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Vayeitzei: Soul to Soul

In addition to fearing God and loving God, there is another direct road available to us: occupying ourselves with Torah study and the performance of Mitzvot for their own sake through the attribute of our father Jacob, peace be upon him, namely, the attribute of mercy.


Let us arouse in our minds great compassion before God for the Divine Spark that animates our souls and descended from its source, the Life of Life, the blessed Ein-Sof.

That is what is meant by the verse, “And Jacob kissed Rachel and raised his voice and wept (Genesis 29:11).” Rachel represents the congregation of Israel,  the source of all souls, and Jacob, with his supernal attribute of mercy, is the one who arouses great compassion for her.

“And he raised his voice,” upwards to the source of higher mercies, called the Father of Mercies and their source.

“And he wept,” to awaken and draw down an abundance of compassion upon all the souls, and their source in the Congregation of Israel, to lift them up from their exile and unite them in the Higher Unity with the light of the Ein-Sof.

This is achieved by kisses, which means the attachment of spirit with spirit, as it is written, “Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth (Song of Songs 1:2),” which means the union of the man’s word with God’s word, namely the Halacha.

So, too, thought is coupled with thought, and deed with deed, the latter referring to the active observance of mitzvot, in particular the act of charity and loving kindness. For lovingkindness is the Divine Right Arm, which is an aspect of a real embrace, as it is written, “And his right arm did embrace me (Song of Songs 2:6);” while occupation in the Torah by word and in concentrated thought is an aspect of real kisses.

In this way one is able to attain the distinction of “great love” in the revelation of his heart, as it is written, “Of Jacob, who redeemed Abraham (Isaiah 29:22),” as has been explained elsewhere.

Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liady, Tanya, Likkutei Amarim, Chapter 45.

Picture Jacob, arriving in this  strange city after spending 14 years in yeshiva and after his dream of the Stairway to Heaven: He sees a beautiful soul emerging from a crowd of people who have no sense of direction, the value of work, honesty, or a relationship with God. Jacob sees Rachel as a soul lost in exile in a crowd that can potentially crush her spirit. He grabs Rachel and kisses her to attach soul to soul and say,  “I will take all the powerful energy of my past, my study, and my experience on the top of the Mountain of God, and share it with you to elevate your spirit.”

Each time we kiss a holy book before study we are connecting soul to soul to that book, to accept its invitation to elevate us from the world that distracts us from God into a realm of relationship and attachment. It is not only important to kiss with great love a holy book when we complete our study, it is essential to kiss the book even before we open to its pages, so to allow its words to connect with us, soul to soul.

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