In the previous chapter, the Alter Rebbe explained that the statement of the Sages that “G-d desired an abode in the lower realms” refers to our physical world. This is the lowest of worlds in terms of the degree of revelation of the divine creative power: it is hidden in this world as it is in no other world. G-d desired precisely this world, pervaded as it is with “doubled and redoubled darkness,” as His “abode,” where His presence would ultimately be revealed to a greater degree than it is revealed in the higher worlds without any concealing “garments” whatsoever.

This will come to pass in the Messianic era, the period for which the world was originally created, when G-dliness will be manifest throughout the world so that all the nations on earth will experience divine revelation.

Now this ultimate perfection of the Messianic era and [the time of] the resurrection of the dead, meaning the revelation of the Ein Sof-light in this physical world,

וְהִנֵּה, תַּכְלִית הַשְּׁלֵימוּת הַזֶּה שֶׁל יְמוֹת הַמָּשִׁיחַ וּתְחִיַּית הַמֵּתִים, שֶׁהוּא גִּילּוּי אוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה הַגַּשְׁמִי –

is dependent on our actions and [divine] service throughout the period of exile (unlike the aforementioned revelation at Sinai, which was initiated by G-d).

תָּלוּי בְּמַעֲשֵׂינוּ וַעֲבוֹדָתֵנוּ כָּל זְמַן מֶשֶׁךְ הַגָּלוּת.

For it is the mitzvah itself that causes i.e., creates its reward.

כִּי הַגּוֹרֵם שְׂכַר הַמִּצְוָה – הִיא הַמִּצְוָה בְּעַצְמָהּ,

The Rebbe notes: Unlike, for example, the wages paid by the owner of a field to the laborer who plows and plants in it, where the laborer does not create the money he is paid, a mitzvah actually creates its own reward.

By performing [the mitzvah], man draws the revelation of the blessed Ein Sof-light from above downward

כִּי בַּעֲשִׂיָּיתָהּ, מַמְשִׁיךְ הָאָדָם גִּילּוּי אוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא מִלְמַעְלָה לְמַטָּה

to be clothed in the physicality of this world, i.e., in an object which had heretofore been under the dominion of kelipat nogah and had received its vitality from this kelipah,

לְהִתְלַבֵּשׁ בְּגַשְׁמִיּוּת עוֹלָם הַזֶּה, בְּדָבָר שֶׁהָיָה תְּחִלָּה תַּחַת מֶמְשֶׁלֶת קְלִיפַּת נוֹגַהּ וּמְקַבֵּל חַיּוּתָהּ מִמֶּנָּה,

namely, all pure, permissible objects with which the act of the mitzvah is performed. By performing the mitzvah, man draws the Ein Sof-light upon the object with which it is performed.

שֶׁהֵם כָּל דְּבָרִים הַטְּהוֹרִים וּמוּתָּרִים שֶׁנַּעֲשֵׂית בָּהֶם הַמִּצְוָה מַעֲשִׂיית,

The Alter Rebbe now illustrates his phrase—“pure, permissible objects with which the act of the mitzvah is performed”—citing as examples one object from each of the three categories: animal life, vegetative, and inanimate life.

For example, the parchment of the tefillin, mezuzah, and Sefer Torah, which must be made of the skins of permissible, kosher animals.

כְּגוֹן: קְלַף הַתְּפִילִּין וּמְזוּזָה וְסֵפֶר תּוֹרָה,

As our Sages state: “For the ‘work of heaven’ i.e., mitzvah objects only that which is pure and permissible to eat may be used.”1

וּכְמַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: "לֹא הוּכְשַׁר לִמְלֶאכֶת שָׁמַיִם אֶלָּא טְהוֹרִים וּמוּתָּרִים בְּפִיךָ".

The parchment derived from such animals is, however, under the dominion of kelipat nogah until one uses it for tefillin, etc., when the mitzvah draws upon the parchment a revelation of the Ein Sof-light.

Similarly, an etrog which is not orlah (the forbidden fruit of a tree’s first three harvests) or money given to charity that has not been acquired through theft and their like i.e., other physical objects used in performing a mitzvah, all of which were previously in the realm of kelipat nogah, and (as the Alter Rebbe will conclude presently) are now merged into the Divine will by serving the purpose of a mitzvah.

וְכֵן אֶתְרוֹג שֶׁאֵינוֹ עָרְלָה, וּמָעוֹת הַצְּדָקָה שֶׁאֵינָן גֶּזֶל, וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָהֶם.

In reference to his earlier stipulation that an etrog not be orlah and that charity be honestly acquired, the Alter Rebbe notes:

For Orlah is of the three completely unclean kelipot that can never ascend into holiness, as is written in Etz Chaim; thus, fruit which is orlah, deriving its vitality from these kelipot, cannot be elevated by having a mitzvah performed with it,

שֶׁהָﬠָרְלָה הִיא מִשָּׁלֹשׁ קְלִיפּוֹת הַטְּמֵאוֹת לְגַמְרֵי שֶׁאֵין לָהֶם ﬠֲלִיָּה לְעוֹלָם, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּﬠֵץ חַיִּים,

and similarly any mitzvah whose performance involved a transgression (G-d forbid). Since the sinful act receives its vitality from the three completely unclean kelipot, the resulting mitzvah cannot elevate it.

וְכֵן כָּל מִצְוָה הַבָּאָה בַּﬠֲבֵירָה חַס וְשָׁלוֹם: