והנהG‑d made this one corresponding to that.”1 Just as the G‑dly soul is divided into ten powers — three intellectual faculties and seven emotions — [within the realm] of holiness, so too, [parallel potentials exist] in [the realm of] kelipah.

Lit., “shell,” a kabbalisticterm for the forces of evil.

Just as Chochmah exists in the realm of holiness,2 so too, there exists a corresponding potential for Chochmah within kelipah, e.g., the magicians of Egypt, and so [it is written]:3 ,xiii “They are wise at doing evil.” Similar concepts apply regarding the other powers of the soul.

The Alter Rebbe is emphasizing that similar potentials exist in both the realms of holiness and kelipah. In both, there is wisdom, kindness, and the like. What then differentiates the two realms from each other? Their direction and thrust. As the Alter Rebbe proceeds to explain, the realm of holiness is characterized by selflessness and bittul, while the realm of kelipah is characterized by consciousness of self and self-concern.

וזהו The general approach governing the realm of holiness is bittul, self-negation, to G‑d.4 Thus the term Chochmah (חכמה) [is divided into the words] כח מה, the power of bittul.5

Chochmah is generally translated as wisdom. Nevertheless, in the realm of holiness, Chochmah is considered to be far more than an intellectual potential. To explain: In general, intellect involves objectivity. Emotion is concerned with a person’s feelings and reaction toward a given situation, while intellect involves seeing a situation for what it is: understanding what is there, not how it affects a person.

Within the realm of intellect itself, there are two general thrusts: a) extending oneself upward to grasp an abstract idea; and b) bringing that idea down to one’s own understanding. This constitutes the difference between the potentials of Chochmah and Binah. Binah involves analyzing and comparing, seeing how an idea fits in with one’s existing knowledge, drawing it down to one’s comprehension. Through Binah, a person brings a concept closer to himself, while Chochmah is a flash of awarenessthat lifts aperson above himself and enables him to appreciate an idea as it is.

The above applies within the realm of intellect. Applying the same concept to our relationship with G‑d, Chochmah represents stepping beyond the limits of one’s “I” and being absorbed totally in G‑dliness.

In contrast, the Chochmah of kelipah is characterized by the consciousness of self.xiv

וזהו On this basis, we can understand our Sages’ statement:6 “A Jew who lives in the Diaspora [is like one who serves false divinities in purity].”

As the Alter Rebbe proceeds to explain, the concealment of G‑dliness in the Diaspora engenders a consciousness of self which is, from a spiritual perspective, equivalent to idolatry. Since it is not actual idolatry, however, our Sages use the expression “serves false divinities in purity.”

For Eretz Yisrael is also called “the land of Canaan,” [relating to the term] hachnaah, humility; [i.e., the land engenders feelings of humility] and selflessness.xv

And thus makes one a medium for G‑dliness.

In contrast, one who is characterized by haughtiness and the consciousness of self “is like one who serves false divinities in purity.”

הם The concept of serving false divinities is reflected in the verse7 “And you shall see the sun and the moon... and you shall bow down to them.” [Why did the people bow to the sun? Because, as intimated by] the verse:8 “With the bounty of the sun’s crops,” the sun is a source of influence for the earth’s produce.

As explained by Rambam, Hilchos Avodas Kochavim, ch. 1, mankind did not begin serving false divinities because of their outright denial of G‑d. Instead, the people believed that G‑d exists, but erred in thinking that He was too sublime to be the direct source of material blessing. Therefore, their erroneous thinking continued, He established a series of intermediaries who should be worshiped to bring about prosperity and success in this realm.

