REMEMBERING THE EXODUS 4-6

Chapter Four

Let us now understand the analogue in all the details of the above mentioned analogy.  HaShem’s love for the Jewish people who are called His “children” is similar to this. Therefore, the verse states about the “future to come”,[59] “He will return the heart of the fathers to the sons etc.”

In other words, the love that the Jewish people have for HaShem when they are close to him (such as the great strength of their love at the giving of the Torah when their Heavenly Father spoke to them “face to face”, or similarly, in the time of the first Temple in the days of Shlomo) is no great novelty.  However, when HaShem wants to test them, he conceals His countenance, such as during exile, about which it states,[60] “You are a G-d that hides” or as stated,[61] “He withdraws higher and higher etc.”

During such times the Jewish people come under the harsh subjugation of preoccupation with earning their livelihood, investing their very souls to procure their sustenance with tremendous stress and duress, literally to the point of exhaustion. Albeit, though they are[62] “at their wits end from the difficult labor…for their lives are embittered,” nonetheless, their hearts do not turn backwards nor do they despair of seeking out HaShem with all their heart and soul through Torah, mitzvot, prayer and repentance from the depths of the heart.  This is as stated,[63] “In your distress, when all these things will come upon you in the end of days, you will return to Hashem your G-d and listen to His voice…and from there you shall seek Hashem your G-d, and you shall find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

This is like the analogy of the faithful son who has a powerful love for his father and is wise. He understands that the separation between him and his father is only a test to know what is in his heart, whether he will strengthen his resolve or not, as discussed previously.  He strengthens his resolve with all his might to seek out all of the paths and ways of his father. This is the matter of going after Hashem through His Torah and through serving him with the mitzvot since they are called[64] “the ways of Hashem” and[65] “the paths of Hashem”.

Though he does not behold the countenance of HaShem’s illumination, because the mitzvot are enclothed in physical things, such as the wool of the Tzitzit or the parchment of the four portions of the Tefillin and the like, nevertheless, he is like the child who travels upon the paths and ways of his father, for these are called “the ways of Hashem”, as king David said,[66] “I will speak of Your precepts and will gaze upon Your ways”. In other words, these are the ways that Hashem Himself walks upon.  This refers to the aspect of the “Inner Supernal Desire” that is hidden within the mitzvot which literally is called “the way of Hashem,” as stated,[67] “They shall keep the way of Hashem.”

This is analogous to a person who walks on the paths and ways that the king walks on. Though he only sees Him from behind, he follows after him.  Regarding this it states,[68] “You shall walk after Hashem your G-d,” meaning only after Him, by going in His ways of Torah study and the fulfillment of His commandments all day long, as stated,[69] “I will gaze upon Your ways”- literally.

Now, one must strengthen oneself to follow after Hashem in His ways of Torah and Mitzvot even during a time of distance and concealment, whether this is caused by impatience or whether it is caused by the concealment of G-dliness during exile, both of which are true.  And although when he walks upon the paths of Torah and mitzvot Hashem appears to him from afar and he only perceives externally and from “behind Hashem”, as we said above, nevertheless, he must strengthen himself with all his might so that his heart will not be turned back. At the very least when he thinks and speaks the words of Torah his heart should be directed towards seeking out and search after Hashem.

Now, when the father sees the great effort of the son even when he is distant, his love for his son becomes doubly magnified.  Similarly, the radiance of HaShem’s love for Israel becomes doubly magnified and is called “doubled kisses”, as previously discussed. Hashem will return His countenance and the radiance of His great love to the Jewish people in a doubled measure to radiate within our souls to a greater degree than He did at the time of the giving of the Torah, about which it states,[70] “Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth” (which, as known, refers to the hidden meaning of the Mitzvot[71]). This is the aspect of the aforementioned “doubled kisses” which come about specifically as a result of the distance and after the test. Then the love will be doubled in comparison to the revealed love as it was when they were close and face to face.  This will suffice for the understanding.

