והאיך נשבר הלב ונדכה

And how is the heart to be broken and humbled?

הנה מעט מזעיר הוא על ידי סיגופים ותעניות

Only a very minor part of this can be accomplished through mortification and fasts

בדורותינו אלה, שאין לנו כח להתענות הרבה כדוד המלך

in these generations of ours, when we have not the strength to fast as much as did King David;

כמאמר רז״ל על פסוק: ולבי חלל בקרבי, שהרגו בתענית

as our Sages comment1 on the verse uttered by him,2 “And my heart is slain within me” — “ for he had destroyed [his Evil Inclination] by fasting.”

אך עיקר הכנעת הלב, להיות נשבר ונדכה

But the true humbling of the heart, so that it be broken and crushed,

והעברת רוח הטומאה והסטרא אחרא

and so that the spirit of impurity and sitra achra will be removed,

הוא להיות ממארי דחושבנא בעומק הדעת

is achieved through being a “master of accounting” with all the profundity of one’s mind.

One’s personal stocktaking should be as scrupulous as the accounting made by the master or owner of a business, to whom every detail is critical.

להעמיק דעתו ובינתו שעה אחת בכל יום או לילה לפני תיקון חצות

One should concentrate his intellect and understanding deeply for a period3 every day, or at night before Tikkun Chatzot,

להתבונן במה שפעל ועשה בחטאיו, בחינת גלות השכינה כנ״ל

to contemplate how through his sins he has brought about the exile of the Divine Presence, as noted above,

וגרם לעקור נשמתו ונפשו האלקית מחיי החיים ברוך הוא

and caused his spirit and Divine soul to be uprooted from the Divine Source of all Life,

והורידה למקום הטומאה והמות, הן היכלות הסטרא אחרא

and demeaned it to a place of defilement and death, namely, the chambers of the sitra achra,

ונעשית בבחינת מרכבה אליהם

[his soul] becoming a vehicle for them,

Just as a vehicle has no will of its own and is completely subservient to the desires of its driver, so, too, is his soul subservient to the impure chambers of the sitra achra from whence it derives nurture.

לקבל מהם שפע וחיות להשפיע לגופו, כנ״ל

receiving from them vitality to endow his body, as noted above — that the nurture and life-force of the sinner emanate from the kelipot and sitra achra.

Meditation along these lines will bring a man to a state of contrition — itself a fit offering to the Divine Name Elokim.

וזהו שאמרו רז״ל: רשעים בחייהם קרויים מתים

Thus our Sages declared4 that “the wicked while alive (lit., ”in their life“) are called ‘dead’.”

כלומר, שחייהם נמשכים ממקום המות והטומאה

This means to say, that their life is derived from the site of death and impurity — from the chambers of the kelipot and sitra achra, as opposed to holiness, which is true life.

וכן מה שכתוב: לא המתים יהללו וגו׳, אינו כלועג לרש, חס ושלום

(5Accordingly, the verse6 that says that “the dead will not praise...” is no “mockery of the impoverished,” G‑d forbid,7 for it does not refer to those who are physically dead.

אלא הכוונה על הרשעים, שבחייהם קרויים מתים

Rather, the reference is to the wicked who, while alive, are called dead, and being spiritually dead are unable to praise G‑d,

שמבלבלים אותם במחשבות זרות בעודם ברשעם, ואינם חפיצים בתשובה, כנודע

for they are confused with alien thoughts while yet in their wickedness, and do not desire repentance, as is known.)

While in such a state, the evil person will find it well nigh impossible to praise G‑d fittingly, because of the confusing alien thoughts which are thrust upon him.

Thus, an individual will become contrite of heart when he contemplates how his soul has been uprooted from its Source because of a sin incurring excision or death by divine agency.

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to say that even sins which do not carry so harsh a penalty may still have the same effect.