By Shalom Olensky
This week in the Torah:
“G‑d’s portion is His nation; Jacob is the rope, His possession.” (Deuteronomy 32:9)
Chassidic interpretation (Tanya – Letter on Repentance):
G-d’s nation is a portion/part of Himself; Jacob – the soul of every Jew – is tied to G‑d as if through a rope.
The Tanya’s explanation:
Just as a vertically held rope connects the upper level to the lower level, so too the soul of a Jew is from above – part of G-d – and extends into the Jew, connecting him with his source above.
The Tanya’s lesson; the severity of a sin:
A sin, G-d forbid, can stop the flow of Divine light from extending down into the Jew’s soul. A sin can “sever the rope” detaching the Jew from his Divine source. And as he is connected, rope-like, to G-d, then by inappropriate behavior he “pulls down the top of the rope” – G-dliness – into the mire of misdeed.
1. If a sin blocks the flow of Divine light, how do we say that it “severs the rope,” if the flow was blocked from reaching downward to begin with? 2. If a sin “severs the rope,” then how do we say that the Jew below “pulls down the top” if they are severed?
Based on this analysis, we must say that the Tanya speaks here of three distinct levels of the soul invested in the body.
The loftiest, requires that it be constantly re-issued from its source. This is the level that is blocked from reaching the body in the case of sin. A lower level of the soul can more comfortably reside, settled, in the body. Yet its bond to G-d could be severed by sin. The lowest level of the G-dly soul-bond is never detached by sin; however the G-dly “rope” is lowered and degraded. (Recognizing the severity of misdeed leads a person to correct his behavior.)
Why is it that the lowest level of the G-dly soul’s bond with G-d remains unsevered by sin? As the lowest it should be the weakest connection – seemingly.
The lowest level is only possible because it is empowered by the very essence of the soul, as it connects with the very Essence of G-d. The Essence is never misappropriated, for, it is the Essence. Hence it can extend so low without being impinged on. Even during sin it remains faithful. And it is by virtue of this Essence that the Jew can always do Teshuvah, repentance, and restore the Divine bond to its desirable state.
(Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. 9, Haazinu)