This may similarly be understood regarding prayer, which takes the place of the sacrificial offering[72] in the Holy Temple.  During the time of exile there is certainly concealment of G-dliness. Even when one toils greatly in the service of the heart and mind during prayer, nonetheless, the forces of obstruction can overpower him through extraneous thoughts that confuse his prayer. This occurs because of the depth of the connection of one’s mind and heart to matters of livelihood and the like.  Certainly, he becomes overpowered by these extraneous forces that confuse the mind and heart, making it altogether difficult to reach the inner point of the heart.  This is like the father who hides even when his son seeks him greatly and still the son cannot find him.

This is as stated,[73] “On that day I shall conceal My face”. I shall conceal My face (Panay) means the concealment of the inner aspect (Pnimiyut) of HaShem, which is the aspect that “Transcends all worlds” (Sovev Kol Almin) and is not grasped in a revealed way in the heart. Rather, one only beholds Hashem from afar.  Nevertheless, his heart does not turn back nor does he despair in his soul whatsoever. On the contrary, he strengthens himself with all of his might to seek and search out Hashem in the service of the heart and mind, which is prayer. Even though HaShem is greatly hidden and concealed, he pursues Hashem with all his might, drawing himself after Him with all his heart, just like the son who is drawn after his father and seeks him out.

Now, it is written, “And from there you shall seek Hashem your G-d, and you shall find Him if you search after Him with all your heart and with all your soul”. Certainly, by reason of the above mentioned parable, “Hashem will return His countenance” with a doubled inner illumination of great love that is called, “doubled kisses”.  This will suffice for the understanding.

This specifically is the meaning of “I have remembered the affection of your youth…when you followed me in the desert”.  For, during the exodus from Egypt they were tested with great tests from Hashem, such as how Pharaoh chased after them with his army,[74] and likewise when they travelled without water in the desert.[75]  Nevertheless, they followed Hashem even though it was from afar, because until the giving of the Torah they had yet to behold the radiance of HaShem closely. It was only because of their pure and simple faith that they had the fortitude to follow Hashem, as stated,[76] “And they believed in Hashem etc.”  Through this, Hashem beheld the inner point of their faithful bond to Him. This is similar to the aforementioned analogy of the father who hides from his son in order to see into the heart of his son and the strength of his commitment to pursue him. This is the meaning of the verse, “You followed me”. Through this test they merited to behold Hashem face to face in a manner of great love and doubled kisses, as in the verse, “Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth etc.”

Now, the giving of the Torah is only a foretaste of the “future to come”, as the sages of blessed memory stated,[77] “The Israelites who stood at the mountain were cleansed of all impurity.”  However, from this example we understand that the concealment of HaShem’s face during this long and bitter exile only increases the tremendous revelation of doubled and quadrupled love when the redemption will finally happen. As it states about the future redemption, “He will return the heart of the fathers to the sons and the heart of the sons to their fathers.”  This “return” is the return of His countenance toward us with tremendous love, a love that is far greater than the former love, which is called “doubled kisses”. This will suffice for the understanding.

Now, through the above analogy we may clearly understand the great strength and power of strong faith, through which our forefathers were redeemed from Egypt.  That is, “following Me in the desert” was what brought about the great revelation of the radiance of the countenance of their Father in Heaven in a doubled measure.  However, all this is only applicable when there is an aspect of going and seeking the father on the paths upon which he walks, as understood from the details of the aforementioned analogy, and as stated, “You shall walk after Hashem.”  In other words, although he only walks after Hashem, nevertheless it must be in a way of “walking”, in that he literally walks in the ways of Hashem, though he does not see Him up close but only from afar.

However, the sages of blessed memory stated,[78] “Six hundred and thirteen mitzvot were given to Moshe. Chabakuk came and stood them upon one alone”. This is the mitzvah of faith, as stated,[79] “The righteous lives by his faith.”  We see that the mitzvah of faith includes all six hundred and thirteen mitzvot in it, because,[80] “everything follows that which establishes the rest”.  Furthermore, “that which establishes” establishes everything equally, those being all six hundred and thirteen mitzvot, which include both the two hundred and forty eight positive mitzvot and the three hundred and sixty five negative mitzvot.

