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Sefer HaChinuch, (mitzvah 174):


For a metzora to shave all of his hair

שֶׁיְּגַלַּח הַמְּצֹרָע כָּל שְׂעָרוֹ

The term metzora refers to a person afflicted with tzaraas, a malady often translated as leprosy. Nevertheless, although the physical symptoms of the two afflictions are somewhat similar, tzaraas is not an ordinary disease. Instead, it is a Divine sign above the natural order that reflects a person’s inner spiritual blemishes.1

when he becomes pure,2


When the physical symptoms of his affliction change and meet the criteria for purity defined by the Torah, the metzora must shave as part of the purification process defined by the Torah.

as it is written (Vayikra 14:9): “And it shall come to pass that on the seventh day, he shall shave all of his hair, his head, his beard, and his eyebrows. He shall shave all of his hair.”

שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר וְהָיָה בַיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי יְגַלַּח אֶת כָּל שְׂעָרוֹ אֶת רֹאשׁוֹ וְאֶת זְקָנוֹ וְאֵת גַּבּוֹת עֵינָיו וְאֶת כָּל שְׂעָרוֹ יְגַלֵּחַ (וַיִּקְרָא י"ד ט')

Our Sages (Nega’im 14:4) state: “There are three who must shave, and their shaving is a mitzvah: a Nazirite,3 a metzora, and the Levites.”4

וְאָמְרוּ זִכְרוֹנָם לִבְרָכָה שְׁלֹשָׁה מְגַלְּחִין וְתִגְלַחְתָּן מִצְוָה הַנָּזִיר וְהַמְּצֹרָע וְהַלְוִיִּם (נְגָעִים פֶּרֶק י"ד מִשְׁנָה ד'),

Selections from Derech Mitzvosecha (SIE)

Derech Mitzvotecha dives into reasons behind mitzvot such as tzitzit, tefillin, prayer, belief in G-d, loving a fellow Jew, starting a family and many others. Five generations later, the author`s grandson and successor, the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, has often advised those seeking to begin study of Chasidic philosophy to study this fundamental work.

Nevertheless, these three instances of shaving are not identical in all matters.

וְאוּלָם שְׁלֹשָׁה אֵלּוּ אֵינָן שָׁוִים לְכָל דִּבְרֵיהֶם

The shaving of the Levites was unique; it was performed only in the desert and is not performed for all time;

שֶׁגִּלּוּחַ הַלְוִיִּם הָיָה לְשָׁעָה בַּמִּדְבָּר וְאֵינָהּ נוֹהֶגֶת לְדוֹרוֹת

(therefore, it is not considered one of the 613 mitzvos).

(וּלְפִיכָךְ לֹא מְנָאָהּ בְּתַרְיַ"ג)

The shaving of a metzora and that of a Nazirite, by contrast, are practiced for all time.5

וְגִלּוּחַ מְצֹרָע וְנָזִיר נוֹהֶגֶת לְדוֹרוֹת,

Therefore, the shaving of a Nazirite is also counted as a mitzvah,

וּלְפִיכָךְ מָנָה מִצְוַת גִּלּוּחַ הַנָּזִיר גַּם כֵּן מִצְוָה

being an element of mitzvah 377:5

וְהוּא חֵלֶק מִמִּצְוָה שע"ז

“that a Nazirite shave and bring his sacrifices on the day he completes his Nazirite vow

שֶׁיְּגַלַּח הַנָּזִיר וְיָבִיא קָרְבְּנוֹתָיו בְּיוֹם מְלֹאת יְמֵי נִזְרוֹ

or when he becomes impure,”


as it is written in Parshas Naso:6 “And the Nazirite shall shave....”

שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בְּסֵדֶר נָשֹׂא וְגִלַּח הַנָּזִיר וְגוֹ'

This mitzvah applies only when he completes the duration of his Nazirite vow or when he becomes impure.

אַךְ זֶהוּ דַוְקָא בִּמְלֹאת יְמֵי נִזְרוֹ אוֹ כְּשֶׁנִּטְמָא

For when he becomes impure, even in the midst of carrying out his Nazirite vow, it is a mitzvah for him to shave, bring sacrifices,

שֶׁכְּשֶׁנִּטְמָא אֲפִלּוּ בְּאֶמְצַע יְמֵי נְזִירוּתוֹ מִצְוָה שֶׁיְּגַלַּח וְיָבִיא קָרְבָּן

and then allow his hair to grow long in holiness again, as he did at the outset, for the entire duration of the Nazirite vow which he accepted upon himself.

וְאָז יָשׁוּב וִיגַדֵּל פֶּרַע כְּבַתְּחִלָּה בִּקְדֻשָּׁה מִנְיַן כָּל יְמֵי הַנְּזִירוּת שֶׁאָסַר עַל נַפְשׁוֹ

Throughout the days of his Nazirite vow, by contrast, he is forbidden to shave.

אֲבָל בִּימֵי נְזִירוּתוֹ הֲרֵי הוּא אָסוּר בְּתִגְלַחַת

As the Sefer HaChinuch, mitzvah 373, states, a Nazirite may not shave his hair throughout the entire duration of his Nazirite vow,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב מִצְוָה שע"ג שֶׁלֹּא יְגַלַּח הַנָּזִיר שְׂעָרוֹ כָּל יְמֵי נִזְרוֹ

as it is written (Bamidbar 6:5): “No razor shall pass over his head.”

שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר תַּעַר לֹא יַעֲבֹר עַל רֹאשׁוֹ (בַּמִּדְבָּר ו' ה')

On the contrary, it is a mitzvah for him to let his hair grow.

וְאַדְּרַבָּה מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה שֶׁיַּגְדִּיל שְׂעָרוֹ

As the Sefer HaChinuch, mitzvah 374, states, a Nazirite should let his hair grow long throughout the duration of his Nazirite vow,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב מִצְוָה שע"ד שֶׁיַּגְדִּיל שְׂעָרוֹ כָּל יְמֵי נִזְרוֹ

as it is written:7 His hair is holy. He shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow.”

שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר קָדֹשׁ יִהְיֶה גַּדֵּל פֶּרַע שְׂעַר רֹאשׁוֹ:

The above can be understood on the basis of the explanation of what we have heard8 concerning the interpretation of the verse (Devarim 21:12): “And she shall shave her head,”

לְהָבִין זֶה הִנֵּה יֵשׁ לְבָאֵר כָּל זֶה עַל פִּי מַה שֶּׁשָּׁמַעְנוּ עַל פָּסוּק וְגִלְּחָה אֶת רֹאשָׁהּ (דְּבָרִים כ"א י"ב)

which is stated with regard to a yefas toar, a woman taken captive.9

שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בִּיפַת תֹּאַר,

The teaching based on that verse explains that “the woman taken captive” refers to the aspect of the soul that is not enclothed in the body, but rather stands above it and encompasses it.

כִּי נִתְבָּאֵר בַּתּוֹרָה עַל פָּסוּק הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל שֶׁיְּפַת תֹּאַר הִיא חֵלֶק הַנְּשָׁמָה שֶׁאֵינָהּ מִתְלַבֶּשֶׁת בַּגּוּף כִּי אִם עוֹמֶדֶת בִּבְחִינַת מַקִּיף מִמַּעַל

The soul is an eternal entity, existing in the spiritual realms. When the soul descends into the body, it does not depart from the spiritual realms above. Instead, it continues to exist on those higher planes, and its experience on these spiritual planes affects the soul as enclothed in the body in an encompassing manner. This is the level referred to as yefas toar.

This spiritual quality is described as yefas toar, lit., “attractive,” because it is drawn down from a comprehensive light that includes several different qualities.

שֶׁנִּקְרֵאת כֵּן עַל סִבַּת הֱיוֹתָהּ נִמְשֶׁכֶת מִבְּחִינַת כְּלָלוּת כַּמָּה בְּחִינוֹת

The level of the soul as it exists above being enclothed in the body is an intermediate phase. For the ultimate source of the soul is a truly transcendent spiritual quality that is not limited to any particular attribute. Between that level and the soul as it is enclothed in the body, there is an intermediate level defined as its source.

This higher level is the source for its beauty.

שֶׁמִּזֶּה בָּא הַיֹּפִי

To explain: As on the physical plane, one color alone is not all that beautiful.

כְּמוֹ בְּגַשְׁמִיּוּת גָּוֶן אֶחָד אֵינוֹ יָפֶה כָּל כָּךְ

When, however, one entity comprises several colors together, it is beautiful and attractive to look at.

אֲבָל כְּשֶׁדָּבָר אֶחָד יֵשׁ בּוֹ כַּמָּה גְוָנִים יַחַד הוּא יָפֶה וְנֶחְמָד לְמַרְאֶה

Similarly, in the spiritual realms, the attribute of Tiferes, “beauty,” includes both Chessed, “kindness,” and Gevurah, “might,”

וְכֵן בְּחִינַת תִּפְאֶרֶת כְּלוּלָה מֵחֶסֶד וּגְבוּרָה יַחַד

Different and opposite qualities can combine only when a higher, transcendent light is revealed. This transcendent light produces the beauty which an observer appreciates.

as is known to the students of hidden wisdom,10i.e., the teachings of Kabbalah.

