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As Divided for a Regular Year
Tanya for 1 Nissan
[Until here the Alter Rebbe has discussed the superiority of Torah study over other mitzvot in terms of its greater influence on the soul.
He now begins to describe a far greater quality found in Torah study.
Of all the mitzvot, only Torah study is described as "calling to G-d, as one calls to his friend, and as a son calls his father," as the Alter Rebbe will state shortly.
Whereas mitzvot have the effect of drawing the light of G-d (i.e., of His Will) upon the soul, Torah study "calls" G-d's essence to man, as is implied in the analogy of one who calls to his friend: the friend will turn with his entire "essence" to face his caller.
Furthermore: As a means of "calling" G-d, Torah study is superior even to prayer.
For this reason, in the verse, "G-d is near to all who call Him, to all who call Him in truth," the first part of the verse refers to prayer and the latter to Torah.
The difference between the two forms of "calling G-d" is that prayer effects a change in material matters: healing, prosperity, etc., whereas the effect of Torah is in the soul, on the spiritual plane.
In the Alter Rebbe's words]:
This influence and illumination [generated by one's Torah study], which man draws from the radiance of the Ein Sof-light upon his soul and upon the souls of all Israel, [meaning, as will be explained later, that the light is drawn into the spiritual level known as "the Shechinah, Knesset Yisrael" - the source of all the souls of Israel - and thereby the Ein Sof - light reaches not only the soul of the person studying Torah, but also that of every Jew; -
This illumination which one draws] through his Torah study is referred to as "calling" [as in the Talmudic expression concerning a Torah student Koreh BaTorah (usually translated as "One who reads (studies) the Torah," but reinterpreted here as "One who calls [G-d] through the Torah").
Just as calling in its usual sense means that the caller causes the person being called to come to him, to turn to him with his entire being, similarly in the context of "calling through Torah"]:
This [phrase] means that in Torah study one calls G-d to come to him, so to speak, as a man calls to his friend to come to him, or as a child will call his father to come and join him and not to part from him, leaving him alone, G-d forbid.
[The former analogy pertains to those Jews designated as "brethren and friends" of G-d; when they study Torah they call their "friend". The latter analogy pertains to those designed "children of G-d"; when they study Torah they are calling their "father"].
This is the meaning of the verse:  "G-d is near (a) to all who call Him, (b) to all who call Him in truth,"  and  "There is no truth but Torah," indicating that [one "calls G-d with truth" as opposed to simply "calling G-d]," only by calling G-d through Torah study, in contrast to one who does not call Him through Torah study, but merely cries: "Father, Father!"
[This refers to the service of prayer, in which one calls G-d, out of love for Him, saying "Father...!" Such a call is not considered "calling with truth," and thus the illumination of G-dly light generated by this call cannot compare with that generated by Torah, as explained above].
Over him [who thus calls G-d] the prophet laments:  "There is none who calls by Your Name," as is written elsewhere.
[Since he does not say simply: "There is none who calls You," his intention must be that although there are indeed those who "call" G-d, yet they do not do so "by His Name," meaning through Torah, "whose words throughout are the Names of G-d" (Ramban, Introduction to his commentary on the Torah, based on the Zohar).
By dwelling on this matter, the intelligent person will derive means of drawing upon himself a great awe [of G-d] when he engages in Torah study, as explained above (in chapter 23). 
[There it is stated that one's Torah study must be permeated with awe of G-d (despite the apparent incompatibility between the intellectual boldness that characterizes study, and the constraint engendered by awe); this awe, moreover, is the goal of Torah study, while study is merely the "gateway".
The thought that in Torah study one "calls" G-d to himself, just as, for example, one calls his friend to come to him, will surely arouse in the student a feeling of intense awe of G-d.
- (Back to text) Tehillim 145:18.
- (Back to text) The division into (a) and (b) is by the Rebbe Shlita, who notes that this accords with the explanation given in Sanhedrin 39b, and in the Siddur [with chassidic commentary] on this verse.
- (Back to text) Tanna devei Eliyahu Zuta, chapter 21.
- (Back to text) Yeshayahu 64:6.
- (Back to text) The Rebbe Shlita asks the following question. What reason is there for the Alter Rebbe to refer the reader back to chapter 23, when arousal of great reverence is achieved only by meditating on that which is stated in this chapter, and not in chapter 23? For in this chapter the Alter Rebbe stresses that through his Torah study a person is able to draw down G-d Himself, as it were, like a person calling his friend to come to him. In chapter 23, however, we find only that Torah study enables the person to draw down the Supernal Will and Light; it mentions nothing of drawing down G-d Himself. Why, then, does the Alter Rebbe connect chapter 23 to that which is being discussed here?
We must say, writes the Rebbe Shlita, that the Alter Rebbe does so in order to stress that great reverence is indispensable during Torah study. Since fear is an emotion that leads to withdrawal and contraction it would seem to be inimical to Torah study, which requires openness and expansiveness. The Alter Rebbe therefore cites chapter 23, wherein he explained that great reverence must be felt during one's study of Torah. Furthermore, by citing the above-mentioned chapter the Alter Rebbe indicates that one should ponder the statement there - that Torah study is "secondary" to reverence, and serves to arouse it.
This is the meaning of the verse, "And G-d commanded us [to obey] all these statutes, in order to fear G-d..." This, explains the Alter Rebbe at the end of chapter 23, implies that (a) the ultimate purpose of the Torah - "commanded us" - is "in order to fear G-d"; (b) that Torah is called "a gateway to the dwelling" of fear. Thus Torah in relation to fear is a matter of secondary importance, a mere gateway to the house itself. All the above is discussed in chapter 23, and it is this that the Alter Rebbe intended to convey when he cited that chapter.
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