Chapter 8, Class # 3

Continuation of Chapter 8

ועוד זאת, יתירה טומאתה של חכמת האומות על טומאת דברים בטלים

Moreover, the impurity of the science of the nations is greater than the impurity of idle speech;

שאינו מלביש ומטמא רק המדות מיסוד הרוח הקדוש שבנפשו האלקית

for the latter clothe and defile only the emotions [which emanate] from the holy element of ruach (Air) within his divine soul,

בטומאת קליפת נוגה שבדברים בטלים הבאים מיסוד הרוח הרע שבקליפה זו בנפשו הבהמית, כדלעיל

[by tainting them] with the impurity of kelipat nogah contained in idle speech (which is derived from the evil element of ruach(Air, which is one of the components) of this kelipah in his animal soul), as mentioned above.

The G‑dly soul and the animal soul are both composed of four spiritual “elements”: Fire, Air, Water and Earth. The emotions, such as love and fear, which one expresses in idle talk, emanate from the element of Air. Thus, idle speech defiles the emotional attributes of the divine soul, which emanate from the holy element of Air, by using them in the service of the animal soul’s element of Air, i.e., its emotional attributes — which are “impure”, since they derive from kelipat nogah.

ולא בחינות חב״ד שבנפשו, מאחר שהם דברי שטות ובורות

[Idle speech does] not, however, [defile] the levels of ChaBaD(the intellectual faculties) in his soul, for it is but words of foolishness and ignorance,

שגם השוטים ועמי הארץ יכולים לדבר כן

since even fools and ignoramuses can speak that way.

Since these are not intellectual matters, the intellect remains uninvolved and untainted.

מה שאין כן בחכמת האומות הוא מלביש ומטמא בחינות חב״ד שבנפשו האלקית, בטומאת קליפת נוגה שבחכמות אלו

Not so in the case of the science of the nations; thereby one clothes and defiles his divine soul’s faculties of ChaBaD(intellect) with the impurity of the kelipat nogah contained in those sciences,

שנפלו שמה בשבירת הכלים מבחינת אחוריים של חכמה דקדושה, כידוע ליודעי ח״ן

whither they (the sciences) have fallen, through the “shattering of the vessels,” out of the “hinder-part” of Chochmah of holiness, as is known to those familiar with the Esoteric Wisdom.

Thus the study of these sciences contaminates the intellectual faculties of the G‑dly soul, and it is therefore much worse than idle speech, which contaminates only the emotional faculties,

אלא אם כן עושה אותן קרדום לחתוך בהן, דהיינו כדי להתפרנס מהן בריוח לעבוד ה׳

unless one employs them (these sciences) as a useful instrument, viz., as a means of earning a more affluent livelihood with which to be able to serve G‑d,

או שיודע להשתמש בהן לעבודת ה׳ או לתורתו

or unless he knows how to apply them (the sciences) in the service of G‑d or to his better understanding of His Torah; e.g., he utilizes mathematics to better understand the laws of the Sanctification of the New Moon.

וזהו טעמו של הרמב״ם ורמב״ן ז״ל וסיעתן שעסקו בהן

This is the reason why Maimonides and Nachmanides, of blessed memory, and their peers, engaged in them (in the sciences — since they were able to utilize this knowledge in the service of G‑d and Torah).

Regarding that which was stated at the beginning of this chapter that a thing prohibited even by Rabbinic enactment remains attached to the three uncleankelipot and cannot be elevated to holiness, even when it is used unwittingly and for the sake of heaven (i.e., in order to have strength to study and pray), — the following story is worth relating:

A chassid once came to the Alter Rebbe lamenting the fact that his son-in-law was subject to periods when he would doubt his faith. The Alter Rebbe responded that the son-in-law had unwittingly consumed milk which was milked by a non-Jew, with no Jew in attendance. Though he was unaware of this fact, and though the prohibition against such milk is only of Rabbinic origin, this had so strong an effect upon him that it caused him to doubt his faith. The Alter Rebbe then proceeded to tell the chassid how the matter could be rectified, thereby healing the son-in-law of his spiritual malady.

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Footnotes

11. 3:7. The Alter Rebbe’s first printed work was a treatise on the Laws of Torah Study (Hilchot Talmud Torah), first published in Shklov, 1794 (5554), and subsequently incorporated in hisShulchan Aruch.

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