והטעם: לפי שבאמת אין שום ממשות כלל בסטרא אחרא, שלכן נמשלה לחשך שאין בו שום ממשות כלל, וממילא נדחה מפני האור

The reason that humbling the spirit of the sitra achra is effective in crushing it is that in truth there is no substance whatever in the sitra achra. That is why it is compared to darkness, which has no substance whatsoever, and is automatically banished by the presence of light.

וכך הסטרא אחרא, אף שיש בה חיות הרבה, להחיות כל בעלי חיים הטמאים, ונפשות אומות העולם, וגם נפש הבהמית שבישראל, כנ״ל, מכל מקום הרי כל חיותה אינה מצד עצמה, חס ושלום, אלא מצד הקדושה, כנ״ל, ולכן היא בטלה לגמרי מפני הקדושה, כביטול החשך מפני האור הגשמי, רק שלגבי קדושת נפש האלקית שבאדם, נתן לה הקב״ה רשות ויכולת להגביה עצמה כנגדה, כדי שהאדם יתעורר להתגבר עליה להשפילה על ידי שפלות ונמיכת רוחו, ונבזה בעיניו נמאס

Similarly with the sitra achra. Indeed, it possesses abundant vitality with which to animate all the impure animals and the souls of the nations of the world, and also the animal soul of the Jew, as has been explained. 1 Yet this vitality is not its own, G‑d forbid, but stems from the realm of holiness, for the realm of holiness is the source of all life, including even the life-force of the sitra achra, as has been explained above. 2 Therefore it is completely nullified in the presence of holiness, as darkness is nullified in the presence of physical light. Its power lies only in the fact that in regard to the holiness of man’s divine soul, G‑d has given it (— the sitra achra) permission and ability to raise itself against it (— the divine soul), in order that man should be roused to overpower it and to humble it by means of the humility and submission of his spirit, and by being abhorrent and despised in his own eyes — for through this he humbles the sitra achra and abhors it.

ובאתערותא דלתתא: אתערותא דלעילא, לקיים מה שכתוב: משם אורידך, נאם ה׳

The arousal of man below to crush the sitra achra causes an arousal above, to fulfill what is written: 3 “From there will I bring you down, says G‑d” to the sitra achra, which seeks to rise against G‑dliness and to obscure it.

דהיינו שמסירה מממשלתה ויכלתה, ומסלק ממנה הכח ורשות שנתן לה להגביה עצמה נגד אור קדושת נפש האלקית

This means that He deprives it of its dominion and power, and withdraws from it the strength and authority which had been given it to rise up against the light of the holiness of the divine soul.

ואזי ממילא בטילה ונדחית, כביטול החשך מפני אור הגשמי

Thereupon it automatically becomes nullified and is banished, just as darkness is nullified before physical light.

וכמו שמצינו דבר זה מפורש בתורה גבי מרגלים, שמתחלה אמרו: כי חזק הוא ממנו, אל תקרי ממנו כו׳, שלא האמינו ביכולת ה׳, ואחר כך חזרו ואמרו: הננו ועלינו וגו׳

Indeed, we find this explicitly stated in the Torah in connection with the Spies sent by Moses to scout out the Holy Land. At the outset they declared: 4 “For he (the enemy) is stronger than we,” and, interpreting the word ממנו , the Sages say: 5

“Read not 'than we,' but 'than He,'” meaning that they had no faith in G‑d’s ability to lead them into the Holy Land. But afterwards they reversed themselves and announced: 6 “We will readily go up [to conquer the Land].”

ומאין חזרה ובאה אליהם האמונה ביכולת ה׳, הרי לא הראה להם משה רבנו עליו השלום שום אות ומופת על זה בנתיים, רק שאמר להם איך שקצף ה׳ עליהם ונשבע שלא להביאם אל הארץ

Whence did their faith in G‑d’s ability return to them? Our teacher Moses, peace unto him, had not shown them in the interim any sign or miracle concerning this, which would restore their faith. He had merely told them that G‑d was angry with them and had sworn not to allow them to enter the Land. 7

ומה הועיל זה להם אם לא היו מאמינים ביכולת ה׳, חס ושלום, לכבוש ל״א מלכים, ומפני זה לא רצו כלל ליכנס לארץ

What value did this Divine anger and oath have to them, if in any case they did not believe in G‑d’s ability to subdue the thirty-one kings8 who reigned in the Land at that time, for which reason they had had no desire whatever to enter the Land?

