The Rebbe brings in the name of the Rebbe Maharash a Midrash which states:
The Holy One said to man, “my candle is in your hand, and the candle is in my hand; My candle in your hand is Torah… Your candle in My hand is the soul… If you guarded My candle, I guard your candle; but if you extinguished My candle, I extinguish your candle.”
Although it may sound like a case of reward and punishment, the maamor explains it in a much deeper way:
The soul is likened to a candle because of its inherent nature to desire to rise up and be nullified in its source. This is accomplished by Aharon, who has the job to light the menorah until “the flame ascends of its own accord.”. Thus, the verse says “like good oil on the head descends on the beard the beard of Aharon…”. The beard of Aharon is the inyan of the halachos of Torah. This explains our midrash: that guarding the candle of Torah guards the soul that its desire to ascend should be revealed. This is accomplished via Torah.
As Chassidim we can understand that it refers to our hiskashrus to the Rebbe: that by guarding (learning and fulfilling) the Rebbe’s Torah we insure that our desire to be mekushar to the Rebbe remains revealed and is not extinguished, chas v’sholom. (Especially applicable in the period of concealment since Gimmel Tammuz.)
The emphasis here is on “keeping” the Torah, meaning fulfilling the Mitzvos (of course Talmud Torah itself being one of the Mitzvos). Because through Mitzvos one achieves bittul, and only when there is bittul can there be the resting of the Shechina on the body (the analogy of a candle brought in Tanya). And the ultimate level of bittul is acheived through fulfilling Mitzvos. This is why Parshas B’ha’aloshcha (“lighting the candles”) follows the festival of Shavuos, because the level of bittul that became possible after Matan Torah is far greater than what was before.
Even though the natural love of the soul for Hashem — to always be connected and never be separated even to the point is self-sacrifice — existed before Matan Torah, this love is an inheritance from the Avos, who possessed a level of Bittul called a chariot. The chariot (the horses who pull it) fulfill the will of the rider not because they want that they should have a connection to the rider (like the natural love of the soul, mentioned above), but rather because they are bottel — nullified to the rider.
This level of Bittul of a chariot is included (hidden) in the natural love the soul possesses. It is a level of bittul where he does not want anything for himself, only that there should be a revelation of G-dliness in the world, fulfilling Hashem’s desire for a Dwelling Place down below.
But, explains the Rebbe, even this is not the ultimate state of bittul. Because as long as he wants something — even just to fulfill the Divine desire — he retains his sense of independent existence (metzius). The “true inyan of bittul“ is the avoidah of kabbolas ‘ol, that “he is like a slave who has no desires, all that he does is due to the yoke that was placed on him, which forces him to fulfill the will of the Master.”
This has a direct relevance to Moshiach and Geulah, alluded to in the final sections of the maamor. When Yisroel preceded Matan Torah by saying “na’aseh v’nishma” “we will do and [only then] we will understand”, they were accepting the yoke of Kingship. By accepting the yoke of Kingship it had the effect of making the King into an actual King. (“There is no King without a people”.). But the bittul after Matan Torah is the ultimate bittul: the mitzvos are now the decree of Hashem and they force the person to act accordingly.
The levels of Bittul explained here are:
- A natural desire to be attached and not be separated from G-dliness;
- The chariot which has no desire of it’s own, only the desire to fulfill the desire of the rider;
- The bittul of kabbolas ‘ol, like a slave, who has no desire of his own (but nonetheless there is still the metzius of the slave (or the people who have made the King into a King));
- The bittul of Mitzvos after Matan Torah — the ultimate state of bittul, when “it is impossible for there to be a metzius in the world that is in opposition the command of the Holy One.”
This seemingly would completely eliminate the metzius of the person. But, says the Rebbe, since “Yisroel and the Holy One, blessed be He, are all One” then this level of bittul does not nullify his metzius, but to the contrary this is his metzius. Thus the Midrash says that by keeping Torah and Mitzvos (the ultimate level of bittul) this guards and preserves our soul (our unique metzius).
It comes out that the Rebbe is revealing to us that although, as the Rebbe says in other sichos, all that remains to be done is accepting the Kingship of Melech haMoshiach: this itself is not the ultimate level of bittul. Once the Kingship is accepted it must become clear that it is impossible for us to do anything opposite the King’s will due to our complete state of bittul.
The Rebbe knows that we might fear that such a great level of bittul is depressing to our animal soul, and so he adds that this ultimate level of bittul is accompanied by a special joy: simcha shel mitzvah!