אך מודעת זאת כי אתערותא דלעילא היא באתערותא דלתתא דוקא

But it is well known that an arousal from above comes only in response to an arousal from below,

A man’s soul is stimulated from above only in response to the spiritual service that he initiates here below. Even an effusion of Divine benevolence that comes exclusively from above, and can neither be brought into being nor drawn down by man’s service alone, also awaits a previous arousal from below,

בבחינת העלאת מיין נוקבין

as an elevation of mayin nukvin; i.e., by an arousal of the “feminine waters” by which the recipient elicits the mayin dechurin — the downward flow (“masculine waters”) — emanating from the Giver.

כמו שאמרו רז״ל: אין טיפה יורדת מלמעלה כו׳

As our Sages, of blessed memory, said:1 “No drop [of rain] descends from above [without two corresponding drops first ascending from below].”

ולכן צריך האדם לעשות בעצמו תחלת מילה זו

A man must therefore perform the beginning of this milah by himself,

להסיר ערלת הלב וקליפה הגסה ודקה, המלבישות ומכסות על בחינת נקודת פנימית הלב

to remove the “foreskin” of the heart and the coarse and thin husks which clothe and cover its innermost point,

שהיא בחינת אהבת ה׳ בחינת למען חייך, שהיא בגלות בתאוות עולם הזה

this [innermost point being] a love of G‑d in the spirit of the phrase, “for the sake of your life” — i.e., a love that springs from an awareness that G‑dliness is the person’s entire life — [this love of G‑d being] in exile among the desires of this world.

שהם גם כן בבחינת למען חייך

These [physical desires] likewise exist in the spirit of the phrase, “for the sake of your life,”

בזה לעומת זה, כנ״ל

in [that aspect of the universe which is] the opposing counterpart [to holiness], as mentioned above.

It is thus possible for an individual to be so dedicated to his passions and desires that they are his entire life. For just as this state exists in holiness, it also has its counterpart in the opposite direction, whereby one is immersed in desires to the innermost core of his heart and being.

והיינו על ידי נתינת הצדקה לה׳ מממונו, שהוא חיותו

And this [removal of the spiritual foreskin] is achieved by giving charity to G‑d from one’s money, which is his vitality,

It has been noted earlier, in Part I, ch. 37, that since money enables a man to purchase life’s essentials, parting with it in favor of charitable ends is equated to giving his “very vitality” to G‑d,

ובפרט מי שמזונותיו מצומצמים, ודחיקא ליה שעתא טובא

especially with a person whose income is limited and who is very hard pressed at the time,

שנותן מחייו ממש

for — when he gives — he gives of his very life.

ובפרטות אם נהנה מיגיע כפיו

This is especially so if he supports himself by the toil of his hands.

שאי אפשר שלא עסק בהם פעמים רבות בבחינת נקודת פנימית הלב, מעומקא דלבא

For it is impossible that in his work he did not often involve “the innermost point of the heart,” the depth of his heart,

כמנהג העולם בעסקיהם במשא ומתן, וכהאי גוונא

as is the way of the world when people are occupied with business and the like.

והרי עתה הפעם כשמפזר מיגיעו

Thus, now that he disburses the fruits of his toil unstintingly, despite his circumstances,

ונותן לה׳ בשמחה ובטוב לבב

and gives unto G‑d with joy and with a gladsome heart,

הנה בזה פודה נפשו משחת

he thereby redeems his soul from the pit.2

דהיינו בחינת נקודת פנימית לבבו, שהיתה בבחינת גלות ושביה בתוך הקליפה גסה או דקה

That is, [he redeems] the innermost point of his heart which was in a state of exile and captivity within the coarse or thin kelipah.

כמו שכתוב: מכל משמר נצור לבך

For thus it is written:3 “Guard your heart with the greatest vigilance” (lit., “Guard your heart from every mishmar”),

משמר, פירוש: בית האסורים

“mishmar” meaning a prison.

The verse is thus exhorting us to “guard our hearts from being imprisoned and exiled in kelipot and desires.”

ועתה נפדה מהחיצונים בצדקה זו

Thus, through present charity, [the innermost point of the heart] is now redeemed from the forces of evil in which it had been imprisoned.

וזה גם כן לשון פריעה: ענין פריעת חוב, שנתחייב ונשתעבד לחיצונים שמשלו בו על נקודת פנימיות לבבו

This also explains the term periah, which suggests4 periat chov (“removing a debt”), for [the individual in question] had become indebted and subjected to the forces of evil that had ruled within him over the innermost point of his heart.

וזהו: ושביה בצדקה

Through this we can understand the meaning of [the above-quoted phrase], “and her (former spiritual) captives5 [shall be redeemed] through tzedakah.”