Private Screening

Private Screening

Why should we be consistent? What difference does it make if I do or don’t do mitzvos? I won’t be the first and I won’t be the last?

Summary of part one: This ma’amer is based on the verse “And Avraham became old, advanced in age (bo bayomim).” “Bo bayomim,” literally means, “entered into days,” meaning that all of Avraham’s days were complete and full. The Zohar explains that Avraham entered into the “supernal days,” meaning that his time became holy. Time—like anything else—can be holy or unholy. Filling our days with mitzvos makes our days holy—in the words of the Zohar, “supernal days.” Mitzvos are also the protective garments for the soul to be able to handle the light of the Sh’chinah, Divine Presence, in Gan Eden. Only when our days are “supernal days”—full of mitzvos—do our souls gain the protective garments needed to bask in the light of the Sh’chinah in Gan Eden.

Furthermore, the two praises of Avraham Avinu in the verse, “…”Became old,” and “…advanced in age,” were said in ascending order. These two praises are manifestations of two traits: Becoming old expresses how Avraham embodied atik yomin (lit. “ancient days,” the higher part of kesser and garment of G-d, as will be explained). “Advanced in age” expresses how he entered “supernal days,” the protective garments of Torah and mitzvos. If Avraham’s “supernal days” are greater than his “becoming old,” how are the garments of mitzvos greater than G-d’s garments?

Part one left us with questions: How does this work? Why do we need to do mitzvos everyday? Why don’t they just accumulate?

This is part two of the ma’amer V’Avraham Zokein 5738 (1977). Part one, Let’s Be Windows, can be found here. 

Download the PDF here: lswlechlecha 

And the iPhone version here: lswlechlechaiphone 

Private Screening

ג) וְיוּבָן זֶה בְּהֶקְדֶים בִּיאוּר הַיָדוּעָ17 בְּזֶה שְׁהַנְשָׁמָה צְרִיכָה לְהַלְבוּשִׁים דְתּוֹרָה וּמִצְווֹת בִּכְדֵי שְׁתּוּכָל לֵיהָנוֹת מֵזִיו הַשְׁכִינָה,

To understand all this, let’s first ask the question: Why does the soul need the protective garments of Torah and mitzvos?

כִּי לִהְיוֹת שְׁהַנְשָׁמָה הִיא נִבְרָא [וּכְּמְבוּאָר בְּכַּמָּה מְקוֹמוֹת שְׁהַנְשָׁמָה הִיא כְּמוֹ שְׁאֱלֹקוּת נַעֲשָׂה בִּבְחִינַת נִבְרָא18, וְעַד שְׁהַדְבֵיקוּת שֶׁלָהּ בָּאֱלֹקוּת הִיא דְבֵיקוּת בִּלְתִּי נִיכֶּרֶת19] וְאִי אֶפְשָׁר לְנִבְרָא לְהָשִּׂיג שׁוּם הַשָּׂגָה בְּאוֹר אֵין סוֹף בָּרוּךְ הוּא, לָכֵן בִּכְדֵי שְׁתּוּכָל הַנְשָׁמָה לֵיהָנוֹת מֵזִיו הַשְׁכִינָה שְׁהוּא הָאָרָה מֵאוֹר אֵין סוֹף בָּרוּךְ הוּא [וּבְּפְרַט לַחֲזוֹת בְּנֹעַם הַוַיֶ’ה20], צְרִיכָה הִיא לְלְבוּשִׁים.

Being that the soul is a creation, it is limited. It is impossible for anything limited to—on its own—contain or experience infinity. Therefore, the soul–a finite being—needs something to bridge the gap between it and the light of the Sh’chinah—which is infinite. For the soul to enjoy itself in G-dly pleasures it needs the protective garments of Torah and mitzvos.

The soul in essence is really infinite. Light remains light even when it shines through colored glass, even though less light is shining through—light is light. When the soul is placed in a body, it remains G-dliness. (Yom Tov Shel Rosh Hashanah, 5666). In fact, everything in Atzilus—keilim, heichalos (chambers), and the G-dly souls—is one with G-d. In Atzilus, existence doesn’t have its own identity—they are an extension of G-d. It’s the maximum amount of revelation within creation without creation ceasing to exist.

וּכְּמָשָׁל אוֹר גָדוֹל [בְּיוֹתֵר, וּכְּמוֹ אוֹר הַשֶׁמֶשׁ, בְּחִינַת שֶׁמֶשׁ הַוַיֶ’ה] שְׁאֵין יָכוֹלִים לְהַבִּיט בּוֹ, וְעַל יְדֵי הַמֶסֶךְ (שֶׁהוּא כְּמוֹ לְבוּשׁ) יָכוֹלִים לְקַבֵּל [וְלִקְלוֹט] אֶת הָאוֹר.

For example: A bright light, like the sun, cannot be gazed at directly. Only when protected by special lenses—a protective layer or garment—can we handle its brightness. Similarly, the verse in Tehillim (84:11) says, “The L-rd G-d is a sun and its sheath.” Implied is that G-d is likened to the sun. Just as the sun cannot be fully experienced or fully beneficial without its sheath, we cannot fully benefit and experience G-d without doing mitzvos.

If the sun wasn’t mitigated by its sheath, distance, and our atmosphere, we would be obliterated. Likewise, G-dliness is too bright for the soul (as a limited being) to remain in existence.

The Bridge

וְהִנֵה יָדוּעָ21 שְׁכָּל מְמוּצָע הַמְחַבֵּר בּ’ דְבָרִים, צָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת כָּלוּל מִשְׁנֵיהֶם. 

The protective garment we gain from doing Torah and mitzvos bridges the gap between the finite soul and the light of the Sh’chinah. There is a general principle in Chassidus: Whatever bridges the gap between two things a) is made up of both and b) of a higher quality than both.

Being able to reach the highest heights and relate to the lowest lows is a sign of greatness. True greatness is to extend beyond our element. Someone who is intelligent but cannot relate to the average person is limited—his disconnectedness is his limitation. G-d, who is the highest of highs can be found in the lowest of lows. “Tzaddikim are compared to their creator,” (Kedushas Levi, Shemos, Shekalim 5). The Rebbe, for example, displayed mastery of the deepest and most complex areas of Torah, yet could relate to a toddler on her terms.

וּמִזֶה מוּבָן גַּם בָּעִנְיָן הַלְבוּשִׁים דְתּוֹרָה מִצְווֹת [שְׁהֵם כְּמוֹ מְמוּצָע הַמְחַבֵּר בְּחִינַת זִיו הַשְׁכִינָה (שְׁהוּא הָאָרָה מֵאוֹר אֵין סוֹף בָּרוּךְ הוּא הַבְּלִי גְבוּל) עִם הַנְשָׁמָה (שְׁהִיא נִבְרָא וּבַּעֲלַת גְבוּל)], שְׁיֵשׁ בָּהֶם מִבּ’ הָעִנְינִים. 

Applying this principle we can understand just how great the protective garments of Torah and mitzvos are. They bridge the gap between the light of the Sh’chinah in Gan Eden—a glimmer of the light of the infinite One blessed be He—and the soul—a finite creation.

How so? In what way are Torah and mitzvos made up of both the infinite and finite? 

דְשָׁרְשָׁם (שֶׁל הַתּוֹרָה מִצְווֹת) הוּא מֵרְצוֹן הָעֶליוֹן וְחָכְמָתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ שְׁהֵם מְיוּחָדִים בּוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ (שְׁהוּא22 וּחָכְמָתוֹ וּרְצוֹנֹו אֶחָד) – עִנְיָן הַבְּלִי גְבוּל [וְעַד שֶׁרְצוֹן הָעֶליוֹן וּחָכְמָתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ (שֹׁרֶשׁ הַתּוֹרָה מִצְווֹת) הֵם לְמַעֲלָה גַּם מִבְּחִינַת זִיו הַשְׁכִינָה23],

The way Torah and mitzvos are infinite.

Torah and mitzvos come from G-d’s will and wisdom and are one entity with Him. That means that Torah and mitzvos come from an unlimited place–higher even than the light of the Sh’chinah.

וְעַל יְדֵי שְׁיָרְדוּ לְמַטָה בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶה הַגַשְׁמִי צִיצִית בְּצֶמֶר גַשְׁמִי וְתְּפִילִין בְּקְלַף גַשְׁמִי וְכֵן בְּכָל הַמִצְווֹת [וְעַל דֶרֶךְ זֶה הוּא גַּם בְּתּוֹרָה שְׁנִתְלַבְּשָׁה בְּשֵׂכֶל אֱנוּשִׁי, וְעַד בְּטַעֲנוֹת שֶׁל שֶׁקֶר, וְנִתְלַבְּשָׁה בְּדְיוֹ עַל הַסֵפֶר] הֵם בִּבְחִינַת מְדִידָה וְהַגְבָּלָה וְעַד לְהַמְדִידָה וְהַגְבָּלָה דְעוֹלָם הַזֶה הַגַשְׁמִי שְׁאֵין תַּחְתּוֹן לְמַטָה מִמֶּנּוּ25,

The way Torah and mitzvos are also finite.

G-d’s will and wisdom descends into the mundane world: tzitzis are made with physical wool, tefillin—with physical leather and so forth for all mitzvos. Mitzvos take on the limited form of the physical world. Furthermore, the Torah becomes integrated into human logic and human problems—it even deals with cases of litigants making false claims. Torah descends so low that the physical status of the ink and parchment becomes the deciding factor between a kosher Torah and a non-kosher one. Torah and mitzvos descend to the mundane of this world—the lowest world in creation.

הִנֵה עַל יְדֵי בּ’ עִנְיָנִים אֵלוּ שְׁבְּתּוֹרָה מִצְווֹת [עִנְיָן הַבְּלִי גְבוּל שְׁבָּהֶם מְצַד שָׁרְשָׁם, וְעִנְיָן הַגְבוּל שְׁבָּהֶם מְצַד יְרִיָדָתָן לְמַטָה] הֵם נַעֲשִׂים לְבוּשׁ וּמְמוּצָע הַמְחַבֵּר אֶת הַנְשָׁמָה שְׁהִיא נִבְרָא וּבַּעֲלַת גְבוּל (וּכְּמוֹ שְׁהִיא מְלוּבֶּשֶׁת בְּגוּף גַשְׁמִי) עִם בְּחִינַת זִיו הַשְׁכִינָה וְעַד עִם בְּחִינַת נוֹעַם הַוַיֶ’ה שֶׁלְמַעֲלָה מִכָּל מְדִידָה וְהַגְבָּלָה26.

Being that Torah and mitzvos are infinite and finite, they are the bridge between the finite soul and infinite light of G-d. Torah and mitzvos garb the soul that it may experience pleasure in G-d—completely beyond limitation.

This finite/infinite dynamic of Torah and mitzvos is not a paradox. Instead, it’s the expression of something much greater. If Torah and mitzvos were only infinite, they would be confined to the high heavens. If they were only finite, they wouldn’t have the power to connect us to G-d. Only because they are greater than both the soul and G-d’s light (they’re one with G-d) that Torah and mitzvos can take us there—from here.


Torah and mitzvos form a garment for the soul to handle the light of the Sh’chinah in Gan Eden—a taste of infinity. How does this work? The answer is: Torah and mitzvos are greater than both and made up of both. The source of Torah and mitzvos is G-d’s will and wisdom which are one with Him—that makes them infinite like Him. On the other hand, Torah and mitzvos descend into the mundane, earthly, and limited. Since Torah and mitzvos are both infinite and finite, they are the bridge between G-d and us. Although one step closer, we are still left with the questions from the previous installment: Why do we need to do mitzvos everyday? And why are these garments (garments of the soul) greater than G-d’s garment (atik yomin)?

17. ראה בכ”ז אגה”ק סכ”ט. תו”א מקץ לב, ד ואילך. וראה גם תו”א פרשתנו שבהערה 2.

18. ראה ביאוה”ז לאדהאמ”צ (קטו, ב) ולהצ”צ (ע’ תקמח). המשך תרס”ו ע’ תנט. ס”ע תע.

19. דנוסף לזה שהכלים דאצילות (שרש הנשמות) הם בדביקות בלתי ניכרת, הנה גם הדביקות דנשמות בהכלים היא בלתי ניכרת (ראה המשך תער”ב ח”א ריש ע’ קע).

20. אגה”ק שם.

21. ראה לקו”ת שה”ש ח, א. המשך תער”ב ח”א ע’ שצו. סה”מ ה’ש”ת ד”ה עוטה אור כשלמה. ובכ”מ.

22. שעהיוה”א פ”ח.

23. תו”א פרשתנו טז, סע”א. וראה הגהות הצ”צ לשם (אוה”ת פרשתנו תשפו, סע”ב).

24. ראה תניא פ”ד. וזהו “התלבשות” יותר מזה שמתלבשת בטענות של שקר, כי ההתלבשות דתורה בטענות של שקר היא רק מה שהתורה דנה בזה, “ולשון התלבשות הוא רק שם המושאל בלבד” (ד”ה ויאמר משה תש”ד ס”כ); משא”כ בהתלבשותה “בדיו על הספר עשרים וארבעה ספרים שבתורה נביאים וכתובים”, הרי בתושב”כ נוגע דיני הדיו והקלף.

25. תניא פל”ו.

26. בכל הבא לעיל – ראה תו”א (פרשתנו ופ’ מקץ) שבהערה 17.

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