When the Temple was destroyed, the Shechinah was exiled among the kelipot.

When the Temple was destroyed, the Shechinah was exiled among the kelipot because the souls were also exiled among them, and they lack the ability to extricate themselves, being blemished by their sins. Therefore, the Shechinah, of which it is said, "The L-rd your G‑d is (like) a consuming fire"... (Deut. 4:24)

Fire can be used in a positive way, to destroy the negative and the unwanted. In this sense, the Divine Presence is like fire, because it eradicates evil from the world.

…entered the kelipot in order to gather the sparks of the souls within them, to separate and elevate…

This hints to the three step process of retrieving good from its captivity in the other side. 'Hachna'ah' (subjugation), 'havdala' (separation). As soon as the Shechinah enters the other side, the intense light of the Presence automatically subdues the kelipothachna'ah. Then a separation must then be made between the good spark there and the negative energies surrounding it – havdala. After this processing, the spark is ready to arise and exit that place - hamtaka.

(The ultimate expression of this principle hachnah-havdala-hamtaka will come when G‑d comes and slaughters the angel of death (Poem at end of Passover Hagada). The Ba'al Shem Tov explains that slaughtering is done by a knife that cuts and separates something. The name of the angel of death is S"M plus E-L, a Divine name. The latter part will be severed from the former piece and the hidden Divinity in death itself shall be revealed and shine out forever!)

…them to a place of holiness and renew them for life in this world, in the bodies of people. This is the sod of the Shechinah in exile.

This is perhaps the greatest expression of G‑d's love for us: that he exiles his own Divine Presence into the negative side in order to help us retrieve the lost sparks of our own souls. In addition, there are some people that have fallen so far away that they themselves are actually mostly in the sitra achra. The Shechinah descends to be with them there also. (Likutei Moharan 33, 2-12) This grants them the ability to connect to G‑d even from the deepest, darkest, lowest places, affording them an opportunity to repent and get out.

Since the destruction G‑d sits and makes matches.

Since the destruction of the Temple, this is what God has been doing.

The Talmud teaches that since the destruction G‑d sits and makes matches. (Avoda Zara) The simple explanation is that He puts couples together in marriage. A step deeper, this means that He helps raise the fallen sparks out of the sitra achra, in order to couple them with the soul that they belong to.

This is an important, true perspective on marriage: Each one of the couple is actually a lost, fallen soul part relative to the other. Therefore does the Talmud call finding a mate looking for a lost article. (Kidushin 2b)

Until such time as all the souls that fell amongst the kelipot of "Adam Bli’al" [the despicable man]…

Man is in the Divine image. (Gen. 1:27) This means that his soul and body are modeled after a type of spiritual archetype. One reason G‑d created humankind is to give to us and to relate to us. The Infinite Light is too much for finite creatures to bear. It unites and clothes itself in the sefirot. The way they are arranged is the root blueprint that man is formed after. Thus, in their highest source state they are called the world of "Adam Kadmon" – "Primordial Man". (Eitz Chayim Shaar Adam Kadmon) When Adam committed the primordial sin, it created an antithesis. This is the Adam Bliya'al that the Ari is referring to here.

They are both called Adam. This is teach the human Adam, and all of his descendents for generations on, that he now has the choice to be connected to and draw from a spiritual source Adam on the side of holiness, or the one on the other side of the fence. Sins give sparks to the wrong place.

The "bliya'al" can also be interpreted as "Adam bli-ole," which means "man without yoke," that is without the yoke of Heaven. Therefore, it is a term that refers to the side of unholiness and licentiousness.

…intermixed there from the head unto the feet…

through the entire structure of impurity, which mirrors the ten sefirot on the side of holiness. Keter, the highest sefira, expresses through the head, malchut the lowest sefira expresses through the feet. About this state of complete admixture the prophet bemoans, "from head to foot there is no soundness, wound and sore…". (Isaiah 27:6)

The ultimate stage of rectification is called "the heels of Mashiach"

…have been gathered even from as low as the feet…

There is a great secret in this. About the Shechinah, it allegorically says, "and she lay by his feet until the morning". (Ruth 3:16) This comes to describe the state of exile. The Divine Presence descends to lay down low in the most down and out places, in order to redeem the most fallen, outcast, dispersed sparks. For this reason, the ultimate stage of rectification is called "the heels of Mashiach". (Sota) This process occurs all the time, in many ways, especially in the order of the day. Every night, the Shechinah descends to the kelipot to retrieve the lost souls and sparks. At midnight, it begins to arise, little by little, until the morning, when it comes out completely. For this reason, every new daybreak is a sort of miniature liberation, and the final redemption is called sunrise. (Isaiah)

Mashiach will not be revealed…

G‑d did not create a broken world for Himself to fix – the job is left for us to do. Every spark is precious and must be raised out of the kelipot. And each one must be elevated through our using free choice to do good. Until we finish our awakening from below, the sparks cannot be fixed, and Mashiach, as it were, cannot come.

This explains the answer that the Mashiach himself gave to Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levy when he asked him, "When is the Master coming?". He replied, "Today – if you'll listen to His voice!" (Sanhedrin) If we would only give ourselves over to fully serve G‑d, the rectification process could be mega accelerated, and Mashiach could come right away!

…nor will the Jewish people be redeemed. This is what the Zohar says: (Pekudei 258) "Until the feet come to the feet…"

The lowest level of holiness is prone to fall. As it says, "her feet descend to death". (Chagiga) Mashiach will come when the fallen feet are raised up "to the feet"– back to the place, on the side of holiness, where they are supposed to be.

On a deeper level, this can be interpreted to refer to the sitra achra itself. Opposite the ten sefirot, there are "ten crowns of impurity". (Zohar) The malchut is the lowest of them, and it is therefore the feet of the kelipot. As it were, G‑d Himself pays the godfather his check (Likutei Moharan 2-11, see Zohar the parable of the king who hired a criminal to test his son…).

The messianic period is an anteroom that leads to the ultimate perfection of the resurrection. Then will be fulfilled what is said, "and His kingdom rules (and is revealed) over all (even the sitra achra)", (Chagiga) "and You enliven them all (even the kelipot)", (Nehemiah 9:6) "and death (the kelipot) will be swallowed forever" (Chagiga). This means that the feet of the sitra achra itself shall be raised out of negativity to stand 'head and shoulders' equal to the feet of the side of holiness. Through this, we will be granted to see retroactively the holiness that was hidden in the other side all along.

…as it says, "They stood on their legs on that day on the Mount of Olives". (Zechariah 14:4)

This verse speaks of the final redemption. That is why it concludes, "and to G‑d (alone) shall be the kingship". The fact that the Torah juxtaposes these topics shows that the in order for the redemption to be finished, the feet must be fixed.

Mount Olives is significant because it is the place from which the resurrection will commence. The verse then means the same thing that the above Zohar teaches: resurrection will sprout when the lowest levels are elevated to the side of holiness. The result will be that the whole world, from top to bottom, will see that G‑d is King.

However, the Shechinah does not gather them except as a result of the actions of those below and their prayers, b’sod, "Give strength to G-d" (Psalms 68:35).

When we do mitzvot we are said to strengthen the hand of God to rectify creation, and just the opposite, God forbid, when we sin. This is the system that God has established for the sake of our own free-will. In order to set the stage for this to work, He as if imposes it upon Himself.

From this little bit we can understand the concept of the Shechinah in general. It comes from the root word 'shachen' – a neighbor. G‑d is most certainly completely omnipotent, imminent and transcending – at the same time – all of the time. He is absolutely, intrinsically perfect and infinite. However, the degree of His revelation to our consciousness is not fixed, and it depends upon our actions. This manifestation of His Presence to our awareness is what we call the Shechina. G‑d is essentially almighty and all powerful. The strength that we, as it were, need to give Him is the shining of His countenance to our own mentality. As an act of love, He left this up to us, so that it could be something that we earn, and thereby appreciate and enjoy properly.

According to the extent of the actions of those below, the souls can be drawn out. Thus, if the entire Jewish people were to repent then the Shechinah would be able to take all the souls out in one instance.

In other words, Mashiach’s arrival could be hastened, as it says, "The smallest shall become a thousand and the least, a mighty nation; I am the L-rd, in its time, I will hasten it". (Isaiah 60:22) If they are worthy, I will hasten it; if they are not worthy, it will be in its time". (Rashi, Sanhedrin 98a)

Repentance energizes the Shechinah to retrieve the lost souls and sparks.

Thus does the Zohar teach, "This issue (of the redemption) depends upon nothing but repentance". As mentioned, teshuva [repentance] is "teshuv-H": the letter that represents the Shechinah. Repentance energizes the Shechinah to retrieve the lost souls and sparks.

On the other hand, our sins weaken G‑d (so-to-speak) as it says, "You weakened the Rock that bore you". (Deut. 32:18)

They cause a hiding of His Presence from the world.

This secret is told to us through the medium of G‑d being to us as a rock. On the simple level, this reiterates to us the fact that G‑d is really steadfast and unchanging, and the problems caused by any sin are really only to ourselves.

A step deeper, this comes to teach the underlying principle of why what we do is so important. Josef was blessed by Jacob his father, "… from there he was nourished by the Rock of Israel". (Gen.) The souls are called a 'chalek Eloka mema'al' – a piece of Divinity from above. A little pebble hewn and quarried is a part of the entire mountain. As if it were, we are a 'chip of the old block' from upstairs. Thus, at the soul source, father and son are one.

The word for rock, "even", is by way of remez (hint), a type of compound word - av/ben - father/son. In the pre-creation stage, all that would ever be was included in potential. This is like the state of the child included in the father's mind prior to conception. (Tanya 1,2) As if it were, everything is included in G‑d's mind. Thus do the Rabbis speak of creation as having arose in Divine thought. (Menachot) There, reality basks in brilliant light. It all waits to express and shine. After the actual is separated from the potential, it comes out and manifests the root light that it was connected to above. Sin causes the actual to ascend and be re-included above. It thus reverses the creation process and destroys the world. (Likutei Moharan 66) In order to allow free will to continue, the sinner and the world around him appears to go on. If one had spiritual eyes to see what is really happening, he would see the life force depart from the evil-doer. This lack of Divinity shining below is called, relative to us, as if a weakening of G‑d.

One way of describing our job in a nutshell is that we must manifest outwardly this inner connection. Sin causes the opposite of this. Therefore it as if it were weakens the root rock connection. In short, if you want G‑d – you gotta rock!

Once the souls are able to leave the kelipot, then the Shechinah can remove them. After removing their life force, the kelipot then die…

The negative forces are parasites. They cannot exist without nourishment from their very enemies. As soon as they are suspended from drawing energy, they are nullified.

…and the evil person is consumed like smoke.

There is great depth to this comparison. E=mc squared. Matter does not become destroyed, just transformed. The same applies to evil. It does not need to be eradicated, just adjusted. All we need to do is to turn it into its proper form. This is the concept of sublimation.

. In order to set the stage for free choice, there must be things in the world that look [bad].

This underlying principle comes out especially in regards to loving G‑d. As seen from the Rabbi's interpretation of the verse, "'And you shall love G‑d your L-rd, with all of your heart…'. 'With all of your heart' – with both of your inclinations, the good one and the bad one". (Brachot). The Torah chose to here show us this principle by the mitzvah of loving G‑d, because love is the root force that makes this happen. This can be understood based on the verse "the world is built (on) lovingkindness". (Psalms 89:3) The root of creation was the pure, altruistic Divine desire to give good. (Derech Hashem) Because this is the underlying, axiomatic energy of all existence, it automatically implants and programs the base essence of everything to be good. In order to set the stage for free choice, there must be things in the world that look like the opposite. However, since at the bottom of all things lies love, it is always possible to transfer any given thing back to this innate source. Moreover, at the end of days, this will indeed happen in a complete, grandiose, glorious way. "On that day, G‑d will be one, and His name one". (Zechariah) Isn't He one now? (Indeed He is! But now this is not apparent. Because now) on good tidings (i.e. things that we feel to be positive) we bless 'He is good and does good'. On bad tidings (things that we experience as being negative) we bless 'He is the truthful Judge'. But in time to come (it will always be experientially clear that everything is for the best. Therefore we will) always (bless) 'He is good and does good'". (Berachot 54a) All of creation will completely assume its true nature of love and good.

In this lies the secret of how to turn the evil inclination into good. The Hebrew word for love is 'ahavah'. It relates to the root 'yahav' – to give. The intrinsic nature of the good inclination is to give, for the opposite the opposite. A person has to learn to take the selfish energy of his negative tendencies and turn them into giving

Another explanation: "Smoke" is 'oshan' (OShN). It is the first letters (an acronym) of olom-shana-nefesh, the time-space-soul continuum. The ability of evil to masquerade and appear as bad comes from the fact that our minds are underneath time and space. When something goes up in smoke, it forfeits its revealed aspect of manifestation to the soul through the mediums of time and space. It thereby comes closer to its root above in the ultimate purpose, i.e., the Divine love inside. Therefore does the Ari. tell us that the wicked will be consumed like smoke, to teach that even the negative energy amassed by someone through an entire lifetime of evil will be transformed to good.

The kelipot which are called 'death' will be 'swallowed' in a single moment.

This is the sod of the verse, "Death will be swallowed forever", (Isaiah 25:8) for the kelipot which are called 'death' will be 'swallowed' in a single moment…

Food becomes the eater. (Likutei Moharan) Contrary to popular opinion, it's not "you are what you eat", rather "what you eat becomes what you are". The kelipot will be swallowed and digested by the side of holiness and thereby also turned to good.

…since the Shechinah together with the Soul-Sparks that were among them will have left them.

[Translation and commentary by Perets Auerbach.]