However, unlike the life-forms mentioned at the conclusion of ch. 6, which are derived from the three wholly unclean kelipot, the following life-forms are derived from kelipat nogah: the vitalizing animal soul in the Jew, which is derived from the side of kelipah and which clothes itself in the human being’s blood (providing him with physical life), as stated above,1

אַךְ נֶפֶשׁ הַחִיּוּנִית הַבַּהֲמִית שֶׁבְּיִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁמִּצַּד הַקְּלִיפָּה, הַמְלוּבֶּשֶׁת בְּדַם הָאָדָם כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל,

and the soul2 of the animals, beasts, birds, and fish which are pure according to the laws of the Torah and are thus permitted for Jewish consumption, as also the existence and vitality of everything in the inanimate and the vegetable world that is permissible for consumption.

וְנַפְשׁוֹת בְּהֵמוֹת וְחַיּוֹת וְעוֹפוֹת וְדָגִים טְהוֹרִים וּמוּתָּרִים בַּאֲכִילָה, וְקִיּוּם וְחַיּוּת כָּל הַדּוֹמֵם וְכָל הַצּוֹמֵחַ הַמּוּתָּר בַּאֲכִילָה,

So, too, the existence and vitality of every act, utterance, and thought in mundane matters that contain no forbidden aspect

וְכֵן קִיּוּם וְחַיּוּת כָּל הַמַּעֲשֶׂה דִּבּוּר וּמַחֲשָׁבָה בְּעִנְיְינֵי עוֹלָם הַזֶּה שֶׁאֵין בָּהֶם צַד אִיסּוּר,

—being neither root nor branch of the 365 prohibitive precepts and their offshoots, prohibited either on the explicit authority of the Torah or by Rabbinic enactment—

לֹא שֹׁרֶשׁ וְלֹא עָנָף מִשַּׁסַ"ה מִצְוֹת לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה וְעַנְפֵיהֶן דְּאוֹרַיְיתָא וּדְרַבָּנָן,

yet (when these permitted thoughts, utterances, or acts) are not performed for the sake of heaven (as they ought to be);

רַק שֶׁאֵינָן לְשֵׁם שָׁמַיִם –

A Jew’s actions, words, and thoughts should be directed toward the service of G‑d. For example: in eating, one’s intention should be that the food supply strength for study, prayer, or performing other commandments; he should conduct his business with the intention of providing for his family, educating his children in the path of Torah and mitzvot, giving to charity, etc. But when his deeds, words, and thoughts do not serve this purpose—

instead they serve only the will, desire, and lust of the body;

אֶלָּא רְצוֹן הַגּוּף וְחֶפְצוֹ וְתַאֲוָתוֹ,

and even where it is a need of the body and necessary for its very preservation and life (such as eating, which the body requires for its very existence and without which it cannot possibly live. Thus, the act itself cannot be faulted), but the fault lies in that his intention is not for the sake of heaven, i.e., to utilize his body as an instrument in the service of G‑d.

וַאֲפִילוּ הוּא צוֹרֶךְ הַגּוּף וְקִיּוּמוֹ וְחַיּוּתוֹ מַמָּשׁ, אֶלָּא שֶׁכַּוָּונָתוֹ אֵינָהּ לְשֵׁם שָׁמַיִם כְּדֵי לַעֲבוֹד אֶת ה' בְּגוּפוֹ –

If this spiritual intent is absent, then: All these acts, utterances, and thoughts are no better than the vitalizing animal soul itself;

לָא עֲדִיפֵי מַעֲשֶׂה דִּבּוּר וּמַחֲשָׁבוֹת אֵלּוּ מִנֶּפֶשׁ הַחִיּוּנִית הַבַּהֲמִית בְּעַצְמָהּ,

and everything in this totality of things (i.e., the soul with its actions, utterances, and thoughts) flows and is drawn from the second gradation of kelipot and sitra achara, which is (in the progressively ascending order of kelipot) the fourth kelipah, called kelipat nogah (“kelipah that shines,” for within this kelipah, there is yet found a ray of holiness).

