Thus, the kelipah of Midian refers to strife and quarreling divisiveness, fragmentation, and baseless hatred. It is thus the antithesis and opponent to the Name Havayah as a whole, which represents unity and synthesis. The kelipah of Midian directly opposes this [unity and is therefore] much worse than the [kelipah of the] seven Canaanite nations, each of which represents one of the seven evil character traits: lust, anger, murder, pride, and so on. Each one of these traits causes a blemish in only one particular letter of the Name Havayah. Similarly, transgressing any one of the Torah’s 365 prohibitions causes a blemish in only one particular level. In contrast, the kelipah of Midian, which is characterized by division and difference, causes a blemish in the Name Havayah as a whole. ([One should not, however, lightly dismiss the possibility of general damage through a specific sin.] The verse,1 venokeiv sheim HaShem2 [generally translated “and he who blasphemes G‑d’s Name”], literally means “and he who perforates G‑d’s Name.” Each sin causes a particular blemish which, in turn, produces a general effect as well. For example, if one damages one of the 365 blood vessels to the point of drawing blood, one weakens the body in general. Nevertheless, these [individual] sins directly affect only a particular aspect [while baseless hatred affects the Name Havayah as a whole].)

It is therefore much more difficult to correct the kelipah of Midian than the kelipah of the other seven negative character traits, even though they involve actual transgressions of the Torah’s commandments. Thus the first exile which resulted from the transgression of severe sins3 idolatry, adultery, and murder lasted only seventy years. During those seventy years, the blemishes caused by those sins were corrected. The present exile, as is known, was caused by the sin of baseless hatred.4 [As the Talmud states,5] “the Second Sanctuary was destroyed because of baseless hatred” and this bitter exile has lasted over 1800 years, for the blemish which caused it was all-pervasive.

Hence the verse uses the expression, “to exact the retribution of G‑d (Havayah) from Midian.” Since Midian is the antithesis and opponent of the name Havayah , the war against them was termed “the retribution [lit., ‘the vengeance’] of G‑d.” For the same reason, this war had to be conducted by Moshe, who was the personification of absolute bittul and unity, as will be explained below.6 It was therefore [the presence of] Moshe which gave the souls of Israel the power to fight against Midian and destroy them and therefore he, specifically, had to appoint the soldiers to wage war. Similarly, the term Heichaltzu was used because this form of the verb emphasizes that all [of the Jewish people joined in the effort, and that they were] characterized by unity, the very opposite of divisiveness and fragmentation. Hence, they could fight against Midian and “exact the retribution of G‑d from Midian.”

The kelipah of Midian is more ruinous than that of the seven nations; it is opposed to the Name Havayah as a whole. [For this reason] the present exile has continued for so long. The questions [asked at the beginning of the maamar] are resolved.