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 explains 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?

ואף דאורייתא וקודשא בריך הוא כולא חד, שהוא ורצונו אחד

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.

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:

הרי קודשא בריך הוא איהו ממלא כל עלמין בשוה, ואף על פי כן אין העולמות שוים במעלתם

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

והשינוי הוא מהמקבלים בב׳ בחינות

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

האחת: שהעליונים מקבלים הארה יותר גדולה לאין קץ מהתחתונים

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

והשנית: שמקבלים בלי לבושים ומסכים רבים כל כך כהתחתונים

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

ועולם הזה הוא עולם השפל בב׳ בחינות

This world is the lowest of worlds in both respects.

כי ההארה שבו מצומצמת מאד, עד קצה האחרון, ולכן הוא חומרי וגשמי

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

וגם זאת היא בלבושים ומסכים רבים

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

עד שנתלבשה בקליפת נוגה, להחיות כל דברים הטהורים שבעולם הזה, ובכללם הוא נפש החיונית המדברת שבאדם

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.

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.

ולכן כשמדברת דברי תורה ותפלה בלא כוונה

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:

אף שהן אותיות קדושות, ואין קליפת נוגה שבנפש החיונית מסך מבדיל כלל להסתיר ולכסות על קדושתו יתברך המלובשת בהן

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,

כמו שהיא מסתרת ומכסה על קדושתו יתברך שבנפש החיונית כשמדברת דברים בטלים

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

ושבנפש החיונית שבשאר בעלי חיים הטהורים

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

דאף דלית אתר פנוי מיניה

for although1 “no place is devoid of Him,” 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 —

-מכל מקום איהו סתימו דכל סתימין, ונקרא אל מסתתר

yet, He is the2 “Most Hidden One of all the hidden,” and is called3 “a hidden G‑d,” for He is hidden from his creations.

וגם ההארה והתפשטות החיות ממנו יתברך מסתתרת בלבושים ומסכים רבים ועצומים

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

עד שנתלבשה ונסתתרה בלבוש נוגה

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.

מה שאין כן באותיות הקדושות של דברי תורה ותפלה

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

דאדרבה, קליפת נוגה מתהפכת לטוב, ונכללת בקדושה זו, כנ״ל

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.4

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.

מכל מקום, ההארה שבהן מקדושתו יתברך הוא בבחינת צמצום עד קצה האחרון, מאחר שהקול והדבור הוא גשמי

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.

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.