Ch. 31, Class # 4

Continuation of Chapter 31

ואחר כך יבא לידי שמחה אמיתית, דהיינו, שזאת ישיב אל לבו לנחמו בכפליים אחר הדברים והאמת האלה הנ״ל

He will then arrive at a true joy, as follows: In order to comfort his heart in double measure, let him — in the wake of the above words of truth concerning his lowly spiritual stature — tell himself the following.

The comfort is dual: not only is his depression eliminated, but he will also attain a joy which he would never experience were it not for his earlier depression.

לאמר ללבו: אמת הוא כן בלי ספק שאני רחוק מאד מה׳ בתכלית, ומשוקץ ומתועב כו׳,

Let him say to his heart: “Indeed, without a doubt, I am far removed, utterly remote from G‑d, and am despicable, contemptible, and so on.

אך כל זה הוא אני לבדי, הוא הגוף עם נפש החיונית שבו

But all this is true only of me — that is, my body and the animating soul within it.

אבל מכל מקום יש בקרבי חלק ה׳ ממש, שישנו אפילו בקל שבקלים,שהיא נפש האלקית עם ניצוץ אלקות ממש המלובש בה להחיותה,

Yet within me there is a veritable ‘part’ of G‑d, which is present even in the most worthless of my fellows, so that even if I am no better than he, I still have this ‘part’ of G‑d within me, namely, the divine soul and the spark of G‑dliness itself clothed in it, animating it.

רק שהיא בבחינת גלות

It is only that when the body and animating soul are in such a lowly state, the divine soul is in exile within them.

ואם כן, אדרבה, כל מה שאני בתכלית הריחוק מה׳, והתיעוב ושיקוץ

“If so, then, on the contrary, the further I am removed from G‑d, and the more despicable and contemptible,

הרי נפש האלקית שבי בגלות גדול יותר, והרחמנות עליה גדולה מאד

the deeper in exile is my divine soul, and all the more is it to be pitied.

ולזה אשים כל מגמתי וחפצי להוציאה ולהעלותה מגלות זה,להשיבה אל בית אביה כנעוריה,

“Therefore, I will make it my entire aim and desire to extricate it from this exile, and to ‘return her to her father’s house i.e., to restore it to its source and its original state as in her youth,’

קודם שנתלבשה בגופי, שהיתה נכללת באורו יתברך ומיוחדת עמו בתכלית

i.e., as it was before being clothed in my body, when it was completely absorbed in G‑d’s light and united with Him.

וגם עתה כן תהא כלולה ומיוחדת בו יתברך, כשאשים כל מגמתי בתורה ומצות, להלביש בהן כל עשר בחינותיה כנ״ל

“Now too will it likewise be absorbed and united with Him once again, when I concentrate all my aspirations on the Torah and the mitzvot, in an effort to clothe therein all [of the soul’s] ten faculties; i.e., by applying my mental faculties to Torah study, and my emotive faculties to the performance of the mitzvot with the vitality lent them by the love and fear of G‑d, as explained above in ch. 4. Thus will my divine soul be reunited with G‑d.

ובפרט במצות תפלה, לצעוק אל ה׳ בצר לה מגלותה בגופי המשוקץ, להוציאה ממסגר, ולדבקה בו יתברך

“Especially in fulfilling the mitzvah of prayer will I try to release my divine soul, by crying out to G‑d because of the distress of its exile in my loathsome body, so that He release it from captivity and bind it to Himself.”

וזו היא בחינת תשובה ומעשים טובים

This service of G‑d, in which one seeks to restore the soul to its source, is referred to as 10“teshuvah with good deeds.”

This is an oft-used Talmudic expression denoting the mitzvot (as in the statement, “One hour of teshuvah with good deeds in this world is better than all the life of the World to Come”). At first glance, the juxtaposition of the two seems incongruous; teshuvah deals with atoning for one’s past imperfections, while “good deeds” are performed in the present and would seem to bear no relation to one’s past. According to the Alter Rebbe’s statement, however, that one’s performance of the mitzvot should be motivated by a desire to return his soul to its source within G‑d, the connection between the two is clear: the “good deeds” themselves actually constitute teshuvah, which means “return”. As the Alter Rebbe continues:

שהן מעשים טובים שעושה כדי להשיב חלק ה׳ למקורא ושרשא דכל עלמין

This denotes the “good deeds” which one does with the intention of returning the soul which is part of G‑d, to the [Divine] source and root of all the worlds.

וזאת תהיה עבודתו כל ימיו בשמחה רבה, היא שמחת הנפש בצאתה מהגוף המתועב, ושבה אל בית אביה כנעוריה בשעת התורה והעבודה

This, then, should be one’s lifelong aim in the service of G‑d with great joy — the joy of the soul upon leaving the loathsome body, and returning, during one’s study of the Torah and service of G‑d through prayer, to “her father’s house as in her youth,” i.e., to the unity with G‑d that it enjoyed before it descended into the body.

וכמאמר רז״ל: להיות כל ימיו בתשובה

This corresponds to the statement of our Sages 11 that one ought to engage inteshuvah throughout his life.

If the word teshuvah is understood only in the sense of repentance for sin, why the need for further repentance once one has already repented

However, teshuvah as explained here, returning the soul to its source, is something in which one may well engage throughout his life — whenever he studies Torah or performs a mitzvah.

ואין לך שמחה גדולה כצאת מהגלות והשביה, כמשל בן מלך שהיה בשביה וטוחן בבית האסורים ומנוול באשפה

Surely, there is no joy as great as that of being released from exile and captivity. It is comparable to the joy of a prince who was taken captive, and was subjected to the hard labor of turning the millstone in prison, 12 while covered with filth,

ויצא לחפשי אל בית אביו המלך

and who then goes free to the house of his father, the king.

Such a prince, descended from the Supreme King, is the soul — and by means of the Torah and the mitzvot it is redeemed from the captivity and degradation imposed on it by the body.

ואף שהגוף עומד בשיקוצו ותיעובו, וכמו שכתוב בזהר, דנקרא משכא דחויא

True, the body remains abominable and loathsome, and as the Zohar says, it is called “a serpent’s skin,” 13

כי מהותה ועצמותה של הנפש הבהמית לא נהפך לטוב, ליכלל בקדושה

since the essential character of the animal soul has not been transformed to good, so that it might be absorbed into the realm of holiness.

For, as explained above, the Beinoni may indeed elevate the “garments” of the animal soul — the thought, speech and action through which it expresses itself — by performing the mitzvot by means of his thought, speech and action; but the essential character of the animal soul — its intellectual and emotional faculties — remains subject to the realm of kelipat nogah. How, then, can one be expected to rejoice, knowing that his body and animal soul are still in such an undesirable state

מכל מקום תיקר נפשו בעיניו לשמוח בשמחתה יותר מהגוף הנבזה,שלא לערבב ולבלבל שמחת הנפש בעצבון הגוף,

Yet, let his divine soul be more precious to him than his loathsome body, so that he rejoices in the soul’s joy at its liberation, through the observance of the Torah and themitzvot, from the exile of the body, without letting the sadness on account of the lowly state of his body interferewith or disturb the joy of the soul.



10. Avot 4:17.
11. Cf. Shabbat 153a.
12. Cf. Shoftim 16:21; Rashbam on Shemot 11:5.
13. The term “serpent” refers to the three utterly impure kelipot. The body of a Jew, which derives its vitality from kelipat nogah, is thus the “skin” – the “outer shell,” so to speak, of the “serpent.” The subject is explained at length by R. Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch (author of Tzemach Tzedek) in his Sefer HaChakirah, p. 136.

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