The Alter Rebbe now resumes his explanation of why a sinful person not only receives his vitality from the “other side” like other living creatures but in fact does so to an even greater degree. Since through his freely chosen thoughts, words, and deeds, it was the sinner himself who replenished the reservoirs of the kelipot with life-force of Divine origin, it is he who will now have to swallow the lion’s share of those reservoirs.

Scripture states:16 “Jacob is the rope of [G-d’s] heritage.”17

וְהִנֵּה, "יַעֲקֹב חֶבֶל נַחֲלָתוֹ" כְּתִיב:

The analogy [compares the soul of a Jew] to a rope, with one end above and the other end below.

עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל, כְּמוֹ הַחֶבֶל שֶׁרֹאשׁוֹ אֶחָד לְמַעְלָה וְרֹאשׁוֹ הַשֵּׁנִי לְמַטָּה,

When one pulls the lower end, he will move and pull after it the higher end as well, as far as it can be pulled.

אִם יִמְשׁוֹךְ אָדָם בְּרֹאשׁוֹ הַשֵּׁנִי – יְנַעֲנֵעַ וְיִמָּשֵׁךְ אַחֲרָיו גַּם רֹאשׁוֹ הָרִאשׁוֹן כַּמָּה שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר לוֹ לְהִמָּשֵׁךְ.

It is exactly so with regard to the root of the soul of man and its source in the latter hey mentioned above.

וְכָכָה מַמָּשׁ בְּשֹׁרֶשׁ נִשְׁמַת הָאָדָם וּמְקוֹרָהּ מִבְּחִינַת הֵ"א תַּתָּאָה הַנִּזְכֶּרֶת לְעֵיל,

Through one’s evil deeds and thoughts, one draws down the life-force [issuing from the latter hey]

הוּא מַמְשִׁיךְ וּמוֹרִיד הַשְׁפָּעָתָהּ עַל־יְדֵי מַעֲשָׂיו הָרָעִים וּמַחְשְׁבוֹתָיו

into the chambers of the sitra achara, as it were, from which he receives his thoughts and deeds.

עַד תּוֹךְ הֵיכְלוֹת הַסִּטְרָא אָחֳרָא כִּבְיָכוֹל, שֶׁמִּשָּׁם מְקַבֵּל מַחְשְׁבוֹתָיו וּמַעֲשָׂיו.

Although a person punishable by excision has severed his rope, so to speak, he is still able to draw down the life-force issuing from the latter hey into the chambers of the sitra achara. The reason, as is explained elsewhere in the literature of Chasidut, is that even after the rope is severed, some external vestige of it survives. And it is through this remnant that the life-force of holiness is drawn down into the chambers of the kelipot.

Because it is he, the sinful individual, who draws the flow of vitality into [the chambers of the sitra achara], it is he who receives the greatest portion from them.

וּמִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא הוּא הַמַּמְשִׁיךְ לָהֶם הַהַשְׁפָּעָה, לָכֵן הוּא נוֹטֵל חֵלֶק בָּרֹאשׁ,

I.e., in even greater measure than do other living creatures. Nevertheless, it is explained in the literature of Chasidut18 that ultimately, the sinner will cease to draw vitality from this flow, for the sitra achara can serve a Jew as a source only temporarily.

This will suffice for the understanding.

וְדַי לַמֵבִין.

Hence, the statement of our Sages, of blessed memory: “It is not within our hands (i.e., it is not given us) to understand the reason for either the tranquillity of the wicked [or the suffering of the righteous].”19

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁאָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: "אֵין בְּיָדֵינוּ לֹא מִשַּׁלְוַת הָרְשָׁעִים וְכוּ'" –

The quotation specifies “in our hands,” i.e., in this time of exile after the Destruction, when the wicked receive added vitality through the kelipot and sitra achara.

"בְּיָדֵינוּ" דַּוְקָא, כְּלוֹמַר, בִּזְמַן הַגָּלוּת אַחַר הַחוּרְבָּן.

This is an expression of the “Exile of the Divine Presence,” as it were, during which time, the life-force emanating from the latter hey flows into the kelipot,

וְזוֹהִי בְּחִינַת גָּלוּת הַשְּׁכִינָה כִּבְיָכוֹל,

viz., [G-d’s] granting [supplementary measures of] life-force to the chambers of the sitra achara that He despises.

לְהַשְׁפִּיעַ לְהֵיכְלוֹת הַסִּטְרָא אָחֳרָא אֲשֶׁר שָׂנְאָה נַפְשׁוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ.

However, when the sinner repents appropriately, he then removes from them the life-force that he had drawn into them through his deeds and thoughts,

וּכְשֶׁהָאָדָם עוֹשֶׂה תְּשׁוּבָה נְכוֹנָה – אֲזַי מְסַלֵּק מֵהֶם הַהַשְׁפָּעָה שֶׁהִמְשִׁיךְ בְּמַעֲשָׂיו וּמַחְשְׁבוֹתָיו,

for by his repentance, he returns the flow issuing from the Shechinah to its proper place.

כִּי בִּתְשׁוּבָתוֹ מַחֲזִיר הַשְׁפָּעַת הַשְּׁכִינָה לִמְקוֹמָהּ.

This, then, is the meaning of [the teaching of the Zohar, quoted in ch. 4, thatteshuvah is] tashuv hey, the return of the lower hey from exile”—that the lower level of repentance consists of returning the Shechinah, which is represented by the latter hey of the Tetragrammaton, from its state of exile.

וְזֶהוּ תָּשׁוּב הֵ"א תַּתָּאָה – מִבְּחִינַת גָּלוּת,

As the verse states, “The L-rd, your G-d (the source of your soul), will return (i.e., bring back) those of you who return”20;

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "וְשָׁב ה' אֱלֹקֶיךָ אֶת שְׁבוּתְךָ",

regarding the verb as being intransitive, this means [that G-d Himself will return] with your return.

כְּלוֹמַר עִם שְׁבוּתְךָ,

As our Sages have commented on this verse, “Scripture does not say, ‘He shall bring back,’ [but that He Himself will return].”21

וּכְמַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: "וְהֵשִׁיב לֹא נֶאֱמַר וְכוּ'":

The verse is thus telling every Jew: When through repentance you extricate yourself from your own spiritual exile, you will thereby liberate “your G-d”—the Shechinah, the source of your soul—from His exile too.