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As Divided for a Regular Year
Tanya for 11 Nisan
The Alter Rebbe now proceeds to amplify his previous statement].
This [inability of one's divine service to ascend to the Sefirot] applies not only where one's motive for engaging in Torah and mitzvot is actually shelo lishmah "[not for its own sake]", i.e., for some ulterior motive, heaven forbid, [in which case one is actually serving himself, not G-d, and his service surely cannot ascend "to stand before G-d."
It also applies] even if, as the verse describes it,  "Their fear of Me was like commandments of men done by rote," meaning [that one serves G-d] out of a habit acquired in his youth,  having been trained and taught by his father and teacher to fear G-d and to serve Him, but he does not really do it for its own sake [lishmah].
For it is impossible to serve G-d truly lishmah without arousing one's natural fear and love, at least, by bringing them out from the concealment of the heart into revelation, as least in the mind and the latency of the heart.
[If one cannot arouse his natural love of G-d to the point where it is actually felt in the heart, he must try, as discussed above, to arouse it at least so that it be felt in the conscious mind and in the substratum of the heart.
Even this low-level arousal can produce a will and resolve to study the Torah and fulfill the mitzvot. Thus, the resulting divine service contains (at least to some degree) the force and kavanah of his natural love, since it was this love that created the resolve which he is now implementing.
If, however, one does not produce even this minimal level of arousal, the love, although naturally found in his heart, has no bearing on his divine service, and he cannot, therefore, do this service lishmah "for its own sake]".
For just as one does not do something for his fellow, to carry out his [friend's] will, unless he loves him or fears him, so, too, is it impossible to act truly for G-d's sake, solely in order to carry out His Will, unless he remembers and arouses his love and fear of G-d to some degree - in his mind, thought and the latent level of his heart, at least, [if he cannot arouse these emotions openly in his heart.
One who observes the mitzvot out of habit, however, lacking even this minimal arousal of love, cannot be described as serving G-d for His sake even though his performance is impelled by no ulterior motive].
Furthermore, [the arousal of] love alone, without [the arousal of] at least the lower-level fear of G-d hidden in every Jewish heart, is not called "service", as will be explained later.
[Divine "service" connotes the relationship of a servant to his master, whom he serves chiefly out of fear, unlike a child, who carries out his father's wishes mainly because he loves him.
When one performs a mitzvah out of the love of G-d alone, without fear of Him, he is indeed acting for G-d's sake - but he is not serving Him].
- (Back to text) Yeshayahu 29:13.
- (Back to text) The Rebbe Shlita explains that the Alter Rebbe uses the word "youth" judiciously. Were he referring to a habit acquired when one grew older (as described in chapter 15), then it might well be said that the lishmah at the outset of his service (before it became a habit) elevated his current service as well.
This would be similar to assembling piecemeal - from all one's prayers throughout the year - one complete prayer with kavanah, which would suffice to elevate all the prayers of the entire year. (See end of the present chapter.)
The Rebbe queries, however, whether the lishmah of one's youth is indeed similar to the aforementioned example of prayer, and whether this was indeed the Alter Rebbe's reason for using the word "youth".
The Rebbe Shlita therefore offers an alternative reason.
In the normal course of events parents train their children in the observance of Torah and mitzvot. This training (unlike an adult's unthinking habituation to doing good deeds) is laudable, for the Torah commands us: "And you shall teach them to your children...."
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