Similarly, all the hosts of heaven, i.e., the mazalos, [are sources of influence,

The term mazalos refers to the celestial constellations. Nevertheless, the term also has the connotation “sources of fortune,” implying that the constellations influence the fortune and fate of entities on the earthly plane. Chassidus (Likkutei Torah, Bamidbar, p. 51b, et al.) explains that the term mazal is related to the term nozeil meaning “flow.” The mazalos are mediums through which Divine vitality flows to this earthly plane.

as our Sages state]: “There is no grass on this earthly plane that does not have a mazal above [which... tells it: ‘Grow!’]” It is, however, forbidden to bow down to [the heavenly hosts], because that would imply that they have independent importance [because] they are sources of influence. In truth, however, [they have no independent importance because] they do not convey influence on their own initiative. They are merely mediums through which the influence passes.

It is thus forbidden to worship them because they are no more than “an axe in the hands of a wood-chopper.” They have no choice or power whether to convey the influence. They are merely intermediaries; G‑d alone is the source of life and blessing (see also Derech Mitzvosecha, mitzvas Achdus HaShem).

Similarly, all false deities set themselves up as independent entities, although they refer to G‑d as “the G‑d of gods.”9

The approach of self-importance engendered by kelipah is not so great as to deny G‑d entirely. Nevertheless, even though it acknowledges His supremacy, the fact that an entity considers itself significant is comparable to setting itself up as a diety.

משא"כ The realm of holiness, by contrast, is characterized by bittul and [the realization that] “there is nothing apart from Him.”10 As such, a person who is drawn after his own haughtiness and considershimself a significant entity is like “one who serves false deities in purity.”

As a result of the person’s self-concern, he will indulge his desires.

דהיינו There are those who are drawn after garments of honor, to show off in the presence of other men. [This is not genuine honor.]

On the contrary, genuine honor is spawned by selflessness.

For it is written:11 “The wise acquire honor as an inheritance.” And it is written:12 “And you shall make sacred garments for Aharon your brother, for honor and for beauty.” [True] honor is drawn down to the attribute of Chochmah, koach mah, which is identified with bittul. In contrast, other dimensions of honor in this world which are characterized by self-concern stem from the side of kelipah.

ובזה On this basis, we can understand our Sages’ statement:13 “This is the way of Torah: Eat bread with salt.... If you do this, you will be fortunate in this world [and enjoy goodness in the World to Come].” On the surface it is difficult to understand: “How [is] such [moderate conduct a source for satisfaction] in this world? The concept can be explained as follows: When a person will take to heart the concept of humility and bittul to G‑d, understanding that this enables the sublime pleasure to rest upon him, there is no greater [satisfaction in] this world than that. With regard to this, our Sages state:14 “One moment [of teshuvah and good deeds in this world surpasses the entire life of the World to Come].”

It is generally explained (see Tanya, ch. 4, et al.) that although the soul will receive greater satisfaction in the World to Come than in this world, when a person fulfills the Torah and its mitzvos, his soul enters into an eternal bond with G‑d. That bond “surpasses the entire life of the World to Come,” for it is impossible to forge such a connection in the Afterlife.

Here, however, the Alter Rebbe is focusing on a different point. When a person is aware of the nature of the bond with G‑d created through the Torah and its mitzvos, he will have no greater satisfaction than their observance, even in this material world.

אבל When, by contrast, a person is drawn after the desires of this world, he draws down [the influence of] the sitra achra upon himself and enclothes himself with filthy garments, [as it were]. When he takes to heart the concept that the kelipos are surrounding him, he will not take any pleasure at all in the matters of this world.

The awareness of how his indulgence separates him from G‑d will prevent him from deriving satisfaction from material pleasure.

When, by contrast, he “eat[s] bread with salt,” his heart will be glad and rejoice, because it has no garment [that comes] from the side of kelipah and [its] filthy garments.

Although he may have less, whatever he has is not tainted by impurity.

אך When, however, a person has caused a blemish and swayed from the path by drawing his heart after self-oriented concerns and haughtiness, the counsel given him is to “call out to G‑d because of his distress,”15 [with] “an outcry of the heart.”16

His distance from G‑d will awaken a desire to cling to Him.

The heart should cry out “from the innards of a person and the depths of [his] heart,”17 [out of bitterness] because he did not focus his awareness on [G‑d’s] infinite light that transcends all the worlds,

Sovev kol almin in the original.

before which darkness is as light;18 the spiritual and the material are equal before Him. [The person will then] be filled with embarrassment and shame, as we say:19 “So that we will not be embarrassed for eternity.”

See the maamar entitled U’Sefartem, sec. II (translated in Vol. II of this series), which explains that this request is referring to the soul’s awareness in the World to Come. In this world, a person can become caught up in the pursuit of worldly pleasures. When he passes away and his soul becomes aware of G‑d’s eternal and all-encompassing truth, the soul will be embarrassed and ashamed of his conduct. Moreover, since we are speaking about the spiritual realm, which is above the limits of time, that shame will be everlasting.

By analogy, it can be compared to a person walking around naked without knowing that people are watching him. Afterwards, when he sees that there are people watching him, he will be filled with shame. Similarly, and indeed even more so, is it befitting to be ashamed in the presence of [G‑d’s] infinite light that transcends all the worlds,

For wherever a person is, G‑d is present,

as it is written:20 “I fill heaven and earth.” xvi

ועל Concerning this, it is written: Shmos 33:20. “No man will see Me and live,” [and our Sages comment]:21 “In their lifetime, [men] cannot see [G‑d], but at the time of their death, they do see.” [A person should maintain an awareness of G‑d] so that he will be filled with embarrassment and shame when he perceives that G‑d is standing over him22 and observing his deeds. This will cause him to turn [to G‑d] in complete teshuvah, “seek[ing] out Your inner dimension, O G‑d.”23 Seek[ing] G‑d’s inner dimension, the revelation of His infinite light, means to return to a face-to-face relationship as mentioned in the analogy above.24

See sec. I of this maamar.

[Then], “as water reflects a face,”25

I.e., man’s arousal of love for G‑d will awaken a correspondent arousal from Above.

“I will cast pure water upon you.”26 [This refers to an emanation from] the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy. [They reflect G‑d’s] inner dimension and are the source of the Torah.

This is reflected in their correspondence to the Thirteen Principles of Biblical Exegesis (the introduction to the Sifra, included in the Morning Service). Since man awakens an inner love for G‑d, touching a point in his heart that transcends his ordinary conscious functioning, he arouses the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy, a level of G‑d’s love that transcends the ordinary pattern of revelation.

[Since they come from a source higher than Torah,] they can compensate for all the blemishes brought about in the Torah,

Every transgression causes a blemish in one of the letters of G‑d’s name י-ה-ו-ה (Torah Or, p.31a, et al.; the “Prayer Recited upon Retiring” {Siddur Tehillat HaShem, p. 118}). Nevertheless, because the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy relate to the very source of the Torah, they have the potential to correct these blemishes. To cite an analogy: When a spring dries up, it is possible to cause water to flow again by digging in its very source (Or HaTorah, Bamidbar, Vol. I, p. 151.).

as [implied by the statement]:27 “You permeate all the names and You are the perfection of them all.” As a result [of this endeavor, as the verse cited above continues]: “You will become pure.”

והנה The Ten Days of Teshuvah were ordained in order [to bring the Jews and G‑d] back to a face-to-face relationship. They correspond to the ten powers of the soul, i.e., each day rectifying a different power. Thus on the first day, the power of Chochmah is rectified; i.e., [this compensates] for having enclothed one’s soul in the Chochmah of kelipah, which is characterized by the consciousness of self, as indicated by the verse:28 “Have you seen a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” [This is achieved by] attaining the quality of bittul — koach mah.

Chochmah (חכמה) shares the same letters as כח מה, which is interpreted by Chassidus as referring to the power of bittul, as explained above. Teshuvah rectifies a self-oriented conception of Chochmah by directing that power towards bittul.

עד [This process continues] until on the tenth day, Yom Kippur, the attribute of aggrandizement, [i.e., the kelipah of Malchus,] is rectified. Because of this, [Yom Kippur is associated with] the ascent of Malchus,

When it is expressed in a self-oriented way, the attribute of Malchus, sovereignty, is reflected in a person’s desire for aggrandizement; to be exalted over others. This is rectified by employing this quality in G‑d’s service. On Yom Kippur, when G‑d is revealed in His grandeur, man responds in utter bittul,

[reaching the state] intimated by the verse:29 “Sovereignty is Yours, O G‑d,” i.e., the quality of bittul. For this reason,

I.e., as a reflection of this spiritual state,

it is forbidden to eat, drink, or wear shoes on Yom Kippur. All of these [activities reflect] the enclothement of [our spiritual potentials] in the realm of self-orientation.

The bittul evoked by the manifestation of G‑dliness is so powerful that ideally, it is impossible for a person to think of his own self at all. See the explanation of the prohibition of work on festivals in the maamar entitled Chayav Inish (translated later in this volume).

Instead, all of our qualities should be directed in bittul to Him. This is also [the motivation for] all of the bowing and prostrations carried out on Yom Kippur.

As related — and relived — during the Avodah prayers in the Yom Kippur Mussaf Service, when the High Priest would utter G‑d’s name י-ה-ו-ה, pronouncing it as it is written, and the entire people would prostrate themselves before G‑d.

Falling on one’s face [indicates an] approach of bittul.

I.e., that one does not have the power to stand upright, but rather holds one’s head on the same level as the feet in absolute submission.

והנה Behold, there are two types of haughtiness: a) an external manifestation, [in which the person] knows his own low level and yet presents himself as significant and important to others; and b) an internal dimension [in which] he is essentially coarse; he sees his path of conduct as upright30 and thinks of himself as truly important.

והנה With regard to the first level, can be applied the verse: “For on this day, He will provide atonement for you, to purify you.” עליכם, [translated as “for you,” literally means “upon you”; i.e., G‑d’s purifying influences wash away the impurity that is] “upon you,” on the surface.

I.e., the first level described previously.

ועל With regard to the second level, [the verse] continues: “from all your sins,” i.e., [from even] your inner sins, “before G‑d, you will be purified.” The interpretation of “before G‑d” is “above the name י-ה-ו-ה.”

The expression “lifnei Havayah,”translated as “before G‑d,” can also be understood as “above Havayah,” i.e., on a higher level of G‑dliness than the name Havayah. For the name Havayah represents G‑dliness as it emerges into manifestation.

To explain: The Torah is identified with G‑d’s names.31 The Yud, [the first letter of the name י-ה-ו-ה,] is identified with [the sefirah of] Chochmah, [the source of the Torah, as it is said]:32 “The Torah emerges from Chochmah.

The first letter of the name Havayah, i.e., its highest dimension, is identified with Chochmah. When a person turns to G‑d in teshuvah, he taps a higher level, a rung above all definition.

[Thus when a person has violated the Torah’s laws, he has created an obstruction preventing this G‑dly influence from reaching him.]

Because he has severed the channels of Divine influence that have their source in the Torah.

Teshuvah [emanates]from the depths of the heart, [as it is written]:33 “From out of the depths, I called to You, O G‑d,” [and hence evokes influence from G‑d’s Essence, enabling] the name י-ה-ו-ה to be drawn down [anew].

By calling out from the depths of his own soul, he draws down a deeper dimension of the name Havayah, one that emanates from G‑d’s very depths.

As a result, “you will be purified” from the [influence] of the side of kelipah, so that there will be no hiddenness and concealment [preventing the manifestation of G‑d’s] infinite light.

For when the Essence of G‑d is revealed, there is no spiritual or material entity that can prevent its manifestation.