כַּנּוֹדָע לְיוֹדְעֵי חֵן,

The term eishas yefas toar, “an attractive woman,” refers to the part of the soul that is enclothed in the body,

וְאֵשֶׁת יְפַת תֹּאַר הַיְנוּ חֵלֶק מֵהַנְּשָׁמָה הַמְלֻבָּשׁ בַּגּוּף

for it is a recipient, as a woman is a recipient

שֶׁהוּא בְּחִינַת מְקַבֵּל

of the dimension of the soul that is not enclothed in the body, which is simply called “attractive,”

מֵחֵלֶק הַנְּשָׁמָה הַבִּלְתִּי מִתְלַבֵּשׁ בַּגּוּף הַנִּקְרָא יְפַת תֹּאַר,

and not “an attractive woman.” This term highlights the transcendent dimension this level possesses when compared to the dimension of the soul that enclothes itself in the body. Just as a woman receives influence from a male, so too, the soul enclothed in the body receives influence from the soul as it exists above the body.

When the “attractive woman,” the soul as it enclothes itself in the body, is in exile within the animal soul

וְהִנֵּה כַּאֲשֶׁר הָאֵשֶׁת יְפַת תֹּאַר הִיא בִּבְחִינַת גָּלוּת בַּנֶּפֶשׁ הַבַּהֲמִית

and the body, which is referred to as “a snake skin,”11

וּבַגּוּף שֶׁהוּא מַשְׁכָּא דְחִוְיָא

the emotions and garments of the animal soul rule over the G‑dly soul,

שֶׁאָז מִדּוֹת וּלְבוּשֵׁי נֶפֶשׁ הַבַּהֲמִית שׁוֹלְטִים עַל נֶפֶשׁ הָאֱלֹהִית

Just as person in exile does not have the freedom to conduct himself as he desires, so too, on this level, the G‑dly soul does not have the freedom to express itself according to its natural tendencies and is subjugated to the control of the animal soul.

in a manner similar to that described in Tanya, ch. 11,

עַל דֶּרֶךְ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּלִקּוּטֵי אֲמָרִים חֵלֶק א' פֶּרֶק י"א,

which speaks about the different levels of resha’im, “wicked people,” and explains that what defines a person as a rasha is that his animal soul rules over his G‑dly soul to a certain degree, varying from one individual to another.

This is what is implied by the phrase (Devarim 21:11): “And among the captives,” i.e., those captured by the body and the animal soul, you shall see an attractive woman.”

זֶהוּ עִנְיַן מַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב וְרָאִיתָ בַּשִּׁבְיָה אֵשֶׁת יְפַת תֹּאַר (דְּבָרִים כ"א י"א),

When a person is aroused to free the captive, i.e., the soul enclothed in the body, from its confinement in bodily desires

וְכַאֲשֶׁר יִתְעוֹרֵר הָאָדָם לְהוֹצִיא מִמַּסְגֵּר אַסִּיר

and take it out of exile,

לְהוֹצִיאָהּ מִן הַגָּלוּת

enabling it to achieve dominion over the body

עַד שֶׁתְּהֵא הִיא הַמּוֹשֶׁלֶת בַּגּוּף

as described in Tanya, ch. 10, which explains the Divine service of tzaddikim, “the righteous,” who transform the desires of the animal soul into holiness,

עַל דֶּרֶךְ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּלִקּוּטֵי אֲמָרִים חֵלֶק א' פֶּרֶק י'

and 12, which explains the Divine service of beinonim, “the intermediates,” who subjugate the animal soul and control its expression in thought, speech, and deed,

וּפֶרֶק י"ב,

the process that enables him to do so is summarized in the verses:12 “And you shall desire her… and she shall shave her head.”

אָז נֶאֱמַר וְחָשַׁקְתָּ בָהּ כוּ' וְגִלְּחָה אֶת רֹאשָׁהּ,

“And you shall desire her” refers to the transformation of the evil emotional qualities, as explained in Tanya, ch. 10.

פֵּרוּשׁ וְחָשַׁקְתָּ בָהּ הוּא עִנְיַן הִתְהַפְּכוּת הַמִּדּוֹת רָעוֹת כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב שָׁם

For example, rather than direct his potential for love and desire to material matters, they can be directed toward G‑dliness.

“And you shall shave her head” refers to removing, at least, the soiled garments of the animal soul,

פֵּרוּשׁ וְגִלְּחָה אֶת רֹאשָׁהּ הוּא בְּחִינַת הַעֲבָרַת הַלְּבוּשִׁים צוֹאִים דְּנפֶשׁ הַבַּהֲמִית עַל כָּל פָּנִים

as stated in Tanya, ch. 12.

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב שָׁם פֶּרֶק י"ב,

I.e., preferably, one should transform the powers of the animal soul and direct them towards holiness, as a tzaddik does, as explained in Tanya, ch. 10. If that is not accomplished, he should at least control his conduct, removing the soiled garments, i.e., the thought, speech, and action of the animal soul.

The term “the soiled garments of the animal soul” refers to “all the statements and thoughts that are not directed to G‑d, to His will, or to His service.”13

וּפֵרוּשׁ וְעִנְיַן הַלְּבוּשִׁים צוֹאִים דְּנֶפֶשׁ הַבַּהֲמִית הֵמָּה כָּל הַמַּחֲשָׁבוֹת וְדִבּוּרִים אֲשֶׁר לֹא לַה' הֵמָּה וְלִרְצוֹנוֹ וְלַעֲבוֹדָתוֹ

Included in the above is superfluous intellectual involvement in matters of the world,

וּבִכְלַל זֶה הַהִתְחַכְּמוּת הַיְתֵרָה בְּמִלֵּי דְעָלְמָא

even in business matters,

אֲפִלּוּ בְּעֵסֶק מַשָּׂא וּמַתָּן

for through this, one taints the emotional qualities and the attributes of Chochmah, Binah, and Daas within his G‑dly soul with the impurity stemming from kelipas nogah,

שֶׁבְּזֶה הוּא מְטַמֵּא בְּחִינַת הַמִּדּוֹת וּבְחִינַת חַבַּ"ד [חָכְמָה בִּינָה דַעַת] שֶׁבְּנַפְשׁוֹ הָאֱלֹהִית בְּטֻמְאַת קְלִפַּת נֹגַהּ

as can be inferred from Tanya, ch. 8.

כְּמוֹ שֶׁמַּשְׁמַע בְּלִקּוּטֵי אֲמָרִים פֶּרֶק ח'

In that source, the Alter Rebbe writes that all knowledge other than Torah has its source in the intellectual dimensions of kelipas nogah. Thus, although it can be refined and used as a tool in one’s Divine service, in and of itself, it can taint the soul – including even the powers of intellect, the soul’s more elevated potentials – and draw it toward the physical.

Now there is a need for business activity for the sake of Divine service,

וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהַמַּשָּׂא וּמַתָּן יֵשׁ בּוֹ צֹרֶךְ לַעֲבוֹדַת ה'

for earning one’s livelihood is both necessary and fulfills a spiritual purpose. Every individual is destined to elevate certain sparks of G‑dliness that are enclothed in the world’s physical substance. This endeavor is necessary for his spiritual fulfillment. If these G‑dly energies are not elevated, that individual’s soul remains incomplete.14

Nevertheless, superfluous intellectual involvement regarding the conduct of one’s financial affairs that is not befitting according to the directives of the Torah is considered “soiled garments.”

מִכָּל מָקוֹם כֵּיוָן שֶׁהוּא בְּהִתְחַכְּמוּת יְתֵרָה שֶׁאֵינוֹ כָּרָאוּי עַל פִּי צִוּוּי הַתּוֹרָה בְּהַנְהָגַת הַמַּשָּׂא וּמַתָּן הֲרֵי זֶה בְּחִינַת לְבוּשִׁים צוֹאִים מַמָּשׁ,

Therefore these “soiled garments” must be removed.

וְלָכֵן צְרִיכָה לִהְיוֹת הַעֲבָרַת לְבוּשִׁים צוֹאִים אֵלּוּ

This is alluded to by the command: “And she shall shave her head.”

וְעַל זֶה נֶאֱמַר וְגִלְּחָה אֶת רֹאשָׁהּ.

The reason that these “soiled garments” are referred to with the analogy of hair

אַךְ הַטַּעַם שֶׁנִּקְרְאוּ לְבוּשִׁים צוֹאִים אֵלּוּ בְּשֵׁם שְׂעָרוֹת,

can be explained as follows:


In the Torah, we find that, at times, the spiritual quality associated with hair is considered very lofty,

כִּי הִנֵּה מָצִינוּ בַּתּוֹרָה פַּעַם הִגְבִּיהַּ מַעֲלַת הַשְּׂעָרוֹת בִּמְאֹד

as it is written with regard to a Nazirite:7 His hair is holy. He shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow,”

כְּמוֹ בְּנָזִיר קָדֹשׁ יִהְיֶה גַּדֵּל פֶּרַע שְׂעַר רֹאשׁוֹ

and as related with regard to Shimshon (Shoftim 16:19), all of his strength was vested in his hair.

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב גַּבֵּי שִׁמְשׁוֹן (שׁוֹפְטִים ט"ז י"ט) שֶׁכָּל כֹּחוֹ הָיָה בַּשְּׂעָרוֹת

Conversely, however, we find that at times, the Torah associates hair with a very low level,

וּפְעָמִים מָצִינוּ שֶׁהַשְּׂעָרוֹת הִשְׁפִּילָה אוֹתָם הַתּוֹרָה מְאֹד

as indicated by the above-mentioned commands concerning a metzora and the Levites who are required to shave their hair.

כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל בְּעִנְיַן הַמְּצֹרָע וְהַלְוִיִּם,

And our Sages state (Berachos 24a): “The hair of a woman is considered ‘nakedness.’

וְכֵן אָמְרוּ זִכְרוֹנָם לִבְרָכָה שֵׂעָר בְּאִשָּׁה עֶרְוָה (בְּרָכוֹת כ"ד א'),

Similarly, in the spiritual realms, there are distinctions regarding the intent implied by the analogy of hairs.

וְכֵן לְמַעְלָה בָּעוֹלָמוֹת הָעֶלְיוֹנִים יֵשׁ גַּם כֵּן חִלּוּקִים

The hairs of the beard of Atika Kadisha – the Holy Ancient One,” a reference to the inner dimensions of Kesserare the source of the vitality of all the worlds.

כִּי שְׂעָרוֹת דְּעַתִּיקָא קַדִּישָׁא הֵם מְקוֹר חַיּוּת כָּל הָעוֹלָמוֹת

For the Sublime Father – the Sefirah of Chochmah of Atzilusthe first level within the entire realm of Atzilus, derives its nurture from the eighth point of the beard of Atik, as is well known.

כִּי אַבָּא רֵאשִׁית הָאֲצִילוּת יוֹנֵק מִמַּזָּל הַשְּׁמִינִי כַּנּוֹדָע

In contrast, the hairs of Nukva – the Sefirah of Malchusallow nurture to be derived by the extraneous forces, thus vitalizing the forces of kelipah.

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן שְׂעָרוֹת דְּנוּקְבָא יֵשׁ מֵהֶם יְנִיקַת הַחִיצוֹנִים,

To explain: Hairs come from excess intellectual energy.

וְהָעִנְיָן כִּי הַשְּׂעָרוֹת הֵם מוֹתְרֵי מוֹחִין

Therefore, their spiritual level is dependent on the source from which they are drawn down.

וְלָכֵן עִנְיַן מַעֲלָתָם הוּא כְּפִי הַמָּקוֹם שֶׁמִּשָּׁם הֵם נִמְשָׁכִים

With regard to Atika Kadisha, which is actually Ein Sof,

כִּי בְּחִינַת עַתִּיקָא קַדִּישָׁא שֶׁהוּא אֵין סוֹף מַמָּשׁ

even its excess dimensions contain immense vitality that can give life to all the worlds.

הִנֵּה גַם בְּחִינַת מוֹתְרוֹת שֶׁלּוֹ הֵם יֵשׁ בָּהֶם חַיּוּת רַב לְהַחֲיוֹת כָּל הָעוֹלָמוֹת

Indeed, it is only through a medium like hairs that vitality can be drawn down into the worlds.

וְאַדְּרַבָּה דַּוְקָא בָּהֶם וְעַל יָדָם נִמְשָׁךְ הַחַיּוּת בָּעוֹלָמוֹת

This is not the ordinary pattern through which influence is conveyed from one level to another. Generally, influence is transferred through light being enclothed in a k’li. This, however, is not possible in the present instance,

for the worlds cannot receive their life-energy from Atika Kadisha as it exists in its essential state,

כִּי מִבְּחִינַת עַתִּיקָא קַדִּישָׁא כְּמוֹ שֶׁהוּא בְּמַהוּתוֹ וְעַצְמוּתוֹ אִי אֶפְשָׁר לָעוֹלָמוֹת לְקַבֵּל כְּלָל

because they would not be able to bear the revelation of the energy, as it is Ein Sof. Drawing down energy from this level is possible

כִּי לֹא יוּכְלוּ לִסְבּוֹל גִּלּוּי הַחַיּוּת בִּבְחִינַת אֵין סוֹף

only through the vitality of Atkia Kadisha being contracted and drawn down through hairs.

אֶלָּא עַל יְדֵי שֶׁמִּתְצַמְצֵם בִּבְחִינַת שְׂעָרוֹת

Therefore the hairs are on a high and wondrous level of holiness,

וְלָכֵן הַשְּׂעָרוֹת הֵם קְדֻשָּׁה רַבָּה וְנִפְלָאָה

as it is written (Daniel 7:9): “The One of Ancient Days sat; His garment was white like snow and the hair of His head was like pure wool.”

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב עַתִּיק יוֹמִין יְתִיב לְבוּשֵׁיהּ כִּתְלַג חִוָּר וּשְׂעַר רֵישֵׁיהּ כַּעֲמַר נְקֵא (דָּנִיֵּאל ז' ט')

Similarly, with regard to a Nazirite, during the days of his Nazirite vow, an actual ray of the holiness of Atika Kadisha shines forth

וְהִנֵּה בְּחִינַת הַנָּזִיר בִּימֵי נְזִירוּתוֹ הוּא שֶׁמֵּאִיר הֶאָרָה מִשָּׁם

and is enclothed in his hair,

וּמִתְלַבֶּשֶׁת בִּשְׂעָרוֹת שֶׁלּוֹ

as stated by the AriZal in Taamei Hamitzvos, Parshas Naso.

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתַב הָאֲרִיזַ"ל בְּטַעֲמֵי מִצְוֹת פַּרְשַׁת נָשֹׂא

Therefore he is adjured not to shave and commanded to let his hair grow, as explained above.

לָכֵן הֻזְהַר שֶׁלֹּא יְגַלֵּחַ וּמְצֻוֶּה לְגַדֵּל פֶּרַע כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

For his hairs are a medium to receive influence from Atika Kadisha.

Similarly, with regard to all men, even those who are not Nazirites,

וְגַם בְּכָל אָדָם אֲפִלּוּ אֵינוֹ נָזִיר

a ray from the holiness of the Sublime Beard and Peyos shines within the hairs of the beardand peyos.

הִנֵּה בְּשַׂעֲרוֹת הַזָּקָן וּבַפֵּאוֹת מֵאִיר הֶאָרָה מִקְּדֻשַּׁת שְׂעָרוֹת הָעֶלְיוֹנוֹת דְּדִיקְנָא עִלָּאָה וּדְפֵאוֹת

The term peyos refers to the hairs growing at the corners of the head. It is forbidden to cut them, and in certain communities they are allowed to grow long in recognition of their spiritual distinction. The rationale is that the hairs of the peyos — and the beard — are mediums for the influence from Atika Kadisha.

Therefore, we are commanded not to shave them, as stated in Sefer HaChinuch, mitzvos 251 and 252,

לָכֵן הֻזְהֲרוּ שֶׁלֹּא לְגַלְּחָם וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב מִצְוָה רנ"א רנ"ב

based on the verse (Vayikra 19:27): “Do not cut off the hair of the corners of your head and do not destroy the hair of the corners of your beard.”

מִפָּסוּק לֹא תַקִּיפוּ פְּאַת רֹאשְׁכֶם וְלֹא תַשְׁחִית אֵת פְּאַת זְקָנֶךָ כוּ' (וַיִּקְרָא י"ט כ"ז)

With regard to a Nazirite, however, the holiness of Atika Kadisha shines forth within all the hairs of his head, not only the beard and the peyos.

וְאוּלָם הַנָּזִיר מֵאִיר בּוֹ קְדֻשָּׁה עֶלְיוֹנָה דְּעַתִּיקָא קַדִּישָׁא בְּכָל שְׂעַר רֹאשׁוֹ,

In contrast, Nukva of Atzilus represents a contraction when compared to Atika Kadisha.

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן בְּחִינַת נוּקְבָא דַאֲצִילוּת שֶׁהִיא בִּבְחִינַת צִמְצוּם לְגַבֵּי עַתִּיקָא קַדִּישָׁא

Hence, its excess intellectual energy can lead to nurture for the extraneous forces.

אָז מִבְּחִינַת מוֹתְרִי מוֹחִין שֶׁלָּהּ יוּכַל לִהְיוֹת יְנִיקַת הַחִיצוֹנִים

Since the capacity of these lower levels to internalize the Divine energy is limited, that energy may overflow and become accessible by the powers of kelipah.

For this reason, women – whose spiritual counterpart is the Sefirah of Malchusare adjured not to reveal their hair,

וְלָכֵן הַנָּשִׁים הֻזְהֲרוּ עַל גִּלּוּי שְׂעָרוֹת

as our Sages comment:15 “The hair of a woman is considered ‘nakedness.’

כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָמְרוּ רַזַ"ל שֵׂעָר בְּאִשָּׁה עֶרְוָה,

To explain this concept and bring it closer to our understanding:

וּבֵאוּר הַדָּבָר לְקָרֵב אֶל הַשֵּׂכֶל

It can be clarified based on our Sages’ comment (Sukkah 21b) to the verse (Tehillim 1:3), “Whose leaf never withers,”

יוּבַן עַל דֶּרֶךְ מַאֲמַר רַזַ"ל (סוּכָּה כ"א ב') עַל פָּסוּק וְעָלֵהוּ לֹא יִבּוֹל (תִּלִּים א' ג')

that even the ordinary conversation of a Torah scholar demands study.

אֲפִלּוּ שִׂיחַת חֻלִּין שֶׁל תַּלְמִיד חָכָם צְרִיכָה לִמּוּד

The Sages’ ordinary conversation can serve as a further analogy, enabling us to understand the intent of the analogy of hairs.

The value of studying the ordinary conversation of a Torah scholar results from the great Divine wisdom that he possesses.

וְהַיְנוּ כִּי הַתַּלְמִיד חָכָם לְגֹדֶל חָכְמַת אֱלֹקִים אֲשֶׁר בְּקִרְבּוֹ

Accordingly, attention should be paid even to the casual statements that he makes.

הִנֵּה גַם בְּמַה שֶּׁאוֹמֵר כִּלְאַחַר יָד

These reflect his excess intellectual energy

שֶׁהוּא כְּמוֹ בְּחִינַת מוֹתְרֵי מוֹחִין

as they do not come from the inner dimensions of his wisdom,

שֶׁאֵינוֹ מִפְּנִימִיּוּת חָכְמָתוֹ

only from the external and excess aspects of his wisdom,

כִּי אִם בְּחִינַת חִיצוֹנִית וּמוֹתְרוֹת מֵחָכְמָתוֹ

and they are mere conversation.

שִׂיחָה בְּעָלְמָא

Nevertheless, they must be studied,

אַף עַל פִּי כֵן צְרִיכָה לִמּוּד

and indeed represent actual Divine wisdom,

עַד שֶׁהִיא חָכְמַת אֱלֹהוּת מַמָּשׁ

as Rabbi Shimon said (Sukkah, loc. cit.): “From Rabban Gamliel’s ordinary conversation, we learned two concepts.”

כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָמַר רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן (בְּסוּכָּה כ"א ב') מִשִּׂיחָתוֹ שֶׁל רַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל לָמַדְנוּ שְׁנֵי דְבָרִים כוּ'

The concepts derived from his ordinary conversation was a revelation of G‑d’s will.

שֶׁהֵן הֵן רָצוֹן עֶלְיוֹן בָּרוּךְ הוּא,

When, by contrast, a person who is not a Torah scholar speaks casually, his words are considered idle conversation,

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן כְּשֶׁאָדָם שֶׁאֵינוֹ תַּלְמִיד חָכָם יֹאמַר שִׂיחַת חֻלִּין בִּכְלַל דְּבָרִים בְּטֵלִים יֵחָשֵׁב

and represent the “soiled garments” mentioned above.

שֶׁהוּא בְּחִינַת לְבוּשִׁים צוֹאִים הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

One brings impurity upon one’s G‑dly soul

וּמְטַמֵּא בְּזֶה נַפְשׁוֹ הָאֱלֹהִית

by garbing it in these impure garments

לְפִי שֶׁמַּלְבִּישׁ אוֹתָהּ בִּלְבוּשִׁים צוֹאִים

instead of the holy garments of the Torah and its mitzvos in which it is appropriate to garb it.

חֵלֶף מַה שֶּׁרָאוּי לוֹ לְהַלְבִּישָׁהּ בִּלְבוּשִׁים קְדוֹשִׁים דְּתוֹרָה וּמִצְוֹת

As Yoma 19b states: “One who engages in ordinary conversation transgresses a positive commandment,

וְכִדְאִיתָא בְּיוֹמָא (דַּף י"ט ב') שֶׁהַשָּׂח שִׂיחַת חֻלִּין עוֹבֵר בַּעֲשֵׂה

as it is written (Devarim 6:7): ‘And you shall speak of them’;

שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר וְדִבַּרְתָּ בָּם (דְּבָרִים ו' ז')

‘of them, words of Torah, and not of idle matters.”

וְלֹא בִּדְבָרִים בְּטֵלִים,

This refers even to a worthy person, learned in the Torah.

וְהַיְנוּ אֲפִלּוּ בְּאָדָם כָּשֵׁר יוֹדֵעַ הַתּוֹרָה

Nevertheless, he is not permeated by wisdom to the extent that even his ordinary conversation comprises words of Torah.

מִכָּל מָקוֹם אֵין בּוֹ חָכְמָה כָּל כָּךְ עַד שֶׁגַּם שִׂיחַת חֻלִּין שֶׁלּוֹ יִהְיוּ בָּהֶם דִּבְרֵי תוֹרָה

Instead, his ordinary conversation revolves around idle matters.

אֶלָּא הַשִּׂיחַת חֻלִּין שֶׁלּוֹ הֵם דְּבָרִים בְּטֵלִים מַמָּשׁ,

Thus, his excess intellectual energy is base,

וְהַיְנוּ שֶׁמּוֹתְרֵי מוֹחִין שֶׁלּוֹ הֵם גְּרוּעִים

even though his intellectual qualities themselves are positive

אֲבָל הַמּוֹחִין עַצְמָם שֶׁלּוֹ טוֹבִים הֵם

when he is not involved in mere conversation and instead studies the Torah.

וְהוּא כְּשֶׁלֹּא יָשִׂיחַ שִׂיחַת חֻלִּין כִּי אִם יַעֲסוֹק בַּתּוֹרָה

With regard to a Torah sage, by contrast, even his excess intellectual energy as expressed in his ordinary conversation contains holiness.

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן בְּתַלְמִיד חָכָם שֶׁגַּם מוֹתְרֵי מוֹחִין שֶׁהוּא שִׂיחַת חֻלִּין שֶׁלּוֹ יֵשׁ בָּהֶם קְדֻשָּׁה.

In this vein, the Zohar (III, 47b) relates that Rav Hamnuna the Elder would make a comic remark literally, “foolishness” to his students before he began sharing words of wisdom.

וְעַל דֶּרֶךְ זֶה הוּא מַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב בַּזֹּהַר (חֵלֶק ג' מ"ז ב') שֶׁרַב הַמְנוּנָא סָבָא הָיָה אוֹמֵר פִּרְקָא דִשְׁטוּתָא לְתַלְמִידָיו טֶרֶם שֶׁהִתְחִיל בְּמִלֵּי דְחָכְמְתָא

Now his “comic remark” was not actual foolishness,16 Heaven forbid,

וְעִנְיַן פִּירְקָא דִשְׁטוּתָא אֵינוֹ שְׁטוּתִים מַמָּשׁ חַס וְשָׁלוֹם

but rather the novelos17 of his wisdom,

כִּי אִם בְּחִינַת נוֹבְלוֹת חָכְמָתוֹ

like the ordinary conversation of a Torah scholar.

כְּעִנְיַן שִׂיחַת חֻלִּין שֶׁל תַּלְמִיד חָכָם

Similarly, Rabbah would open his lessons with a witticism, the sages would laugh

וְכֵן רַבָּה הֲוָה אָמַר מִלְּתָא דִבְדִיחוּתָא וּבָדְחֵי רַבָּנָן

and then he would begin the study of the passage (Shabbos 30b).

וּלְבָתַר פָּתַח בִּשְׁמַעְתְּתָא (שַׁבָּת ל' ב'),

On the other hand, when an ordinary person makes comic remarks, they are indeed utter foolishness.

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן כְּשֶׁאַחֵר יֹאמַר שְׁטוּתָא יִהְיֶה שְׁטוּת מַמָּשׁ.

Similarly, when such a person speaks about everyday matters, his conversation is on a low level. In the analogue, when influence is drawn down from Malchus through hairs, since initially, the light that shines within Malchus is limited, because of the multiple tzimtzumim involved, it is possible that the extraneous forces will derive nurture.

To reach a deeper understanding of the matter,

וּלְהַעֲמִיק בַּדָּבָר יוֹתֵר

it is necessary to understand why the transmission of influence from the holiness of Atika Kadisha must be specifically through the medium of hairs

לְהָבִין אֵיךְ שֶׁיֵּשׁ הֶכְרֵחַ שֶׁיִּהְיֶה הַהַשְׁפָּעָה מִקְּדֻשָּׁה עֶלְיוֹנָה דְּעַתִּיקָא קַדִּישָׁא עַל יְדֵי שְׂעָרוֹת דַּוְקָא

and, as a result, a fundamental dimension of holiness is dependent on them.

וְלָזֹאת עִקַּר הַקְּדֻשָּׁה תָּלוּי בָּהֶם

This is not understood thoroughly from the analogy of the ordinary conversation of a Torah sage.

שֶׁזֶּה אֵינוֹ מוּבָן עֲדַיִן הֵיטֵב מִמְּשַׁל שִׂיחַת חֻלִּין שֶׁל תַּלְמִיד חָכָם הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

For on the surface, a question arises:

דְּלִכְאוֹרָה קָשֶׁה

Although it is true that even the ordinary conversation of a Torah sage demands study,

אִם אָמְנָם אֱמֶת שֶׁגַּם שִׂיחַת חֻלִּין שֶׁל תַּלְמִיד חָכָם צְרִיכָה לִמּוּד,

it is obvious that his teachings and his wisdom are much, much loftier.

