It has been demonstrated above that Torah studied out of habit, without personal motive yet lacking any intention of lishmah, cannot ascend on high to be absorbed into the sefirot. The Alter Rebbe now proceeds to explain why this is so.

The difficulty: The Torah and G-d are altogether one, for the Torah is G-d’s will. Thus, the Torah is higher even than the sefirot, just as G-d’s will transcends the sefirot. Why then does the Torah need one’s kavanah to elevate it to the sefirot?

Although the Torah and the Holy One, blessed be He, are altogether one, for He and His will are one and the Torah represents His will, nevertheless, the Torah will not ascend on high without kavanah.

וְאַף דְּאוֹרַיְיתָא וְקוּדְשָׁא־בְּרִיךְ־הוּא כּוּלָּא חַד, שֶׁהוּא וּרְצוֹנוֹ אֶחָד,

The reason (presently stated) in brief:

The words of Torah that one speaks are physical, as are all things in this material world. True, they are holy words; the divine life-force within them is not concealed and veiled as it is in other material beings. Yet, being physical, the words of Torah share with all physical existence a divine life-force that is greatly contracted and limited.

Therefore, they cannot ascend to the G-dly sefirot unless they are impelled by kavanah, i.e., a spiritual intention generated by love and fear of G-d, which elevate the words of Torah and cause the Divine will to be revealed in them.

In the Alter Rebbe’s words:

The Holy One, blessed be He, fills all the worlds alike, yet the worlds are not equal in rank.

הֲרֵי קוּדְשָׁא־בְּרִיךְ־הוּא אִיהוּ מְמַלֵּא כָּל עָלְמִין בְּשָׁוֶה, וְאַף־עַל־פִּי־כֵן, אֵין הָעוֹלָמוֹת שָׁוִים בְּמַעֲלָתָם;

The difference [between one world and another] is due to the recipients [of the divine life force] and is twofold:

וְהַשִּׁינּוּי הוּא מֵהַמְקַבְּלִים, בְּב' בְּחִינוֹת:

(a) The higher [worlds and beings] receive an illumination infinitely greater than [the illumination received by] the lower;

הָאֶחָד, שֶׁהָעֶלְיוֹנִים מְקַבְּלִים הֶאָרָה יוֹתֵר גְּדוֹלָה לְאֵין קֵץ מֵהַתַּחְתּוֹנִים;

(b) The higher ones receive [this illumination] without as many garments and veils as the lower ones.

וְהַשֵּׁנִית, שֶׁמְּקַבְּלִים בְּלִי לְבוּשִׁים וּמָסָכִים רַבִּים כָּל כָּךְ כְּבַתַּחְתּוֹנִים;

This world is the lowest of worlds in both respects.

וְעוֹלָם הַזֶּה הוּא עוֹלָם הַשָּׁפָל בְּב' בְּחִינוֹת:

For (a) the illumination [of divine life-force] within it is greatly contracted to the furthest degree; it is therefore corporeal and material.

כִּי הַהֶאָרָה שֶׁבּוֹ מְצוּמְצֶמֶת מְאֹד עַד קָצֶה הָאַחֲרוֹן, וְלָכֵן הוּא חוּמְרִי וְגַשְׁמִי,

Furthermore, (b) even this [contracted illumination] is clothed in many garments and veils,

וְגַם זֹאת, הִיא בִּלְבוּשִׁים וּמָסָכִים רַבִּים,

until it is clothed in kelipat nogah to give life to all clean permitted things of this world, including the animating intelligent soul in man.

עַד שֶׁנִּתְלַבְּשָׁה בִּקְלִיפַּת נוֹגַהּ לְהַחֲיוֹת כָּל דְּבָרִים הַטְּהוֹרִים שֶׁבָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה, וּבִכְלָלָם – הוּא נֶפֶשׁ הַחִיּוּנִית הַמְדַבֶּרֶת שֶׁבָּאָדָם;

As mentioned in earlier chapters, all permitted objects receive their vitality via kelipat nogah and can therefore serve either a good or an evil purpose.

Therefore, when the animating soul speaks words of Torah or prayer without kavanah, the concealment characteristic of this world is absent, yet the contraction still applies, as follows:

וְלָכֵן, כְּשֶׁמְּדַבֶּרֶת דִּבְרֵי תוֹרָה וּתְפִלָּה בְּלֹא כַוָּונָה,

Though these are holy letters and thus, in this case, the kelipat nogah of the animating soul does not constitute a veil of separation, concealing or covering the divine holiness clothed in these letters,

אַף שֶׁהֵן אוֹתִיּוֹת קְדוֹשׁוֹת, וְאֵין קְלִיפַּת נוֹגַהּ שֶׁבַּנֶּפֶשׁ הַחִיּוּנִית מָסָךְ מַבְדִּיל כְּלָל לְהַסְתִּיר וּלְכַסּוֹת עַל קְדוּשָּׁתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ הַמְלוּבֶּשֶׁת בָּהֶן,

as [kelipat nogah] conceals and covers the divine holiness in the animating soul when it utters idle chatter,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁהִיא מַסְתֶּרֶת וּמְכַסָּה עַל קְדוּשָּׁתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ שֶׁבַּנֶּפֶשׁ הַחִיּוּנִית כְּשֶׁמְּדַבֶּרֶת דְּבָרִים בְּטֵלִים,

and [the divine holiness] in the animating souls of other ritually clean living creatures, where kelipat nogah likewise conceals the divine life-force,

וְשֶׁבַּנֶּפֶשׁ הַחִיּוּנִית שֶׁבִּשְׁאָר בַּעֲלֵי חַיִּים הַטְּהוֹרִים,

for although “no place is devoid of Him”5 and His presence is found in man’s animating soul even when he engages in idle talk and in the soul of all living creatures,

דְּאַף דְּ"לֵית אֲתַר פָּנוּי מִינֵּיהּ",

yet, He is the “Most Hidden One of all the hidden”6 and is called “a hidden G-d,”7 for He is hidden from his creations.

מִכָּל מָקוֹם, אִיהוּ סְתִימוּ דְכָל סְתִימִין, וְנִקְרָא – "אֵל מִסְתַּתֵּר",

Similarly, the illumination and extension of vitality from Him is hidden in many dense garments and veils,

וְגַם הַהֶאָרָה וְהִתְפַּשְּׁטוּת הַחַיּוּת מִמֶּנּוּ יִתְבָּרֵךְ, מִסְתַּתֶּרֶת בִּלְבוּשִׁים וּמָסָכִים רַבִּים וַעֲצוּמִים,

and is finally clothed and hidden in the garment of nogah, which completely conceals man’s divine life-force when he engages in idle talk and the life-force in other animals, as stated.

עַד שֶׁנִּתְלַבְּשָׁה וְנִסְתַּתְּרָה בִּלְבוּשׁ נוֹגַהּ;

It is different, however, with the holy letters in words of Torah and prayer:

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן בָּאוֹתִיּוֹת הַקְּדוֹשׁוֹת שֶׁל דִּבְרֵי תוֹרָה וּתְפִלָּה,

Here, not only does kelipat nogah not obscure G-dliness, but on the contrary, kelipat nogah is transformed to good and is absorbed into this holiness, as explained above.8

דְּאַדְּרַבָּה, קְלִיפַּת נוֹגַהּ מִתְהַפֶּכֶת לְטוֹב וְנִכְלֶלֶת בִּקְדוּשָּׁה זוֹ, כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל,

Thus, the second of the two aforementioned traits that make this world the lowest of worlds—namely, the complete concealment of divine life-force in the garment of kelipat nogah—is absent in words of Torah and prayer. But the first trait, the Alter Rebbe will now state, is present even in these holy words: they are physical, as are all things of this world, so that the contraction of divine life-force that characterizes physical matter in general applies to these words as well.

Nevertheless, the illumination from His holiness that [these words] contain is contracted to the furthest degree since the voice and speech uttering words of Torah and prayer are material.

מִכָּל מָקוֹם, הַהֶאָרָה שֶׁבָּהֶן מִקְּדוּשָּׁתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ, הִיא בִּבְחִינַת צִמְצוּם עַד קָצֶה הָאַחֲרוֹן, מֵאַחַר שֶׁהַקּוֹל וְהַדִּבּוּר הוּא גַשְׁמִי.

Therefore, although Torah is one with G-d, words of Torah will not ascend to the sefirot without kavanah since the G-dliness within them is so greatly contracted.