the way to your soul is through your understanding

The Baal HaTanya makes a very unusual point: The Godly soul resides in the intellect, while the animal soul resides in the heart.

There is a powerful lesson to be learned from this: We desire what is of value to the animal soul whereas we merely understand the importance of what is of value to the Godly soul, we don't feel an internal drive to pursue it. The life's work of a person is bring your Godly soul down from the intellect into your heart, to the point where we crave that which the Godly soul values.

This might even be the very crux of free will. The heart/mind divide.

One of the early lessons of the Kuntres HaTefillah (written by the Rebbe Rasha"b, a descendant of the Baal HaTanya) is that because of this discrepancy the tactics that work to awaken a desire in one's heart don't work to ignite one's soul with spiritual yearning. He says because the Godly soul is of an intellectual nature, only an intense intellectual pursuit in great depth of detail has the ability to truly awaken one's Godly soul to the point that it awakens deep feelings even in one's heart. It's a compelling argument and there is no question that within the body of Chabad Chassidut this is the essence of the service of God. Even outside of the body of Chabad Chassidut I think there is a powerful point we would do well to internalize. The author (Rebbe Rasha"b) goes into greater detail in the Kuntres explaining that as long as our kavana, our intentions in tefilla, are not focused and detailed, the effect it has in awakening us to impassioned service of God is limited at best.

This probably is limited in scope depending on one's personality and spiritual inclination, but at a basic enough level it applies across the board: In any discipline, in any field, anything but a serious and focused investment of energies will reap little accomplishment. As a spiritual expert the Rasha"b is saying, the way to have a lasting impact on your soul is through intense and earnest meditation on Torah principles that make up the foundation of the universe and one's place in it, or as he calls them: "Divrei Elokim Hayyim" (God's living words.)


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