Why then is the soul unable to draw down Divine light by its own powers of thought and striving?
Why the need for mitzvot?
The answer given by the Chasidic Sage is a rather baffling and profound statement concerning the origin of the mitzvot.
The primary root of the mitzvot, he asserts, is of the aspect of the inwardness of the highest delight.
The mitzvot come from the inner depths of the Oneg Elyon, which is the utmost joy and rapture of being.
It is written in the Scriptures (Proverbs 8:30) that the Torah is the plaything of God, and by plaything is meant that which gives pleasure and gladness.
More inwardly it signifies God's playing with Himself; in the sense that the Torah– in its essence, in itself, not as that which was given to man–is God's amusement.
And what would such a Divine plaything consist of, before there was a world, before existence and reality?
It would have to be an all-sufficient delight, the blissfulnessof being, the very source of all pleasure, "for with Thee is the source of life" (Psalms 36:9).
As the primary source of life, it is equivalent to the origin of the higher delight, the Oneg Elyon, and as such is the very beginning of all beginnings.
It is that which we may first grasp of the very essence of the Divine.
–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From The Candle of God, p. 8, by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz