The third level is the actual arousal and excitement of the emotions of the heart. This is when immediately following the arousal of his thoughts (as detailed above), his heart becomes aroused as well. This arousal is felt with much vitality. This is to say that the arousal of his thoughts is immediately expanded in his heart, as is known, that the excitement of the heart is more expansive compared to the excitement of the mind. Because of this, the excitement of this level is felt to a greater degree than the excitement of the previous levels. (However, this is not an arousal of actual G-dliness, in which the heart actually “feels” the G-dliness. Here, we are dealing with levels of arousal of the natural, animalistic soul. When G-dliness itself is felt by the heart, it is a level of arousal of the Divine soul rather than the animal soul. Moreover, that level is higher than even the fifth and highest level of the natural, animalistic soul, as will be explained.)
Now, it is stated about this level, “You shall love the L-rd your G-d with all your heart.” The word “your heart – Levavecha” is written with two letters Veit. The Sages teach that this means the one must serve G-d with both his Divine soul and his animalistic soul. The animal soul too, must love G-d. This is to say that one must toil with his mind through deep Hitbonenut contemplation, to the point that even his heart of flesh becomes aroused with love of G-d. Furthermore, the word “all (your heart)” informs us that this excitement and arousal must be with all the heart, not just that which relates to action alone. The Zohar calls this, “Pulchana D’Rechimuta –A Labor of Love”. It is called “Labor” because the arousal of this love requires great toil and labor, as opposed to arousing the heart towards worldly matters.
When it comes to worldly matters, as soon as a desire enters one’s mind, it becomes aroused and immediately affects the heart, arousing it with great yearning and flaming desire. The opposite is also true. When something negative causes the mind to become embittered, the heart too, responds immediately with great bitterness and disdain against it. However, in regard to the service of G-d, this is not so. In matters of G-dliness, the heart is not easily moved by the arousal of the mind. This is because the G-dliness in the comprehension of his mind does not permeate his very being, since it is revealed only in an encompassing manner. Therefore, he does not grasp the actual G-dliness itself.
If this is the case in respect to the actual letters of comprehension in the mind, then certainly the revelation to the heart will be even more miniscule. It therefore requires great contemplative toil and labor, to bring the G-dly light itself into the letters of his comprehension. When this is accomplished, his heart will automatically and spontaneously be ignited as well, in the manner explained above. This service is therefore called “Labor” since it requires great toil and labor.
Another reason it is called “Avodah – Work”, is from the terminology “Orot Avudim – Worked hides”. Hides are “worked” to soften and make them fit for use. Likewise, the toil of Hitbonenut constitutes the matter of “working” on the character traits of the animal soul and redirecting them to G-d, instead of toward worldly desires. This may only be accomplished through Hitbonenut – contemplation.
Now, there are many different ways that the heart may become aroused. One person may become aroused more in his heart than his intellect. This is because he has touched the very source of the emotions on the level of the desire and pleasure, and because of this his emotions are aroused to a greater degree than his mind. Some people are aroused more through bitterness over their great distance from G-d, while others are aroused with great delight and joy. All this depends on the source of a person’s soul, whether it comes from the side of kindness or the side of sternness (Chesed or Gevurah). Therefore, there is an entire range of possible responses to the Hitbonenut, depending on the source and composition of one’s soul.
Now, what is born of this level is an aspect of great vitality in the performance of the Mitzvot (Commandments). This is to say that in regard to fulfilling the positive commandments, he performs them with great love and desire and his Mitzvot are full of warmth and vitality. In regard to evil, on the other hand, he will be greatly embittered by it, and will distance himself from it as if from death itself. His emotions will become provoked against all forms of evil and he will guard himself greatly from them.
This is similar to one who is involved in his personal affairs or his business dealings with all his heart. Anything that increases or advances his business he will do with great swiftness and enthusiasm. However, he will distance himself and guard himself against anything that he perceives as being detrimental or destructive to his business. This also will be with a great arousal of the emotions. Likewise, love of G-d is the source of the desire to fulfill the 248 positive commandments, while fear of G-d is the source of the desire to desist from transgressing the 365 negative commandments. This level is called “Natural love and fear of G-d”, and is a love and fear of the heart. (Nonetheless, this is the love and fear of the animal soul, as explained above.)