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.

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

וְהִנֵּה, זֶה לְעוּמַּת זֶה עָשָׂה אֱלֹהִים.

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.

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,

כִּי כְּמוֹ שֶׁנֶּפֶשׁ הָאֱלֹהִית כְּלוּלָה מֵעֶשֶׂר סְפִירוֹת קְדוֹשׁוֹת, וּמִתְלַבֶּשֶׁת בִּשְׁלֹשָׁה לְבוּשִׁים קְדוֹשִׁים,

so, too, the soul of sitra achara (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

כָּךְ הַנֶּפֶשׁ דְּסִטְרָא אָחֳרָא מִקְּלִיפּוֹת נוֹגַהּ הַמְלוּבֶּשֶׁת בְּדַם הָאָדָם,

consists of ten “crowns of impurity,”2 i.e., the faculties of kelipah, called “crowns” in Kabbalistic terminology.

כְּלוּלָה מֵעֶשֶׂר כִּתְרִין דִּמְסָאֲבוּתָא,

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

שֶׁהֵן: שֶׁבַע מִדּוֹת רָעוֹת

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,

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

הַבָּאוֹת מֵאַרְבַּע יְסוֹדוֹת רָעִים הַנִּזְכָּרִים לְעֵיל,

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

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.

וְשֵׂכֶל הַמּוֹלִידָן הַנֶּחְלָק לְשָׁלֹשׁ, שֶׁהֵן חָכְמָה בִּינָה וָדַעַת – מְקוֹר הַמִּדּוֹת,

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

כִּי הַמִּדּוֹת הֵן לְפִי עֵרֶךְ הַשֵּׂכֶל,

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

כִּי הַקָּטָן חוֹשֵׁק וְאוֹהֵב דְּבָרִים קְטַנִּים פְּחוּתֵי הָעֵרֶךְ, לְפִי שֶׁשִּׂכְלוֹ קָטָן וְקָצָר לְהַשִּׂיג דְּבָרִים יְקָרִים יוֹתֵר מֵהֶם,

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.

וְכֵן מִתְכַּעֵס וּמִתְקַצֵּף מִדְּבָרִים קְטַנִּים, וְכֵן בְּהִתְפָּאֲרוּת וּשְׁאָר מִדּוֹת.

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

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,

וְעֶשֶׂר בְּחִינוֹת אֵלּוּ הַטְּמֵאוֹת, כְּשֶׁאָדָם מְחַשֵּׁב בָּהֶן אוֹ מְדַבֵּר אוֹ עוֹשֶׂה,

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,

הֲרֵי מַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ שֶׁבְּמוֹחוֹ וְדִבּוּרוֹ שֶׁבְּפִיו וְכֹחַ הַמַּעֲשִׂיי שֶׁבְּיָדָיו וּשְׁאָר אֵיבָרָיו, נִקְרָאִים "לְבוּשֵׁי מְסָאֲבוּ" לְעֶשֶׂר בְּחִינוֹת אֵלּוּ הַטְּמֵאוֹת,

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

שֶׁמִּתְלַבְּשׁוֹת בָּהֶן בִּשְׁעַת מַעֲשֶׂה אוֹ דִּבּוּר אוֹ מַחֲשָׁבָה.

But what sort of thoughts, words, and actions 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:

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

וְהֵן הֵם כָּל הַמַּעֲשִׂים אֲשֶׁר נַעֲשִׂים תַּחַת הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ,

which are all “vanity and an affliction of the spirit,”4 as the Zohar (Parashat Beshalach)5 interprets this: “a ruination of the spirit [of holiness].”

אֲשֶׁר "הַכֹּל הֶבֶל וּרְעוּת רוּחַ", וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּזֹּהַר בְּשַׁלַּח, שֶׁהֵן "תְּבִירוּ דְרוּחָא כוּ'",