וְהַכֹּל כַּאֲשֶׁר לַכֹּל, נִשְׁפָּע וְנִמְשָׁךְ מִמַּדְרֵגָה הַשֵּׁנִית שֶׁבִּקְלִיפּוֹת וְסִטְרָא אָחֳרָא, שֶׁהִיא קְלִיפָּה רְבִיעִית הַנִּקְרֵאת "קְלִיפַּת נוֹגַהּ",

For in this world, called the “World of Asiyah (Action),” most, indeed almost all, of [the kelipat nogah] is evil, with only a little good intermingled within it.

שֶׁבָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה, הַנִּקְרָא "עוֹלַם הָעֲשִׂיָּה", רוּבּוֹ כְּכוּלּוֹ רָע, רַק מְעַט טוֹב מְעוֹרָב בְּתוֹכָהּ

Kelipat nogah is found in the higher Worlds as well. However, the proportions of good and evil which comprise it vary from one World to the next. In Beriah, kelipat nogah is mostly good, possessing only a small measure of evil which is separate from the good. In Yetzirah, it is composed equally of good and evil, while in Asiyah, our physical world, kelipat nogah is almost totally evil, with only a minute representation of good and light.

(From this [minute amount of good within kelipat nogah] come the good qualities which are found in the animal soul of the Jew, as is explained above.

[שֶׁמִּמֶּנָּה בָּאוֹת מִדּוֹת טוֹבוֹת שֶׁבַּנֶּפֶשׁ הַבַּהֲמִית שֶׁבְּיִשְׂרָאֵל, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְעֵיל].

As explained in the first chapter, the Jew’s inherent qualities of compassion and benevolence stem from his animal soul. This is a soul of kelipah, yet, because its origins are in kelipat nogah, which incorporates good as well; it gives rise to the good traits of compassion and benevolence.)

Since kelipat nogah is a mixture of good and evil, any action, utterance, and thought emanating from this kelipah can be utilized for good or evil. Indeed, as the Alter Rebbe will explain presently, the very same action, utterance, or thought may be holy, if done for the sake of heaven, or evil, if otherwise intended.

Now, kelipat nogah is an intermediate category between the three completely unclean kelipot and the category and order of Sanctity.

וְהִיא בְּחִינָה מְמוּצַּעַת בֵּין שָׁלֹשׁ קְלִיפּוֹת הַטְּמֵאוֹת לְגַמְרֵי וּבֵין בְּחִינַת וּמַדְרֵגַת הַקְּדוּשָּׁה.

Hence, it is sometimes absorbed within the three unclean kelipot (as is explained in Etz Chaim, Portal 49, beginning of ch. 4, citing the Zohar), and at other times, it is absorbed in and elevated to the category and level of Sanctity.

וְלָכֵן, פְּעָמִים שֶׁהִיא נִכְלֶלֶת בְּשָׁלֹשׁ קְלִיפּוֹת הַטְּמֵאוֹת [כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּעֵץ חַיִּים שַׁעַר מ"ט רֵישׁ פֶּרֶק ד' בְּשֵׁם הַזֹּהַר], וּפְעָמִים שֶׁהִיא נִכְלֶלֶת וְעוֹלָה בִּבְחִינַת וּמַדְרֵגַת הַקְּדוּשָּׁה,

That is, it is absorbed within Sanctity when the good that is intermingled in it is extracted and separated from the evil, prevails [over it], and ascends to be absorbed in Sanctity.

דְּהַיְינוּ, כְּשֶׁהַטּוֹב הַמְעוֹרָב בָּהּ נִתְבָּרֵר מֵהָרָע וְגוֹבֵר וְעוֹלֶה וְנִכְלָל בִּקְדוּשָּׁה.

The Alter Rebbe now provides an example of a “neutral” action or utterance that is derived from kelipat nogah and can thus be utilized for either good or evil, demonstrating how the action or word itself becomes holy when its motivation is for the sake of heaven and how it is degraded to the level of the “three completely unclean kelipot” if prompted purely by physical desire.

For instance, if one eats fat beef and drinks spiced wine not out of physical desire but in order to broaden his mind for the service of G‑d and for His Torah,

כְּגוֹן דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל: הָאוֹכֵל בִּשְׂרָא שְׁמֵינָא דְּתוֹרָא וְשׁוֹתֶה יַיִן מְבוּשָּׂם לְהַרְחִיב דַּעְתּוֹ לַה' וּלְתוֹרָתוֹ,

as Rava said, “Wine and fragrance [make my mind more receptive],”3

כִּדְאָמַר רָבָא: "חַמְרָא וְרֵיחָא כוּ'",

or in order to fulfill the commandment to enjoy the Shabbat and the festivals.4

אוֹ בִּשְׁבִיל כְּדֵי לְקַיֵּים מִצְוַת עֹנֶג שַׁבָּת וְיוֹם טוֹב,

In the latter case, his eating and drinking are not merely the means to a spiritual end, as in the previous example, but are a mitzvah in themselves, for we are enjoined to enjoy the Shabbat and festivals through eating meat and drinking wine.

When one eats and drinks in the abovementioned manner, then the vitality of the meat and the wine which originated in kelipat nogah is then extracted from the evil and ascends to G‑d like a burnt offering and sacrifice (i.e., the life-force of kelipat nogah that the food and drink contain is absorbed in Sanctity).

אֲזַי, נִתְבָּרֵר חַיּוּת הַבָּשָׂר וְהַיַּיִן שֶׁהָיָה נִשְׁפָּע מִקְּלִיפַּת נוֹגַהּ, וְעוֹלֶה לַה' כְּעוֹלָה וּכְקָרְבָּן.

So, too, concerning speech: The vitality of words spoken for a sacred purpose ascends and is absorbed in Sanctity. For example: he who makes a humorous remark to sharpen his mind and make his heart rejoice in G‑d and His Torah and service, which should be practiced joyfully,

וְכֵן הָאוֹמֵר מִילְּתָא דִבְדִיחוּתָא לְפַקֵּחַ דַּעְתּוֹ וּלְשַׂמֵּחַ לִבּוֹ לַה' וּלְתוֹרָתוֹ וַעֲבוֹדָתוֹ, שֶׁצְּרִיכִים לִהְיוֹת בְּשִׂמְחָה,

as Rava was wont to do with his pupils, prefacing his discourse with a humorous remark, whereupon the students became cheerful5 and thereby more receptive and better able to understand the discourse.

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁעָשָׂה רָבָא לְתַלְמִידָיו שֶׁאָמַר לִפְנֵיהֶם מִילְּתָא דִבְדִיחוּתָא תְּחִלָּה וּבָדְחֵי רַבָּנָן.

When a humorous remark is made with this intent, the vitality of the words, which originates in kelipat nogah, is extracted from the evil of kelipat nogah and is absorbed in Sanctity.

On the other hand, if a person is one of those who gluttonously eat meat and quaff wine in order to satisfy their bodily appetites and animal soul, then since, of the animal soul’s four evil elements, this desire belongs to the element of Water, from which comes the appetite for pleasures,

אַךְ מִי שֶׁהוּא בְּזוֹלְלֵי בָּשָׂר וְסוֹבְאֵי יַיִן, לְמַלֹּאת תַּאֲוַת גּוּפוֹ וְנַפְשׁוֹ הַבַּהֲמִית, שֶׁהוּא בְּחִינַת יְסוֹד הַמַּיִם מֵאַרְבַּע יְסוֹדוֹת הָרָעִים שֶׁבָּהּ שֶׁמִּמֶּנּוּ מִדַּת הַתַּאֲוָה,

As explained in the first chapter, all evil characteristics come from the four evil elements of the animal soul, with the appetite for pleasures emanating from the element of Water,

in such case, the vitality of the meat and wine that he ingested is thereby degraded and absorbed temporarily in the utter evil of the three unclean kelipot.

הִנֵּה עַל יְדֵי זֶה יוֹרֵד חַיּוּת הַבָּשָׂר וְהַיַּיִן שֶׁבְּקִרְבּוֹ, וְנִכְלָל לְפִי שָׁעָה בְּרַע גָּמוּר שֶׁבְּשָׁלֹשׁ קְלִיפּוֹת הַטְּמֵאוֹת,

His (the glutton’s) body becomes a garment and a “vehicle” for these kelipot.

