As “front” and “back” correspond to east and west, they symbolize sunrise and sunset in the consciousness of the soul. As one’s “sun”–one’s clarity of mind–rises on the horizon of his consciousness, he is to unify God, the merciful Creator of the universe–“Hear, O’ Israel….” The idiom for “sunset” in Hebrew is literally “the coming of the sun,” alluding to the secret in Kabbalah of the marital union of the sefirah of yesod–the “back” or west–with the sefirah of malchut. Malchut is referred to as the Shechinah (“Divine presence”), of which it is said, “the Divine presence is in the west.” In the next chapter, we will see that malchut corresponds to prayer, the inner spiritual reality of one living in Divine space. In particular, it is the back or west, the mitzvah to guard one’s mind to ever remain loyal to one’s spouse, that unites with the mitzvah of prayer. For this reason, we are taught that “the hour of prayer is the hour of battle,” the battle against foreign thoughts that attempt to bombard one’s mind especially in the hour of prayer.
If we are truly devoted to God, we will desire to make our lives productive, or “potent.” Rather than wastefully squandering our energy and talents on things that add nothing to–or even detract from–the overall awareness of God in the world, we will aspire to imbue all our actions with mindful purpose and drive in fulfilling our Beloved’s wish and heightening the world’s awareness of Him. This is the sinfulness of foreign enticements – not allowing life to be truly productive.
The Order of the Mitzvot
The order in which we have presented the mitzvot follows their logical order in terms of cause-effect relation, as we have noted:
1. One first becomes aware that God exists.
2. This leads him to deny all other pseudo-divinities.
3. Once that is done, he sees God in everything (and as everything).
4. This leads him to love God.
5. His love brings him to fear separation from Him.
6. This fear in turn inspires him to defend himself from distracting or confusing influences.