Now, when it comes to the two hundred and forty eight positive mitzvot, it is certain that it is specifically faith that establishes and is the foundation of them all, as understood from the analogy mentioned above.  That is, the son puts forth great effort to pursue his father and seek him out on his paths – which refers to the positive mitzvot, in that they are called the “ways of Hashem” and the “paths of Hashem”, as mentioned above.  However, when it comes to the three hundred and sixty five negative mitzvot, which only constitute desisting from acting, which is “to sit and do nothing,” how can they be called “walking” altogether?  How then would it be applicable to say that this is a “walking after Hashem” through the strength of pure and simple faith?  Moreover, how are these three hundred and sixty five negative mitzvot also founded on and included specifically in the faith?  Additionally, the verse “The righteous lives by his faith,” is known to refer solely to the positive mitzvot, through which a person is called righteous (Tzadik), as it states,[81] “And it shall be a righteousness to us, if we observe to do all this commandment etc.”

Now, to understand this we must preface with the statement of the sages of blessed memory regarding the verse,[82] “This is My name for ever and this is My remembrance for all generations.”  The word “My name (Shmi-שמי)” together with the Yud-י and Heh-ה of HaShem’s name equals three hundred and sixty five, referring to the negative mitzvot.  The word, “My remembrance (Zichri-זכרי)” together with the Vav-ו and Heh-ה of HaShem’s name equals two hundred and forty eight, referring to the positive mitzvot.[83]  The difficulty regarding this is known, namely, how is it that the negative mitzvot are connected to the letters Yud-Heh which are higher than the letters Vav-Heh of HaShem’s name? This is very astonishing!

Now it is known from the Zohar[84] that the two hundred and forty eight positive mitzvot are called the two hundred and forty eight organs of the King and that these are the aspect of the five general kindnesses (Heh Chassadim) which draw forth G-dly light specifically into an aspect of lights within vessels.  In contrast, the root of the negative mitzvot is in the Yud-Heh of HaShem’s name, which is the aspect of the encompassing lights which protect the supernal lights that vest within the two hundred and forty eight positive mitzvot.

We may understand this through the well known analogy of a wise father who commands his only son that for the good of his soul he should follow certain ways and practices that will help him for good in his life. He tells him that he should never deviate from these ways but should rather live them throughout his life.  However, he does not reveal the reasons why he should do these good actions. They remain hidden and secret.  If he were to reveal the reasons to his son, the son may come to rationalize why he should deviate from the command of his father. Moreover, he will not be as strong in his resolve to keep these commandments.  However, if the son does not know the reasons, he will faithfully guard himself to do everything his father commanded, without any deviation. He will do this with pure faith because he believes in his father with all of his heart, to do his will in a manner which is completely above reason. Certainly, he will believe that these commandments are the very life of his soul, even without knowing the reason. He will not leave them or deviate from them even to a hair’s breadth, literally. This is specifically only because of his strength of faith.

The opposite is also true regarding all those things he was commanded to guard himself from because they are despicable and hateful in his father’s eyes.  He simply warns him to guard himself from doing these things because they are literally damaging and destructive to the soul.  Though the son does not actually understand why he must take great care to distance himself from such things or exactly how it is that they are dangerous, damaging or even fatal, nevertheless, he takes great care to guard himself from them, purely and simply by the power of his faith.  This is because he trusts his father and if he tells him that these things are bad and will damage him, he believes his father and stays away from them.  More so, he will even hate them, though he hasn’t the slightest understanding of the matter. Simply because of his faith and trust in his father, whatever the father despises, he too will despise. However, the primary and most salient reason is because it is specifically his father who commanded him regarding all these things, and when it comes to his father, he would never consider transgressing and going against his will.

From this we see that when the child desists from doing those things that his father prohibited him from doing, his power of faith actually becomes much more revealed than when he merely strengthens himself to fulfill the positive acts that his father commanded him to do.  This is because by guarding himself in the negative commandments he fulfills his father’s will solely because of his trust and faith.  In contrast, when he does the positive commandments, even though it is through his faith that he strengthens himself to do them, nonetheless, he is motivated by a degree of revelation of the reason for his father’s will.  When he guards himself from things that are against his father’s will, on the other hand, it is much higher than any level of illumination of light. Rather, it is called an “encompassing light”, since it is much more concealed. It is even more concealed than the hidden reasoning of why the positive commandments are good for his soul. Therefore he needs to guard himself and be extremely careful with a much greater degree of resolve.  This is because the more the matter is concealed, the more the power of his faith will need to be strengthened, just as was explained previously about the positive commandments, that the father conceals the reasons so that the son will guard himself and fulfill them even without the reasons.  This will suffice for the understanding.

