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Tanya: Chapter 7

Tanya: Chapter 7

Part 2

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Lessons in Tanya - Chapter 7

אך נפש החיונית הבהמית שבישראל שמצד הקליפה, המלובשת בדם האדם כנזכר לעיל

However, unlike the life-forms mentioned at the conclusion of ch. 6, which are derived from the three wholly unclean kelipot, the following life-forms are derived from kelipat nogah: the vitalizing animal soul in the Jew, which is derived from the side of kelipah and which clothes itself in the human being’s blood (providing him with physical life), as stated above,1

ונפשות בהמות וחיות ועופות ודגים טהורים ומותרים לאכילה, וקיום וחיות כל הדומם וכל הצומח המותר באכילה

and the souls2 of the animals, beasts, birds and fish which are pure according to the laws of the Torah and are thus permitted for Jewish consumption, as also the existence and vitality of everything in the inanimate and the vegetable world that is permissible for consumption.

וכן קיום וחיות כל המעשה דבור ומחשבה בעניני עולם הזה שאין בהם צד איסור

So, too, the existence and vitality of every act, utterance and thought in mundane matters that contain no forbidden aspect

לא שורש ולא ענף משס״ה מצות לא תעשה וענפיהן דאורייתא ודרבנן

— being neither root nor branch of the 365 prohibitive precepts and their offshoots, prohibited either on the explicit authority of the Torah, or by Rabbinic enactment —

רק שאינן לשם שמים

yet (when these permitted thoughts, utterances, or acts) are not performed for the sake of heaven (as they ought to be);

A Jew’s actions, words and thoughts should be directed toward the service of G‑d. For example: in eating, one’s intention should be that the food supply strength for study, prayer, or performing other commandments; he should conduct his business with the intention of providing for his family, educating his children in the path of Torah and mitzvot, and giving charity, etc. But when his deeds, words and thoughts do not serve this purpose —

אלא רצון הגוף וחפצו ותאותו

instead they serve only the will, desire and lust of the body;

ואפילו הוא צורך הגוף וקיומו וחיותו ממש, אלא שכוונתו אינה לשם שמים כדי לעבוד את ה׳ בגופו

and even where it is a need of the body and necessary for its very preservation and life (such as eating, which the body requires for its very existence and without which it cannot possibly live. Thus, the act itself cannot be faulted), but the fault lies in that his intention is not for the sake of heaven, i.e., to utilize his body as an instrument in the service of G‑d.

לא עדיפי מעשה דבור ומחשבות אלו מנפש החיונית הבהמית בעצמה

If this spiritual intent is absent, then: All these acts, utterances and thoughts are no better than the vitalizing animal soul itself;

והכל כאשר לכל נשפע ונמשך ממדרגה השנית שבקליפות וסטרא אחרא, שהיא קליפה רביעית הנקראת קליפת נוגה

and everything in this totality of things (i.e., the soul with its actions, utterances and thoughts) flows and is drawn from the second gradation of kelipot and sitra achra, which is (in the progressively ascending order of kelipot) the fourth kelipah, called kelipat nogah (“kelipah that shines”; for within this kelipah there is yet found a ray of holiness).

שבעולם הזה הנקרא עולם העשיה רובו ככולו רע, רק מעט טוב מעורב בתוכה

For in this world, called the “World of Asiyah (‘Action’),” most, indeed almost all, of [the kelipat nogah] is evil, with only a little good intermingled within it.

Kelipat nogah is found in the higher Worlds as well. However, the proportions of good and evil which comprise it vary from one World to the next. In Beriah, kelipat nogah is mostly good, possessing only a small measure of evil which is separate from the good. In Yetzirah it is composed equally of good and evil, while in the spiritual Asiyah evil predominates. In our physical world, kelipat nogah is almost totally evil, with only a minute representation of good and light.

שממנה באות מדות טובות שבנפש הבהמית שבישראל, כמו שכתוב לעיל

(From this [minute amount of good within kelipat nogah] come the good qualities which are found in the animal soul of the Jew, as is explained above.

As explained in the first chapter, the Jew’s inherent qualities of compassion and benevolence stem from his animal soul. This is a soul of kelipah, yet, because its origins are in kelipat nogah which incorporates good as well, it gives rise to the good traits of compassion and benevolence.)

Since kelipat nogah is a mixture of good and evil, any action, utterance and thought emanating from this kelipah can be utilized for good or evil. Indeed, as the Alter Rebbe will explain presently, the very same action, utterance or thought may be holy, if done for the sake of heaven, or evil, if otherwise intended.

והיא בחינה ממוצעת בין שלש קליפות הטמאות לגמרי ובין בחינת ומדרגת הקדושה

Now, kelipat nogah is an intermediate category between the three completely unclean kelipot and the category and order of Sanctity.

ולכן, פעמים שהיא נכללת בשלש קליפות הטמאות כמו שכתוב בעץ חיים, שער מ״ט ריש פרק ד׳, בשם הזהר , ופעמים שהיא נכללת ועולה בבחינת ומדרגת הקדושה

Hence it is sometimes absorbed within the three unclean kelipot (as is explained in Etz Chayim, Portal 49, beginning of ch. 4, citing the Zohar), and at other times it is absorbed in and elevated to the category and level of Sanctity.

דהיינו כשהטוב המעורב בה נתברר מהרע, וגובר ועולה ונכלל בקדושה

That is, it is absorbed within Sanctity when the good that is intermingled in it is extracted and separated from the evil, prevails [over it], and ascends to be absorbed in Sanctity.

The Alter Rebbe now provides an example of a “neutral” action or utterance that is derived from kelipat nogah and can thus be utilized for either good or evil, demonstrating how the action or word itself becomes holy when its motivation is for the sake of heaven, and how it is degraded to the level of the “three completely unclean kelipot” if prompted purely by physical desire.

כגון, דרך משל: האוכל בשרא שמינא דתורא ושותה יין מבושם, להרחיב דעתו לה׳ ולתורתו

For instance, if one eats fat beef and drinks spiced wine not out of physical desire, but in order to broaden his mind for the service of G‑d and for His Torah,

כדאמר רבא: חמרא וריחא כו׳

as Rava said,3 “Wine and fragrance [make my mind more receptive],”

או בשביל כדי לקיים מצות עונג שבת ויום טוב

or in order to fulfill the commandment to enjoy the Sabbath and the festivals.4

In the latter case his eating and drinking are not merely the means to a spiritual end, as in the previous example, but are a mitzvah in themselves, for we are enjoined to enjoy the Sabbath and festivals through eating meat and drinking wine.

אזי נתברר חיות הבשר והיין שהיה נשפע מקליפת נוגה, ועולה לה׳ כעולה וכקרבן

When one eats and drinks in the above-mentioned manner then the vitality of the meat and the wine which originated in kelipat nogah is then extracted from the evil and ascends to G‑d like a burnt offering and sacrifice (i.e., the life-force of kelipat nogah that the food and drink contain is absorbed in Sanctity).

וכן האומר מילתא דבדיחותא לפקח דעתו ולשמח לבו לה׳ ולתורתו ולעבודתו, שצריכים להיות בשמחה

So, too, concerning speech: The vitality of words spoken for a sacred purpose ascends and is absorbed in Sanctity. For example: he who makes a humorous remark to sharpen his mind and make his heart rejoice in G‑d and His Torah and service, which should be practiced joyfully,

וכמו שעשה רבא לתלמידיו, שאמר לפניהם מילתא דבדיחותא תחלה, ובדחי רבנן

as Rava was wont to do with his pupils, prefacing his discourse with a humorous remark, whereupon the students became cheerful5 and thereby more receptive and better able to understand the discourse.

When a humorous remark is made with this intent, the vitality of the words, which originates in kelipat nogah, is extracted from the evil of kelipat nogah and is absorbed in Sanctity.

אך מי שהוא בזוללי בשר וסובאי יין למלאות תאות גופו ונפשו הבהמית, שהוא בחינת יסוד המים מארבע יסודות הרעים שבה שממנו מדת התאוה

On the other hand, if a person is one of those who gluttonously eat meat and quaff wine in order to satisfy their bodily appetites and animal soul, then since, of the animal soul’s four evil elements, this desire belongs to the element of Water, from which comes the appetite for pleasures,

As explained in the first chapter, all evil characteristics come from the four evil elements of the animal soul, with the appetite for pleasures emanating from the element of Water,

הנה על ידי זה יורד חיות הבשר והיין שבקרבו, ונכלל לפי שעה ברע גמור שבשלש קליפות הטמאות

in such case the vitality of the meat and wine that he ingested is thereby degraded, and absorbed temporarily in the utter evil of the three unclean kelipot.

וגופו נעשה להן לבוש ומרכבה

His (the glutton’s) body becomes a garment and a “vehicle” for these kelipot.

