Likutei Amarim Chapter 37, Class # 2

Middle of Chapter 37

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Thus far, the Alter Rebbe has discussed the effect of a mitzvah on the objects used in its performance (e.g., the etrog, the parchment used for tefillin,etc.). He now discusses its effect on the power of a Jew’s animal soul that is applied to the mitzvah. This soul, like the aforementioned objects, derives its vitality from kelipat nogah; and like them it experiences a similar elevation to the realm of holiness whenever it is used in service of a mitzvah, being absorbed into the Divine Will represented by the mitzvah.

In the Alter Rebbe’s words:

וכן כח נפש החיונית הבהמית שבאברי גוף האדם המקיים המצוה, הוא מתלבש גם כן בעשיה זו

Similarly the power of the vitalizing animal soul clothed in the bodily limbs of a person who performs a mitzvah, likewise clothes itself in the deed of the mitzvah.

ועולה מהקליפה, ונכלל בקדושת המצוה שהיא רצונו יתברך, ובטל באור אין סוף ברוך הוא

Thereby it ascends from the kelipah to be absorbed into the holiness of themitzvah which is His Will, and is nullified within the blessed Ein Sof-light.

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to say that those mitzvot involving speech alone likewise effect this elevation of the animal soul, even though here the animal soul’s power is not brought to bear in the performance of any mitzvah.

וגם במצות תלמוד תורה וקריאת שמע ותפלה וכיוצא בהן

Even in the case of such mitzvot as Torah study, reciting the Shema, prayer and the like, the animal soul’s power is elevated to holiness,

אף שאינן בעשיה גשמית ממש שתחת ממשלת קליפת נוגה

although they do not involve actual physical action which is under the dominion of kelipat nogah,

מכל מקום הא קיימא לן דהרהור לאו כדבור דמי, ואינו יוצא ידי חובתו עד שיוציא בשפתיו

yet it is an accepted principle that “thought is not a substitute for speech”; and one does not fulfill his duty of Torah study, prayer, etc. unless he actually utters [the words] with his lips.

וקיימא לן דעקימת שפתיו הוי מעשה

It is also accepted that “moving one’s lips constitutes action,” and such “action”, as the Rebbe notes, likewise stems from the vitality of the kelipat nogah that is nourished by the animal soul, as does the actual bodily action spoken of earlier.

כי אי אפשר לנפש האלקית לבטא בשפתיים ופה ולשון ושיניים הגשמיים, כי אם על ידי נפש החיונית הבהמית, המלובשת באברי הגוף ממש

For the divine soul cannot express itself with the physical lips, mouth, tongue or teeth, the instruments of speech, except by way of the vitalizing animal soul actually clothed in the organs of the body.

The divine soul is entirely spiritual, the body, physical. Therefore (as explained in ch. 35), the divine soul cannot activate the body to perform amitzvah except through an intermediary. This intermediary is the animal soul, which, on the one hand, is a soul, a spiritual life-force, yet on the other hand is actually clothed in the blood and the bodily organs.

This intermediary is necessary in mitzvot performed through speech, just as in the mitzvot performed through action. For articulating the words required for the mitzvah also constitutes physical “action”; so that this too cannot be accomplished by the divine soul except by way of the animal soul’s power.

וכל מה שמדבר בכח גדול יותר, הוא מכניס ומלביש יותר כחות מנפש החיונית בדבורים אלו

Hence, the more forcefully one speaks words of Torah or prayer, the more of the animal soul’s energy he introduces and clothes in these words. Thereby, he converts more of the energy of the kelipah to holiness.

וזה שאמר הכתוב: כל עצמותי תאמרנה וגו׳

This is also the meaning of the verse,2 “All my bones shall declare…. [:‘G‑d, who is like You?’],” which means that the words of Torah and prayer must be said “ with all of one’s bones,” so that as much as possible of the body’s energy be utilized in performing themitzvot.

וזה שאמרו רז״ל: אם ערוכה בכל רמ״ח אברים משתמרת, ואם לאו אינה משתמרת

This is why our Sages have said:3 “If the Torah abides in all of your 248 limbs it is preserved in your memory; otherwise it is not preserved.”

כי השכחה היא מקליפת הגוף ונפש החיונית הבהמית, שהן מקליפת נוגה הנכללת לפעמים בקדושה

For forgetfulness in matters of Torah stems from the kelipah of the body and vitalizing animal soul, derived from kelipat nogah which is sometimes absorbed into holiness; when it is absorbed into holiness, there is no longer any cause for forgetfulness.

והיינו כשמתיש כחן, ומכניס כל כחן בקדושת התורה או התפלה

This is accomplished when one weakens their power (the power of body and animal soul), applying all their strength to the holiness of Torah and prayer.

This, then, is the meaning of the aforementioned quotation: When one involves (the energy of) all his 248 limbs in Torah study, it is preserved in his memory, for the kelipah that causes one to forget has been weakened.

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2.Tehillim 35:10.                                                                                                                                                                     3. Eruvin 54a.

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