אלא ודאי מפני שישראל עצמן הם מאמינים בני מאמינים, רק שהסטרא אחרא המלובשת בגופם הגביה עצמה על אור קדושת נפשם האלקית, בגסות רוחה וגבהותה בחוצפה בלי טעם ודעת

Surely, then, the explanation is as follows: Israelites themselves are9 “believers, [being] the descendants of believers.” Even while they stated, “The enemy is stronger than He,” their divine soul still believed in G‑d. They professed a lack of faith in His ability only because the sitra achra clothed in their body in the person of their animal soul had risen against the light of the holiness of the divine soul, with its characteristic impudent arrogance and haughtiness, without sense or reason.

ולכן מיד שקצף ה׳ עליהם והרעים בקול רעש ורוגז: עד מתי לעדה הרעה הזאת וגו׳ במדבר הזה יפלו פגריכם וגו׳ אני ה׳ דברתי אם לא זאת אעשה לכל העדה הרעה הזאת וגו׳, וכששמעו דברים קשים אלו, נכנע ונשבר לבם בקרבם, כדכתיב: ויתאבלו העם מאד, וממילא נפלה הסטרא אחרא מממשלתה וגבהותה וגסות רוחה

Therefore as soon as G‑d became angry with them, and thundered angrily: 10 “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation…,Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness…I, G‑d, have spoken: I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation...,” — their heart was humbled and broken within them when they heard these stern words, as it is written, 11 “And the people mourned greatly.” Consequently, the sitra achra toppled from its dominion, from its haughtiness and arrogance.

וישראל עצמן הם מאמינים

But the Israelites themselves i.e., as far as their divine soul was concerned had believed in G‑d all along.

Therefore, as soon as they were released from the dominion of the sitra achra, they proclaimed, “We will readily go up...” There was no need of a miracle to convince them of G‑d’s ability. All that was necessary was to divest the sitra achra of its arrogance, and this was accomplished by G‑d’s “raging” at them.

Similarly with every Jew: When the light of his soul does not penetrate his heart, it is merely due to the arrogance of the sitra achra, which will vanish as soon as he rages at it.

ומזה יכול ללמוד כל אדם שנופלים לו במחשבתו ספיקות על אמונה כי הם דברי רוח הסטרא אחרא לבדה, המגביה עצמה על נפשו, אבל ישראל עצמן הם מאמינים כו׳

Every person in whose mind there occur doubts concerning faith in G‑d can deduce from this episode of the Spies that these doubts are nothing but the empty words of the sitra achra which raises itself against his divine soul. But Israelites themselves are believers...

וגם הסטרא אחרא עצמה אין לה ספיקות כלל באמונה, רק שניתן לה רשות לבלבל האדם בדברי שקר ומרמה להרבות שכרו

Furthermore, the sitra achra itself entertains no doubts at all concerning faith. As explained in ch. 22, the kelipah in its spiritual state (i.e., when not clothed in the human body) does not deny G‑d’s sovereignty. It has merely been granted permission to confuse man with false and deceitful words, in order that he may be more richly rewarded for mastering it.

כפיתויי הזונה לבן המלך בשקר ומרמה ברשות המלך, כמו שכתוב בזהר הקדוש

In this it is similar to the harlot who attempts to seduce the king’s son through falsehood and deceit, with the king’s approval, as in the parable narrated in the holy Zohar.12

The parable: A king hires a harlot to seduce his son, so that the prince will reveal his wisdom in resisting her wiles. The harlot herself, knowing the king’s intention, does not want the prince to submit to temptation. Similarly with the sitra achra: it is merely fulfilling its G‑d-given task in attempting to lure man away from G‑d, but actually desires that man resist it, thereby earning a greater reward.

However, this is true only of the spiritual kelipah which is the source of the animal soul. The animal soul and evil impulse as clothed within man, on the other hand, are truly evil, and their unequivocal aim is to entice man to do evil.

In the context of the parable, this may be described as follows: The harlot originally commissioned by the king subcontracts a second harlot, and the second a third, and so on. As the actual executor of the mission becomes successively further removed from the king, the original intention is lost, and finally the prince is approached by a harlot who has her own intentions in mind, not those of the king, as she attempts to seduce the prince.

In any event, we see that any doubts one may have concerning faith in G‑d, are merely the empty words of the sitra achra. The soul within every Jew, however, believes in G‑d with a perfect faith.