Therefore, evil in my eyes is “the conduct that takes place under the sun”44 in general,

וְעַל כֵּן, רַע בְּעֵינַי הַ"מַּעֲשֶׂה אֲשֶׁר נַעֲשָׂה תַּחַת הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ" בִּכְלָל,

The Alter Rebbe is referring here to those who engage in business or labor—temporal occupations that are “under the sun,” in contrast to Torah, that is “above the sun.” To them, too, his forthcoming words of rebuke are addressed, and he finds it “evil in his eyes” that before or after prayer, they devote their time to lightminded talk instead of to Torah study.

especially among my brethren and friends who draw near to G-d45—and46 “drawing near means prayer,” for prayer, particularly when accompanied by the avodah of measured meditation, constitutes a “drawing near” to G-d,

וּבִפְרָט בֵּין אַחַיי וְרֵעַיי הַנִּגָּשִׁים אֶל ה', "הַגָּשָׁה – זוֹ תְּפִלָּה"

when after prayer or before it, [the gathering] becomes a “company of scoffers,” heaven forfend.

וְאַחַר הַתְּפִלָּה אוֹ לְפָנֶיהָ – נַעֲשֶׂה "מוֹשַׁב לֵצִים" רַחֲמָנָא לִצְּלָן,

As our Sages, of blessed memory, said, “If two people sit together and no words of Torah are exchanged between them, [this is a company of scoffers].”47

כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: "שְׁנַיִם שֶׁיּוֹשְׁבִין וְאֵין בֵּינֵיהֶם דִּבְרֵי תוֹרָה כוּ'",

Now, if a “company of scoffers” is constituted by ten people over whom the Shechinah abides, there is no greater insult and shaming of the Shechinah than that, heaven forfend.

וְאִם נַעֲשָׂה "מוֹשַׁב לֵצִים" בַּעֲשָׂרָה, דִּשְׁכִינְתָּא שַׁרְיָא עֲלַיְיהוּ אֵין לְךָ עֶלְבּוֹנָא וּקְלָנָא דִשְׁכִינְתָּא גָּדוֹל מִזֶּה רַחֲמָנָא־לִיצְּלָן,

And if our Sages, of blessed memory, said48 of him who commits a transgression in secret that “he repulses the feet of the Shechinah,” heaven forfend,

וְאִם אָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה עַל הָעוֹבֵר עֲבֵירָה בַּסֵּתֶר שֶׁ"דּוֹחֵק רַגְלֵי הַשְּׁכִינָה" חַס וְשָׁלוֹם,

then he who commits a transgression in public repulses the whole measure of the stature of the Creator, as it were.49

הָעוֹבֵר עֲבֵירָה בָּרַבִּים – דּוֹחֵק כָּל שִׁיעוּר קוֹמָה שֶׁל יוֹצֵר בְּרֵאשִׁית כִּבְיָכוֹל,

As our Sages, of blessed memory, said, “It is impossible for Me and him [to live together in the world].”50

כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: "אֵין אֲנִי וְהוּא וְכוּ'",

However, repulsing the Shechinah does not mean that the actions of the transgressor cause it to be utterly absent, for the above passage speaks of shaming the Shechinah while it is present.

Rather, “The51 King is held captive in the gutters”52 [“of the mind”53]. This is indeed a humiliation of the Shechinah.

אֶלָּא שֶׁ"מֶּלֶךְ אָסוּר בָּרְהָטִים" כוּ'.

But “Woe54 unto those who repulse the Shechinah, when G-d will raise her (the Shechinah) and say to her,55 ‘Awake, arise from the dust….’”

אֲבָל "וַוי לְמַאן דְּדָחֲקִין לִשְׁכִינְתָּא כַּד יוֹקִים לָהּ קוּדְשָׁא־בְּרִיךְ־הוּא, וְיֵימָא לָהּ: "הִתְנַעֲרִי מֵעָפָר קוּמִי וְגוֹ'",

So, too, “On account of three things are the Jewish people detained in exile—because they repulse the Shechinah, and because they shame the Shechinah,” and so on, as stated in the sacred Zohar.56

וְעַל תְּלַת מִילִּין מִתְעַכְּבֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּגָלוּתָא: עַל דְּדָחֲקִין לִשְׁכִינְתָּא, וְעַל דְּעָבְדִין קְלָנָא בִּשְׁכִינְתָּא וְכוּ'", כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּזּוֹהַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ.