Likutei Amarim Chapter 24, Class # 1

Beginning of Chapter 24.

In ch. 18 the Alter Rebbe began to explain how it is very near and accessible to each of us to serve G‑d out of a feeling of love and awe, by means of awakening the hidden love latent in us all. To clarify how this hidden love can lead to the observance of all the mitzvot, the Alter Rebbe proceeded to discuss the relationship of all the mitzvot to the precept of belief in G‑d’s unity and to the prohibition against idolatry. The unity of G‑d, he explained, means not only that there is but one G‑d; rather that G‑d is the only existing being, and all else is contained within Him. Conversely, idolatry does not necessarily mean a denial of G‑d’s existence, or of His being unique. Any assertion that something exists beyond and separate from G‑d also constitutes idolatry.

In ch. 23, the Alter Rebbe went on to state that through Torah and mitzvot, in which the Divine Will stands revealed, one reaches a perfect union with G‑d. In this chapter he explains that a transgression has exactly the opposite effect of amitzvah. Whereas a mitzvah joins one to G‑d, a transgression severs one from Him; whereas a mitzvah attests to G‑d’s unity, a transgression implies idolatry.

וזה לעומת זה

Since everything in the realm of holiness has its counterpart in the unholy realms of thesitra achra, there is also an unholy counterpart to the observance of the mitzvot and to Torah study, which produce union with G‑d. Their counterpart is:

הן שס״ה מצות לא תעשה דאורייתא, וכל איסורי דרבנן

the 365 prohibitions stated in the Torah, and all the Rabbinical prohibitions.

מאחר שהן נגד רצונו וחכמתו יתברך והפכם ממש, הם נפרדים מיחודו יתברך ואחדותו יתברך בתכלית הפירוד ממש

Since they are contrary to and the very opposite of G‑d’s Will and wisdom, they represent total and complete separation from His unity and oneness.

כמו הסטרא אחרא והקליפה הנקראת עבודה זרה ואלקים אחרים, מחמת הסתר פנים של רצון העליון כנ״ל

They are the same as the sitra achra and the kelipah which are called “idolatry” and “other gods,” since the internal aspect of the Divine Will is concealed from them, as explained above1 — that they receive their life-force from the “hinder-part” of the Divine Will, the level of ,אחוריים and for this reason they are called אלקים אחרים — “other gods.”

וכן ג‘ לבושי הנפש שמקליפת נוגה שבישראל, שהם מחשבה דבור ומעשה המלובשים בשס״ה לא תעשה דאורייתא ודרבנן

Just as the forbidden actions themselves represent separation from G‑dliness so too the three garments of a Jew’s animal soul, which stems from the kelipah of nogah — namely, the thought, speech and action that are clothed in i.e., that think, speak or act in violation of the 365 Torah-prohibitions, or any of the Rabbinic injunctions,

וכן מהות הנפש עצמה המלובשת בלבושיה

and similarly the essence of the soul itself which is clothed in its garments, since it is the soul itself, after all, which thinks, speaks and acts through its “garments” — the faculties of thought, speech and action,

כולם מיוחדים ממש בסטרא אחרא וקליפה זו הנקראת עבודה זרה

— all of them become completely united with this sitra achra and kelipah called“avodah zarah,” i.e., idolatry.

ולא עוד אלא שבטלים וטפלים אליה, וגרועים ופחותים ממנה מאד

Not only are they united with the kelipah, and thus equal to it, but furthermore they become secondary and subordinate to it, and much lower and more debased than it.

כי היא אינה מלובשת בגוף חומרי, ויודעת את רבונה ואינה מורדת בו לפעול פעולתה במשלחת מלאכי רעים שלה, שלא בשליחותו של מקום, ברוך הוא, חס ושלום

For the kelipah is not clothed in a corporeal body and hence is more exposed to the divine light; it knows its Master and does not rebel against Him (G‑d forbid) by any independent act of sending its evil messengers, other than in the service of G‑d.

Any evil act of the sitra achra is performed only in the service of G‑d. Thus, the kelipot that are not clothed in a body cannot rebel against G‑d’s Will; only the animal soul clothed in the human body can do so. Hence, it is even lower than the kelipah.

וכמאמר בלעם: לא אוכל לעבור את פי ה’ וגו‘

So did Bilaam say: 2 “I cannot violate the Word of G‑d”

Although Bilaam was a kelipah clothed in a body, yet when he spoke for the spiritual kelipah within him, viz., the unholy prophetic power with which he wished to curse the Jewish people, he said, “I cannot violate the Word of G‑d.”

ואף שנקרא עבודה זרה, הא קרו ליה אלקא דאלקיא

Although the kelipot are called avodah zarah, idolatry, which is a denial of G‑d, yet they refer to Him as “the G‑d of gods,” indicating that they do not deny Him completely.

ואינם יכולים לעבור כלל על רצונו יתברך, כי יודעים ומשיגים שהוא חיותם וקיומם, שיונקים מבחינת אחוריים דאחוריים של רצון העליון, ברוך הוא, המקיף עליהם

They cannot violate G‑d’s Will, for they know and perceive that He is their life and sustenance, since they derive their nurture from the “hindermost aspect” of the Divine Will which encompasses them.

אלא שיניקתם וחיותם היא בבחינת גלות בתוכם, להחשיב עצמן אלקות, והרי זו כפירה באחדותו

It is only the sustenance and life-force that is within them, i.e., the internal life-force which constitutes the identity of every created being, as explained in ch. 22, that is in a state of exile, so that they regard themselves as gods — which is a denial of G‑d’s unity.

אבל מכל מקום אינן כופרים וכחשו בה’ לגמרי ולומר לא הוא, אלא דקרו ליה אלקא דאלקיא, דהיינו חיותם וקיומם הנמשך ויורד עליהם מרצונו יתברך

But they are not so completely heretical as to deny G‑d and to assert that He does not exist. On the contrary, they regard Him as “the G‑d of gods,” recognizing that their life and existence ultimately derive from His Will.

ולכן אינן עוברין רצונו יתברך לעולם

Therefore they never rebel against G‑d’s Will.

ואם כן האדם העובר על רצונו יתברך הוא גרוע ופחות הרבה מאד מהסטרא אחרא וקליפה הנקראת עבודה זרה ואלקים אחרים

It follows, then, that the person who does violate G‑d’s Will is greatly inferior to and more debased than the kelipah and sitra achra which are called avodah zarah and “other gods.”

והוא בתכלית הפירוד מיחודו ואחדותו של הקב״ה יותר ממנה, וכאלו כופר באחדותו יותר ממנה, חס ושלום

He is separated completely from G‑d’s unity and oneness even more than they are, as though denying His unity even more radically than they, G‑d forbid.


1. Ch. 22.
2. Bamidbar 22:18.

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