Judaism: Weekly Tanya Lesson: Chap.4, Part 3
והיראה היא שרש לשס״ה לא תעשה, כי ירא למרוד במלך מלכי המלכים הקדוש ברוך הוא
Fear is the root of one’s observance of the 365 prohibitive commands, for he (the G-d-fearing person) will fear to rebel against the Supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He (by acting in defiance of His Will; he will therefore refrain from anything that G-d forbade).
At this level, the word “fear” is taken in its simple sense — trepidation before the severity of G-d’s command.
או יראה פנימית מזו, שמתבושש מגדולתו, למרות עיני כבודו ולעשות הרע בעיניו
Or a deeper level of fear — that he feels ashamed before G-d’s greatness, so that he will not rebel against the all-seeing eyes of His glory by doing what is evil in His eyes,
כל תועבת ה׳ אשר שנא, הם הקליפות וסטרא אחרא
namely, any of the abominable things hated by G-d, which are the kelipot andsitra achra (the “other side” — that which is the opposite of holiness),
אשר יניקתם מהאדם התחתון, ואחיזתם בו הוא בשס״ה מצות לא תעשה
which draw their nurture from man below (in this world) and have their hold in himso that they be able to derive their nurture and life through him through his violation of the 365 prohibitive commandments.
When a person transgresses a prohibitive commandment, G-d forbid, he provides the kelipot with additional strength and vitality. Since kelipot and thesitra achra are entities which conceal G-dliness and holiness and are as such despised by G-d, the Jew therefore guards himself against transgressing. He is “ashamed” to transgress and give the kelipot strength and life. Thus, fear of G-d clothes itself in the observance of prohibitive commandments; for one’s fear of G-d enables him to withstand temptation and refrain from transgression.
We now understand clearly how fear and love of G-d are related to the fulfillment of the commandments, and how the middot are the root and life-force in the performance of commandments in both action and speech.
* * *
Until now it has been explained that the divine soul has three garments in which it clothes itself: the thought, speech and action of Torah and the commandments. The Alter Rebbe now goes on to state that, unlike physical garments, which are less important than their wearer, the garments of the divine soul are even loftier than the soul which “wears” them. Thus, “wearing” its garments — i.e., thinking and speaking words of Torah, and acting in performance of the commandments — elevates the soul to a higher level. For, since Torah and the commandments are one with G-d, the Jew, by donning the garments of Torah and the commandments, also becomes united with him. In the Alter Rebbe’s words:
והנה שלשה לבושים אלו מהתורה ומצותיה, אף שנקראים לבושים לנפש רוח ונשמה
Now these three “garments” deriving from the Torah and its commandments, though they are called [merely] “garments” of the Nefesh, Ruach andNeshamah,
עם כל זה גבהה וגדלה מעלתם לאין קץ וסוף על מעלת נפש רוח ונשמה עצמן
nevertheless, their quality (the quality of the garments of the Torah and its commandments) is infinitely higher and greater than that of the Nefesh, Ruach andNeshamah themselves,
כמו שכתוב בזהר, דאורייתא וקודשא בריך הוא כולא חד
[for] as explained in the Zohar,4 Torah and the Holy One, blessed be He, are truly one.
פירוש: דאורייתא, היא חכמתו ורצונו של הקדוש ברוך הוא, והקדוש ברוך הוא בכבודו ובעצמו, כולא חד
This means: Since Torah is the wisdom and Will of the Holy One, blessed be He(i.e., the wisdom of Torah expresses G-d’s wisdom; its practical application and laws — e.g., whether or not a particular object is kosher — expresses His Will), it is one with His glory and essence,
כי הוא היודע והוא המדע וכו׳ כמו שכתוב לעיל בשם הרמב״ם
since He is the Knower, the Knowledge... and the Known, as explained above in ch. 2 in the name of Maimonides (— that these three aspects, separate and distinct in terms of human intellect, are, as they relate to G-d, one and the same entity: they are all G-dliness).
The Torah, being G-d’s intellect, is thus one with G-d Himself, and when a Jew understands and unites himself with it, he is united with G-d Himself.
From the above we understand that since the garments of thought and speech of Torah study and the active performance of the commandments are united with G-d, they are even higher than the soul itself.
However, a question presents itself: How can it be said that in understanding Torah one comprehends G-d’s wisdom and Will, when G-d’s wisdom — like G-d Himself — is infinitely beyond man’s limited comprehension? This will now be explained: