Returning now to his original point, that the wicked cannot begin serving G‑d with love and fear before repenting their sins, the Alter Rebbe says:

והיא בחינת תשובה תתאה, להעלות ה׳ תתאה להקימה מנפילתה שנפלה אל החיצונים

This is the lower category of repentance, whereby the lower letter hei is raised up from its fall into the forces of evil, the kelipot.

Teshuvah (repentance), spelled תשובה, forms the words “returning the hei”; this implies that repentance “returns” the hei of the Divine Name, Havayeh (yud hei vav hei), to its proper place. The higher category of teshuvah returns the “higher” (the first) hei to the yud preceding it, while the lower form of teshuvah returns the “lower” hei to the vav preceding it. The teshuvah mentioned earlier as a prerequisite for a love and fear of G‑d, is of the lower category.

שהוא סוד גלות השכינה, כמאמר רז״ל: גלו לאדום שכינה עמהם

This fall of the lower hei of the Divine Name into the kelipot is the mystery of the Shechinah (the Divine Presence) in exile, as our Sages have said:1 “When the Jews were exiled to Edom, the Shechinah went into exile with them.”

דהיינו כשאדם עושה מעשה אדום, מוריד וממשיך לשם בחינת וניצוץ אלקות המחיה את נפש רוח ונשמה שלו

In a spiritual sense, in terms of one’s service to G‑d, this statement means that when one acts like “Edom”, the embodiment of evil, when he sins, he degrades and draws down to Edom, to the kelipot, the Divine spark which vitalizes his Nefesh, Ruach, and Neshamah with G‑dly, holy life. In this way, the Shechinah within him is drawn into exile.

המלובשים בנפש הבהמית מהקליפה שבלבו שבחלל השמאלי, המולכת בו בעודו רשע ומושלת בעיר קטנה שלו

What constitutes “exile” in this case is the fact that the Divine spark gives life to his G‑dly soul which is clothed in the animal soul of kelipah situated in the left part of his heart; and as long as he remains wicked, the animal soul reigns over him, dominating his “small city,” his body. Thus the Divine spark within his G‑dly soul is in exile in the kelipah of his animal soul.

ונר״נ כבושים בגולה אצלה

The Nefesh, Ruach and Neshamah are thus held captive in exile under it.

A captive not only lacks the freedom to act as he wishes, but is also forced to carry out the wishes of his captor. The Divine spark within the soul, however, although in exile, is still not in captivity. It has merely lost its ability to affect the person with its G‑dly vitality.

וכשנשבר לבו בקרבו, ונשברה רוח הטומאה וסטרא אחרא, ויתפרדו כו׳

When the heart of the rasha is broken within him, and thereby the spirit of uncleanliness and of the sitra achra are broken, and the forces of evil are dispersed,

היא קמה מנפילתה וגם נצבה, כמו שכתוב במקום אחר

then the lower hei of the Divine Name — the Shechinah — rises from its fall and stands firm, as discussed elsewhere.

Only when he repents and thereby frees the Shechinah from exile, and allows the Divine spark within him to affect his soul and body, may he begin to serve G‑d with love and fear.

* * *

In summary: It is indeed “very near” to us to love and fear G‑d, for we are able to create at least an “intellectual emotion” by means of our mind, which is under our control even if our heart is not. However, this does not apply to the rasha, who is a slave to the desires of his animal soul, and must repent before beginning to serve G‑d with love and fear.

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