘the Holy One and His Shechinah’—it means the uniting of the G-dliness that is hidden from the perception of created beings, and the G-dliness that dwells within the lower worlds. Their joining together takes place on Shabbos, as I have already written. It is important to understand this concept well, because this is the true meaning of Shabbos, as we find in the Zohar in Parshas Terumah, as well as in the Tikkunei Zohar and other works.13 “And even if it seems to the observer as though the holy concepts discussed in the Zohar and in the writings of the Arizal, that the yichud of the Holy One and His Shechinah refers to the unification of Tiferes and Malchus which join together on Shabbos, [i.e., it does not occur to them that this is referring to the joining of concealed G-dliness with that aspect of G-dliness that dwells within the lower worlds], well I have already informed you that all of the Zohar and the writings of the Arizal are, for people like them, ‘dwelling, but not in the flesh.’14 [Meaning, they have mastered abstract concepts without practical application. In the words of the Ramchal, such Kabbalists are like parrots. They may recite the entire framework of Kabbalah in all its intricacy, yet understand nothing at all.] But people like us, who see in the Zohar and in the writings of the Arizal other matters altogether, understand that the other view is not in accordance with the intentions of the Zohar and the Arizal. This is discussed at length by Rav Menachem Linzano in his work Sefer HaOmer. To illustrate this idea, he offers an interpretation of that which we find in the Zohar, ‘These matters were only given to those who go “in and out.” One who goes in but does not go out…’15 [These words can also mean going ‘up and down.’] Rav Linzano writes that the Zohar was entrusted to

12 13

Shemos 31:15 Zohar, Parshas Terumah 137b; Tikkunei Zohar, Tikkun 6, 21a 14 Daniel 2:11 15 Zohar, Parshas Naso 141a 22

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souls that enter into this world and leave it; meaning, that they can reach the level of hispashtus ha’gashmius or total abstraction of material concepts, as I have already explained. But if a person ‘entered but did not go out,’ meaning that he did not leave his material concepts behind, it is certain that he does not understand even the least point of the Zohar and the other writings. Such people appear to know but do not know. You are already aware that hispashtus ha’gashmius is mainly predicated on dveikus with Hashem, and this is impossible without submission [humility], and so on. That which I have written to you is what I gleaned from the holy writings of Rav Dov Ber [of Mezeritch], who did indeed acquire his future world during his lifetime, and who ‘entered and went out.’”16 We find similar ideas in the writings of the Baal HaTanya: “One must…arouse the natural love that is hidden within his heart [for G-d] so that it should be revealed within his mind, at the very least. This means remembering his love for the One G-d, and his desire to be constantly bound to Him. This should be his prime motivation during Torah study or in the performance of a mitzvah, to bind to G-d his Divine soul and his vital soul as well as their garments [of thought, speech and action]. He should therefore intend to bind his G-dly soul to its source, and to the source of the souls of the Jewish people—the breath of G-d’s mouth, which is called the Shechinah. It is called the Shechinah because it dwells and is garbed within all of the worlds in order to give them vitality and existence. This is the force that provides him with the power of speech, through which he utters these words of Torah, or the power to act through which he carries out this mitzvah. This yichud is accomplished by drawing down the Ohr Ein Sof by way of the Torah study or mitzvah-action in which it is garbed. He should focus his intention on drawing down His light upon the source of his soul and the souls of all of the Jewish people to unify them… This is the meaning of the declaration, ‘For the sake of unifying the Holy One and His Shechinah, in the name of all of the Jewish people.’

16

Yosher Divrei Emes, #47 23

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“It is true that, for this intention to be genuine in his heart—meaning, that his heart should truly desire this supernal yichud—he needs to feel great love in his heart for Hashem alone. He needs to desire to only bring satisfaction to Hashem, and not to slake his own soul that thirsts for G-d. He has to be like a child who seeks after his father and mother because he loves them more than he loves his own self and soul… Even so, every person should habituate himself in this kavanah; even if it is not completely genuine in his heart, that he should desire [the yichud] with all his heart, nevertheless, whatever small measure of his heart really is devoted to this is due to the inherent love that is within every Jewish heart that impels us to do whatever we can to further the supernal Will. This yichud is one’s true desire—meaning, the yichud within Atzilus which is accomplished through an arousal from below, and which is accomplished by the unification of the G-dly soul and its incorporation within G-d’s light that is garbed within the Torah and mitzvos that it fulfills. This binds them together as one, mamash, and through this the very source of the Torah and its mitzvos which is the Holy One is joined together with the very source of his G-dly soul which is called Shechinah. They are the aspects of the light that fills all worlds, and the light that surrounds all worlds… The yichud of the soul and its incorporation within Hashem’s light so that they become literally one is the innermost desire of every single Jew, and it is rooted in the natural love that hides within every Jewish heart which makes us want to cleave to Hashem and not separate from or individuate from His Oneness and unity in any way, even if it means actual self-sacrifice.”17 This, then, is the multi-leveled avodah of yichud that exists at every degree, from the highest down to the very lowest—this joining of the Holy One and His Shechinah, or that of the aspect of G-dliness that is hidden with that which is indwelling. The Rashash also alluded to this concept in his explanation of the way in which the Avos are the Divine chariot [the vehicle for expressing G-dliness in the world], and how this dynamic exists at every level. At the loftiest level, it is the aspect of the “spark” which is
17

Sefer HaTanya, Chapter 41 24

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the intermediate level between the Emanator and that which emanated forth from Him, and it goes down to the five soul levels [nefesh-ruach-neshamah-chayah-yechidah] that are drawn down to the tzaddikim.18 It is forbidden to speak at length about these concepts because of the risk of falling into materialization of the matter of the yichud [hagshamah]. The Mahari Sadvon, after summing up the Rashash’s teachings on the matter, concluded: “It is forbidden to speak at length [about this secret] because of the maskilim [i.e. those who are very clever without enough simplicity and are therefore prone to hagshamah].”19 Truthfully, it is necessary to understand this matter fully without making any errors, G-d forbid—and this is why the perspective on the matter of yichud taught to us by the Baal Shem Tov and his students is so crucial.

Translated and Adapted by Rav Micha Golshevsky.

18 19

Rechovos HaNahar, p. 9b-c; Nahar Shalom, p. 33c-d, 34a-b Ahavas Hashem, 61b 25

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