Iggeres Ha’Teshuvah Chapter 8, Class 3

Tanya/ Iggeres Ha’Teshuvah – The Epistle on Repentance, Chapter 8, Class 3,


Therefore, on account of their lofty origin, these Thirteen Attributes of Mercy correct all defects,

וְלָכֵן הַי”ג מִדּוֹת הָרַחֲמִים מְנַקִּים כָּל הַפְּגָמִים,

as it is written, “He forgives inequity and transgression…and cleanses.”2

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: “נוֹשֵׂא עָוֹן וָפֶשַׁע וְנַקֵּה”,

With this awakening of mercies following the contrition,

There is no further nurture for the evil forces and for the sitra achara from the life-force emanating from the lower hey, as noted.

וְשׁוּב אֵין יְנִיקָה לְהַחִיצוֹנִים וְהַסִּטְרָא אָחֳרָא מֵהַשְׁפָּעַת הֵ”א תַּתָּאָה, כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

(3The latter hey thereupon returns to its proper place, reunited with [the preceding three letters of the Tetragrammaton,] yud-hey-vav. This will suffice for the understanding.)

(וּבָזֶה תָּשׁוּב הֵ”א תַּתָּאָה לִמְקוֹמָהּ, לְהִתְיַיחֵד בְּיה”ו, וְדַי לַמֵבִין).

This, then, is the meaning of the statement quoted in ch. 4, that the lower level of teshuvah consists of the “return of the lower hey.”

Just as there is a restoration of the hey Above, exactly so below in the Divine soul within man;

וְכֵן מַמָּשׁ לְמַטָּה בַּנֶּפֶשׁ הָאֱלֹקִית שֶׁבָּאָדָם,

no more do “your sins separate [you from G‑d].”4

שׁוּב אֵין “עֲוֹנוֹתֵיכֶם מַבְדִּילִים”,

Thus, it is written, naming one of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy, “He cleanses,”2 on which our Sages comment, “He cleanses those who return to Him in penitence,”5

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב “וְנַקֵּה” – “מְנַקֶּה הוּא לַשָּׁבִים”,

to lave and cleanse their souls of the soiled garments, which are the evil (lit., “extraneous”) forces, i.e., the kelipot and sitra achara,

לִרְחוֹץ וּלְנַקּוֹת נַפְשָׁם מִלְּבוּשִׁים הַצּוֹאִים, הֵם הַחִיצוֹנִים וְסִטְרָא אָחֳרָא,

that the Talmud describes as [a garment born of a man’s sin that] “envelops him….”6

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּגְּמָרָא “מְלַפַּפְתּוֹ וְכוּ’”.

After the “wind [of forgiveness] passes over [the souls of sinners] and purifies them,”7

וּמֵאַחַר שֶׁ”רוּחַ עָבְרָה וַתְּטַהֲרֵם”,

then their souls are enabled to return literally unto G‑d Himself,

אֲזַי תּוּכַל נַפְשָׁם לָשׁוּב עַד הַוָיָ’ בָּרוּךְ־הוּא מַמָּשׁ,

to ascend the greatest heights, to their very Source, and cleave to Him with a remarkable unity,

וְלַעֲלוֹת מַעְלָה מַּעְלָה לִמְקוֹרָהּ, וּלְדָבְקָה בּוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ בְּיִחוּד נִפְלָא,

in ultimate union with Him, just as before the soul was blown forth by the breath of His mouth

כְּמוֹ שֶׁהָיְתָה מְיוּחֶדֶת בּוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ בְּתַכְלִית הַיִּחוּד, בְּטֶרֶם שֶׁנְּפָחָהּ בְּרוּחַ פִּיו יִתְבָּרֵךְ

to descend and be incorporated within the body of man.

לֵירֵד לְמַטָּה וּלְהִתְלַבֵּשׁ בְּגוּף הָאָדָם

(8To illustrate this unity: Before one exhales, the breath is one with the person, inseparably.)

(וּכְמוֹ עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל, בְּאָדָם הַנּוֹפֵחַ בְּרוּחַ פִּיו, בְּטֶרֶם שֶׁיּוֹצֵא הָרוּחַ מִפִּיו – הוּא מְיוּחָד בְּנַפְשׁוֹ).

Likewise, just as the soul was utterly united with G‑d before it was “blown” or “breathed” into the body, so, too, does it now unite with Him after repentance.

This is perfect return.

וְזוֹ הִיא תְּשׁוּבָה שְׁלֵימָה.          




2.  Numbers 14:18.

3.  Parentheses are in the original text.

4.  Cf. Isaiah 59:2.

5.  Yoma 86a.

6.  Sotah 3b.

7.  Note by the Rebbe: “Job 37:21. The meaning of the verse is that the wind clears the heavens of clouds. So, too, in the analogue, the breath of repentance spirits away the dense cloud of sin.”

8.  Parentheses are in the original text.

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