In the previous chapters the Alter Rebbe discussed the divine soul; its ten faculties — three intellectual and seven emotional — and its three garments by which it expresses itself, namely, the thought, speech and action of Torah and the mitzvot.

He explained that the garments of the divine soul are actually on a higher level than the soul itself, inasmuch as Torah and G‑d are one, and that by “clothing” itself in these garments, i.e., by studying the Torah and by performing the mitzvot, the soul is united with G‑d. This is particularly true of Torah study, in which the soul both embraces and is embraced by the G‑dliness contained in Torah.

In ch. 6 the Alter Rebbe begins to discuss the animal soul. He explains that its structure exactly parallels that of the divine soul; it too has ten faculties and three garments; only, unlike the divine soul, the substance of the animal soul is kelipah, and its faculties and garments are impurity. By clothing itself in these garments the animal soul descends to an even lower state of impurity.

Concerning the concept of kelipah, we have noted in ch. 1 that although all existence was created by and receives its life from G‑dliness, yet, in order that man be able to choose between good and evil, and that he earn his reward by serving his Creator by his own effort, G‑d created forces of impurity which conceal the G‑dliness in all of creation. These forces are called kelipah (plural: kelipot), literally meaning “shells” or “peels”: Just as the shell conceals the fruit, so do the forces of kelipah conceal the G‑dliness in every created being.

There are two categories in kelipot: kelipat nogah (lit. “a kelipah [inclusive] of light”), and “the three unclean kelipot.”

The first category, kelipat nogah, contains some measure of good. It is thus an intermediary level between the realms of good and evil, and whatever receives its vitality via the concealing screen of this kelipah may be utilized for either good or evil. To this category belong all permitted physical objects; they may be used for a mitzvah and ascend thereby to the realm of holiness, or they may be used sinfully, G‑d forbid, and thereby be further degraded.

The second category — consisting of the “three impure kelipot” — is wholly evil. Whatever receives its vitality via the concealment of this type of kelipah cannot be transformed into holiness, nor, in some cases, may it even be used in the service of holiness. To this category belong all forbidden physical objects; whether forbidden only for consumption, in which case they cannot be transformed into holiness but they may serve it, or whether forbidden for any form of benefit, in which case they cannot even serve any holy purpose.

והנה זה לעומת זה עשה אלקים

1“The Almighty has created one thing opposite the other.”

Everything in the realm of holiness has its counterpart in kelipah. In our context, the animal soul, with its faculties and garments, is the counterpart (in kelipah) of the divine soul, with its faculties and garments.

כי, כמו שנפש האלקית כלולה מעשר ספירות קדושות ומתלבשת בשלשה לבושים קדושים

Just as the divine soul consists of ten holy [faculties, which correspond to the Ten Supernal] Sefirot, and is clothed in three holy garments, i.e., the thought, speech and action of Torah and the mitzvot,

כך הנפש דסטרא אחרא מקליפות נוגה המלובשת בדם האדם

so, too, the soul of sitra achra (defined further in this chapter) derived from kelipat nogah, which is clothed in man’s blood — as explained in ch. 1, the animal soul is clothed in the blood, and thereby animates the body — this soul too

כלולה מעשר כתרין דמסאבותא

consists of ten2 “crowns of impurity,” i.e., the faculties of kelipah, called “crowns” in kabbalistic terminology.

שהן שבע מדות רעות

These ten faculties are: seven evil middot (seven emotional traits),

e.g., lust, the equivalent in kelipah of the middah of Chesed (“kindness”); anger, which expresses the middah of Gevurah (“severity”); boastfulness, the equivalent of Tiferet (“beauty”); and so forth,

הבאות מארבעה יסודות רעים הנזכרים לעיל

which stem from the four evil elements mentioned above (in ch. 1),

Spiritual entities have their “elements” as physical objects do; in this case evil elements, since this is a soul of kelipah.

ושכל המולידן הנחלק לשלש, שהן חכמה בינה ודעת, מקור המדות

and the intellect (seichel) which gives birth to these [seven evil middot], which is subdivided into three, viz., Chochmah, Binah and Daat, the source of the middot.

כי המדות הן לפי ערך השכל

The intellectual faculties are described as the source of the evil middot for the middot are commensurate with the quality of one’s intellect.

כי הקטן חושק ואוהב דברים קטנים פחותי הערך, לפי ששכלו קטן וקצר להשיג דברים יקרים יותר מהם

A child desires and loves (i.e., he expresses his middah of Chesed towards) petty things of little value, for his intellect is too immature and deficient to appreciate more valuable things.

וכן מתכעס ומתקצף מדברים קטנים, וכן בהתפארות ושאר מדות

Similarly with regard to the middah of Gevurah: he is angered and vexed by trivial things, and likewise with regard to boastfulness (which expresses the middah of Tiferet), and other middot.

This correlation between middot and intellect indicates that the intellect affects the nature and expression of middot, and for this reason, the three intellectual faculties are said to be the source of the seven middot.3

ועשר בחינות אלו הטמאות, כשאדם מחשב בהן או מדבר או עושה

Now these ten unclean categories, when a person thinks [thoughts originating from] them (e.g., when he thinks of ways of obtaining something he desires), or speaks words originating from them or does an act which serves or expresses them,

הרי מחשבתו שבמוחו ודבורו שבפיו וכח המעשה שבידיו ושאר איבריו, נקראים לבושי מסאבו לעשר בחינות אלו הטמאות

then the thought in his brain, the words in his mouth and the power of action in his hands and other organs, are called “impure garments” for these ten unclean categories,

שמתלבשות בהן בשעת מעשה או דבור או מחשבה

which clothe themselves in these garments, during the act, speech or thought.

But what sort of thoughts, words and action are the “garments” of the animal soul? Earlier, in ch. 4, we learned that the divine soul has specific thoughts, etc., in which it clothes itself, namely, thought, speech and action in matters of Torah and the mitzvot. Are we then to understand that the animal soul, too, has specific garments — sinful thoughts, words or actions, perhaps?

Not so, states the Alter Rebbe presently. All thoughts, words and acts that are not directed toward G‑d and the service of G‑d, even though they are not actually sinful, are garments of the kelipah, and hence, of the animal soul.

In his words:

והן הם כל המעשים אשר נעשים תחת השמש

These garments of the animal soul comprise all the deeds that are done under the sun (i.e., all mundane actions),

אשר הכל הבל ורעות רוח, וכמו שכתוב בזהר בשלח, שהן תבירו דרוחא כו׳

which are all4 “vanity and an affliction of the spirit,” as the Zohar5 (Parshat Beshallach) interprets this: “a ruination of the spirit [of holiness].”

וכן כל הדבורים וכל המחשבות אשר לא לה׳ המה ולרצונו ולעבודתו

Similarly, all words and all thoughts that are not directed to G‑d and to His Will and His service are all garments for the animal soul.

שזהו פירוש לשון סטרא אחרא פירוש: צד אחר, שאינו צד הקדושה

For this is the meaning of the term sitra achra — literally “the other side,” i.e., not the side of holiness.

Thus, whatever does not belong to the realm of holiness is sitra achra. But what, in fact, does the realm of holiness encompass?

וצד הקדושה אינו אלא השראה והמשכה מקדושתו של הקדוש ברוך הוא

The side of holiness is nothing but the indwelling and extension of G‑d’s holiness.

ואין הקדוש ברוך הוא שורה אלא על דבר שבטל אצלו יתברך, בין בפועל ממש, כמלאכים עליונים

Now, G‑d dwells only on that which is surrendered to Him, whether [the surrender is an] actual [one] (and visible even in that surrendered being’s external aspects) as is the case with the supernal angels whose entire being is constantly and openly surrendered to G‑d

ובין בכח, ככל איש ישראל למטה, שבכחו להיות בטל ממש לגבי הקדוש ברוך הוא במסירת נפשו על קדושת ה׳

or whether [it is a] potential [surrender], as in the case of every Jew here below in this physical world, who has the capacity for surrendering himself completely before G‑d, through martyrdom for the sanctification of G‑d’s Name.

As explained further in the Tanya, every Jew has the capacity for such self-sacrifice; in the face of an attempt to coerce him to forsake Judaism he will willingly suffer martyrdom. Thus, every Jew possesses internally within his soul the potential for surrender to G‑d, whatever his external state; this potential, however, may reveal itself only in the act of martyrdom. Because he is surrendered to G‑d, G‑d’s holiness rests upon him.

ולכן אמרו רבותינו ז״ל שאפילו אחד שיושב ועוסק בתורה שכינה שרויה כו׳

That is why our Sages6 have said that “if even one individual sits and engages in Torah study, the Divine Presence rests upon him.”

For when one engages in Torah study his surrender to G‑dliness emerges, to affect him on a revealed, external level, since such study entails setting aside one’s own notions and presumptions in order to understand and accept G‑d’s wisdom and Will as expressed in Torah. It is this surrender to G‑dliness that causes the Divine Presence to rest upon the Torah student.

וכל בי עשרה שכינתא שריא לעולם

Also,7 “On each gathering of ten Jews the Divine Presence rests” always; together, ten Jews form a “congregation of Israel,” which is a fit abode for the Divine Presence.