דְּמִכָּל מָקוֹם תּוֹרָתוֹ וְחָכְמָתוֹ פְּשִׁיטָא שֶׁמְּעֻלִּים בְּיוֹתֵר בְּכִפְלֵי כִפְלַיִם לְתוּשִׁיָּה

If so, of what purpose is his ordinary conversation?

וְאִם כֵּן לָמָּה זֶה הַשִּׂיחַת חֻלִּין שֶׁלּוֹ

One should, instead, involve himself only in the sage’s inner wisdom.

יַעֲסוֹק רַק בַּתּוֹרָה הַפְּנִימִית

A similar question arises concerning the analogue in the spiritual realms:

וְכֵן לְמַעְלָה יִהְיֶה הַקֻּשְׁיָא

Why must the influence be transmitted through hairs and excess intellectual energy?

לָמָּה הָיְתָה זֹאת הַהַמְשָׁכָה עַל יְדֵי הַשְּׂעָרוֹת וּמוֹתְרֵי מוֹחִין

Although it is true that they are very beneficial and lofty,

אִם אָמְנָם אֱמֶת שֶׁהֵם מְעֻלִּים וְנִכְבָּדִים עַד מְאֹד

nevertheless, it would seem that it would be much better if the influence came directly from the essence of Atika Kadisha.

מִכָּל מָקוֹם הֲטוֹב טוֹב הָיָה אִם הָיָה הַהַמְשָׁכָה מֵעַצְמוּת הָעַתִּיקָא קַדִּישָׁא.

A partial resolution was given above:

[אַךְ] קְצָת נִתְבָּאֵר לְעֵיל

that it is impossible for the limited worlds to receive influence from Atika Kadisha as it exists in its essential form.

שֶׁמִּבְּחִינַת עַתִּיקָא קַדִּישָׁא כְּמוֹ שֶׁהוּא אִי אֶפְשָׁר לָעוֹלָמוֹת לְקַבֵּל

Hence, unless the energy was conveyed through the medium of hairs, it could not reach the lower level.

This idea can be further explained based on the concept of an analogy and an analogue,18

וּבֵאוּר הָעִנְיָן בְּמָשָׁל וּבְנִמְשָׁל,

as explained on the basis of King Shlomo’s words (Mishlei 1:6): “To understand an analogy and an allegory,”

הוּא עַל פִּי מַה שֶּׁאָמַר שְׁלֹמֹה הַמֶּלֶךְ עָלָיו הַשָּׁלוֹם לְהָבִין מָשָׁל וּמְלִיצָה (מִשְׁלֵי א' ו')

and what is written (I Melachim 5:12): “And Shlomo recited 3,000 analogies.”

וּכְתִיב וַיְדַבֵּר שְׁלֹשֶׁת אֲלָפִים מָשָׁל (מְלָכִים א' ה' י"ב)

Similarly, with regard to Rabbi Meir, our Sages said (Sotah 49a): “When Rabbi Meir died, the authors of parables ceased,” i.e., Rabbi Meir was the last of the Sages who could explain their words in parables,

וְכֵן בְּרַבִּי מֵאִיר אָמְרוּ מִשֶּׁמֵּת רַבִּי מֵאִיר בָּטְלוּ מוֹשְׁלֵי מְשָׁלִים (סוֹטָה מ"ט א')

for “he would recite 300 analogies” (Sanhedrin 38b).

דַּהֲוָה אָמַר תְּלַת מְאָה מְשָׁלִים (סַנְהֶדְרִין ל"ח ב'),

To explain: Because of the great wisdom of King Shlomo and Rabbi Meir and their understanding of the secrets of the Torah and its mysteries,

וְהָעִנְיָן כִּי מִפְּנֵי עֹמֶק חָכְמָתָם בְּרָזֵי הַתּוֹרָה וְסוֹדוֹתֶיהָ

their students were not able to understand and comprehend their holy words of hidden wisdom unless they would speak in analogies.

לֹא אֶפְשָׁר לַתַּלְמִידִים לְהָבִין וּלְהַשְׂכִּיל דִּבְרֵי קָדְשָׁם בְּתַעֲלוּמוֹת חָכְמָה אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן יֹאמְרוּ לָהֶם מָשָׁל

This involved hiding the deep intent of their wisdom

וְהוּא מַה שֶּׁיַּעֲלִימוּ עֹמֶק הַמְכַוֵּן וְהַחָכְמָה הַהִיא

and garbing it in another matter which serves as an analogy for the intellectual concept.

בְּאֵיזוֹ דָּבָר אַחֵר שֶׁהוּא דֻגְמַת דְּבַר חָכְמָה הַהִיא

An analogy enables one to appreciate a different concept that is too abstract to be conceived directly. For example, when a teacher desires to explain a mathematical equation to a child, he does not speak in abstract terms. Instead, he takes tangible articles that the child can see to illustrate it. Now the physical entities that the child sees are not the abstract mathematical construct the teacher wishes to communicate. Nevertheless, the child understands it when he sees it illustrated. Similarly, a sage will speak in analogies, using examples that his listeners will understand and, in this manner, enable them to grasp concepts which were they presented in the abstract, would be beyond their comprehension.

By understanding the analogy, a trace of hidden wisdom from the analogue would be formed in the heart of the student.

וְעַל פִּי הֲבָנַת הַדֻּגְמָא יִצְטַיֵּר בְּלֵב הַתַּלְמִיד שֶׁמֶץ מִנֵּיהּ מִתַּעֲלוּמַת הַחָכְמָה שֶׁבַּנִּמְשָׁל,

Now, because the depth of the hidden wisdom is so great,

וּבִהְיוֹת לְסִבַּת עֹמֶק תַּעֲלוּמַת הַחָכְמָה כִּי רַבָּה הִיא

even the analogy given to communicate the analogue may be beyond the grasp and understanding of the students.

הִנֵּה גַם הַדֻּגְמָא שֶׁלָּהּ הִיא לְמַעְלָה מֵהַשְׂכָּלָתָם וּתְבוּנָתָם

Hence, it is necessary to give an analogy for the analogy, i.e., an example for the example.

אֲשֶׁר לְזֹאת יִצְטָרֵךְ הַמָּשָׁל לַמָּשָׁל רוֹצֶה לוֹמַר דֻּגְמָא לְדֻגְמָא

Because of the greatness of King Shlomo’s wisdom, he had to employ 3,000 analogies

וּלְפִי עֶרֶךְ חָכְמַת שְׁלֹמֹה הַמֶּלֶךְ עָלָיו הַשָּׁלוֹם הָיָה נִצְרָךְ לְג' אֲלָפִים מְשָׁלִים

to bring the hidden reaches of his wisdom down level after level, from one analogy to another analogy,

שֶׁיּוֹרִיד עֹמֶק תַּעֲלוּמַת חָכְמָתוֹ בְּרִבּוּי הוֹרָדוֹת זוֹ אַחַר זוֹ מִמָּשָׁל לְמָשָׁל

until the last analogy and example could be understood by the minds and understanding of ordinary people.

עַד כִּי בְּמָשָׁל וְדֻגְמָא הָאַחֲרוֹנָה הָיָה אֶפְשָׁר לִבְנֵי אָדָם לְהַשִּׂיגָם בְּמוֹחָם וּתְבוּנָתָם

For Rabbi Meir, 300 analogies were sufficient to explain his wisdom, each analogy descending another level

וְרַבִּי מֵאִיר הֲוָה סַגִּי לֵיהּ לְהַסְבִּיר חָכְמָתוֹ עַל יְדֵי ג' מֵאוֹת מְשָׁלִים וְהוֹרָדוֹת,

When compared to its analogue, the analogy is like a coarse and thick garment.

וְהִנֵּה הַמָּשָׁל לְגַבֵּי הַנִּמְשָׁל הֲרֵי הוּא בְּחִינַת לְבוּשׁ גַּס וְעָב

Thus, it is comparable to the hairs that enclothe the energy coming from the brain which is within the hollow of the hair,

וְהוּא כְּמוֹ הַשַּׂעֲרָה שֶׁמַּלְבֶּשֶׁת לִינִיקַת הַמּוֹחִין שֶׁבַּחֲלַל הַשַּׂעֲרָה

for a hair is hollow,

שֶׁהִיא חֲלוּלָה

as the Talmud states in Nazir (39a, b), and Bava Basra (16a) with regard to Iyov.

כִּדְאִיתָא בִּגְמָרָא בְּנָזִיר (דַּף ל"ט א' ב') וּבְפֶרֶק קַמָּא דְבָבָא בַּתְרָא (דַּף ט"ז א') גַּבֵּי אִיּוֹב

The analogy is described as “excess intellectual energy,”

וְנִקְרָא הַמָּשָׁל מוֹתְרֵי מוֹחִין

for it is not at all comparable to the essence of the analogue that the teacher understands in his mind.