וְגוּפוֹ נַעֲשֶׂה לָהֶן לְבוּשׁ וּמֶרְכָּבָה

The term “vehicle” is an analogy for total subservience; just as a vehicle is completely subservient to the will of its driver, having no will of its own, so (in this case) is this person totally subservient to the three unclean kelipot.

But his body remains so [only] temporarily, until the person repents and returns to the service of G‑d and His Torah—whereupon he ceases to be a vehicle for the kelipot; the energy of the food and drink is then released from the kelipot and returns to Sanctity.

לְפִי שָׁעָה. עַד אֲשֶׁר יָשׁוּב הָאָדָם וְיַחֲזוֹר לַעֲבוֹדַת ה' וּלְתוֹרָתוֹ,

For, inasmuch as the meat and wine were kosher and permissible and it was only the person’s desire for pleasure that degraded them, they have the power to revert and ascend with him when he returns to the service of G‑d—at which time, the strength gained from the food and drink are utilized in serving G‑d.

כִּי לְפִי שֶׁהָיָה בְּשַׂר הֶיתֵּר וְיַיִן כָּשֵׁר, לְכָךְ יְכוֹלִים לַחֲזוֹר וְלַעֲלוֹת עִמּוֹ בְּשׁוּבוֹ לַעֲבוֹדַת ה',

This is implied in the terms hetter (“permissibility”) and muttar (“permissible”). That which may be done or eaten is called “muttar,” literally meaning “released” or “unbound.” In our context, the term means that the permissible object is not “chained” to the kelipot. That is to say, it is not tied and bound by the power of the “extraneous forces,” i.e., the kelipot and sitra achara which are extraneous to the realm of Sanctity,

שֶׁזֶּהוּ לְשׁוֹן "הֶיתֵּר" וּ"מוּתָּר", כְּלוֹמַר שֶׁאֵינוֹ קָשׁוּר וְאָסוּר בִּידֵי הַחִיצוֹנִים

preventing it from returning and ascending to G‑d.

שֶׁלֹּא יוּכַל לַחֲזוֹר וְלַעֲלוֹת לַה'.

Rather, it can return and ascend to G‑d when the person involved returns to the service of G‑d, as explained above.

Nevertheless, even when this energy reverts to Sanctity through the person’s return to the service of G‑d, a trace [of the evil] remains in the body.

רַק שֶׁהָרְשִׁימוּ מִמֶּנּוּ נִשְׁאָר בַּגּוּף,

Eating permissible food for bodily pleasure causes the food to descend into total evil. Subsequently, the food becomes part of the body. Though repentance elevates not only the person but also the energy of the food and drink as well, still, having become a part of the body, a vestige of evil remains.

For this reason, the body must undergo the “Purgatory of the Grave,” as will be explained later.6

וְעַל כֵּן צָרִיךְ הַגּוּף לְחִיבּוּט הַקֶּבֶר, כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר לְקַמָּן.

Like all heavenly punishments, “Purgatory of the Grave” too is a means of spiritual purification. All remaining traces of evil energy created by eating and drinking for bodily pleasure are removed through this punishment.

So, too, with regard to the vitality of the drops of semen emitted from the body with animal lust by he who has not conducted himself in a holy manner during intimacy with his wife during her state of purity. Here, too, the vitality is temporarily absorbed in the total evil of the three unclean kelipot until the person repents.

וְכֵן הַחַיּוּת שֶׁבְּטִפּוֹת זֶרַע שֶׁיָּצְאוּ מִמֶּנּוּ בְּתַאֲוָה בַּהֲמִית, שֶׁלֹּא קִדֵּשׁ עַצְמוֹ בִּשְׁעַת תַּשְׁמִישׁ עִם אִשְׁתּוֹ טְהוֹרָה.

In the above instances, the fault lies not in the acts, which in themselves are permissible, but rather in the person’s intention in doing them—acting out of regard for bodily pleasure, not for the sake of heaven.

Such is not the case, however, with forbidden foods and illicit coition, which inasmuch as they are prohibited acts derive their vitality from the three entirely unclean kelipot.

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן בְּמַאֲכָלוֹת אֲסוּרוֹת וּבִיאוֹת אֲסוּרוֹת, שֶׁהֵן מִשָּׁלשׁ קְלִיפּוֹת הַטְּמֵאוֹת לְגַמְרֵי –

These are tied and bound by the “extraneous forces” (the kelipot) forever.

הֵם אֲסוּרִים וּקְשׁוּרִים בִּידֵי הַחִיצוֹנִים לְעוֹלָם,

They (the vitality of these prohibited acts) are not elevated from [the kelipot] until “their day comes” (the time when evil will totally disappear from the world), when ‘‘death (i.e., the kelipot, called “death” because they oppose G‑dliness, which is life) will be swallowed up i.e., eradicated forever,” as it is written:7 “And I (G‑d) will remove the spirit of impurity from the earth.” Then, when the kelipot cease to exist, the sparks of holiness will of themselves be freed from them.

וְאֵין עוֹלִים מִשָּׁם עַד כִּי יָבֹא יוֹמָם וִיבוּלַּע הַמָּוֶת לָנֶצַח, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "וְאֶת רוּחַ הַטּוּמְאָה אַעֲבִיר מִן הָאָרֶץ";

Or, until the sinner repents in the manner presently described, in which case the sparks of holiness need not remain in the clutches of the kelipot until the End of Days, they may even be freed, and restored to holiness, when he (the sinner) repents so earnestly that his premeditated sins become transmuted into veritable merits.

אוֹ, עַד שֶׁיַּעֲשֶׂה תְּשׁוּבָה גְּדוֹלָה כָּל כָּךְ שֶׁזְּדוֹנוֹת נַעֲשׂוּ לוֹ כִּזְכֻיּוֹת מַמָּשׁ,

This is achieved through “repentance out of love (of G-d),” coming from the depths of the heart, with great love and fervor, and from a soul passionately desiring to cleave to the blessed G‑d,

שֶׁהִיא תְּשׁוּבָה מֵאַהֲבָה מֵעוּמְקָא דְלִבָּא בְּאַהֲבָה רַבָּה וַחֲשִׁיקָה וְנֶפֶשׁ שׁוֹקֵקָה לְדָבְקָה בּוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ,

and thirsting for G‑d, like a parched and barren soil thirsts desperately for water.

וְצָמְאָה נַפְשׁוֹ לַה' כְּאֶרֶץ עֲיֵפָה וְצִיָּה,

For inasmuch as until nowuntil he repentedhis soul had been in a barren wilderness and in the shadow of death, which is the sitra achara, and had been far removed from the light of the Divine Countenance, in the greatest possible measure,

לִהְיוֹת כִּי עַד הֵנָּה הָיְתָה נַפְשׁוֹ בְּאֶרֶץ צִיָּה וְצַלְמָוֶת, הִיא הַסִּטְרָא אָחֳרָא, וּרְחוֹקָה מֵאוֹר פְּנֵי ה' בְּתַכְלִית,

therefore, now that he “repents out of love,” his soul thirsts for G‑d even more intensely than the souls of the righteous who have never sinned.

וְלָזֹאת צָמְאָה נַפְשׁוֹ בְּיֶתֶר עֹז מִצִּמְאוֹן נַפְשׁוֹת הַצַּדִּיקִים,

The righteous tzaddik, ever close to G‑d, is like one who always has water near at hand—his thirst is never so intense. The penitent, however, finds himself as if in a desert, where the very absence of water causes his thirst to burn with greater intensity.

As our Sages say: “Where penitents stand…[not even the perfectly righteous can stand].”8 For, as explained earlier, the tzaddik lacks the penitent’s intense yearning for G‑d.

כְּמַאֲמָרָם זִכְרוֹנָם לִבְרָכָה: "בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁבַּעֲלֵי תְשׁוּבָה עוֹמְדִים כוּ'".

[Only] concerning repentance out of such great love has it been said that “[the penitent’s] premeditated sins become, for him, like virtues,”9 since through them (through the sins which previously had distanced him from G‑d), he attained when he repented to this great love. Thus, his sins affected him in the same way as mitzvot: they brought about within him a greater love of G‑d.

