HaRav Shneur Zalman MiliadiRav Shneur Zalman (September 4, 1745 – December 15, 1812) of Liadi, was the founder of Chabad hassidism and the author of many works, among them Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Tanya and the Siiddur Torah Or . Chabad became a worldwide Jewish spiritual outreach movement.
והצמאון הוא מיסוד האש שבנפש האלקית
This loving thirst is derived from the element of Fire in the divine soul.
וכמו שכתבו הטבעיים, וכן הוא בעץ חיים, שיסוד האש הוא בלב
As students of natural science affirm, and so it is in Etz Chayim, the element of Fire is in the heart,
ומקור המים והליחות מהמוח
while the source of [the element of] Water and moisture is in the brain,
וכמו שכתוב בעץ חיים שער נ׳, שהיא בחינת חכמה שנקרא מים שבנפש האלקית
As explained in Etz Chayim, Portal 50, [the source of the element of Water] is the level of Chochmah which is called “the water of the divine soul.”
Inasmuch as the heart is the seat of the emotions — of warmth — we say that it is the abode of the element of Fire. In contrast, the brain — being the seat of “cold” intellect, calm and measured intelligence — is the source of the element of Water. One can readily observe this by comparing the demeanor of an emotional person to that of an intellectual.
So, too, with the intellect and emotions of the divine soul: the heat and passion of one’s love of G-d is expressed in the heart, ultimately leading him to expire in kalot hanefesh. The mind, however, remains cool. This capacity of the intellect for calm appraisal of a situation leads it to comprehend that G-d’s intent is that the soul remain clothed in the body so that it will be able to fulfill the Torah and its commandments. This realization cools the fiery ardor of the heart and thus prevents the soul from actually expiring in kalot hanefesh.
The Alter Rebbe’s discussion of the birth of middot from the intellect has thus far been centered on two emotions: love and fear of G-d. What of the others?
ושאר המדות כולן הן ענפי היראה והאהבה ותולדותיהן, כמו שכתוב במקום אחר
The rest of the remaining five middot are all offshoots and derivatives of fear and love (and obviously they, too, are born of Chochmah and Binah), as is explained elsewhere.
All the above explains why Chochmah and Binah are called the “father” and “mother” of the middot, for it is through the contemplation exercised byChochmah and Binah that the middot are born. Chochmah is called the “father”. Just as the drop of semen which derives from the father’s brain comprises, in concentrated and concealed form, all the organs of the child’s body, similarly the seminal point of Chochmah contains, in a concealed manner, all the details of an idea, as explained above. And just as it is the mother who reveals the child’s organs from their concealed state, and brings them to a state of completion, similarly, Binah reveals, expands and elucidates the concept in all its details.
But what of Daat, the third of the intellectual faculties? Daat too, as explained earlier, is a “mother” and source of middot. What does it contribute to their birth? This issue is now addressed.
והדעת הוא מלשון: והאדם ידע את חוה, והוא לשון התקשרות והתחברות
Daat, whose etymology may be found in the verse,12 “And Adam knew (ידע) Eve,” implies attachment and union.
שמקשר דעתו בקשר אמיץ וחזק מאד, ויתקע מחשבתו בחוזק, בגדולת אין סוף ברוך הוא, ואינו מסיח דעתו
(As applied to Daat of the divine soul, this means) binding one’s mind with a very firm, strong bond and firmly fixing one’s thought on the greatness of the blessed Ein Sof, without diverting his mind from it (i.e., the subject matter conceived in Chochmahand developed in Binah is absorbed in the mind by concentration, Daat.)
כי אף מי שהוא חכם ונבון בגדולת אין סוף ברוך הוא, הנה אם לא יקשר דעתו ויתקע מחשבתו בחוזק ובהתמדה
For even one who is wise (by utilizing his faculty of Chochmah) and understanding(by exercising his faculty of Binah) in the greatness of the blessed Ein Sof, yet, unless he applies his Daat and fixes his thought firmly and diligently on his understanding of G-d’s greatness,
לא יוליד בנפשו יראה ואהבה אמיתית, כי אם דמיונות שוא
he will not produce in his soul true fear and love, but only vain fancies.
He will only imagine that he fears G-d and loves Him. True fear and love are attained only by way of Daat.
ועל כן הדעת הוא קיום המדות וחיותן
Thus, Daat provides the substance and vitality of the middot (and is therefore termed a “mother” of the middot, another parent side by side with Chochmah and Binah).
והוא כולל חסד וגבורה, פירוש: אהבה וענפיה ויראה וענפיה
It comprises Chesed and Gevurah; that is to say, love with those other middot that are its offshoots, and fear with its offshoots.
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