שֶׁאֵינוֹ מֵעֶרֶךְ עַצְמִיּוּת הַנִּמְשָׁל שֶׁבְּמוֹחוֹ

Behold, with regard to great sages like King Shlomo and Rabbi Meir,

וְהִנֵּה בַּחֲכָמִים גְּדוֹלִים כִּשְׁלֹמֹה וְרַבִּי מֵאִיר וְכַיּוֹצֵא

even their excess intellectual energy, i.e., their analogies,

הִנֵּה גַם הַמּוֹתְרֵי מוֹחִין שֶׁהוּא הַמָּשָׁל

are very useful and contain great holiness and awesome wisdom.

הָיָה בָּהֶם תּוֹעֶלֶת רַב וּקְדֻשָּׁה רַבָּה וְחָכְמָה עֲצוּמָה

Indeed, they served a great purpose,

וְאַדְּרַבָּה הָיוּ לְצֹרֶךְ גָּדוֹל

for without them, it would not have been possible to communicate any influence to others on a lower level.

שֶׁבִּלְעָדָם לֹא הָיָה יָכוֹל לִהְיוֹת כְּלָל הַשְׁפָּעָה מֵהֶם לְזוּלָתָם

In contrast, lesser sages who were not on their level could not communicate via parables,

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן בִּשְׁאָר חֲכָמִים קְטַנִּים בְּעֶרְכָּם לֹא הָיוּ [יְכוֹלִים] לוֹמַר מְשָׁלִים

as the Talmud states: “When Rabbi Meir died, the authors of parables ceased.”

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בִּגְמָרָא בָּטְלוּ מוֹשְׁלֵי מְשָׁלִים

This is because the wisdom of the lesser sages was not comparable to the level of the great sages

וְהַיְנוּ לְפִי שֶׁחָכְמָתָם קְטַנָּה בְּעֶרֶךְ

and could be grasped by others as it was, without parables and examples.

וִיכוֹלָה לִהְיוֹת מֻשֶּׂגֶת לִבְנֵי אָדָם בְּלֹא מְשָׁלִים וְדֻגְמוֹת אֶלָּא כְּמוֹ שֶׁהִיא

Therefore they did not need to use analogies.

וְלָכֵן אֵינָן מִצְטָרְכִים לְמָשָׁל,

And were they to have tried to speak in analogies, they would have been foolish and empty words,

וְאִם יִרְצוּ לְהַמְשִׁיל מְשָׁלִים לְדִבְרֵיהֶם יִהְיוּ שְׁטוּתִים וּדְבָרִים בְּטֵלִים

because they would not have been necessary.

כִּי אֵין צֹרֶךְ בָּהֶם,

On this basis, we can appreciate the analogue in the spiritual realms:

וְעַל פִּי זֶה יוּבַן כֵּן לְמַעְלָה

that the vitality from Atika Kadisha, which is Ein Sof, cannot be received within the worlds,

שֶׁהַמְשָׁכַת הַחַיּוּת מֵעַתִּיקָא קַדִּישָׁא שֶׁהוּא אֵין סוֹף אִי אֶפְשָׁר לְהִתְקַבֵּל בָּעוֹלָמוֹת

even within Atzilus,

גַּם בַּאֲצִילוּת

without the world’s existence being nullified,

שֶׁלֹּא יִתְבַּטְּלוּ מִמְּצִיאוּתָם

unless the influence is clothed in garments, involving a process of contraction which is referred to by the analogy of hairs.

אֶלָּא דַוְקָא עַל יְדֵי לְבוּשִׁים שֶׁהֵם הַנִּקְרָאִים שְׂעָרוֹת כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

See the explanation of the phrase: “the Almighty, merciful Father, Who is praised by the mouth of His people, exalted…” in the Siddur Im Dach.19In that source, the Alter Rebbe elaborates on the analogy of hairs as mediums to convey Divine energy that is too great to be transmitted directly.

וְעַיֵּן בְּסִדּוּר בְּפֵרוּשׁ הָאֵל אָב הָרַחֲמָן הַמְהֻלָּל בְּפֶה עַמּוֹ מְשֻׁבָּח כוּ'

As is well known, the Sublime Father and Mother – i.e., the Sefiros of Chochmah and Binah of Atzilusderive their nurture from the mazalos of Kesser.

כַּנּוֹדָע שֶׁאַבָּא וְאִמָּא יוֹנְקִים מִמַּזָּלוֹת דְּכֶתֶר,

The term mazal derives from the term nozail, meaning “flowing.” A mazal is a source from which Divine energy flows.

When, by contrast, light has already been contracted within the attribute of Nukva of Z’eir Anpin,

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן כַּאֲשֶׁר כְּבָר נִתְצַמְצֵם הָאוֹר בִּבְחִינַת נוּקְבָא דְזָ"א [דִזְעֵיר אַנְפִּין]

the ray that is drawn down from that light represents the underdeveloped dimensions20 and excess intellectual energy, for at these levels, the Divine influence has already undergone several degrees of tzimtzumim (“contractions”).

אֲזַי הַהֶאָרָה הַנִּמְשֶׁכֶת מִמֶּנָּה בִּבְחִינַת נוֹבְלוֹת וּמוֹתְרֵי מוֹחִין

It is not comparable to, nor does it resemble, the excess intellectual energy of Atika Kadisha.

אֵינָן בְּעֶרֶךְ וְדֻגְמַת מוֹתְרִי מוֹחִין דְּעַתִּיקָא קַדִּישָׁא

And thus the excess intellectual energy of Malchus can provide nurture for the extraneous forces.

עַד שֶׁמֵּהֶם יוּכַל לִהְיוֹת יְנִיקַת הַחִיצוֹנִים.

To refer back to the analogy used above, it is like the ordinary conversation of a non-distinguished scholar, which lacks serious content.

In this manner, the more the light becomes diminished,

וְכֵן עַל דֶּרֶךְ זֶה כָּל שֶׁהָאוֹר הוֹלֵךְ וּמִתְמַעֵט

the more it is possible that the extraneous forces will gain a foothold to derive nurture from the levels that are comparable to hairs and underdeveloped dimensions.

יוּכַל לִהְיוֹת מִבְּחִינַת הַשְּׂעָרוֹת וְהַנּוֹבְלוֹת שֶׁבּוֹ אֲחִיזַת הַחִיצוֹנִים בְּיוֹתֵר,

For this reason, in the desert, the Levites were commanded to “pass a razor over all their flesh,”

וּמִזֶּה הַטַּעַם הֻזְהֲרוּ הַלְוִיִּם בַּמִּדְבָּר לְהַעֲבִיר תַּעַר עַל כָּל בְּשָׂרָם

for their approach and pattern of Divine service was characterized by fiery love toward G‑d

כִּי דַרְכָּם וְהִלּוּכָם בַּקֹּדֶשׁ הוּא בִּבְחִינַת הִתְלַהֲבוּת

to the point that their souls would pine away to leave their bodies, their keilim.

וּכְלוֹת הַנֶּפֶשׁ לְהִסְתַּלֵּק מִן הַכְּלִי

This thrust was reflected in their spiritual service in the recitation of the Song of the Day in joyous and pleasant song,

שֶׁזֶּה הָיָה עֲבוֹדָתָם בְּשִׁיר שֶׁל יוֹם בְּקוֹל רִנָּה וּנְעִימָה

as explained in Tanya, ch. 50.

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּלִקּוּטֵי אֲמָרִים חֵלֶק א' פֶּרֶק נ'

Since their Divine service involved rising above their keilim,

וּמֵאַחַר שֶׁעֲבוֹדָתָם בְּהִסְתַּלְּקוּת מֵהַכְּלִי

the light that remained in the k’li was limited,

הִנֵּה הָאוֹר שֶׁבִּכְלִי מְצֻמְצָם

for its fundamental dimension was elevated entirely above the k’li.

כִּי כָּל עִקָּרוֹ עוֹלֶה מֵהַכְּלִי

As a result, were there to be a transmission of light from the trace of light that remained in the k’li through the medium of hairs,

אִם כֵּן אִם יִהְיֶה הַמְשָׁכָה מֵרְשִׁימַת הָאוֹר שֶׁבַּכְּלִי

the extraneous forces would be able to derive nurture.

יִהְיֶה מִזֶּה יְנִיקַת חִיצוֹנִים.

Since only a trace of light remains in the keilim, its power is reduced and there is a possibility for kelipah to receive nurture.

On this basis, we can also understand the mitzvah of shaving a metzora.

וְהִנֵּה עַל פִּי זֶה יוּבַן גַּם כֵּן מִצְוַת תִּגְלַחַת הַמְּצֹרָע

As explained above (mitzvah 169),21 when a metzora is declared to be unquestionably impure,22 there is a withdrawal of the intellectual dimensions of the Sublime Father and the partzufim of Leah and Rachel – corresponding to Binah and Malchuswhich refer to holy garments.