Another example of this is when a father who is a doctor commands his son, “You should eat such and such item because it will strengthen your health and give you vitality. On the other hand, don’t eat this other item.  Instead, guard yourself from eating it, because it is dangerous to you and may actually kill you”.  Certainly, the son will trust his father and will take care not to eat it, because he does not want to die. If confronted with it, he will flee from it, with an even greater strength of faith than he will have when eating the item that his father told him sustains life etc.  This will suffice for the understanding.

Additionally, there will be a far greater degree of strong faith when fulfilling the negative will of his father out of honor and respect for the father.  That is, there is a much greater strength in not disrespecting one’s father by not transgressing his will regarding the negative command, than the respect shown when one fulfills the father’s positive will and command,  for even if he does not fulfill the positive command, at least he has not dishonored his father or caused him anguish.  In contrast, when he transgresses the negative command he has causes a blemish and greatly dishonors his father. One therefore guards himself much more when it comes to negative commands than positive ones. This will suffice for the understanding.

Now, from all of details of this parable, we now understand the general difference between the positive mitzvot and the negative mitzvot.  As known, the positive commandments are called, “The way of life and goodness,” whereas the negative ones are called, “The way of death and evil – literally!”  This is as stated,[85] “Behold, I have set before you today, life and goodness and death and evil.” Similarly, we were commanded to follow the way of the practical mitzvot even though we do not know the secrets and reasons for them.  It is for this reason that the sages stated that the mitzvot do not require intention,[86] for it is specifically when they are without intention and reasoning that their fulfillment is done solely because of the faith mentioned in the verse, “You shall walk after Hashem.”  That is, it is called walking after Hashem from afar, in that one does not know the G-dly reasoning or “secret” for the physical action.

Now, the Torah indeed explains the reasons for some mitzvot, such as the mitzvot of Tzitzit, Tefillin, Sukkah, Lulav and Etrog and the like.  For example, regarding the mitzvah of Tzitzit the Torah states,[87] “And you shall see them and remember,” or regarding the mitzvah of Tefillin it states,[88] “And all the nations of the world shall see that the name of Hashem is called upon you etc,” or regarding the mitzvah of Sukkah it states,[89] “For I made the children of Israel dwell in booths etc.”  Nevertheless, the hidden supernal secrets regarding the roots of these deeds were not made known to them.  Examples of this are the aspect of the inner lights (Or Pnimi) and encompassing lights (Or Makif) of the Tzitzit, or the thirty-two pathways of Chochmah of Tefillin in the four chambers of the brain etc.  Similar examples are the encompassing lights of Imma in the Schach (covering) of the Sukkah or the drawing down of Da’at into Nukvah by means of the Lulav and Etrog. This similarly applies to many other mitzvot. Moreover, this certainly is the case regarding those mitzvot whose reasons were not given altogether, which are called Chukim (statutes), as in the verse,[90] “If you walk in My statutes and keep My mitzvot etc.”

Even with regards to the mitzvah to recite the Shma, which is the commandment to unify the ten supernal Sefirot with the Essence of the One who emanated them, nevertheless, the primary fulfillment of this mitzvah is accomplished by fulfilling one’s simple obligation alone, in a way which is above understanding.  The statement that “the mitzvot do not require the intention of the mind,” means that not only is this not required, but, quite the contrary, it actually is far better to do them without mystical intentions, but rather to simply fulfill the Supernal will alone, because that type of fulfillment comes solely and specifically by the power of simple faith. This is like the above analogy of the son’s faith which is revealed specifically because his father commanded him to do these things without revealing the reasons for them.  He therefore guards himself to fulfill his father’s will with pure and simple faith, neither deviating to the left nor to the right.  This would not be the case were he to know the reasons, because he would not have the same strong resolve in his heart and he could come to deviate slightly etc.  This will suffice for the understanding.