וְעַל תְּשׁוּבָה מֵאַהֲבָה רַבָּה זוֹ אָמְרוּ שֶׁ"זְּדוֹנוֹת נַעֲשׂוּ לוֹ כִּזְכֻיּוֹת", הוֹאִיל וְעַל יְדֵי זֶה בָּא לְאַהֲבָה רַבָּה זוֹ.

In summary: It is possible even now, before evil completely disappears from the earth, to extricate the vitality of forbidden acts from the kelipot through “repentance out of love of G‑d.”

But in the case of repentance that does not come from such love, though it be proper repentance, and G‑d will surely pardon him, nevertheless, [his sins] are not transformed for him into the equivalent of virtues.

אֲבָל תְּשׁוּבָה שֶׁלֹּא מֵאַהֲבָה זוֹ, אַף שֶׁהִיא תְּשׁוּבָה נְכוֹנָה, וַה' יִסְלַח לוֹ, מִכָּל מָקוֹם לֹא נַעֲשׂוּ לוֹ כִּזְכֻיּוֹת,

They are not released and hence do not completely ascend from the kelipah so that no trace of the sin remains “until the end of time,”10 when “death will be swallowed up forever.”11

וְאֵין עוֹלִים מֵהַקְּלִיפָּה לְגַמְרֵי עַד עֵת קֵץ, שֶׁיְּבוּלַּע הַמָּוֶת לָנֶצַח.

Thus we have learned that the energy of forbidden foods and illicit coition is released from the kelipot only when one repents out of love or when evil ceases. Now we shall learn that in the case of one specific prohibition, ordinary repentance can accomplish what normally requires “repentance out of love.”

However, the vitality in the drops of semen that one issued wastefully, even though it has been degraded and incorporated in the three unclean kelipot, can nevertheless ascend from there by means of true repentance and intense concentration and devotion (kavanah) during the recital of the Shema at bedtime, as is known from the teachings of our master, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, of blessed memory.

אַךְ הַחַיּוּת שֶׁבְּטִפּוֹת זֶרַע שֶׁיָּצְאוּ מִמֶּנּוּ לְבַטָּלָה, אַף שֶׁיָּרְדָה וְנִכְלְלָה בְּשָׁלשׁ קְלִיפּוֹת הַטְּמֵאוֹת – הֲרֵי זוֹ עוֹלָה מִשָּׁם בִּתְשׁוּבָה נְכוֹנָה, וּבְכַוָּונָה עֲצוּמָה בִּקְרִיאַת־שְׁמַע־שֶׁעַל־הַמִּטָּה, כַּנּוֹדָע מֵהָאֲרִ"י זִכְרוֹנוֹ לִבְרָכָה,

This is implied in the Talmudic saying: “He who recites the Shema at bedtime is as if he held a double-edged sword…,”12

וּמְרוּמָּז בַּגְּמָרָא: "כָּל הַקּוֹרֵא קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע עַל מִטָּתוֹ כְּאִלּוּ אוֹחֵז חֶרֶב שֶׁל שְׁתֵּי פִיּוֹת כוּ'",

meaning one edge wherewith to slay the bodies of the “extraneous forces” (the kelipot) that have become garments for the vitality in the drops of semen and another edge by which the vitality ascends from them (from the kelipot), as is known to the students of the Kabbalah.

לַהֲרוֹג גּוּפוֹת הַחִיצוֹנִים שֶׁנַּעֲשׂוּ לְבוּשׁ לַחַיּוּת שֶׁבַּטִּפּוֹת, וְעוֹלָה הַחַיּוּת מֵהֶם, כַּיָּדוּעַ לְיוֹדְעֵי חֵן.

Therefore, the sin of wasteful emission of semen is not mentioned in the Torah among the list of forbidden coitions,

וְלָכֵן לֹא הוּזְכַּר עֲוֹן זֶרַע לְבַטָּלָה בַּתּוֹרָה בִּכְלַל בִּיאוֹת אֲסוּרוֹת,

even though in one respect it is more heinous than they, and [the individual’s] sin is greater with regard to the enormity and abundance of the impurity and of the kelipot; he begets and multiplies them to an exceedingly great extent through wasteful emission of semen, even more so than through forbidden coitions. I.e., when measured by the “quantity” of kelipot that sin creates, this sin is graver than the forbidden coitions.

