Iggeres Ha’Teshuvah Chapter 7, Class 6

Tanya/ Iggeres Ha’Teshuvah – The Epistle on Repentance, Chapter 7, Class 6, beginning of Chapter 8


This acceptance is recited even by those who have never committed capital sins because many other sins blemish the soul to the same degree as do those which are punishable by any of the four executions administered by the court.

Besides, according to sodthe mystical dimension of the Torah, causing a defect in the yud of the Tetragrammaton is like incurring lapidation;

מִלְּבַד, שֶׁעַל פִּי הַסּוֹד, כָּל הַפּוֹגֵם בְּאוֹת יוּ”ד שֶׁל שֵׁם הַוָיָ’ – כְּאִילּוּ נִתְחַיֵּיב סְקִילָה,

causing a defect in the hey is like incurring burning;

וְהַפּוֹגֵם בְּאוֹת הֵ”א – כְּאִילּוּ נִתְחַיֵּיב שְׂרֵיפָה,

[causing a defect] in the vav is like incurring the sword;

וּבְאוֹת וָי”ו – כְּאִילּוּ נִתְחַיֵּיב הֶרֶג,

and [causing a defect in] the latter hey is like incurring strangulation.

וּבְאוֹת הֵ”א אַחֲרוֹנָה – כְּאִילּוּ נִתְחַיֵּיב חֶנֶק:

Neglecting the Shema impairs the yud, and tefillin the hey,

וְהַמְבַטֵּל קְרִיאַת־שְׁמַע – פּוֹגֵם בְּאוֹת יוּ”ד, וּתְפִילִּין – בְּאוֹת הֵ”א,

tzitzit the vav, and prayer the latter hey, and so on.

וְצִיצִית – בְּאוֹת וָי”ו, וּתְפִלָּה – בְּאוֹת הֵ”א וְכוּ’.

We thus see that according to the Kabbalah, the soul can be blemished through other sins just as by a capital sin. Undertaking the “four executions” clears the soul of these blemishes.

From this, a thinking man can infer for other sins and transgressions (The Rebbe adds: “…which one of the letters of the Tetragrammaton they are related to and thus to which manner of execution”),

וּמִזֶּה יָכוֹל הַמַּשְׂכִּיל לִלְמוֹד לִשְׁאָר עֲוֹנוֹת וַחֲטָאִים,

and for [the sin of] neglecting the study of the Torah, which is equivalent to them all.

וּבִיטּוּל תּוֹרָה כְּנֶגֶד כּוּלָּן:

All the above lends the thinking person a contrite heart as he grows aware of the blemish caused even by his supposedly lesser sins.

This contrition is the second preparatory step along the “true and direct” path to the lower level of repentance. For contrition crushes the kelipot and sitra achara and enables a man to repent truthfully, earnestly regretting his past misdeeds and firmly resolving to better his future ways.





34. Note by the Rebbe: “Even though it is not the function of Iggeret Hateshuvah to explain the prayers, this comment is relevant here because one of the themes of the bedside Keriat Shema is stocktaking and teshuvah. (See also Part I, end of ch. 7.)”


Chapter 8.

Two basic elements, as the Alter Rebbe made clear in the previous chapter, enable the lower level of repentance to be true and direct: (a) considering how one’s soul and its Source, the Shechinah, are to be pitied and arousing supreme compassion upon them; and (b) making a thoughtful, soulful, and accurate accounting of the extent to which one’s own sins have brought about the “exile of the Shechinah.” This will make one’s heart humble and contrite, which in turn will crush the spirit of the kelipot and sitra achara.

After deeply considering all this,

וְהִנֵּה, אַחֲרֵי הַעֲמָקַת הַדַּעַת בְּכָל הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל,

one can truly plead, from his inmost heart, “In accordance with Your abounding compassion, erase my transgressions….”1

יוּכַל לְבַקֵּשׁ בֶּאֱמֶת, מֵעוּמְקָא דְלִבָּא “כְּרוֹב רַחֲמֶיךָ מְחֵה פְשָׁעָי וְגוֹ’”.

This verse is recited during Tikkun Chatzot as well as during the bedside reading of Keriat Shema—propitious times for spiritual stocktaking, which will enable him to recite it wholeheartedly.

For by then his heart will be thoroughly impressed with the pathetic state of the spark of Divinity within his soul and [in his soul’s Source] Above, as noted earlier.

כִּי אֲזַי תִּקָּבַע בְּלִבּוֹ בֶּאֱמֶת גּוֹדֶל הָרַחֲמָנוּת עַל בְּחִינַת אֱלֹקוּת שֶׁבְּנַפְשׁוֹ וְשֶׁלְּמַעְלָה, כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל.

He will thereby arouse supreme mercy, from the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy which derive from the supreme will,

וּבָזֶה – יְעוֹרֵר רַחֲמִים הָעֶלְיוֹנִים מִי”ג מִדּוֹת הָרַחֲמִים, הַנִּמְשָׁכוֹת מֵרָצוֹן הָעֶלְיוֹן בָּרוּךְ־הוּא,

alluded to by the “thorn” atop the yud,

הַנִּרְמָז בְּקוֹצוֹ שֶׁל יוּ”ד,

which by far transcends the flow issuing from the letters of the Tetragrammaton.

שֶׁלְּמַעְלָה מַּעְלָה מִבְּחִינַת הַהַשְׁפָּעָה הַנִּשְׁפַּעַת מֵאוֹתִיּוֹת שֵׁם הַוָיָ’.

Sins cause a blemish in the individual letters of the Tetragrammaton, as explained above. This causes the flow emanating from there, and from which a Jew derives his life-force, to descend into the kelipot and sitra achara and provide them with additional nurture.

When one arouses the supreme mercies of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy, which emanate from the level of the supreme will that transcends the letters of the Tetragrammaton, he is then able to rectify the letters and redirect their flow into his soul. 

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