189. "In the beginning. Elohim created" (Beresheet 1:1). This is the first and foremost precept of all. And this precept is called "the fear of the Hashem," which is called the "beginning." As it is written, "The Fear of Hashem is the beginning of wisdom" (Tehilim 111:10); "The fear of Hashem is the beginning of knowledge" (Mishlei 1:7). Because this fear (or awe) is called a beginning. And it is the gateway through which one enters into Faith. So based on this precept, the whole world is able to exist.
190. Fear is divided into three types. Two have no fundamental sources and one is the actual source of fear. There is a person who fears and respects the Holy One, blessed be He, so that his children will live and not die, or because he is afraid to be punished through his body or his wealth. This person, therefore, is always afraid of Him. But we can see that the fear he has of the Holy One, blessed be He, has no actual source, THAT IS, IS NOT FUNDAMENTALLY GENUINE, BECAUSE HIS OWN BENEFIT IS THE ROOT CAUSE, WHILE THE FEAR IS ONLY ITS RESULT! And there is a person who fears the Holy One, blessed be He, because he is afraid of the punishment that awaits him in the other world, and the tortures of Gehenom. These two KINDS OF FEAR, NAMELY THE FEAR OF PUNISHMENT A PERSON RECEIVES IN THIS WORLD AND THE FEAR OF THE PUNISHMENT IN THE WORLD TO COME, are not the essence of fear nor its genuine source!
191. The fear that is essential and genuine occurs when a person fears his Master because he is almighty and governs all; because He is the main source and essence of all worlds. And everything that exists is as nothing compared to Him. As it is written, "and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing" (Daniel 4:32) and a person should concentrate his desires to that place which is called "fear!"
192. Rabbi Shimon began to weep and said, woe if I say and woe if I do not say. If I say, then the evil people shall know how to serve their Master. And if I do not say, the friends shall lose this matter. Because at the location where the sacred fear is to be found, down below, there is a CORRESPONDING evil fear that smites and scourges and then prosecutes. This is a lash used for the whipping of the wicked. THIS MEANS TO PUNISH THEM FOR THEIR SINS. THIS IS WHY HE WAS AFRAID TO REVEAL HIS INTENTIONS, BECAUSE HE DID NOT WANT THE WICKED TO KNOW HOW TO AVOID PUNISHMENT, AS THEIR PUNISHMENT IS THEIR PURIFICATION!
193. So, he who fears because of the punishment of being whipped and prosecuted, as is already stated, does not have that fear of Hashem that is called "the fear of Hashem that leads to life" (Mishlei 19:23). Then what fear is such a person endowed with? It is evil fear. And so he is ruled by that whipping lash, the evil fear, and not the fear of Hashem.
194. And because of this, the place that is named "the fear of Hashem" is called "the beginning of knowledge" (Mishlei 1:7). And this precept is included here. This is the source and the main principle of all the other precepts of the Torah. Whoever observes the precept of fear observes all the others. AND HE who does not observe the precept of fear does not observe any of the precepts of the Torah. Because this FEAR is the gateway to everything!
195. Because of this, it is written, "In the Beginning," which is "fear," "Elohim created the heaven and the earth." Because, whoever transgresses this, transgresses ALL OF the precepts of the Torah. And the punishment for he who transgresses IS this cruel and evil lash, NAMELY THIS EVIL FEAR, WHICH shall whip him. Therefore "and the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and a wind from Elohim" (Beresheet 1:2) are the four punishments for the wicked.
196. "Without form" means strangulation, as it is written, "a line of confusion" (Yeshayah 34:11) that is "a measuring line" (Zecharyah 2:5). "Void" means stoning and refers to the stones that are sunk in the great deep for the purpose of punishing the wicked. And "darkness" means burning. As it is written, "And it came to pass, when you heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, while the mountain did burn with fire" (Devarim 5:20). And this fierce fire "shall fall upon the head of the wicked" (Yirmeyah 23:19) to burn them.
197. And "a wind" means slaughtering by the sword. Because the tempest storm is a flaming, sharp sword that burns within it. As it is written, "and the bright blade of a revolving sword" (Beresheet 3:24). And it is also called a wind. So this is the punishment for whoever transgresses the precepts of the Torah. Because it appears after fear that is CALLED Beginning and includes everything. BECAUSE AFTER THE TERM "BEGINNING," WHICH MEANS "FEAR," IT IS WRITTEN, "WITHOUT FORM AND VOID; AND DARKNESS... AND A WIND." THESE ARE THE FOUR FORMS OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT. From here onward, come the rest of the precepts of the Torah.
198. The second precept is that the precept of fear is strongly attached to and never disconnected from the precept of love. A person should love his Master wholly. And what is perfect love? It is great love, as it is written, "walk before Me and be perfect" (Beresheet 17:1). "PERFECT" MEANS to be whole with love. Thus it is written, "And Elohim said, Let there be light" (Beresheet 1:3). This perfect love is called great love. And here it appears as a precept, that a person should love his Master properly.