Now, it is understood from the above analogy, that in regard to those negative mitzvot which were not given with reasons at all, such as the mitzvot not to wear Sha’atnez or the mitzvah of Kilaim, or of not cooking, consuming or benefitting from the cooked admixture of meat and milk, or the prohibition against eating blood or any other forbidden food, such as pork etc., there is an even greater concealment of light, since the reasons are totally unknown. Nonetheless, one resists solely due to the decree of his Father in Heaven.  The same is true of forbidden sexual relations. Though a person may lust after them,[91] he refrains simply because his Father in Heaven commanded him against them.  This is as stated,[92] “A man should not say ‘I do not want to eat pork’, but rather ‘I do want to eat it and the only reason I don’t is because my Father in Heaven commanded me against it.”

Even in regard to negative mitzvot whose reason was given and which make intellectual sense, such as not to steal,  murder, commit forbidden sexual acts, desecrate the Shabbat and the like, nevertheless, the secrets of Hashem about what great blemishes they cause supernally was not made known.  Rather, they too are like the analogy above, about the father warning his son to stay away and guard his soul from them because of the great harm they will cause him.  Here too, he will guard himself with greater strength of faith to a greater degree than how he strengthens himself to fulfill a positive command of his father. This is because there is a greater strength and measure of faith in this for two reasons:

The first reason is because he will also despise that which is hateful to his father, over and above the fact that it is damaging to his soul. The second reason is because the greater concealment will bring out a greater degree of his faith because this level is called the “encompassing lights” which are in a greater state of concealment.  However, these two are one with a third reason, which is that he does not want to disrespect the honor of his father. In this respect, transgressing a prohibition is worse in his eyes than abstaining from the fulfillment of a positive command of his father.  This will suffice for the understanding.

In the same manner, there are two reasons for abstaining from doing the negative commandments of HaShem with great resolve.  First, because Hashem hates them and they are against His will.  When Jews truly bind themselves to Hashem with faithfulness, as “sons,” of HaShem, then they certainly will have great strength of faith specifically in this.  That is, they will despise and want to eradicate evil with all their strength and might, as stated,[93] “And you shall eradicate the evil from your midst,” just as one flees from something that threatens his life.

The second reason is out of honor and respect for our Father in Heaven, so as not to besmirch or disrespect His honor.  For although the reasons and manner of the great blemish is unknown, just as the reason for the fulfillment of the negative mitzvot is unknown, nevertheless, this itself is what empowers and strengthens a Jew to be steadfast in his faith.  This is because, as said above, the primary essence of faith specifically comes out in those mitzvot the reason of which is unknown.

All in all, we understand from all the above that the fulfillment of the positive mitzvot is an aspect of inner, pervading lights invested in various vessels to fulfill the Supernal will, though this too is through simple faith. This is as stated, “The righteous lives by his faith”, referring to the positive mitzvot about which it states,[94] “You shall live by them,” i.e. specifically eternal life. As explained above, they do not require the intent or reasoning of the mind.  However, the root of the negative mitzvot is higher, to the extent that they come about through greater strength of faith. This is because they are rooted in the “encompassing light” and are exceedingly hidden.  Therefore, it is the abstention from doing the negative mitzvot, through “sitting and not doing”, that draws down the aspect of the “encompassing lights” to protect the positive deeds of the positive mitzvot so that they should be established within their vessels and so that the external forces will not derive sustenance from them.  This, then, is the meaning of “My name (Shmi-שמי)” with Yud-יand Heh-ה equaling the three hundred and sixty five negative commandments, which encompass the Vav-ו and Heh-ה of the two hundred and forty eight positive commandments.  This will suffice for the understanding.   This answers the question mentioned above of how it is that the matter of faith includes all six hundred and thirteen commandments within it.  This will suffice for the understanding.

 

Chapter Five

This, then, is the meaning of the verse, “You have followed Me in the desert, in a land not sown.”  That is, following after Hashem with faith must be in a way that is directed, so as not to deviate to the right or left.  It is of utmost importance not to veer off the straight path at all, as the verse states, “You shall go after Hashem,” meaning that this going must solely be “after Hashem” without deviation from the path, neither to the right nor to the left.

