Iggeres Ha’Teshuvah Chapter 6, Class 2


Tanya/ Iggeres Ha’Teshuvah – The Epistle on Repentance, Chapter 6, Class 2


However, as the Alter Rebbe now goes on to say, once they had fallen from that spiritual height and thereby diverted the flow of the Divine life-force from its accustomed course, even deliberate transgressors can now receive their vitality as freely as do mere creatures.

But they then fell from their estate, and through their actions brought about the mystic exile of the Divine Presence,

אַךְ לְאַחַר שֶׁיָּרְדוּ מִמַּדְרֵגָתָם, וְגָרְמוּ בְּמַעֲשֵׂיהֶם סוֹד גָּלוּת הַשְּׁכִינָה,

That the Divine Presence should be in a state of exile among the forces of unholiness is indeed an inconceivable mystery.4

as the verse5 states, “Through your sins was your mother banished.”6

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: “וּבְפִשְׁעֵיכֶם שׁוּלְּחָה אִמְּכֶם”,

“Your mother” refers to the Divine Presence, the “mother of the children” (as explained in Part I, ch. 52), also known as Knesset Yisrael, the source of Jewish souls—the level of malchut of Atzilut. In the context of the letters that constitute the Tetragrammaton, this corresponds to the final hey, from which proceeds the “rope” or “lifeline” to the soul.

This means that the benevolence flowing forth from the abovementioned7 latter hey of the Tetragrammaton was lowered far down, from plane to plane,

דְּהַיְינוּ, שֶׁיָּרְדָה הַשְׁפָּעַת בְּחִינַת הֵ”א תַּתָּאָה הַנִּזְכֶּרֶת לְעֵיל, וְנִשְׁתַּלְשְׁלָה מִמַּדְרֵגָה לְמַדְרֵגָה לְמַטָּה מַטָּה,

until it became enclothed in the ten sefirot of nogah,

עַד שֶׁנִּתְלַבְּשָׁה הַשְׁפָּעָתָהּ בְּי’ סְפִירוֹת דְּנוֹגַהּ,

Inasmuch as the kelipah called nogah includes an admixture of goodness, it is composed of ten sefirot, corresponding to the ten sefirot of holiness.8

which transmit9 the benevolence and vitality through the hosts of heaven and those charged over them

הַמַּשְׁפִּיעוֹת שֶׁפַע וְחַיּוּת עַל־יְדֵי הַמַּזָּלוֹת וְכָל צְבָא הַשָּׁמַיִם וְהַשָּׂרִים שֶׁעֲלֵיהֶם,

to every living physical being in this world, even to all vegetation,

לְכָל הַחַי הַגַּשְׁמִי שֶׁבָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה, וְגַם לְכָל הַצּוֹמֵחַ,

as our Sages state: “There is no blade of grass below that has no spirit [Above that smites it and commands it: Grow!]”10

כְּמַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: “אֵין לְךָ כָּל עֵשֶׂב מִלְּמַטָּה שֶׁאֵין לוֹ מַזָּל וְכוּ’”.

Thus, the life-force of all living beings—even of vegetation, which expresses its vitality through growth—derives from the kelipah of nogah.

Hence, even the sinful and deliberate transgressors11 of Israel may receive vitality [from it] for their bodies and animal souls,

וַאֲזַי, יָכוֹל גַּם הַחוֹטֵא וּפוֹשְׁעֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לְקַבֵּל חַיּוּת לְגוּפָם וְנַפְשָׁם הַבַּהֲמִיוֹת

exactly as other living creatures do,

כְּמוֹ שְׁאָר בַּעֲלֵי חַיִּים מַמָּשׁ,

as Scripture states that there exists a state wherein human beings are “likened and similar to beasts.”12

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: “נִמְשַׁל כַּבְּהֵמוֹת נִדְמוּ”.