The term “vehicle” is an analogy for total subservience; just as a vehicle is completely subservient to the will of its driver, having no will of its own, so (in this case) is this person totally subservient to the three unclean kelipot.

לפי שעה, עד אשר ישוב האדם ויחזור לעבודת ה׳ ולתורתו

But his body remains so [only] temporarily, until the person repents and returns to the service of G‑d and His Torah — whereupon he ceases to be a vehicle for the kelipot; the energy of the food and drink is then released from the kelipot and returns to Sanctity.

כי לפי שהיה בשר היתר ויין כשר, לכך יכולים לחזור ולעלות עמו בשובו לעבודת ה׳

For, inasmuch as the meat and wine were kosher and permissible and it was only the person’s desire for pleasure that degraded them, they have the power to revert and ascend with him when he returns to the service of G‑d — at which time the strength gained from the food and drink are utilized in serving G‑d.

שזהו לשון היתר ומותר, כלומר: שאינו קשור ואסור בידי החיצונים

This is implied in the terms hetter (“permissibility”) and mutar (“permissible”). That which may be done or eaten is called “mutar”, literally meaning “released” or “unbound”. In our context the term means that the permissible object is not “chained” to the kelipot. That is to say, it is not tied and bound by the power of the “extraneous forces,” i.e., the kelipot and sitra achra which are extraneous to the realm of Sanctity,

שלא יוכל לחזור ולעלות לה׳

preventing it from returning and ascending to G‑d.

Rather, it can return and ascend to G‑d when the person involved returns to the service of G‑d, as explained above.

רק שהרשימו ממנו נשאר בגוף

Nevertheless, even when this energy reverts to Sanctity through the person's returns to the service of G‑d, a trace [of the evil] remains in the body.

Eating permissible food for bodily pleasure causes the food to descend into total evil. Subsequently, the food becomes part of the body. Though repentance elevates not only the person but also the energy of the food and drink as well, still, having become a part of the body, a vestige of evil remains.

ועל כן צריך הגוף לחיבוט הקבר, כמו שיתבאר לקמן

For this reason the body must undergo the “Purgatory of the Grave,” as will be explained later.6

Like all heavenly punishments, “Purgatory of the Grave” too is a means of spiritual purification. All remaining traces of evil energy created by eating and drinking for bodily pleasure are removed through this punishment.

וכן החיות שבטפות זרע שיצאו ממנו בתאוה בהמית, שלא קידש עצמו בשעת תשמיש עם אשתו טהורה

So, too, with regard to the vitality of the drops of semen emitted from the body with animal lust, by him who has not conducted himself in a holy manner during intimacy with his wife during her state of purity. Here, too, the vitality is temporarily absorbed in the total evil of the three unclean kelipot until the person repents.

In the above instances, the fault lies not in the acts, which in themselves are permissible, but rather in the person’s intention in doing them — acting out of regard for bodily pleasure, not for the sake of heaven.

מה שאין כן במאכלות אסורות וביאות אסורות, שהן משלש קליפות הטמאות לגמרי

Such is not the case, however, with forbidden foods and illicit coition, which inasmuch as they are prohibited acts derive their vitality from the three entirely unclean kelipot.

הם אסורים וקשורים בידי החיצונים לעולם

These are tied and bound by the “extraneous forces” (the kelipot) forever.

ואין עולים משם עד כי יבוא יומם ויבולע המות לנצח, כמו שכתוב: ואת רוח הטומאה אעביר מן הארץ

They (the vitality of these prohibited acts) are not elevated from [the kelipot] until “their day comes” (the time when evil will totally disappear from the world), when “death (i.e., the kelipot, called ”death“ because they oppose G‑dliness, which is life) will be swallowed up i.e., eradicated forever,” as it is written:7 “And I (G‑d) will remove the spirit of impurity from the earth.” Then, when the kelipot cease to exist, the sparks of holiness will of themselves be freed from them.

או עד שיעשה תשובה גדולה כל כך שזדונות נעשו לו כזכיות ממש

Or, until the sinner repents in the manner presently described, in which case the sparks of holiness need not remain in the clutches of the kelipot until the End of Days; they may even be freed, and restored to holiness, when he (the sinner) repents so earnestly that his premeditated sins become transmuted into veritable merits.

שהיא תשובה מאהבה מעומקא דלבא, באהבה וחשיקה ונפש שוקקה לדבקה בו יתברך

This is achieved through “repentance out of love (of G‑d),” coming from the depths of the heart, with great love and fervor, and from a soul passionately desiring to cleave to the blessed G‑d,

וצמאה נפשו לה׳ כארץ עיפה וציה

and thirsting for G‑d like a parched and barren soil thirsts desperately for water.