Whoever deviates from the path is said to be lost upon a crooked path. He can come to harm upon this wicked path, to the point of the death of his soul in the grave (She’ol) of ruination (Avadon) and destruction (Shachat).[95]  This is called,[96] “The ways to the grave” or[97] “The paths of crookedness,” as known.  Therefore, this is the primary foundation for the protection of one’s soul, namely, that if he does not at all stray from the straight path (by guarding himself through the negative mitzvot) then automatically, his path will be “before HaShem” in holiness through the fulfillment of the positive mitzvot.  It is for this reason that Hashem praised the Jewish people by specifically saying that “they followed after Me in the desert.”  As known, a desert has no paved roads. Moreover, most desert paths are presumed to be dangerous places populated with snakes, serpents and scorpions. These represent the three totally harsh and wicked husks (Kelipot).[98] This is as stated,[99] “Hashem… Who led you through the great and dreadful desert, wherein were snakes, serpents and scorpions etc.”

Additionally, as known, the[100] “desert of the nations” is where the harshest husks of wickedness can be found. This is why the goat of the Azazel offering was banished to the desert,[101] to transport all the sins of the children of Israel there.  This, then, is the meaning of the verse, “In a land not sown,” this is to say, in a land where the light of holiness does not at all shine.  It is like a place of complete and utter darkness devoid of any illumination of the light. Nonetheless, through the great protection of the power of their tremendous faith, they even travelled in the desert of the snake, serpent and scorpion. This was possible because and they followed only Hashem, without any deviations, neither to the right nor to the left.  Through this they subdued the husks (Kelipot) of the “Desert of the nations” at their source, which is an even greater level than the “going after Hashem” through the positive mitzvot, as was explained above.  This will suffice for the understanding.

 

Chapter Six

Now, all this will be remembered for the Jewish people with an eternal remembrance, because it all demonstrates the great and essential strength of their faith in the very core of their being.  This is the reason why all of the six hundred and thirteen mitzvot rest upon a single mitzvah – the mitzvah of faith. Moreover, strength of faith is especially demonstrated when guarding oneself from the three hundred and sixty five prohibitions. In doing, they become an encompassing light that protects the soul from prosecution in the supernal realm.

This is analogous to a person who wears a coat of armor for protection from all arrows.  Similarly, the verse states,[102] “He enclothes himself in righteousness, like a coat of mail”. This refers to the three hundred and sixty five prohibitions that protect a person from enemy arrows, which are the harsh husks (Kelipot) of total wickedness.  This guards against[103], “Their tongue, which is like sharpened arrows” that prosecute in the supernal realm and thus devour and siphon off vitality from the side of holiness.  This is as stated,[104] “Your wickedness will chastise you,” and as known regarding the verse,[105] “They devour Israel with every mouth,” or as stated,[106] “When men rose up against us… Blessed is Hashem who did not give us as prey to their teeth.”  As known this also is the matter of the seven bad cows which swallowed the good cows, though[107] “their appearance remained bad.”  Similarly, the verse states,[108] “Israel is swallowed up amongst the nations,” i.e. by the seventy angels of the nations.  This, then, is the meaning of,[109] “They devour Israel with every mouth”. This means that goodness becomes consumed by wickedness, as known.

We therefore find that the three hundred and sixty five negative, prohibitive mitzvot act as an encompassing light that protects the positive mitzvot, which are called the two hundred and forty eight organs of the King.  This is so that the external forces not draw vitality from them whatsoever.  This is why it is specifically “My Name (Shmi-שמי) with Yud-י and Heh-ה that corresponds to the three hundred and sixty five negative commandments.  It is specifically with the Yud-י and Heh-ה of HaShem’s name, which correspond to the Divine attributes of Chochmah-Wisdom and Binah-Understanding.[110]  This is because the principal protection from all wickedness, specifically takes place within one’s thought, since it is in there that the inner unification of Abba-Father (Chochmah) and Imma-Mother (Binah) occurs, which is the source and encompassing light of the upper unity (Yichuda Ila’a) in the two hundred and forty eight positive commandments.

