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Chachlili Einayim Miyayin


There are several basic types of love a Jew has for G-d.

The first, called Ahavas Olam, Eternal Love, is aroused through contemplation of G-d’s greatness, in the sense that the entire universe is as nothing next to G-d. This love can wane when one’s contemplation gives way to other thoughts.

The second, Ahava Rabba, or Great Love, is the deeply-rooted natural love of a Jewish soul for G-d. Since the Jew is truly united with G-d through his or her soul, which is literally a part of G-d and never changes, this love likewise cannot waver.

Revelation of this Great Love is accomplished through study of the Torah, which is compared to wine. This is the inner significance of the Talmudic saying, “When wine [i.e., Torah] enters a person, the secret [longing of their soul for G-d] comes out.”

This in turn elicits yet a third, and still higher, level of love for G-d, characterized by the person experiencing true delight in G-d.

The above is complemented by a person’s scrutiny of their actions and motivations, and sincere efforts to assimilate the Torah into their own personality

AMONG THE blessings our forefather Jacob bestowed upon his sons before his passing, we find this statement addressed to Judah (Genesis 49:12): “[his] eyes are red with wine, and [his] teeth are white with milk.” This is a reference to the agricultural productivity of the tribe of Judah’s territorial portion in the Land of Israel: there would be enough grapes to redden the eyes from wine, and enough milk to whiten one’s teeth. On a deeper level, these two items were specified because they symbolize certain spiritual qualities; to appreciate the underlying significance of this, let us therefore examine the symbolism of “wine” and “milk.”

Regarding wine, it is written (Judges 9:13), “my wine, that gladdens G-d and men.” This expression is puzzling: what is there about wine that “gladdens G-d”? The answer is that wine, like milk, is a metaphor for Torah, as we find in a passage referring to the Torah (Isaiah 55:1), “go buy wine and milk without money and without price.” Each of these two things represents a particular quality of Torah.

“Wine” refers to a quality expressed by the Talmudic saying (Eruvin 65a and elsewhere), “When wine enters [a person], the secret comes out.” The “secret” is that deeply-rooted feeling at the secret base and foundation of every Jewish soul, his or her great love for G-d – a love which is brought to revelation through Torah study, just as actual wine causes a person to reveal what is buried in his or her secret heart.

Now, there are basically two distinct forms of love for G-d, and the love mentioned above (which is known by the technical term, ahava rabba, Great Love) must be distinguished from a more superficial kind of love called ahavas olam, Eternal Love. While Eternal Love is a readily perceptible love for G-d, Great Love refers to that “hidden love” (ahava mesuteres in Hebrew) that is part of the basic core and essence of each and every single Jewish person, though not always revealed. To see why this hidden love is called “great,” let us contrast the two.

The Hebrew phrase that means Eternal Love, ahavas olam, also means “worldly love” (the word olam implies both “world” and “eternity”); this is a love which relates to space and time. Ahavas olam results from deep and prolonged contemplation and meditation upon the sublimity of G-d, His majesty over time and space. The worshipper should consider that all the splendid grandeur of the universe, all that overwhelms him or her with awe, is truly nothing in its own right, but was created by G-d – and not only that, but is constantly being recreated by G-d, since it is only a constant influx of G-d’s creative energy that keeps the world from returning to the naught and nothingness of its origin – and not only that, but this Divine energy, the very life-force of the universe itself, is not even an extension of G-d’s own “Self,” so to speak, but is nothing more than a reflection of His sovereignty.

There is a certain element of kingship that is entirely separate from the actual person of the king. This is his renown, his “name,” which reaches into the farthest corners of the land (where his will is carried out “in the name of the king”); by contrast, his physical body, and certainly his personal feelings and thoughts, remain inaccessible to the populace. In a similar fashion, the G-dly life-force that pervades every aspect of creation is compared to the sovereignty, the “kingship,” of G-d, His renown, since it brings the universe into being in accordance with G-d’s will, yet is separate from G-d’s very “Self” – which is so indescribably exalted as to utterly transcend any specific relation to the created universe. When a person reflects at length upon this, especially during prayer, there is aroused in him or her a deep feeling of love for G-d – the “eternal” or “worldly” love we have been discussing.

(In fact, virtually all of the morning prayer service is arranged so as to help stimulate this love. As we recite psalms of praise to G-d, it is appropriate to reflect upon His greatness and how all is as nothing in relation to Him. These morning psalms lead up to the Shema prayer, by which point we are ready to proclaim the ultimate unity of G-d: that He is One with a perfect unity, and nothing has any existence whatever outside of Him. It is only by virtue of G-d’s “kingship,” His “name,” that “existence” has any meaning, as we continue by declaring, “Blessed be the name of the glory of His Kingdom ….” Having reflected on this theme throughout the service, culminating in the Shema, we have brought out our love for G-d and go on to recite, “And you shall love G-d your L-rd….”)

