Iggeres Ha’Teshuvah Chapter 7, Class 3

Tanya/ Iggeres Ha’Teshuvah – The Epistle on Repentance, Chapter 7, Class 3


The second element [in one’s preparation for a true and direct path to repentance] is to crush and subdue the kelipah and sitra achara,

וְהַב’, לְבַטֵּשׁ וּלְהַכְנִיעַ הַקְּלִיפָּה וְסִטְרָא אָחֳרָא,

whose entire being is simply grossness and arrogance,

אֲשֶׁר כָּל חַיּוּתָהּ הִיא רַק בְּחִינַת גַּסּוּת וְהַגְבָּהָה,

as the verse states, “If you exalt yourself like the eagle….”12

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: “אִם תַּגְבִּיהַּ כַּנֶּשֶׁר וְגוֹ’”,

This crushing and subjugation, absolutely to dust, is its death and nullification.

וְהַבִּיטּוּשׁ וְהַהַכְנָעָה עַד עָפָר מַמָּשׁ – זוֹהִי מִיתָתָהּ וּבִיטּוּלָהּ.

[Evil is crushed] through a broken and contrite heart, a sense of personal unworthiness, repugnance, and so forth.

וְהַיְינוּ, עַל־יְדֵי “לֵב נִשְׁבָּר וְנִדְכֶּה”, וְלִהְיוֹת “נִבְזֶה בְעֵינָיו נִמְאָס” וְכוּ’,

As explained in Part I, ch. 29, the animal soul—even of a beinoni, how much more so of a sinner—is the very person himself. When his heart is humbled, his animal soul which derives from kelipah is, of course, humbled as well. Thus, crushing and subduing one’s arrogance crushes the kelipot and sitra achara.

This is described in the Zohar13 on the verse, “Offerings to G‑d (Elokim) are a broken spirit; (i.e., the offering consists of breaking the spirit of the kelipot and sitra achara, and this is achieved through) a heart broken and contrite….”14

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּזּוֹהַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ עַל פָּסוּק: “זִבְחֵי אֱלֹקִים רוּחַ נִשְׁבָּרָה, לֵב נִשְׁבָּר וְנִדְכֶּה וְכוּ’”,

For all animal offerings are dedicated to G‑d (the Tetragrammaton), the attribute of mercy. This is why all verses which speak of offerings to G‑d refer to Him with the Tetragrammaton.

כִּי כָּל קָרְבָּן מִן הַבְּהֵמָה – הוּא לְשֵׁם הַוָיָ’, הִיא מִדַּת הָרַחֲמִים,

To Elokim, however, the Name indicating the attribute of justice, no animal offering is brought.

אֲבָל לְשֵׁם אֱלֹקִים, הִיא מִדַּת הַדִּין – אֵין מַקְרִיבִין קָרְבַּן בְּהֵמָה,


כִּי אִם

I.e., what is considered an offering to Elokim, for the verse does, after all, state “the offerings to Elokim”?

[the offering is] the shattering and removing of the spirit of defilement and sitra achara. This is the meaning of a “broken spirit.”

לְשַׁבֵּר וּלְהַעֲבִיר רוּחַ הַטּוּמְאָה וְהַסִּטְרָא אָחֳרָא, וְזֶהוּ “רוּחַ נִשְׁבָּרָה”.

How is the spirit of the sitra achara broken? When the heart is broken and contrite….15

וְהַאֵיךְ נִשְׁבְּרָה רוּחַ הַסִּטְרָא אָחֳרָא? כְּשֶׁהַ”לֵּב נִשְׁבָּר וְנִדְכֶּה” וְכוּ’.

And how is the heart to be broken and humbled?

וְהַאֵיךְ נִשְׁבָּר הַלֵּב וְנִדְכֶּה?

Only a very minor part of this can be accomplished through mortification and fasts

הִנֵּה, מְעַט מִזְּעֵיר הוּא עַל־יְדֵי סִיגּוּפִים וְתַעֲנִיּוֹת,

in these generations of ours, when we have not the strength to fast as much as did King David;

בְּדוֹרוֹתֵינוּ אֵלֶּה שֶׁאֵין לָנוּ כֹּחַ לְהִתְעַנּוֹת הַרְבֵּה כְּדָוִד הַמֶּלֶךְ,

as our Sages comment16 on the verse uttered by him, “And my heart is slain within me”17—“for he had destroyed [his Evil Inclination] by fasting.”

כְּמַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה עַל פָּסוּק: “וְלִבִּי חָלַל בְּקִרְבִּי” – שֶׁ”הֲרָגוֹ בְּתַעֲנִית”.




12.  Jeremiah 49:16; Obadiah 1:4.

13.  Note by the Rebbe: “Vayikra 5a.”

14.  Psalms 51:19.

15.  Note by the Rebbe: “Up to this point is implied by the Zohar.”

16.  Note by the Rebbe: “Conclusion of Jerusalem Talmud, Berachot; quoted as well in [Tanya,] Part I, ch. 1.”

17.  Psalms 109:22.

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