אבל כל מה שאינו בטל אצלו יתברך, אלא הוא דבר נפרד בפני עצמו, אינו מקבל חיות מקדושתו של הקדוש ברוך הוא

Anything, however, that does not surrender itself to G‑d, but [considers itself as if it] is a thing separate unto itself, does not receive its life from the holiness of G‑d —

But where else would it receive its vitality? G‑dliness and holiness is the source of vitality for every existing being, as it is written, “You give life to them all” (Nechemiah 9:6). The Alter Rebbe goes on to qualify his previous remark, stating that those beings who do not surrender themselves to G‑d receive their vitality only from a superficial, external level of G‑dliness; and from this level, too, only when it descends degree by degree through numerous “contractions” of the life-force.

מבחינת פנימית הקדושה ומהותה ועצמותה בכבודה ובעצמה, אלא מבחינת אחוריים

To return to the Alter Rebbe’s words: The self-styled separate being does not receive its vitality from the pnimiyut, the inner aspect of holiness, from its every essence and core, but from its achorayim, its “hind-part”, so to speak.

To bestow from one’s “pnimiyut” (literally, one’s “face”) means, as explained in ch. 22, to give with a pleasurable will and desire; “achorayim” (literally, “behind one’s back”) means to bestow without desire or pleasure, out of some extenuating factor. The giver’s attitude will be apparent, in either case, in his manner of giving. If one gives something to his enemy, for example, he will avert his face from him, for one’s face represents his inner feelings; since the giver’s heart is not in his gift, he turns his face away, presenting his enemy with his rear. Thus, pnimiyut and achorayim in the sense of internal and external aspects (of one’s will) are related to their literal meanings of “face” and “rear”.

In our context, everything in the realm of holiness, whose existence and life G‑d desires, receives its life from the pnimiyut of G‑dliness; while the kelipot, in which G‑d has no desire (since He created them only for the reasons given in the paragraphs introducing this chapter), receive their life from the achorayim of G‑dliness.

שיורדים ממדרגה למדרגה רבבות מדרגות בהשתלשלות העולמות, דרך עלה ועלול

This limited form of life-force reaches the kelipot by descending degree by degree through myriads of levels, in the chain-like descent of the worlds, in the manner of cause and effect.

The higher level is the “cause” for the lower level which emerges from it. However, in a descent which is a sequence of cause and effect, the effect, although lower, is always comparable to the cause. Such descents, no matter how numerous, would be insufficient to produce the low level of vitality bestowed upon kelipot. This can be produced only by the descent of the vitality through tzimtzum, as the Alter Rebbe now continues:

וצמצומים רבים

The vitality descends also through many tzimtzumim, or contractions — and this process diminishes the vitality to the point where it is incomparably lower than in its original state.

עד שנתמעט כל כך האור והחיות, מיעוט אחר מיעוט, עד שיכול להתצמצם ולהתלבש בבחינת גלות

So greatly diminished does the light and life-force become, diminution after diminution, until it is able to become contracted and clothed in a manner of exile, meaning that instead of being surrendered to the Divine life-force, the object in which the vitality is clothed masters it; as, for example, a captive in exile is mastered by his captors.

תוך אותו דבר הנפרד, להחיותו ולקיימו מאין ליש

The vitality is thus in a state of exile within that object which is (i.e., which considers itself) separate from holiness, giving it vitality and existence, causing that object to pass from non-existence to existence,

שלא יחזור להיות אין ואפס כבתחלה מקודם שנברא

so that is does not return to its original state of non-existence, as it was before it was created by the vitality clothed in it.

In brief: All that is not surrendered to G‑d, but considers itself separate from Him, receives its vitality from the achorayim of G‑dliness by way of numerous descents and various contraction. The Divine life-force is concealed within it in a state of exile; thus it belongs to the realm of kelipah. It is now clear why any thought, word or action not directed toward [serving] G‑d — hence, not surrendered to G‑dliness — is a garment of the animal soul that derives from kelipah, even if that thought, word or deed is not actually evil.

ולכן נקרא עולם הזה ומלואו עולם הקליפות וסטרא אחרא

That is why this world with all it contains is called the world of kelipot and sitra achra — despite the fact that this world, too, receives its vitality from G‑d’s holiness.

Since the creatures of this physical world feel themselves to be independent, separate beings, and their surrender to G‑dliness is not apparent, they automatically belong to the realm of kelipah.

ולכן כל מעשה עולם הזה קשים ורעים והרשעים גוברים בו, כמו שכתוב בעץ חיים, שער מ״ב סוף פרק ד׳

This is also why all affairs of this world are severe and evil, and the wicked prevail in it (as is written in Etz Chayim, Portal 42, end of ch. 4).

In the following note, referring to his previous statement that this is a world of kelipot, the Alter Rebbe writes that this is so notwithstanding the fact that G‑dliness pervades all existence; or, stated in the terminology of the Kabbalah, that G‑d’s infinite light (Or Ein Sof) clothes itself in the Sefirot of the four Worlds —Atzilut, Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah, and thereby even this physical world is filled with the Or Ein Sof; yet, despite all this, it is still a world of kelipot.


עם היות בתוכו עשר ספירות דעשיה דקדושה, וכמו שכתוב בעץ חיים, שער מ״ג


To be sure, this world contains the Ten Sefirot of [the World of] Asiyah, as is written in Etz Chayim, Portal 43.

(The World of Asiyah comprises both our physical world, and the spiritual World of Asiyah. The Sefirot of the spiritual Asiyah are, however, contained in the physical Asiyah as well.)

ובתוך עשר ספירות דעשיה אלו הן עשר ספירות דיצירה, ובתוכן עשר ספירות דבריאה, ובתוכן עשר ספירות דאצילות, שבתוכן אור אין סוף ברוך הוא

Now, within these Ten Sefirot of Asiyah are [contained] the Ten Sefirot of the World of Yetzirah, and within them the Ten Sefirot of the World of Beriah, and in them the Ten Sefirot of the World of Atzilut, in which abides the Or Ein Sof.

ונמצא אור אין סוף ברוך הוא מלא כל הארץ הלזו התחתונה, על ידי התלבשותו בעשר ספירות דארבע עולמות, אצילות בריאה יצירה עשיה

Thus, the Or Ein Sof pervades this entire lowest world by being clothed in the Ten Sefirot of the four Worlds — Atzilut, Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah,

כמו שכתוב בעץ חיים, שער מ״ז פרק ב׳, ובספר גלגולים פרק כ׳

as is written in Etz Chayim, Portal 47, ch. 2, and in Sefer Gilgulim, ch. 20.


Yet, because the creatures of this world are not openly surrendered to G‑d, this is a world of kelipot and sitra achra.

Until here it has been explained that all thoughts, utterances and actions that are not directed towards holiness are sitra achra, and that these are the garments by which the animal soul expresses itself.

But this merely places the garments on a par with the animal soul itself, which like them stems from the sitra achra. It was explained earlier, however, that the garments of the divine soul are of a higher spiritual level than the soul itself, and elevate it, and that the animal soul is structured as a mirror-image of the divine soul. It follows, then, that the animal soul’s garments are on an even lower level than the animal soul itself and that they degrade it.

The Alter Rebbe goes on to explain that this is indeed the case. After a discussion of the two categories of kelipah (mentioned in the introduction to this chapter), he concludes that there are those garments of the animal soul that drag down the soul from the level of kelipat nogah — the soul’s natural state — to the level of the three completely impure kelipot. These are: sinful thoughts, and forbidden words and actions.8

אלא שהקליפות הן נחלקות לשתי מדרגות, זו למטה מזו

However, the kelipot are divided into two categories, one lower than the other.

המדרגה התחתונה היא שלש קליפות הטמאות ורעות לגמרי, ואין בהם טוב כלל

The lower category consists of three completely unclean and evil kelipot, containing no good whatever.

ונקראו במרכבת יחזקאל: רוח סערה וענן גדול וגו׳

In the prophet Yechezkel’s vision of the Divine chariot in which he saw and described the forces that conceal G‑dliness they are described9 as “a stormwind,” “a great cloud” and “a flaring fire,” representing these three wholly unclean kelipot.

ומהן נשפעות ונמשכות נפשות כל אומות העולם וקיום גופם

From them flow and are derived the souls of all the nations of the world, and the sustaining force of their bodies which sustains their existence; apart from the soul, which animates them.

ונפשות כל בעלי חיים הטמאים ואסורים באכילה, וקיום גופם

Also derived from these kelipot are the souls of all living creatures that are unclean and forbidden to be eaten, and the sustaining force of their bodies.

וקיום וחיות כל מאכלות אסורות מהצומח, כמו ערלה וכלאי הכרם כו׳, וכמו שכתוב בעץ חיים, שער מ״ט פרק ו׳

The existence and life of all forbidden vegetation, too, such as orlah (the first three years‘ fruit of a tree), and a mixture of grain seeds in a vineyard, and so forth, are derived from these kelipot, as is written in Etz Chayim, Portal 49, ch. 6.

וכן, קיום וחיות כל המעשה דבור ומחשבה של כל שס״ה לא תעשה וענפיהן, כמו שכתוב שם סוף פרק ה׳

Similarly, the existence and life of any act, utterance or thought in violation of any one of the 365 [Biblical] prohibitions, as well as their [Rabbinic] offshoots are all derived from these three impure kelipot, as is written there, end of ch. 5.

The animal soul, on the other hand, is of kelipat nogah, which contains an element of good (as mentioned in ch. 1). These sinful garments, belonging to the realm of wholly impure kelipot, are thus lower than the animal soul itself, and drag it down to their level; in exact opposition to the divine soul’s garments of the thought, speech and action of Torah and the mitzvot which are higher than the soul and elevate it.

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