Up until here, the Alter Rebbe has spoken of the effect of a mitzvah on the power of one’s animal soul used in performing it. He now states that not only does one’s animal soul ascend from kelipat nogah to holiness when he performs a mitzvah, but also, all the food and drink that sustained one and gave him the strength to perform the mitzvah are likewise elevated from the dominion of kelipat nogah.

Based on this idea, the Alter Rebbe explains how the vitality of all physical objects of this world—which currently draw their vitality from kelipat nogah—will be elevated to the realm of holiness.

Every Jewish soul is given the ability and responsibility to elevate a portion of this physical world which “belongs” to it. This elevation is accomplished by means of the 613 mitzvot, as mentioned. There are, however, two categories in mitzvot: the 248 positive commandments and the 365 prohibitive commandments. Similarly, the elevating effect of mitzvot on physical matter takes two forms: one positive and the other negative (i.e., restrictive).

To explain these two aspects of elevation accomplished by the two categories of mitzvot, the Alter Rebbe uses for each category an analogy drawn from the human body. The 248 positive commandments correspond to the body’s 248 limbs and, indeed, the function of these mitzvot resembles that of the limbs. Every organ of the body is a vehicle for a particular faculty of the soul and brings that faculty into active expression. Similarly, every (positive) mitzvah is a vehicle for the expression of a particular aspect of Divine will and brings about a G-dly revelation.

The prohibitive commandments, numbering 365, correspond to the 365 blood vessels of the body; their function, too, is like that of the blood vessels. The blood vessel acts as a conduit, channeling blood in the right direction so that it will not be randomly, wastefully dispersed through the body. Similarly, the prohibitive commandments prevent the life-force of holiness from being funneled off into the kelipot, thereby increasing their power; they channel the life-force toward deserving recipients.

When all the souls of Israel, representing the vitality of all physical matter, fulfill all the commandments—drawing down G-d’s light by performing the positive mitzvot and confining it to the realm of holiness by observing the prohibitive mitzvot—they elevate the vitality of the entire world from kelipat nogah to holiness.

This, in summary, is the subject of the following discussion.

An additional [virtue] in mitzvot involving action (aside from their function in elevating one’s animal soul, mentioned above):

זֹאת וְעוֹד אַחֶרֶת,

the vitalizing soul’s energy clothed in the utterance of letters of one’s speech in Torah study, prayer, or the like or the energy clothed in the performance of mitzvot involving action

שֶׁכֹּחַ נֶפֶשׁ הַחִיּוּנִית הַמִּתְלַבֶּשֶׁת בְּאוֹתִיּוֹת הַדִּבּוּר בְּתַלְמוּד תּוֹרָה אוֹ תְּפִלָּה וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָהֶן, אוֹ מִצְוֹת מַעֲשִׂיּוֹת –

derives its entire growth and vitality from the blood, which is of kelipat nogah itself,

הֲרֵי כָּל גִּידּוּלוֹ וְחַיּוּתוֹ מֵהַדָּם, שֶׁהוּא מִקְּלִיפַּת נוֹגַהּ מַמָּשׁ,

meaning all the food and drink that one has eaten and drunk and which have become blood.

שֶׁהֵן כָּל אוֹכָלִין וּמַשְׁקִין שֶׁאָכַל וְשָׁתָה וְנַעֲשׂוּ דָם,

These were under the dominion of [kelipat nogah] and drew their vitality from it.

שֶׁהָיוּ תַּחַת מֶמְשַׁלְתָּהּ וְיָנְקוּ חַיּוּתָם מִמֶּנָּה,

Now that the person performs a mitzvah with the energy derived from this food and drink, this kelipah is transformed from evil to good and is absorbed into holiness by means of the energy of the animal soul that grows from it (i.e., the energy nourished by those objects that derive their vitality from this kelipah), which has now clothed itself in these letters of Torah and prayer or in the performance of this mitzvah, which actually constitute the unveiled expression of the inner aspect of G-d’s will.

וְעַתָּה הִיא מִתְהַפֶּכֶת מֵרָע לְטוֹב וְנִכְלֶלֶת בִּקְדוּשָּׁה, עַל יְדֵי כֹּחַ נֶפֶשׁ הַחִיּוּנִית הַגָּדֵל מִמֶּנָּה, שֶׁנִּתְלַבֵּשׁ בְּאוֹתִיּוֹת אֵלּוּ אוֹ בַּעֲשִׂיָּה זוֹ, אֲשֶׁר הֵן הֵן פְּנִימִיּוּת רְצוֹנוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ בְּלִי שׁוּם הֶסְתֵּר פָּנִים,

And their vitality (the vitality expended in performing mitzvot) is also absorbed (like the mitzvot themselves) into the blessed Ein Sof-light, which is His will as expressed in mitzvot,

וְחַיּוּתָן נִכְלָל גַּם כֵּן בְּאוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא שֶׁהוּא רְצוֹנוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ,

and with their vitality, the energy of the animal soul is likewise elevated and absorbed into the Ein Sof-light, and since the energy necessary for performing mitzvot was supplied by food and drink, the vitality of the food and drink is likewise absorbed in the Ein Sof-light, together with the mitzvah whose performance it made possible.

וּבְחַיּוּתָן נִכְלָל וְעוֹלֶה גַם כֵּן כֹּחַ נֶפֶשׁ הַחִיּוּנִית.

Thereby, all of kelipat nogah, which constitutes the vitality of this physical and corporeal world as a whole, will ascend as well. When will this come about?

וְעַל יְדֵי זֶה, תַּעֲלֶה גַם כֵּן כְּלָלוּת קְלִיפַּת נוֹגַהּ, שֶׁהִיא כְּלָלוּת הַחַיּוּת שֶׁל עוֹלָם הַזֶּה הַגַּשְׁמִי וְהַחוּמְרִי,

When the whole neshamah, the divine soul6 in all of Israel, which is divided into 600,000 particular offshoots (the standard figure for the members of the Jewish nation, all individual souls being further subdivisions of these 600,000 “general” souls, as will be explained further) will fulfill, each individual soul thereof, the 613 mitzvot of the Torah:

כַּאֲשֶׁר כָּל הַנְּשָׁמָה וְנֶפֶשׁ הָאֱלֹהִית שֶׁבְּכָל יִשְׂרָאֵל, הַמִּתְחַלֶּקֶת בִּפְרָטוּת לְשִׁשִּׁים רִבּוֹא, תְּקַיֵּים כָּל נֶפֶשׁ פְּרָטִית כָּל תַּרְיַ"ג מִצְוֹת הַתּוֹרָה:

when they will refrain from transgressing the 365 prohibitions, to restrain the 365 blood vessels of the animal soul in the body,

שַׁסַ"ה לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה – לְהַפְרִיד שַׁסַ"ה גִידִים שֶׁל דַּם נֶפֶשׁ הַחִיּוּנִית שֶׁבַּגּוּף,

so that they do not draw nurture or receive vitality by means of such transgression from any one of the three completely unclean kelipot, from which are derived the 365 Biblical prohibitions, and the Rabbinical prohibitions—their offshoots.

שֶׁלֹּא יִינְקוּ וִיקַבְּלוּ חַיּוּת בַּעֲבֵירָה זוֹ מֵאַחַת מִשָּׁלֹשׁ קְלִיפּוֹת הַטְּמֵאוֹת לְגַמְרֵי, שֶׁמֵּהֶן נִשְׁפָּעִים שַׁסַ"ה לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה דְּאוֹרַיְיתָא וְעַנְפֵיהֶן שֶׁהֵן מִדְּרַבָּנָן,

Since all that derives its vitality from the three wholly unclean kelipot cannot rise to holiness, were a Jew to transgress any prohibition and thereby cause the particular blood vessel associated with that prohibition to receive vitality from these kelipot

the vitalizing soul could no longer ascend to G-d, having been tainted by the impurity of the three impure kelipot.

וְשׁוּב, לֹא תוּכַל נֶפֶשׁ הַחִיּוּנִית לַעֲלוֹת אֶל ה' אִם נִטְמְאָה בְּטוּמְאַת הַשָּׁלֹשׁ קְלִיפּוֹת הַטְּמֵאוֹת,

[For] these [kelipot] can never be elevated but must be nullified and utterly destroyed,

שֶׁאֵין לָהֶן עֲלִיָּה לְעוֹלָם, כִּי אִם – בִּיטּוּל וְהַעֲבָרָה לְגַמְרֵי,

as is written, “And I shall banish the unclean spirit from the earth.”7

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "וְאֶת רוּחַ הַטּוּמְאָה אַעֲבִיר מִן הָאָרֶץ";

Similarly, anything which derives its vitality from them can never ascend to holiness. Therefore, only the observance of all the 365 prohibitions allows the entire vital soul to ascend without any part of it held back by the impurity of these kelipot.

When, furthermore, every individual soul will fulfill also the 248 positive commandments, thereby drawing down the blessed Ein Sof-light below,

וְרַמַ"ח מִצְוֹת עֲשֵׂה – לְהַמְשִׁיךְ אוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא לְמַטָּה,

to elevate to Him and to bind and unite with Him the entire vital soul, which is in the 248 limbs of the body, in perfect unity (such is the effect of a mitzvah in uniting the vital, animal soul with G-d) so that they become actually one [with Him],

לְהַעֲלוֹת לוֹ וּלְקַשֵּׁר וּלְיַיחֵד בּוֹ כְּלָלוּת הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַחִיּוּנִית שֶׁבְּרַמַ"ח אֵבְרֵי הַגּוּף, בְּיִחוּד גָּמוּר לִהְיוֹת לַאֲחָדִים מַמָּשׁ,

in accordance with His will that there be an abode for Him in the lower realms, and so great is this unity that they (the limbs of the body with the vitality of the animal soul invested in them) become a “chariot” for G-d, as were the Patriarchs—whose every limb was in total submission to the Divine will, wherefore they are designated as G-d’s “chariots”—and so will every Jew become a chariot by performing the mitzvot.

כְּמוֹ שֶׁעָלָה בִּרְצוֹנוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ לִהְיוֹת לוֹ דִּירָה בַּתַּחְתּוֹנִים, וְהֵם לוֹ לְמֶרְכָּבָה כְּמוֹ הָאָבוֹת.