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As Divided for a Regular Year
Tanya for 11 Iyar
This is the meaning of [the text of the various blessings pronounced before one fulfills a mitzvah]: "[Blessed be He] Who has betrothed us by His commandments."
[The Hebrew word kidshanu generally rendered, "Who has sanctified us" is here rendered, "Who has betrothed us," from the Hebrew word kiddushin ("betrothal").
For mitzvot too, are] like a man who betrothes a wife, so that she be united with him in a perfect bond, as it is written:  "And he shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be one flesh."
Exactly similar [to the unity achieved through betrothal], and even infinitely surpassing it, is the union of the divine soul that is engaged in Torah and the commandments, and of the vivifying soul, and their garments referred to above, [viz., thought, speech and action all of them becoming united] with the light of the blessed Ein Sof.
[This spiritual union infinitely surpasses the physical union of man and wife. The correlation to a physical union is valid only in the sense that in this world there can be no greater union than that of man and wife. This union is termed kiddushin].
Therefore did Solomon, peace unto him, in the Song of Songs compare this union [of G-d and Jews through Torah and mitzvot] with the union of bridegroom and bride, [this union being] with attachment - [an external level of unity], with longing - [a more inward level of unity] , and desire - [an even more inward level of unity], with embrace and kissing.
[All the above manners of union are found in the Jew's relationship to G-d through Torah and mitzvot.
Until now the Alter Rebbe expounded on the theme of unity, understanding kidshanu as deriving from kiddushin ("betrothal").
The Alter Rebbe now goes on to say that the word kidshanu also alludes to the sanctification a Jew achieves through Torah and mitzvot, sanctification implying a state of exaltation and separation from all worlds].
This is also the meaning of [the blessings alluded to above]: "Who has sanctified us by His commandments," [the verb kidshanu ("Who has sanctified us") here meaning] that He has elevated us to the heights of the Supreme Holiness, which is the holiness of the Holy One, blessed be He, Himself.
Kedushah "[holiness]" is a term indicating separateness, in that the Holy One, blessed be He, is apart from the worlds, this being the quality of "encompassing all worlds," being unable to clothe Himself within them.
[Because of the inability of created beings to absorb the extreme holiness of this transcendent level, G-d (as it were) cannot enclothe Himself within the worlds, and therefore affects them in an encompassing manner. It is to this lofty level that Jews are elevated through their performance of mitzvot].
For through the union of the soul with, and its absorption into, the light of the Ein Sof, it attains the quality and the degree of holiness of the blessed Ein Sof Himself, since it unites itself with Him, and is integrated into Him, and they become truly one.
This is the meaning of the verse:  "And you shall be holy unto Me, for I the Lord am holy; [the verse gives us the reason for the Jew's sanctity, connecting it with G-d's Supreme Holiness, which Jews can attain through Torah and mitzvot]; and I have separated you from other peoples that you should be Mine." [Here we see that holiness implies separation, as mentioned earlier].
Another verse states:  "You shall fulfill all My commandments and be holy unto your G-d: I am the Lord your G-d...." [The term "your G-d," in the possessive form, recalls the relationship set up when a man betrothes a woman, whereby she becomes his wife]. 
The meaning is that "through the fulfillment of the commandments I become `your' G-d," [in the same manner as [G-d is called] "the G-d of Abraham," "the G-d of Isaac," and so on, called thus because the Patriarchs were on the level of a "vehicle" unto Him.
[The Patriarchs were totally dedicated to G-d, and nullified before Him, like a vehicle (lit., "chariot") which is totally nullified to its driver, possessing no independent will], and they were nullified and absorbed in His light].
So it is with the soul of every Jew at the time he is occupied with Torah and the commandments.
[When a Jew occupies himself with Torah study and the performance of its commandments he is totally nullified and absorbed in G-d's light. The only difference between the Patriarchs and other Jews is that the Patriarchs were in this state constantly, while other Jews attain this level only at the above-mentioned times].
Therefore the Sages, of blessed memory, made it obligatory to rise and remain standing  in the presence of anyone who is engaged in fulfilling a commandment, even if the latter is uncultured and illiterate. [When such a person performs a mitzvah, such as bringing Bikkurim (the First Fruits) to the Beit HaMikdash, one must rise before him].
This is because G-d dwells and clothes Himself in this man's soul at such time.
It is only that his soul is unconscious [of this sanctity that resides within him at the time of his performance], because of the barrier of the bodily grossness [within which the soul dwells], which has [of yet] not been refined, and which dims the eyes of the soul [preventing it] from seeing Divine visions, as experienced by the Patriarchs and others of their stature, who "saw their world [the spiritual World to Come] during their lifetime."
[These great tzaddikim were able in this world to see Divine visions normally seen only in the World to Come. This was so because their bodies, having been purified, did not conceal G-dliness.
Truly, each and every Jew would be capable of witnessing such visions of holiness during the performance of a mitzvah, were it not for the coarseness of his body].
- (Back to text) Bereishit 2:24.
- (Back to text) Vayikra 20:26.
- (Back to text) Bamidbar 15:40-41.
- (Back to text) The Rebbe Shlita explains that the Alter Rebbe cites these verses to provide evidence of the various aspects inherent in the term, "has sanctified us." That sanctification is similar to the sanctification and union of a marriage we learn from the phrases, "...unto your G-d; I am the L-rd your G-d." I.e., G-d is our G-d in a manner of a man taking a wife, whereby she becomes his wife.
The second form of "sanctification" the concept that Jews are
- elevated to Supernal Holiness, G-d's essential holiness, and
- sanctified in the sense of being apart
is understood from the first verse, as follows: The words, "And you shall be holy unto Me, for I the L-rd am holy," indicate that the Jews' sanctity is bound up with G-d's Supernal Holiness. The concluding words, "...and I have separated you from other nations that you should be Mine," indicate that sanctity which entails being separate and apart.
- (Back to text) See Kiddushin 33a.
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