All this is the case regarding Eternal Love, ahavas olam. Concerning this, it is written (also in the morning prayers, preparatory to the Shema), “You [G-d] have loved us with eternal love” (ahavas olam ahavtanu). The Hebrew word for “You have loved us,” ahavtanu, may be interpreted as a transitive verb, giving the phrase the meaning, “You have enabled us to love [You] with eternal love.” G-d has given us the capacity to hold this type of love in our hearts, even to fan it into a mighty love that fills every fiber of our beings; Eternal Love can be contained within a human heart and soul.

On the other hand, ahava rabba, Great Love, is so profound that it cannot be “contained” by any vessel. No human heart is “big enough” to completely hold the great love of a Jew for his or her G-d. This is because of the essential nature of the Jewish soul and its relationship to G-d. Each and every Jew has within him or her a “spark” of G-d, literally a part of G-d Himself; this is the essence of the soul. While Eternal Love is the love which we, as intellectual beings, consciously develop, the love of a created being who recognizes his or her creator, Great Love is the natural love of the soul itself – an inseparable part of G-d – for G-d.

The very root of the soul, which is united with G-d, is so lofty that it cannot be contained within one’s physical self, and the same is true of the Great Love that is in the root of the soul. Ahava rabba, Great Love, is present in every single Jew, but it is so basic, so close to the indefinable essence of the person, that it is often imperceptible on a conscious level. That is why it is also called “Hidden Love” – although it can indeed be brought to revelation. It is to this revelation of ahava rabba that the Torah is referring in the verse (Deuteronomy 6:5, recited as part of the Shema), “And you shall love G-d your L-rd … with all your might.”

The difference between the two kinds of love is that “Eternal” or “Worldly” Love, which comes from contemplation of the world and G-d’s greatness, can wane. If a person did not contemplate the greatness of G-d, or if they reflected upon it in the morning and it is now afternoon; if the person turns his or her mind to other things; their heart may turn toward something else for a while rather than being filled constantly with Eternal Love. Great Love, however, innately stemming from the very root of the soul, cannot possibly depart, ever. Even if a person does turn their attention to other things – even if they don’t even believe in G-d (Heaven forbid) – the Great Love of their Jewish soul for G-d remains firm in the secret core of their being, and its impression is always with them.

(That is why even irreligious Jews, if it ever came to that – G-d forbid – have given up their very lives rather than renounce G-d and Judaism: in time of mortal danger (G-d forbid), all worldly matters fade into insignificance, and the deeply rooted and unshakeable love of a Jew for his or her G-d shines forth.)

Now, as mentioned above, this hidden love for G-d – Great Love – can indeed be brought out and revealed, and this is accomplished through study of Torah, which is compared to wine. Just as wine enters a person’s system and causes him or her to reveal what is in his or her secret heart, so it is with the Torah. The soul, source of one’s ahava rabba, Great Love for G-d, expresses itself in day-to-day life through the person’s thoughts, speech and actions. When the “wine” of Torah enters a person’s system, when he or she makes Torah the object of his or her soul’s thought and speech – through study and teaching of Torah – and actions – through actual performance of mitzvos – this stimulates the soul itself and brings its Great Love to the fore.

In a mystical sense, this happens in a manner alluded to by the verse (Psalms 145:16), “You [G-d] open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.” The Hebrew letter yud is frequently found in mystical literature as a symbol for contraction and concealment – specifically, G-d’s concealing His full revelation from our perception in order that we not be overwhelmed. It is identified with chochma, the intellectual faculty which conceives new ideas seemingly out of nowhere, since this faculty is characterized by the new ideas being contracted into a single, hard-to-define, point – the “germ” of an idea – which still requires elaboration and expansion to be fully understood. The degree of G-dliness “prior” to this condensation or concealment for our benefit may be identified with the faculty of “desire” or “will,” since these terms represent an aspect of a person which transcends chochma and intellect. (At the most basic level, a person “wants” something not for any intellectual reason, but just “because.”)

In the above verse, the Hebrew word for “Your hand,” yadecha, can be understood as though it read yudecha, “Your yuds.” The meaning is that G-d “opens up” the contraction represented by the letter yud, and instead, “satisfies the desire of every living thing.” This latter phrase can be understood as meaning, “satisfies every living thing with ‘desire’,” that is, with the faculty of “desire” (ratzon in Hebrew), which, as explained above, is that aspect of G-dliness which is prior to His “contraction.” The Hebrew phrase “every living thing” literally means “all life”; the verse is thus saying that G-d opens up His contraction, with the result that all life – the G-dly flow of creative life-force which animates all levels of creation, spiritual and physical – is imbued, filled to satiety, with the lofty spiritual level of G-d’s ratzon, or will.

This manifestation of the Divine Will or ratzon implies an increased amount of G-dly revelation at all levels of creation; aspects of holiness which ordinarily are concealed are openly revealed under these conditions. With respect to a person’s soul, this means that the ahava mesuteres (Hidden Love) – which we have been referring to as ahava rabba (Great Love) – is likewise brought out from its hidden state and openly revealed. And the factor which initiates this process – the “opening up of the yuds” and resulting saturation of all G-dly life-force into the universe with G-d’s underlying ratzon – is the Torah, which is itself the wisdom (chochma) and the will (ratzon) of G-d.

We are now in a better position to understand the symbolism of the verse, “eyes red with wine.” As explained above, when the wine of Torah enters a person, the secret Great Love within him or her for G-d is brought out. This results in the person being rewarded by the bestowal upon them from above of a third type of love for G-d, a love which surpasses both ahavas olam and ahava rabba, and which a person cannot attain other than as a gift from G-d. This degree of love is characterized by true delight in G-d, and so is called ahava b’ta’anugim, Delightful Love.

(Although in chapter 43 of Tanya, it is implied that ahava rabba and ahava b’ta’anugim are identical, this is explained by the term ahava rabba being used in two ways, depending on context. In one context, it refers to the level described in chapter 19 of Tanya – a love which is brought forth from its hidden state, but which has not yet risen to the level of open delight. In the second context, it refers to a love which is higher than this, that which is identified with Delightful Love.)

Delightful Love is sometimes symbolized in the Torah by lovebirds or doves, which delight in each other and stare at one another continuously (see Song of Songs 1:15, “your eyes are doves’ [eyes].”) It is as though the two lovers “cannot take their eyes off of one another,” and gaze at each other with total rapture until their eyes become bloodshot and red. This is also what is meant by the parallel verses (Psalms 25:15), “my eyes are constantly upon G-d,” and (Psalms 33:18), “the eye of G-d is upon those who fear Him.” Our verse, too, referring to “eyes bloodshot from wine,” is speaking of the degree of Delightful Love which results after one has succeeded, through the wine of Torah, in bringing out the Great Love “hidden” within one’s soul. (This is also the level of love meant by the Kabbalistic expression, “to gaze at the glory of the King [G-d].”)

Delightful Love, as stated, is only experienced as a gift bestowed from above. This level is identified with Shabbos, a day which is associated with the lofty spiritual level of “delight” or “pleasure” (ta’anug in Hebrew), as in the verses (Isaiah 58: 14 and 13), “[if you observe Shabbos…] then you will delight yourself in G-d,” and “you will call Shabbos a delight.” However, as the Talmud remarks (Avoda Zara 3a), “One who toils on the eve of Shabbos will eat on Shabbos,” that is, prior preparation is necessary to experience Shabbos properly. In our context, too, in order to experience the level of Delightful Love that is revealed on Shabbos, one must spend one’s week in sincere worship of G-d and toil in the effort to bring out both prerequisite levels, ahavas olam and ahava rabba.

This aspect of our subject – that Delightful Love and the high spiritual level of ta’anug, delight, is bestowed only after achievement of the two relatively lower degrees of love – is alluded to by the Talmud’s aggadic exposition (K’suvos 111b) of our verse, “eyes red with wine.” (It also affords us an interesting and enlightening insight into the fact that although the aggadic, or narrative, portions of the Talmud (as opposed to the halachic, or analytical, legislative portions) can appear to the superficial reader as “light material,” they are in fact filled with a wisdom and spiritual content so profound as to require shielding behind the veil of the narrative form.)

In the passage in question, the Talmud speaks in praise of the wines of the Land of Israel. Among the points made is that one cannot erroneously suppose that Israeli wine is not flavorful, for the verse states, “eyes bloodshot from wine”: the Hebrew word for bloodshot is chachlili, which can be separated into the components cheich (meaning “palate”) and the word li (meaning “to me”) repeated twice. The Talmud expounds from this that the wine of Israel is so flavorful that any palate that tastes it must exclaim, “to me, to me” – as if to say, “give me more!” or “this is to my liking!”

The deeper significance of this exposition, however, is that the palate is that organ which senses the taste of wine (or anything, for that matter) and derives pleasure from it. It is a symbol for that spiritual level known as ta’anug, delight or pleasure – the same level we identified earlier as associated with Shabbos. Thus, “the palate which tastes the wine” – the spiritual level of ta’anug, having been elicited by the wine of Torah bringing out the prior two levels of ahavas olam and ahava rabba – will “exclaim, ‘to me, to me’” – that is, will absorb into itself (“to me”) and elevate to a higher spiritual level each of the two successfully achieved prior levels.

