Likutei Amarim Chapter 8, Class # 2

Continuation of Chapter 8

We shall now learn what is necessary for the rectification of permitted words not spoken for the sake of heaven.

ועל דברים בטלים בהיתר, כגון עם הארץ שאינו יכול ללמוד

As for innocent idle chatter, such as in the case of an ignoramus who cannot study,

He who is able to study is constantly obligated to fulfill the commandment of studying Torah; for him idle chatter is prohibited. For the ignoramus, however, idle chatter may be permissible. But —

צריך לטהר נפשו מטומאה זו דקליפה זו על ידי גלגולה בכף הקלע, כמו שכתוב בזהר, פרשת בשלח דף נ״ט

he must have his soul cleansed from the impurity of this kelipah, through its being rolled in the “Hollow of a Sling,”6 as is stated in the Zohar, Parshat Beshallach, p. 59.

This punishment is described7 as “being slung from one end of the world to the other,” or “from Israel to other lands.” The meaning of this is that the soul is flung from one extreme to the other: First it is shown the truth and preciousness of holiness, and then it is “slung” into and reminded of the thoughts and words it experienced while in the physical world — a most painful experience for the soul.8

אבל לדיבורים אסורים, כמו ליצנות ולשון הרע וכיוצא בהם, שהן משלש קליפות הטמאות לגמרי

But with regard to forbidden speech, such as scoffing and slander and the like, which being prohibited stem from the three completely unclean kelipot,

אין כף הקלע לבדו מועיל לטהר ולהעביר טומאתו מהנפש

the “Hollow of a Sling” (alone) does not suffice to cleanse and remove the impurity of the soul,

רק צריכה לירד לגיהנם

but it (the soul) must descend into Gehinnom (Purgatory — which is a greater punishment and thus more effective in cleansing the soul).

וכן מי שאפשר לו לעסוק בתורה ועוסק בדברים בטלים

So, too, with one who is able to engage in the study of Torah, but occupies himself instead with idle chatter —

אין כף הקלע לבדו מועיל לנפשו למרקה ולזככה

the “Hollow of the Sling” alone cannot effectively scour and cleanse his soul,

רק עונשים חמורים שמענישים על ביטול תורה בפרטות

but it must receive the severe penalties which are meted out for neglect of the Torah in particular,

מלבד עונש הכללי לכל ביטול מצוות עשה מחמת עצלות, בגיהנם של שלג, כמבואר במקום אחר

apart from the general retribution for the neglect of positive commandments through indolence, namely the “Purgatory of Snow,” as is explained elsewhere.9

The purgatory (Gehinnom), where the soul is cleansed of the “stains” of sin so that it may enter Paradise to enjoy the radiance of G‑d’s glory, operates on the principle of “measure for measure,” i.e., punishment in kind. Thus sins of commission caused by the heat of passion and lust are cleansed in a“Gehinnom (nehar, lit., ”stream“) of Fire,” while sins of omission, due to indolence and coolness (i.e., lack of fervor), are cleansed in a “Gehinnom of Snow.”10

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6. See I Shmuel 25:29: “He shall sling out the souls of your enemies, as out of the hollow of a sling.”
7. Shabbat 152b.
8. Rabbi Joseph I. Schneersohn (sixth CHaBaD Rebbe) once stated that reciting from memory words of Torah — such as Chumash, Mishnah, Tehillim or Tanya — whenever one goes about his affairs, protects one from this punishment (in addition to its intrinsic value as Torah study, and its efficacy in “purifying the atmosphere”).
9. Rabbi Isaac Luria, Likutei Torah, Shmot. See also Zohar I, 62b; 237b; II, 150a-b.
10. Another interpretation is that the “Gehinnom of Snow” cures the soul of the spiritual “frostbite” which caused it to sin out of indolence. The Rebbe rejects this interpretation on the basis of the passage in Likutei Torah cited in note 8

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