Chapter 38 Tanya In Simple English

Based on all the above we can now understand the Jewish law mentioned in the Talmud as well as the Rabbis that thinking doesn’t count, rather one must say the actual words of prayer.

And if one only thinks the words of Shema, even with all their concentration they have not fulfilled the Mitzvah, and they must repeat and reread. This also applied to Birchas Hamazoin which is mandatory from the Torah and the other blessings of our  Rabbis and prayer.

In contrast, if one simply says the words and doesn’t even consider the meaning (though this is not the best way, nonetheless) a person fulfills their obligation. One only needs to repeat the first verse of Shema and the first blessings of Shemoina Esrei as taught in the beginning of chapter two of Brochois: “Up to here the Mitzvah is concentration, further it is reading”. (In other words we find it is enough to just say the words.)

The reason for this is that the soul actually doesn’t need to be rectified (improved at all).

Rather the purpose of Mitzvos is but to manifest light to rectify the animal soul and the body through the letters of speech which the soul says with the mouth, ad well as the Mitzvos one does with one’s body.

Nonetheless, our sages have said, that prayer or any blessing lacking concentration is like a body without a soul – in other words, just as every living thing in this world is a composite of a Body and a Soul And God continuously brings it from non existence to existence – nonetheless the energy in the physical matter (which as we know is continually from God reenergized) is nothing compared to the energy given to the soul.

Although in actual fact both can only come from the concealment of God’s infinity, nonetheless there are obviously different gradations.

For the life force in a rock is less than vegetation that can grow.

Generally it is subdivided into the four categories of non living (mineral) vegetation, animal and human which corresponds to the four letters of God’s name.

Now just as the life force is obviously far more intense in humans and animals versus vegetation and rocks simalerly the difference between Mitzvos done with/without intention.

Now it is not that the intention is inherently better… rather both fulfilling the physical Mitzvah (including the speech of prayers) as well as having focused intent, are both the will of the living God, and the intention draws down a quality of light which can be compared to the inherent intense superiority of the soul over the body.

Now simalerly there are four categories in Mitzvos – there are two categories of physical Mitzvos and two of intent.

The two categories of physical Mitzvos are the Mitzvos that we do with physical objects such as Teffilin and the like, and the Mitzvos that involve reading or thinking (prayer and Torah study.)

The two categories of intent is over who has the capacity to arouse such a deep love and reverence to God that this is his sole desire and his wish is to connect to God through Torah and Mitzvos – this is similar to the soul in a human that is intelligent and speaks with forethought.

Whereas one who simply desires to connect to God as this is the instinct in a Jew from their innate love / fear of God this is similar to the soul of an animal whose entire intent is to gain things which are pleasurable to it (or beneficial) and refrain from anything harmful / painful.