Likutei Amarim Chapter 31, Class # 1

Beginning of Chapter 31

In ch. 29 the Alter Rebbe began to deal with the problem of timtum halev,insensitivity of the heart. He quoted the statement of the Zohar that a body impervious to the light of the soul needs to be crushed. By crushing one’s spirit, one crushes the sitra achra of his animal soul, whose arrogance is the cause oftimtum halev.

In chs. 29-30, the Alter Rebbe described various means of arriving at a feeling of contrition (lit., “brokenheartedness”); e.g., reflecting on one’s spiritual failings in not waging an adequately strenuous battle against his evil impulse, and realizing that one’s failure in this area places him on a level lower than that of the lowliest of his fellow Jews (as explained at length in ch. 30).

But while these methods may effectively dispel timtum halev, they would seem to have an undesirable side-effect — depression. Ch. 31 deals with this problem.

והנה אף אם כשיאריך הרבה להעמיק בעניינים הנ״ל כשעה ושתים להיות בנמיכת רוח ולב נשבר, יבא לידי עצבות גדולה, לא יחוש

Even if dwelling long and deeply into the above-mentioned matters for an hour or two, to be lowly of spirit and contrite of heart, leads one to profound depression, let him not be perturbed.

ואף שעצבות היא מצד קליפת נוגה ולא מצד הקדושה

True, atzvut (depression) derives from the realm of kelipat nogah, not of holiness.

כי בצד הקדושה כתיב: עוז וחדוה במקומו, ואין השכינה שורה אלא מתוך שמחה, וכן לדבר הלכה וכו׳

For concerning the realm of holiness it is written:1 “Strength and gladness are in His place”; and likewise, 2 “The Divine Presence abides… only in [man’s] joy,… and the same joy is required for the study of the Halachah.”

אלא שאם העצבות היא ממילי דשמיא היא מבחינת טוב שבנוגה

Any depression, then, comes from the realm of kelipat nogah, except that if the depression is due to spiritual matters arising from one’s realization of his spiritual failings, it stems from the good contained in kelipat nogah; for, as mentioned in ch. 1, kelipat nogah contains both good and evil — the evil in nogah is the source of ordinary depression, and the positive element in nogah gives rise to spiritually motivated depression. Yet, even the element of good contained in nogah is, after all, kelipah.


1. Divrei HaYamim 16:27.
2. Shabbat 30b.


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