In fact, not only is it possible for the sinner to receive his nurture from kelipah as do animals and other living beings, but indeed,


with even greater emphasis and force,

בְּיֶתֶר שְׂאֵת וְיֶתֶר עֹז,

as explained in the holy ZoharParashat Pekudei, that all the benevolence and vitality granted mortal man,

עַל פִּי הַמְבוֹאָר מִזּוֹהַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ פָּרָשַׁת פְּקוּדֵי, שֶׁכָּל שֶׁפַע וְחַיּוּת הַנִּשְׁפָּעוֹת לָאָדָם הַתַּחְתּוֹן

while he commits evil in the eyes of G‑d, in deed or speech, or by musing on sin, and so on,13 i.e., through any of the three soul-garments of thought, speech, and action—

בְּשָׁעָה וְרֶגַע שֶׁעוֹשֶׂה הָרַע בְּעֵינֵי ה’ בְּמַעֲשֶׂה אוֹ בְּדִיבּוּר אוֹ בְּהִרְהוּרֵי עֲבֵירָה וְכוּ’,

all [this life-force] issues to him from the [various] chambers of the sitra achara described there in the holy Zohar.

הַכֹּל נִשְׁפָּע לוֹ מֵהֵיכְלוֹת הַסִּטְרָא אָחֳרָא הַמְבוֹאָרִים שָׁם בַּזּוֹהַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ.

The choice is man’s—whether to derive his nurture from the chambers of the sitra achara or from the chambers of holiness14 from which flow all good and holy thoughts, and so on.

וְהָאָדָם הוּא בַּעַל בְּחִירָה, אִם לְקַבֵּל הַשְׁפָּעָתוֹ מֵהֵיכְלוֹת הַסִּטְרָא אָחֳרָא, אוֹ מֵהֵיכְלוֹת הַקְּדוּשָּׁה שֶׁמֵּהֶם נִשְׁפָּעוֹת כָּל מַחֲשָׁבוֹת טוֹבוֹת וּקְדוֹשׁוֹת וְכוּ’.




11. Note by the Rebbe: “It would seem that the text should read ‘transgressor,’ in the singular.”

12. Psalms 49:13.

13. The Rebbe notes that the Alter Rebbe may have added the words “and so on” for the following reason. In Part I, ch. 11, the Alter Rebbe differentiates between two situations: (a) contemplating the commission of a sin and (b) “and even where one does not actually contemplate committing a sin but indulges in contemplation on the carnal union of male and female in general.” The term “and even” seems to imply that the latter form of contemplation is not an entirely distinct form of sin (for which reason no distinct mention of it is made in Iggeret Hateshuvah). Nevertheless, some reference to it must be made here, and this the Alter Rebbe does by adding the words “and so on.”


14. The Rebbe comments that it seems to be entirely superfluous for the Alter Rebbe to state that “the choice is man’s.” He goes on to provide two possible explanations. (a) Paradoxically, this statement is indeed novel: The Alter Rebbe desires to emphasize that even in times of exile, when “through your sins was your mother banished” and the benevolence flowing forth from the latter hey is enclothed in the kelipah of nogah, man can still choose to receive his vitality from the chambers of holiness. This is possible because the garment of nogah becomes nullified to its wearer—to holiness—and is thereby itself transformed to goodness and absorbed within holiness. This recalls the statement in Part I, early in ch. 40, that in the case of the holy letters of the Torah and prayer, the kelipah of nogah is converted to good and is absorbed into holiness. (This explanation, that the Alter Rebbe wished to tell us that even in times of exile, man can choose to derive his nurture from the chambers of holiness, does not accord with the explanation given in Likkutei Biurim Besefer Hatanya, by Rabbi Yehoshua Korf.) (b) Another possible explanation (which would also go a long way in explaining why it is specifically here that the Alter Rebbe states that “the choice is man’s”): The Alter Rebbe means to tell us that it is specifically during the times of exile, when they “fell from their estate,” that Jews can choose to receive their vitality from the chambers of sitra achara. This, however, could not be done during the time of the Beit Hamikdash, as explained at the end of ch. 5 above. [For at that time, if the “rope” connecting a person to his spiritual source was severed—if, for example, he committed a sin punishable by excision—he could not live at all; during that period, Jews truly could not receive their vitality from the kelipah of nogah.]


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