Likutei Amarim Chapter 8, Class # 1

Likutei Amarim, beginning of Chapter 8

ועוד זאת במאכלות אסורות, שלכך נקראים בשם איסור

There is an additional aspect in the matter of forbidden foods, for which reason they are called issur (“bound” and attached):

מפני שאף מי שאכל מאכל איסור בלא הודע, לשם שמים, לעבוד ה׳ בכח אכילה ההיא

Even if one ate a forbidden food unwittingly and his intention in eating was for the sake of heaven, i.e., in order to serve G‑d with the energy derived from it;

(Had the food been permitted, the very act of eating for the sake of heaven would suffice to extract the good from the evil of the food’s vitality, as explained above. In this instance, however, forbidden food was eaten for the sake of heaven.)

וגם פעל ועשה כן, וקרא והתפלל בכח אכילה ההיא

moreover, even if he actually carried out his intention, having studied and prayed with the energy derived from that food;

(Again, had the food been permitted and the person studied and prayed with the energy provided by the food, the energy would be elevated to Sanctity. But because the food was forbidden —)

אין החיות שבה עולה ומתלבשת בתיבות התורה והתפלה כמו ההיתר

the vitality contained in it does not ascend or become clothed in the words of Torah and prayer that he studies and prays with the energy of that food as is the case with permitted foods,

מפני איסורה בידי הסטרא אחרא משלש קליפות הטמאות

because it is held captive in the power of the sitra achra of the three unclean kelipot which do not permit the energy of the food to be elevated to Sanctity.

ואפילו הוא איסור דרבנן, שחמורים דברי סופרים יותר מדברי תורה כו׳

This is so even if it is forbidden by reason of a Rabbinic prohibition, for1 “the words i.e., the prohibitions of the Scribes are even more stringent than the words of the Torah.”

ולכן, גם היצר הרע וכח המתאוה לדברים האסורים הוא שד משדין נוכראין, שהוא יצר הרע של אומות העולם, שנפשותיהם משלש קליפות הטמאות

Therefore, the yetzer hara (evil impulse) and the force that lusts after forbidden things is also2 “one of the non-Jewish demons,” which is the yetzer hara of the nations, whose souls are derived from the three unclean kelipot.

They therefore lust after forbidden matters, since the forbidden matters, too, derive their energy from the three unclean kelipot.

מה שאין כן היצר הרע וכח המתאוה לדברים המותרים, למלאות תאותו, הוא שד משדין יהודאין, לפי שיכול לחזור לקדושה כדלעיל

On the other hand, the evil impulse and the craving force after permissible things even when done solely to satisfy one’s craving in which case, as mentioned earlier, even the permissible matter descends into the utter evil of the three unclean kelipot; still it is3 “one of the Jewish demons”; it is, as it were, a Jewish evil impulse, for it (the vitality of a permitted thing) can be reverted to holiness, as was explained above.4

Since the food itself is permissible, therefore, though it was eaten to satisfy bodily desire, it can still be elevated to holiness (when the person returns to the study of Torah and the service of G‑d). The yetzer hara for forbidden matters, however, is intrinsically un-Jewish, i.e., essentially foreign to the Jew’s character. As explained elsewhere, one acquires this “foreign” yetzer hara by immersing himself in “permitted” pleasures. These so coarsen him that he begins to lust after prohibited matters as well — a desire totally unnatural for the Jew.

אך מכל מקום קודם שחזר לקדושה הוא סטרא אחרא וקליפה

Although the vitality of permitted foods eaten out of bodily desire can revert to holiness through the person’s repentance, nevertheless, before it has reverted to holiness it is sitra achra and kelipah,

וגם אחר כך הרשימו ממנו נשאר דבוק בגוף

and even afterwards (after the person repented and elevated the energy of the food to holiness) a trace of it remains attached to the person’sbody,

להיות כי מכל מאכל ומשקה נעשה תיכף דם ובשר מבשרו

since each item of food and drink that one ingests immediately becomes blood and flesh of his flesh.

Since the food which became his flesh and blood was evil at the time of consumption — having been eaten for the sake of bodily pleasure — a trace of thekelipah remains in the body even after the person has repented and elevated the vitality of the food to holiness.

ולכן צריך הגוף לחיבוט הקבר, לנקותו ולטהרו מטומאתו שקיבל בהנאת עולם הזה ותענוגיו, מטומאת קליפת נוגה ושדין יהודאין

That is why the body must undergo the “Purgatory of the Grave” (a specific punishment for the body5 ) in order to cleanse it and purify it of the uncleanness which it had received from the enjoyment of mundane things and pleasures, which are from the impurity of the kelipat nogah and of the “Jewish demons”(i.e., the “Jewish yetzer hara” which desires permitted matters);

אלא אם כן מי שלא נהנה מעולם הזה כל ימיו

unless one had never derived enjoyment from this world all his life (i.e., either he actually derived no enjoyment, or his enjoyment was not of this world, since all his actions were completely for the sake of mitzvot and holiness),

כרבינו הקדוש

as was the case with Rabbeinu HaKadosh (Rabbi Judah the Prince, who said at the time of his demise that he had had no enjoyment of this world even to the extent of his “small finger”).

He who never derived pleasure from this world all his life need not undergo the “Purgatory of the Grave.” However, anyone who has not attained this level must undergo this punishment to purify his body of the uncleanness received from the enjoyment of mundane pleasures.

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1. Mishnah, Sanhedrin 88b; Bamidbar Rabbah 14:12.
2. Zohar III, 253a; 277a.
3. Zohar III, 253a; 277a.
4. Ch. 7.
5. See Zohar II, 151a, and especially Rabbi Chayim Vital, end of Sefer HaGilgulim, andSefer HaKavanot, p. 55b.

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