Now, we said towards the beginning that wine and milk each represent a particular quality of Torah. The conclusion of our verse, “…and teeth white with milk,” alludes to the “milk” of Torah.

Milk nourishes the body and promotes growth. Torah is also called “nourishment,” for reasons explained elsewhere (see Tanya, chapter 5); it is the nourishment of the soul. However, nourishment needs proper digestion in order to be beneficial. Teeth perform the necessary act of grinding up and finely chewing one’s food in order for it to be truly digested and nourish the body. Similarly, before a person can properly assimilate the spirituality of Torah, making it truly a part of themself just as food becomes a part of themself, they must perform the act of “chewing up and finely grinding.” They must thoroughly “grind” and minutely examine their own behavior – including their thoughts, speech and actions – and underlying motives in whatever they do; they must determine to work very hard at developing true love and fear of G-d, and not fool themself. Once the person has done this, the spiritual benefits of Torah serve to nourish their soul and their qualities of love and fear of G-d; this is symbolized by milk, which nourishes one’s limbs and promotes their growth.

This is more than mere imagery. In a mystical sense, one’s spiritual “limbs” – which are nourished by the “milk” of Torah –  are the “emotional” attributes of one’s soul, those qualities known in Hebrew as chesed, gevurah, tiferes, netzach, hod and yesod. These can be grouped in threes: the first three are collectively referred to by the initial letters of their names, which form the acrostic chagas; the latter three, by the same device, are referred to as nehiy.  Furthermore, each of these midos – emotional attributes – encompasses within it something of the three “intellectual” attributes of the soul, chochma, bina and da’as, which gave rise to and perpetuate it. (For example, love of G-d, an aspect of the emotional attribute of chesed, is aroused by intellectual contemplation of G-d’s greatness.) This grouping of three is also known by an acrostic formed by the initial letters of its components: chabad.

So far, we have a total of nine elements to the spiritual “limbs” of one’s soul: the three-pronged groupings of chagas and nehiy, as well as the chabad which sustains them. However, each individual element is actually a composite of all nine. In other words, chesed (for example) is not a simple attribute, but is comprised of the chesed aspect of chesed; the gevurah aspect of chesed; the tiferes aspect of chesed; and so on. Thus, the original nine elements of the “limbs” grow into nine times nine, or 81, elements. Now, it is known that each of these elements may also be viewed as possessing three more facets: the head, middle and end of each (called in Hebrew rosh, toch and sof, respectively). Therefore, the 81 elements now become 81 x 3, or 243. Finally, as explained in Kabbalistic texts, the source of all this growth stems from the five spiritual levels known as the five attributes of chesed (the “hey chasadim,” or five cheseds in Hebrew), which transcend them all and whose nature is to bestow bounty and growth. These 5 chasadim combine with the 243 we have so far, making a total of 248 “emotional limbs” of the soul – the number of limbs in the physical body, corresponding to the number of positive mitzvos in the Torah.

The above may seem confusing, but it is simply a technically detailed description of the manner in which the aspects of one’s soul referred to as the “limbs” of the soul may be said to “grow” to the point at which they correspond to the so-called “limbs of the King [G-d]”; that is, the 248 positive mitzvos of the Torah. The Jewish soul is “designed” so as to be able to achieve this goal: to make one’s soul a true vehicle for the expression of the Torah, each aspect of the soul mirroring the spirituality of a particular mitzvah (and corresponding also to a physical limb of the body), so that the Torah literally unites with one’s soul and “nourishes” it like food is absorbed within and thereby nourishes the body. This is what is meant by the “milk” of Torah, which, like actual milk, helps the limbs to grow.

Finally, this effect of minute examination of one’s actions (“teeth”) resulting in nourishment and growth of the soul (“milk”), causes one’s “teeth to be white from milk.” This expression refers to the fact that the beneficial effects of the “milk” of Torah will be such as to not merely grow one’s character traits quantitatively, but also cause them to shine with quality, like teeth that are bright white.

Lo Tov Heyos HaAdam Levado
Mayim Rabim Lo Yuchlu L'Chabos
B'Etzem HaYom Hazeh Nimol Avrohom
Erda Na
Chayei Sara
V'Avraham Zakein Ba Bayamim
Vayachp'ru Avdei Yitzchok
Vayashkeim Lavan Baboker
Vayeavek Ish Imo
VeHinei Anachnu M'Almim Alumim
Ner Chanukah Mitzvah L'Hanicha
Vayigash Eilav Yehudah
Chachlili Einayim Miyayin