In the previous chapters the Alter Rebbe discussed the divine soul; its ten faculties — three intellectual and seven emotional — and its three garments by which it expresses itself, namely, the thought, speech and action of Torah and the mitzvot.

He explained that the garments of the divine soul are actually on a higher level than the soul itself, inasmuch as Torah and G‑d are one, and that by “clothing” itself in these garments, i.e., by studying the Torah and by performing the mitzvot, the soul is united with G‑d. This is particularly true of Torah study, in which the soul both embraces and is embraced by the G‑dliness contained in Torah.

In ch. 6 the Alter Rebbe begins to discuss the animal soul. He explains that its structure exactly parallels that of the divine soul; it too has ten faculties and three garments; only, unlike the divine soul, the substance of the animal soul is kelipah, and its faculties and garments are impurity. By clothing itself in these garments the animal soul descends to an even lower state of impurity.

Concerning the concept of kelipah, we have noted in ch. 1 that although all existence was created by and receives its life from G‑dliness, yet, in order that man be able to choose between good and evil, and that he earn his reward by serving his Creator by his own effort, G‑d created forces of impurity which conceal the G‑dliness in all of creation. These forces are called kelipah (plural: kelipot), literally meaning “shells” or “peels”: Just as the shell conceals the fruit, so do the forces of kelipah conceal the G‑dliness in every created being.

There are two categories in kelipot: kelipat nogah (lit. “a kelipah [inclusive] of light”), and “the three unclean kelipot.”

The first category, kelipat nogah, contains some measure of good. It is thus an intermediary level between the realms of good and evil, and whatever receives its vitality via the concealing screen of this kelipah may be utilized for either good or evil. To this category belong all permitted physical objects; they may be used for a mitzvah and ascend thereby to the realm of holiness, or they may be used sinfully, G‑d forbid, and thereby be further degraded.

The second category — consisting of the “three impure kelipot” — is wholly evil. Whatever receives its vitality via the concealment of this type of kelipah cannot be transformed into holiness, nor, in some cases, may it even be used in the service of holiness. To this category belong all forbidden physical objects; whether forbidden only for consumption, in which case they cannot be transformed into holiness but they may serve it, or whether forbidden for any form of benefit, in which case they cannot even serve any holy purpose.

והנה זה לעומת זה עשה אלקים

1“The Almighty has created one thing opposite the other.”

Everything in the realm of holiness has its counterpart in kelipah. In our context, the animal soul, with its faculties and garments, is the counterpart (in kelipah) of the divine soul, with its faculties and garments.

כי, כמו שנפש האלקית כלולה מעשר ספירות קדושות ומתלבשת בשלשה לבושים קדושים

Just as the divine soul consists of ten holy [faculties, which correspond to the Ten Supernal] Sefirot, and is clothed in three holy garments, i.e., the thought, speech and action of Torah and the mitzvot,

כך הנפש דסטרא אחרא מקליפות נוגה המלובשת בדם האדם

so, too, the soul of sitra achra (defined further in this chapter) derived from kelipat nogah, which is clothed in man’s blood — as explained in ch. 1, the animal soul is clothed in the blood, and thereby animates the body — this soul too

כלולה מעשר כתרין דמסאבותא

consists of ten2 “crowns of impurity,” i.e., the faculties of kelipah, called “crowns” in kabbalistic terminology.

שהן שבע מדות רעות

These ten faculties are: seven evil middot (seven emotional traits),

e.g., lust, the equivalent in kelipah of the middah of Chesed (“kindness”); anger, which expresses the middah of Gevurah (“severity”); boastfulness, the equivalent of Tiferet (“beauty”); and so forth,

הבאות מארבעה יסודות רעים הנזכרים לעיל

which stem from the four evil elements mentioned above (in ch. 1),

Spiritual entities have their “elements” as physical objects do; in this case evil elements, since this is a soul of kelipah.

ושכל המולידן הנחלק לשלש, שהן חכמה בינה ודעת, מקור המדות

and the intellect (seichel) which gives birth to these [seven evil middot], which is subdivided into three, viz., Chochmah, Binah and Daat, the source of the middot.

כי המדות הן לפי ערך השכל

The intellectual faculties are described as the source of the evil middot for the middot are commensurate with the quality of one’s intellect.

כי הקטן חושק ואוהב דברים קטנים פחותי הערך, לפי ששכלו קטן וקצר להשיג דברים יקרים יותר מהם

A child desires and loves (i.e., he expresses his middah of Chesed towards) petty things of little value, for his intellect is too immature and deficient to appreciate more valuable things.

וכן מתכעס ומתקצף מדברים קטנים, וכן בהתפארות ושאר מדות

Similarly with regard to the middah of Gevurah: he is angered and vexed by trivial things, and likewise with regard to boastfulness (which expresses the middah of Tiferet), and other middot.

This correlation between middot and intellect indicates that the intellect affects the nature and expression of middot, and for this reason, the three intellectual faculties are said to be the source of the seven middot.3

ועשר בחינות אלו הטמאות, כשאדם מחשב בהן או מדבר או עושה

Now these ten unclean categories, when a person thinks [thoughts originating from] them (e.g., when he thinks of ways of obtaining something he desires), or speaks words originating from them or does an act which serves or expresses them,

הרי מחשבתו שבמוחו ודבורו שבפיו וכח המעשה שבידיו ושאר איבריו, נקראים לבושי מסאבו לעשר בחינות אלו הטמאות

then the thought in his brain, the words in his mouth and the power of action in his hands and other organs, are called “impure garments” for these ten unclean categories,

שמתלבשות בהן בשעת מעשה או דבור או מחשבה

which clothe themselves in these garments, during the act, speech or thought.

But what sort of thoughts, words and action are the “garments” of the animal soul? Earlier, in ch. 4, we learned that the divine soul has specific thoughts, etc., in which it clothes itself, namely, thought, speech and action in matters of Torah and the mitzvot. Are we then to understand that the animal soul, too, has specific garments — sinful thoughts, words or actions, perhaps?

Not so, states the Alter Rebbe presently. All thoughts, words and acts that are not directed toward G‑d and the service of G‑d, even though they are not actually sinful, are garments of the kelipah, and hence, of the animal soul.

In his words:

והן הם כל המעשים אשר נעשים תחת השמש

These garments of the animal soul comprise all the deeds that are done under the sun (i.e., all mundane actions),

אשר הכל הבל ורעות רוח, וכמו שכתוב בזהר בשלח, שהן תבירו דרוחא כו׳

which are all4 “vanity and an affliction of the spirit,” as the Zohar5 (Parshat Beshallach) interprets this: “a ruination of the spirit [of holiness].”

וכן כל הדבורים וכל המחשבות אשר לא לה׳ המה ולרצונו ולעבודתו

Similarly, all words and all thoughts that are not directed to G‑d and to His Will and His service are all garments for the animal soul.

שזהו פירוש לשון סטרא אחרא פירוש: צד אחר, שאינו צד הקדושה

For this is the meaning of the term sitra achra — literally “the other side,” i.e., not the side of holiness.

Thus, whatever does not belong to the realm of holiness is sitra achra. But what, in fact, does the realm of holiness encompass?

וצד הקדושה אינו אלא השראה והמשכה מקדושתו של הקדוש ברוך הוא

The side of holiness is nothing but the indwelling and extension of G‑d’s holiness.

ואין הקדוש ברוך הוא שורה אלא על דבר שבטל אצלו יתברך, בין בפועל ממש, כמלאכים עליונים

Now, G‑d dwells only on that which is surrendered to Him, whether [the surrender is an] actual [one] (and visible even in that surrendered being’s external aspects) as is the case with the supernal angels whose entire being is constantly and openly surrendered to G‑d

ובין בכח, ככל איש ישראל למטה, שבכחו להיות בטל ממש לגבי הקדוש ברוך הוא במסירת נפשו על קדושת ה׳

or whether [it is a] potential [surrender], as in the case of every Jew here below in this physical world, who has the capacity for surrendering himself completely before G‑d, through martyrdom for the sanctification of G‑d’s Name.

As explained further in the Tanya, every Jew has the capacity for such self-sacrifice; in the face of an attempt to coerce him to forsake Judaism he will willingly suffer martyrdom. Thus, every Jew possesses internally within his soul the potential for surrender to G‑d, whatever his external state; this potential, however, may reveal itself only in the act of martyrdom. Because he is surrendered to G‑d, G‑d’s holiness rests upon him.

ולכן אמרו רבותינו ז״ל שאפילו אחד שיושב ועוסק בתורה שכינה שרויה כו׳

That is why our Sages6 have said that “if even one individual sits and engages in Torah study, the Divine Presence rests upon him.”

For when one engages in Torah study his surrender to G‑dliness emerges, to affect him on a revealed, external level, since such study entails setting aside one’s own notions and presumptions in order to understand and accept G‑d’s wisdom and Will as expressed in Torah. It is this surrender to G‑dliness that causes the Divine Presence to rest upon the Torah student.

וכל בי עשרה שכינתא שריא לעולם

Also,7 “On each gathering of ten Jews the Divine Presence rests” always; together, ten Jews form a “congregation of Israel,” which is a fit abode for the Divine Presence.