בִּהְיוֹת כִּי הַמְּצֹרָע מֻחְלָט נִתְבָּאֵר לְעֵיל (מִצְוָה קס"ט) שֶׁעִנְיָנוֹ הִסְתַּלְּקוּת מוֹחִין דְּאַבָּא וּפַרְצוּפֵי לֵאָה וְרָחֵל שֶׁהֵם בְּחִינַת לְבוּשִׁים הַקְּדוֹשִׁים

Instead, there emerge on the person’s flesh blotches of tzaraas: se’eis, sapachas, or baheres. These are the physical manifestations of tzaraas mentioned by the Torah.

וּתְמוּרָתָם יָצְאוּ הַנְּגָעִים שְׂאֵת אוֹ סַפַּחַת אוֹ בַהֶרֶת

These represent expressions of severe judgment.

שֶׁהֵם דִּינִים תַּקִּיפִים

From them, the extraneous forces derive nurture through white hairs – which are also a sign of tzaraas23as explained there.

וּמֵהֶם יוֹנְקִים אַחַר כָּךְ הַחִיצוֹנִים עַל יְדֵי שֵׂעָר לָבָן כִּמְבֹאָר שָׁם,

For the duration of time that the metzora is impure, he is commanded not to shave the hair growing in the blotches of tzaraas,

וּבְעוֹדוֹ טָמֵא נִצְטַוָּה שֶׁלֹּא לְגַלֵּחַ שְׂעַר הַנֶּתֶק

as stated in Sefer HaChinuch, mitzvah 170,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב מִצְוָה ק"ע

based on the verse (Vayikra 13:33): “And he shall not shave the blotch of tzaraas.”

מִפָּסוּק וְאֶת הַנֶּתֶק לֹא יְגַלֵּחַ (וַיִּקְרָא י"ג ל"ג)

Similarly, he is commanded not to cut off the other signs of tzaraas,

וְכֵן מֻזְהָר שֶׁלֹּא יָקֹץ שְׁאָר סִימָנֵי טֻמְאָה

as stated in Sefer HaChinuch, mitzvah 583,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב מִצְוָה תקפ"ג

based on the verse from Parshas Ki Seitzei (Devarim 24:8): “Take heed of the blemish of tzaraas, and be very careful to act….”

בְּסֵדֶר תֵּצֵא מִפָּסוּק הִשָּׁמֶר בְּנֶגַע הַצָּרַעַת לִשְׁמֹר מְאֹד וְלַעֲשׂוֹת וְגוֹ' (דְּבָרִים כ"ד ח')

The intent in this mitzvah is that he should not remove the signs of impurity

וְיִרְצֶה בְּזֶה שֶׁלֹּא יָקֹץ סִימָנֵי טֻמְאָה

from which the extraneous forces derive nurture, as explained above with regard to white hair.

שֶׁמֵּהֶם יוֹנְקִים הַחִיצוֹנִים כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל בְּעִנְיַן הַשֵּׂעָר הַלָּבָן,

The objective is that one should not operate under the impression that he can remove the nurture of the extraneous forces

וְרוֹצֶה לוֹמַר שֶׁלֹּא יִדְמֶה בְּנַפְשׁוֹ לְהַעֲבִיר יְנִיקַת הַחִיצוֹנִים

by cutting off the signs of impurity,

עַל יְדֵי זֶה שֶׁיָּקֹץ סִימַן טֻמְאָה

which is their source of nurture,

שֶׁמִּמֶּנּוּ הֵם יוֹנְקִים

and in that way, think that by separating the sign of tzaraas from himself by force, he has repulsed the extraneous forces,

וְיִדְמֶה בְּנַפְשׁוֹ שֶׁבְּהַפְרִידוֹ סִימָן זֶה מִמֶּנּוּ בְּחָזְקָה הוּא מַדְחֶה אוֹתָם

for this is not the prescribed path to remove nurture from the extraneous forces. Hence, doing so is forbidden.

כִּי לֹא זוֹ הַדֶּרֶךְ

Instead, if one cuts off the signs, the extraneous forces will, Heaven forbid, will be intensified,

כִּי חַס וְשָׁלוֹם יִתְגַּבְּרוּ יוֹתֵר

because G‑d “does not approach His creations with tyranny.”24

לְפִי שֶׁאֵין הַשֵּׁם יִתְבָּרֵךְ בָּא בִּטְרוּנְיָא עַל בְּרִיּוֹתָיו

Just as He grants sustenance to the entire range of heavenly hosts that are holy,

וּכְשֵׁם שֶׁמְּפַרְנֵס כָּל צְבָא מַעְלָה הַקְּדוֹשִׁים

so, too, in His kindness, according to the structure of the present spiritual gestalt, He grants nurture and vitality to the sitra achra according to its needs until the coming of the end of days, when it will cease to exist.

כָּךְ נוֹתֵן יְנִיקָה וְחַיּוּת גַּם לְסִטְרָא אָחֳרָא כְּדֵי סִפּוּקָם עַד עֵת קֵץ הַיָּמִין,

Since according to the dictates of Torah law, it is appropriate that they be able to receive this nurture

וּמֵאַחַר שֶׁשּׁוּרַת דִּין תּוֹרָה נוֹתֵן שֶׁמַּגִּיעַ לָהֶם יְנִיקָה זוֹ

from the source of the soul of this metzora

מִשֹּׁרֶשׁ נַפְשׁוֹ שֶׁל זֶה

and the garments of the ten sublime Sefiros rooted in his soul,

וּמַלְבּוּשִׁים דְּי' סְפִירוֹת עֶלְיוֹנוֹת שֶׁמֻּשְׁרֶשֶׁת בָּהֶם נַפְשׁוֹ שֶׁל זֶה הַמְּצֹרָע

it cannot be withheld from them without a counterclaim.

לֹא יִמָּנַע מֵהֶם בְּלִי טַעֲנָה

Since the person’s conduct created a situation where the extraneous forces can derive nurture from his soul, the only way he can deprive them of that nurture is by changing his conduct to the degree that the signs of his impurity disappear and he will be declared impure. If he removes the signs of impurity by force, he will be acting against the Divinely ordained pattern of influence and that will further empower these extraneous forces.

Thus if one cuts off this sign of impurity,

וְאִם יָקֹץ זֶה סִימַן הַטֻּמְאָה

it is possible that the extraneous forces will overpower this person’s soul.

יוּכַל לִהְיוֹת שֶׁיִּתְגַּבְּרוּ בְּיוֹתֵר עַל נַפְשׁוֹ

For giving them what is due them causes them to be satisfied and not seek to grab more. If, however, their due is withheld, they will be aroused to demand more.

כִּי בְּזֶה שֶׁנּוֹתְנִים לָהֶם הַמַּגִּיעַ לָהֶם מִסְתַּפְּקִים שֶׁלֹּא לַחֲטוֹף בְּיוֹתֵר,

This parallels the Zohar’s explanation of the goat sent

וְעַל דֶּרֶךְ מַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב בַּזֹּהַר בְּעִנְיַן שָׂעִיר הַמִּשְׁתַּלֵּחַ

to Azazel on Yom Kippur.25 Chassidus explains26 that the intent of this sacrifice is to provide the forces of kelipah a minimal amount of nurture, so that demands will not be made against the Jewish people as a whole.

Similar concepts also apply with regard to the calf whose neck is broken to atone for an unsolved murder.27

וְכֵן הוּא בְּעִנְיַן עֶגְלָה עֲרוּפָה,

For that reason, the Torah warns to “be very careful” not to remove these signs of tzaraas.

וְלָזֶה הִזְהִיר הִשָּׁמֶר מְאֹד וְגוֹ',

Instead, the way to remove their nurture is through teshuvah.

אֶלָּא הַדֶּרֶךְ לְהַעֲבִיר יְנִיקָתָם הוּא עַל יְדֵי תְּשׁוּבָה

This will draw down the intellectual dimensions of the Sublime Father to the lower levels

וְאָז יַמְשִׁיךְ מוֹחִין דְּאַבָּא

which will, in turn, repulse the extraneous forces according to Torah Law,

וְהוּא דוֹחֶה הַחִיצוֹנִים עַל פִּי הַתּוֹרָה

through the efforts of the kohen who comes to purify the metzora, as stated in mitzvah 169.28

עַל יְדֵי כֹּהֵן כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל מִצְוָה קס"ט

When a person will turn to G‑d in teshuvah and become healed,29 the extraneous forces no longer derive nurture from him.

וְכַאֲשֶׁר שָׁב לַה' וְנִרְפָּא וְאֵין יְנִיקָה לַחִיצוֹנִים מִמֶּנּוּ

He is then commanded to shave off his hair.

אָז נִצְטַוָּה לְגַלֵּחַ שַׂעֲרוֹתָיו

For although he has been purified from this impurity,

כִּי אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁטָּהַר מִתּוֹךְ טֻמְאָה זוֹ

his hair, which represents his underdeveloped and excess intellectual energy,

מִכָּל מָקוֹם שְׂעָרוֹת שֶׁלּוֹ שֶׁהֵם הַנּוֹבְלוֹת וּמוֹתְרֵי מוֹחִין שֶׁלּוֹ

can serve as a foothold for the extraneous forces to take hold

יוּכְלוּ הַחִיצוֹנִים לְהִתְאַחֵז בָּהֶן

and derive nurture. Hence, in the process of emerging from impurity, his hair must be removed to prevent that from happening.

For hair is identified with severe powers of judgment

כִּי הֵם דִּינִים קָשִׁים

because of the minute amount of light that is invested in these powers, as explained above. The powers of severe judgment receive this foothold

לְסִבַּת קַטְנוּת הָאוֹר עֲדַיִן בּוֹ

since, as of yet, the person does not receive influence from the sublime holiness

שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ עֲדַיִן מִבְּחִינַת קְדֻשָּׁה עֶלְיוֹנָה

from which the holy garments associated with the hairs that are described above are drawn down.

שֶׁמֵּהֶם נִמְשָׁכִים לְבוּשִׁים קְדוֹשִׁים הַנִּזְכָּרִים לְעֵיל דִּשְׂעָרוֹת,

Since he has just emerged from impurity, he has not created such holy garments through his Divine service.

In contrast, afterwards, i.e., after his purification, when the sublime holiness from the Sublime Father shines within him,

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן כְּשֶׁאַחַר כָּךְ מֵאִיר בּוֹ קְדֻשָּׁה עֶלְיוֹנָה דְּאַבָּא

he is commanded (Vayikra 19:27): “Do not cut off the hair of the corners of your head,”

אֲזַי כְּתִיב לֹא תַקִּיפוּ פְּאַת רֹאשְׁכֶם וְגוֹ' (וַיִּקְרָא י"ט כ"ז)

because holy garments are drawn down from it, as explained above.

כִּי מֵהֶם הַמְשָׁכוֹת לְבוּשִׁים קְדוֹשִׁים כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל:

— 2 —

Extrapolating from one concept to another,

וּמֵעִנְיָן לְעִנְיָן

it is possible to explain the manner appropriate for every person to conduct his business affairs,

יֵשׁ לְבָאֵר גַּם כֵּן הַנְהָגָה לְכָל אָדָם בַּעֲסָקָיו

based on the verse (Devarim 21:12): “And she shall shave her head.”

מְיֻסָּד עַל פָּסוּק וְגִלְּחָה אֶת רֹאשָׁהּ (דְּבָרִים כ"א י"ב)

The spiritual counterpart of the self-control required for the proper balance in the conduct of one’s business affairs is referred to as shaving the hairs, i.e., the conduits of energy,

וְהַיְנוּ בְּרוּחָנִיּוּת גַּם כֵּן גִּלּוּחַ הַשְּׂעָרוֹת

that must be shaved

הַצְּרִיכִים גִּלּוּחַ

because they represent excess energy from which the extraneous forces derive nurture.

כִּי הֵם מוֹתְרוֹת אֲשֶׁר מֵהֶם יוֹנְקִים הַחִיצוֹנִים,

In the realm of business, this refers to a person’s excess efforts in his business affairs in which he troubles his mind and his heart, involving himself in many business deals.

וְהַיְנוּ מַה שֶּׁמַּרְבֶּה הָאָדָם וּמַטְרִיד דַּעְתּוֹ וְלִבּוֹ בַּעֲסָקָיו בְּמַשָּׂא וּמַתָּן וּמַרְבֶּה בַּעֲסָקִים

This extra effort is unnecessary.

שֶׁזֶּהוּ לְלֹא צֹרֶךְ,

To explain this concept:

וּבֵאוּר הַדָּבָר

Behold, it is written (Devarim 15:18): “And G‑d your L‑rd will bless you in all that you do.”

הִנֵּה כְּתִיב וּבֵרַכְךָ ה' אֱלֹקֶיךָ בְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר תַּעֲשֶׂה (דְּבָרִים ט"ו י"ח),

It is necessary to understand: Why does the verse state “in all that you do”?

וְיֵשׁ לְהָבִין לָמָה אָמַר אֲשֶׁר תַּעֲשֶׂה

Why should a person have to be involved in business affairs in the first place?

לָמָּה לוֹ לְאָדָם לַעֲסוֹק בְּמַשָּׂא וּמַתָּן

Why should they be the medium through which G‑d blesses him and grants sustenance for him and his household?

וְשֶׁבְּזֶה יְבָרְכוֹ ה' וְיִתֵּן לוֹ טֶרֶף נַפְשׁוֹ וְנַפְשׁוֹת בְּנֵי בֵיתוֹ,

A person’s yearly sustenance is written down and sealed on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur,

מֵאַחַר שֶׁכְּבָר נִכְתַּב וְנֶחְתַּם לוֹ פַּרְנָסָתוֹ בְּרֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה וְיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים

as our Sages state (Beitzah 16a): “A person’s livelihood is allotted him between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur.”

כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָמְרוּ רַזַ"ל מְזוֹנוֹתָיו שֶׁל אָדָם קְצוּבִים לוֹ מֵרֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה וְעַד יוֹם כִּפּוּרִים (בֵּיצָה ט"ז א')

Since it has been allotted him, seemingly, even if he would not involve himself in business activity, he would still receive sustenance,

וּמֵאַחַר שֶׁהֵם קְצוּבִים אִם כֵּן לִכְאוֹרָה גַּם אִם לֹא יַעֲסוֹק בְּמַשָּׂא וּמַתָּן יִהְיֶה לוֹ פַּרְנָסָתוֹ

for whatever G‑d allotted to him, He will surely carry out.

שֶׁהֲרֵי מַה שֶּׁקָּצַב הַשֵּׁם יִתְבָּרֵךְ וַדַּאי יְקַיֵּם

For is it possible that He will issue a decree and not fulfill it,30 Heaven forbid?

כִּי הַהוּא אָמַר וְלֹא יַעֲשֶׂה חַס וְשָׁלוֹם

And certainly, even becoming involved will not bring him more than his allotment.

וּבְוַדַּאי שֶׁגַּם אִם יַעֲסוֹק לֹא יַרְבֶּה עַל הַקִּצְבָה

If so, why should he trouble himself with business affairs?

וְאִם כֵּן לָמָּה לוֹ טִרְדַּת הָעֵסֶק.

The above can be understood based on the explanation of our Sages’ statement (Rosh HaShanah 16a) that a person is judged every day.

וְיוּבַן בְּהַקְדִּים לְהָבִין מַה שֶּׁאָמְרוּ רַזַ"ל אָדָם נִדּוֹן בְּכָל יוֹם (רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה ט"ז א')

One might ask, since his sustenance is allotted between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, why is he judged every day?

מֵאַחַר שֶׁמְּזוֹנוֹתָיו קְצוּבִין לוֹ מֵרֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה וְיוֹם כִּפּוּרִים אִם כֵּן מַהוּ עִנְיַן הַדִּין בְּכָל יוֹם,

Also, why do we request every day in our Shemoneh Esreh prayers: “Heal us, O G‑d…,”31 “Bless for us… this year”32?

וְעוֹד צָרִיךְ לְהָבִין מַה שֶּׁמְּבַקְשִׁים בְּכָל יוֹם בִּשְׁמוֹנֶה עֶשְׂרֵה רְפָאֵנוּ ה' כוּ' בָּרֵךְ עָלֵינוּ אֶת הַשָּׁנָה הַזֹּאת,

What is the purpose of these requests if everything has already been allotted on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur?

מַהוּ עִנְיַן בַּקָּשָׁה זוֹ מֵאַחַר שֶׁכְּבָר נִקְצַב הַכֹּל בְּרֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה וְיוֹם כִּפּוּרִים

Similarly, the Zohar (Vol. 2, p. 62b) relates that Rav Hamnuna the Elder33 would pray for his sustenance every day

גַּם בַּזֹּהַר מָצִינוּ שֶׁרַב הַמְנוּנָא סָבָא הָיָה מִתְפַּלֵּל בְּכָל יוֹם עַל מְזוֹנָא

and would not eat until he prayed.

וְלֹא הָיָה אוֹכֵל טֶרֶם שֶׁיִּתְפַּלֵּל

He would say that he would not eat until he received his food from the house of the King.

וְאָמַר עַד דְּאִתְיְהִיב מִבֵּי מַלְכָּא (עַיֵּן זֹהַר חֵלֶק ב' ס"ב)

On the surface, this is a wondrous statement,

וְזֶה פִּלְאִי

for G‑d had already made an allotment to him on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur.

שֶׁהֲרֵי כְּבָר קָצַב לוֹ הַשֵּׁם יִתְבָּרֵךְ בְּרֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה וְיוֹם כִּפּוּרִים:

However, the concept can be understood on the basis of the explanation of the concept of the sealing of the Heavenly decrees that occurs during the Neilah prayers on Yom Kippur

אָמְנָם הָעִנְיָן יוּבַן בְּבֵאוּר עִנְיַן הַחוֹתָם בִּנְעִילָה דְיוֹם כִּפּוּרִים

when we say: “Seal us.”

שֶׁאוֹמְרִים וְחָתְמֵנוּ

The AriZal explains that “sealing” refers to drawing down the five Attributes of Gevurah of Atik to Malchus.

וּפֵרֵשׁ הָאֲרִיזַ"ל שֶׁהוּא הַמְשָׁכַת ה' גְבוּרוֹת דְּעַתִּיק בְּמַלְכוּת,