The opposite is also true. When a person’s thoughts are blemished, then the encompassing lights of Chochmah and Binah withdraw and he can fall into every type of wickedness.  This is similar to the statement,[111] “Thoughts of sinning are worse than the sin itself.”  For, although one is only punished for the act and not for the thought, nevertheless, the thought is worse than the sin itself because it is the thought that acts as an encompassing shield and protection, as previously discussed.  The proof of this is the fact that when it comes to any positive thought,[112] “The Holy One blessed be He joins it with a deed,” as is known.

Additional proof is from the mitzvah of Torah study which is equal to all other mitzvot and as our sages of blessed memory said,[113] “The land (of Israel) was only lost due to neglect of Torah study”,  as the verse states,[114] “Why is the land lost and laid waste like a wilderness… because they forsook My Torah etc.”  The reason for this was explained above, namely, that the root of Torah is within the Chochmah (insight) of the brain in the head and is the source which encompasses all two hundred and forty eight organs, corresponding to the two-hundred and forty eight positive mitzvot.  Therefore, neglect of Torah study causes blemishes in the encompassing thought and analysis of the words of Torah, the automatic result of which is that the positive mitzvot lack their root. The result is as if he has caused blemish in all the positive mitzvot.

Likewise, guarding oneself from wickedness is specifically dependent upon the thoughts of the mind. We observe that the cause of falling into total wickedness always originates in the mind, in that one deepens his thoughts into evil matters, such as licentiousness and theft or the like, and from thinking it, one comes to doing it. The matter of “turning from wickedness” primarily applies to thought. In other words, when a person pushes all bad thoughts out of his mind and completely distances himself from them, the automatic result is that he will not come to do it, G-d forbid. We therefore see that considering the sin in thought is worse than the sin itself, because it leads to it.

It is therefore understood that strong faith in the fulfillment of the positive mitzvot is as nature in our souls. However, beyond this, there is a power of faith in Chochmah (insight) and Binah (Comprehension) in the thought of the mind, which protects the soul from every type of evil, which is the power to push away and remove one’s thoughts from evil with all of one’s might and strength, solely out of faith. This faith is called an encompassing light (Makif) and is called by the term[115] Ateret (Crown), as known.

(However, it is possible that this encompassing light of faith can be in regard to falsehood or even in regard to something evil.  This is as stated,[116] “When a burglar stands upon the breach [and is about to enter,] he calls out to the Merciful One.” Now, the fact that he calls out to HaShem to respond and assist him in the burglary is a true prayer that resulted from his faith.  On the other hand, the fact that through this theft he commits an act of pure wickedness – is a result of the lust of his animal soul and does not cancel out his faith at all.  This is because the encompassing light of faith radiates externally from afar and does not penetrate him in a revealed fashion at all.  This is the meaning of the statement,[117] “The name of Heaven is habitually expressed in all mouths,” – even in the mouths of false witnesses who swear falsely in HaShem’s name.  Nonetheless, their power of faith is true, in and of itself. Therefore, the mitzvah of faith is specifically to bring it into a state of inner revelation within the mind and heart with great strength, even though it is inherited from our forefathers[118] [in an encompassing fashion].  This will suffice for the understanding.)

This clarifies the statement in Midrash Eicha[119] that at the time of the first Holy Temple, Hashem overlooked their sins of theft, licentiousness and bloodshed, but he did not overlook their sin of neglecting Torah study.  This is as stated,[120] “Why was the land [of Israel] lost and laid waste like a wilderness?…and Hashem said, because they forsook My Torah etc.”  For, when there is a strong bond of thought and thorough analysis in Torah study, that is, in an aspect of the Yud-י and Heh-ה of Chochmah (insight) and Binah (contemplation), in the minds of the community of Israel in general, then they are bound with and unified with His thoughts, blessed be He.  For, He too studies Torah in His essential wisdom every day,[121] and although it is vested in physical matters, this is not concealment at all relative to His essence, as known.  This is because,[122] “His words are alive and established,” literally as they were at the giving of the Torah.  Moreover, in relation to the aspect of Ma”H of Chochmah, the aspect of the garment of Nogah does not cause concealment altogether.  This will suffice for the understanding.

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