וזהו On this basis, [we can understand why] the Second Tablets were given on Yom Kippur,34 [for both the Tablets and Yom Kippur are associated with] a revelation of “I am G‑d your L‑rd,”35

That verse begins the Ten Commandments which are written on the Tablets given on Yom Kippur. As explained above, Yom Kippur is also characterized by such a transcendent revelation.

[i.e., G‑d’s Essence that transcends all revealed levels]. [The awareness of] this [leads to the observance of the command]:36 “You will have no other gods before Me.” This verse is a promise that there will be no other gods [— inner blocks —] that conceal and hide the inner dimension, [i.e., the inner dimension of G‑dliness].

The implication is that when “I am G‑d,” i.e., G‑d’s Essence, is revealed, as a natural consequence, “You will have no other gods before Me,” nothing will be able to prevent man from appreciating this inner dimension of G‑dliness.

[The motif] “your sins separate between [you and your G‑d”37 will no longer operate].

See Tanya, Iggeres HaTeshuvah, ch. 5, which explains that this verse does not refer only to the relationship between the Jews and G‑d Above, but also to the relationship each individual shares with his own personal spark of G‑dliness. Sin — and, as the Alter Rebbe proceeds to explain, in an extended sense, any physically oriented activity — separates between a person’s mind and heart and the inner Divine spark vested within him. See Torah Or, the maamar entitled BaChodesh HaShelishi, sec. 1 (translated in Vol. II of this series).

אך [Though this level is revealed on Yom Kippur,

In the spiritual realms,

in the present era, it is not a day of rejoicing,]

On this earthly plane,

for on Yom Kippur [this connection with G‑d] is hidden, as [reflected in the fact that] the Second Tablets were given modestly.38 The revelation [of this connection] is on Simchas Torah, the celebration of the Torah itself; i.e., the revelation of its source, i.e., the revelation of the sublime pleasure.

The rejoicing with the Torah on Simchas Torah is a reflection of the essential bond with G‑d renewed on Yom Kippur.


The animal soul, which is from kelipah,parallels the G‑dly soul, and its powers correspond to those of the G‑dly soul. For example, the power of Chochmah in the realm of holiness is characterized by bittul. Therefore, a person’s energies are focused in the realm of holiness and he seeks little in the way of material concernsfor himself. In contrast, the Chochmah of kelipah is characterized by the consciousness of self that leads to the selfish desire for worldly things.

If a person finds himself characterized by yeshus and self-concern, he should meditate on the concept that G‑d is present at all times and is aware of his deeds. This should cause him to be filled with embarrassment and shame and to call out to G‑d in complete teshuvah.

Such teshuvah emanates from the depths of a person’s heart and evokes a response from the essence of G‑d, drawing down new energy that corrects all his previous faults. There are ten days of teshuvah, each day correcting a different one of our ten powers. On Yom Kippur, the conclusion of this process, the person is totally dedicated to G‑dliness. Therefore, he rises above his worldly concerns entirely, as reflected in the prohibitions against eating, drinking, and the like.

To explain the above on a more particular level: there are two types of haughtiness: a) an external manifestation whereby the person knows his own low level and yet presents himself as significant; and b) an internal dimension whereby he is essentially coarse and thinks of himself as important.

With regard to the first level is applied the verse: “For on this day, He will provide atonement for you, to purify you,” washing away the impurity that is “upon you,” from the outside. The verse continues: “from all your sins, before G‑d, you will be purified.” “Before G‑d” implies a revelation of G‑dliness that transcends the name י-ה-ו-ה. This revelation cleanses the second level of haughtiness, purifying one’s inner coarseness and self-concern.

On this basis, we can understand why the Second Tablets were given on Yom Kippur, for both the Tablets and that day are associated with a revelation of “I am G‑d your L‑rd,” i.e., G‑d’s Essence that transcends all revealed levels. When this level is manifest, there is no possibility for the obstruction of this inner connection shared betweenG‑d and man.