להיות כי עד הנה היתה נפשו בארץ ציה וצלמות, היא הסטרא אחרא, ורחוקה מאור פני ה׳ בתכלית

For inasmuch as till now until he repented his soul had been in a barren wilderness and in the shadow of death, which is the sitra achra, and had been far removed from the light of the Divine Countenance, in the greatest possible measure,

ולזאת צמאה נפשו ביתר עז מצמאון נפשות הצדיקים

therefore, now that he “repents out of love” his soul thirsts for G‑d even more intensely than the souls of the righteous who have never sinned.

The righteous tzaddik, ever close to G‑d, is like one who always has water near at hand — his thirst is never so intense. The penitent, however, finds himself as if in a desert, where the very absence of water causes his thirst to burn with greater intensity.

כמאמרם ז״ל: במקום שבעלי תשובה עומדים כו׳

As our Sages say:8 “Where penitents stand…[not even the perfectly righteous can stand]. For, as explained earlier, the tzaddik lacks the penitent’s intense yearning for G‑d.

ועל תשובה מאהבה רבה זו אמרו שזדונות נעשו לו כזכיות, הואיל ועל ידי זה בא לאהבה רבה זו

[Only] concerning repentance out of such great love has it been said9 that [the penitent’s] premeditated sins become, for him, like virtues, since through them (through the sins which previously had distanced him from G‑d) he attained when he repented to this great love. Thus, his sins affected him in the same way as mitzvot: they brought about within him a greater love of G‑d.

In summary: It is possible even now, before evil completely disappears from the earth, to extricate the vitality of forbidden acts from the kelipot, through “repentance out of love of G‑d.”

אבל תשובה שלא מאהבה זו, אף שהיא תשובה נכונה, וה׳ יסלח לו, מכל מקום לא נעשו לו כזכיות

But in the case of repentance that does not come from such love, though it be proper repentance, and G‑d will surely pardon him, nevertheless [his sins] are not transformed for him into the equivalent of virtues.

ואין עולים מהקליפה לגמרי עד עת קץ, שיבולע המות לנצח

They are not released and hence do not completely ascend from the kelipah so that no trace of the sin remains10 “until the end of time,” when11 “death will be swallowed up forever.”

Thus we have learned that the energy of forbidden foods and illicit coition is released from the kelipot only when one repents out of love or when evil ceases. Now we shall learn that in the case of one specific prohibition, ordinary repentance can accomplish what normally requires “repentance out of love.”

אך החיות שבטפות זרע שיצאו ממנו לבטלה, אף שירדה ונכללה בשלש קליפות הטמאות, הרי זו עולה משם בתשובה נכונה ובכוונה עצומה בקריאת שמע שעל המטה, כנודע מהאריז״ל

However, the vitality in the drops of semen that one issued wastefully, even though it has been degraded and incorporated in the three unclean kelipot, can nevertheless ascend from there by means of true repentance and intense concentration and devotion (kavanah) during the recital of the Shema at bedtime, as is known from the teachings of our master, Rabbi Isaac Luria, of blessed memory.

ומרומז בגמרא: כל הקורא קריאת שמע על מטתו כאילו אוחז חרב של שתי פיות כו׳

This is implied in the Talmudic saying:12 “He who recites the Shema at bedtime is as if he held a double-edged sword…,”

כדי להרוג גופות החיצונים שנעשו לבוש לחיות שבטפות, ועולה החיות מהם, כידוע ליודעי ח״ן

meaning, one edge wherewith to slay the bodies of the “extraneous forces” (the kelipot) that have become garments for the vitality in the drops of semen, and another edge by which the vitality ascends from them (from the kelipot), as is known to those familiar with the Esoteric Wisdom (the Kabbalah).

ולכן לא הוזכר עון זרע לבטלה בתורה בכלל ביאות אסורות

Therefore the sin of wasteful emission of semen is not mentioned in the Torah among the list of forbidden coitions,

אף שחמור מהן וגדול עונו בבחינת הגדלות וריבוי הטומאה והקליפות שמוליד ומרבה במאד מאד בהוצאת זרע לבטלה יותר מביאות אסורות

even though in one respect it is more heinous than they, and [the individual’s] sin is greater with regard to the enormity and abundance of the impurity and of the kelipot; he begets and multiplies them to an exceedingly great extent through wasteful emission of semen, even more so than through forbidden coitions. I.e., when measured by the “quantity” of kelipot that sin creates, this sin is graver than the forbidden coitions.

רק, שבביאות אסורות מוסיף כח וחיות בקליפה טמאה ביותר, עד שאינו יכול להעלות משם החיות בתשובה

It is only that when measured qualitatively this sin is different. For in the case of forbidden coitions one contributes additional strength and vitality to a most unclean kelipah, from which he is powerless to raise up the vitality by means of ordinary repentance,

אלא אם כן יעשה תשובה מאהבה רבה כל כך, עד שזדונות נעשו לו כזכיות

unless he repents with such great love that his willful wrongs are transformed into merits.

Since the sin of wasteful emission of semen can be rectified even without “repentance out of love,” the Torah does not include this sin with the related sins of forbidden coition. Concerning this sin, all that is necessary to elevate the degraded vitality to holiness is proper repentance with true intent and devotion, during the recitation of the bedtime Shema.

In the note which follows the Alter Rebbe explains why forbidden coition requires greater repentance than wasteful emission.

הגהה

מפני שנקלטה ביסוד דנוקבא דקליפה, המקבלת וקולטת החיות מהקדושה

NOTE

The reason is that through forbidden coitions this vitality has been absorbed by the level of Yesod in the “female” element of kelipah, which receives and absorbs the vitality from holiness — just as the physical semen is absorbed within the female, in the case of these sins.

מה שאין כן בזרע לבטלה שאין שם בחינת נוקבא דקליפא

Not so with wasteful emission of semen, where there is no “female” element of kelipah;

רק שכחותיה וחיילותיה מלבישים לחיות שבטפות, כידוע ליודעי ח"ן

Only its (the kelipah’s) power and forces garb (i.e., encompass) the vitality of the semen, as is known to those familiar with the Esoteric Wisdom.

END OF NOTE

ובזה יובן מאמר רבותינו ז״ל: איזהו מעוות שלא יוכל לתקון, זה שבא על הערוה והוליד ממזר

From the above explanation, that the vitality of the forbidden coitions can be released through “repentance out of love,” we will understand that which our Sages say:13 “Which is14 ‘a fault that cannot be rectified’? — Having incestuous intercourse and giving birth to a bastard.”

שאז גם אם יעשה תשובה גדולה כל כך, אי אפשר לו להעלות החיות לקדושה

For then, once the bastard is born, though the sinner undertakes such great repentance as “repentance of great love,” he cannot cause the vitality to ascend to Sanctity,

מאחר שכבר ירדה לעולם הזה ונתלבשה בגוף בשר ודם

since it has already descended into this world and has been clothed in a body of flesh and blood.

Even “repentance of great love” cannot rectify this. Still, it is explained elsewhere that if the repentance is powerful enough it can actually effect the death of the bastard; and once it ceases to be a body of flesh and blood its vitality can ascend to holiness.

——— ● ———

Translated from Yiddish by Rabbi Levy Wineberg and Rabbi Sholom B. Wineberg. Edited by Uri Kaploun.
Published and copyright by Kehot Publication Society, all rights reserved.

Footnotes
1.
In ch. 1.
2.
According to the AriZal, all things, including inanimate objects, possess a soul, which is the creative and preserving force of the Creator, the thing’s reality. This doctrine was adopted and expounded by the Baal Shem Tov and the Alter Rebbe. See Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah ch. 1.
3.
Yoma 76b.
4.
Maimonides, Code, Hilchot Shabbat 30:7, Hilchot Yom-Tov 6:16; Shulchan Aruch by the Alter Rebbe 242:1; 529:1,3.
5.
Pesachim 117a (Rabbeinu Channanel’s reading).
6.
Ch. 8.
7.
Zechariah 13:2.
8.
Berachot 34b.
9.
Yoma 86b.
10.
Daniel 11:35.
11.
Cf. Yeshayahu 25:8.
12.
Berachot 5a.
13.
Chagigah 9a.
14.
Kohelet 1:15.
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Discussion (1)
October 9, 2013
My green tea... divine energy seen and used!
Each sip, the holding of the warm cup, the sweet touch of honey while sitting in my comfy chair in my warm home while listening to this study made me still in the whole of that moment which before today... I normally took for granted. I connected to Hashem as I have never before... in the plain. Awe and peace... so much joy came out of this simple act that it, G_d Willing, I will remember to remember that this is not just something I do... it is now something that served me to serve my Lord. Thank you... deeper and deeper I go.
Bea
WNY