אַף שֶׁחָמוּר מֵהֶן, וְגָדוֹל עֲוֹנוֹ בִּבְחִינַת הַגַּדְלוּת וְרִבּוּי הַטּוּמְאָה וְהַקְּלִיפּוֹת שֶׁמּוֹלִיד וּמַרְבֶּה בִּמְאֹד מְאֹד בְּהוֹצָאַת זֶרַע לְבַטָּלָה, יוֹתֵר מִבִּיאוֹת אֲסוּרוֹת.

It is only that when measured qualitatively, this sin is different. For in the case of forbidden coitions, one contributes additional strength and vitality to a most unclean kelipah, from which he is powerless to raise up the vitality by means of ordinary repentance,

רַק, שֶׁבְּבִיאוֹת אֲסוּרוֹת מוֹסִיף כֹּחַ וְחַיּוּת בִּקְלִיפָּה טְמֵאָה בְּיוֹתֵר, עַד שֶׁאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְהַעֲלוֹת מִשָּׁם הַחַיּוּת בִּתְשׁוּבָה,

unless he repents with such great love that his willful wrongs are transformed into merits.

אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן יַעֲשֶׂה תְּשׁוּבָה מֵאַהֲבָה רַבָּה כָּל כָּךְ, עַד שֶׁזְּדוֹנוֹת נַעֲשׂוּ לוֹ כִּזְכֻיּוֹת.

Since the sin of wasteful emission of semen can be rectified even without “repentance out of love,” the Torah does not include this sin with the related sins of forbidden coition. Concerning this sin, all that is necessary to elevate the degraded vitality to holiness is proper repentance with true intent and devotion during the recitation of the bedtime Shema.

In the note which follows, the Alter Rebbe explains why forbidden coition requires greater repentance than wasteful emission.

The reason is that through forbidden coitions this vitality has been absorbed by the level of yesod in the “female” element of kelipah, which receives and absorbs the vitality from holiness—just as the physical semen is absorbed within the female, in the case of these sins.

מִפְּנֵי שֶׁנִּקְלְטָה בִּיסוֹד דְּנוּקְבָא דִקְלִיפָּה הַמְקַבֶּלֶת וְקוֹלֶטֶת הַחַיּוּת מֵהַקְּדוּשָּׁה,

Not so with wasteful emission of semen, where there is no “female” element of kelipah;

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן בְּזֶרַע לְבַטָּלָה, שֶׁאֵין שָׁם בְּחִינַת נוּקְבָא דִקְלִיפָּה,

only its (the kelipah’s) power and forces garb (i.e., encompass) the vitality of the semen, as is known to the students of the Kabbalah.

רַק שֶׁכֹּחוֹתֶיהָ וְחַיְילוֹתֶיהָ מַלְבִּישִׁים לַחַיּוּת שֶׁבַּטִּפּוֹת, כַּיָּדוּﬠַ לְיוֹדְﬠֵי חֵן:

From the above explanation, that the vitality of the forbidden coitions can be released through “repentance out of love,” we will understand that which our Sages say: “Which is ‘a fault that cannot be rectified’?13—Having incestuous intercourse and giving birth to a bastard,”14

וּבָזֶה יוּבַן מַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: "אֵיזֶהוּ מְעֻוָּות שֶׁלֹּא יוּכַל לִתְקוֹן – זֶה שֶׁבָּא עַל הָעֶרְוָה וְהוֹלִיד מַמְזֵר",

for then, once the bastard is born, though the sinner undertakes such great repentance as “repentance of great love,” he cannot cause the vitality to ascend to Sanctity,

שֶׁאָז, גַּם אִם יַעֲשֶׂה תְּשׁוּבָה גְּדוֹלָה כָּל כָּךְ, אִי אֶפְשָׁר לוֹ לְהַעֲלוֹת הַחַיּוּת לִקְדוּשָּׁה,

since it has already descended into this world and has been clothed in a body of flesh and blood.

מֵאַחַר שֶׁכְּבָר יָרְדָה לָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה וְנִתְלַבְּשָׁה בְּגוּף בָּשָׂר וָדָם:

Even “repentance of great love” cannot rectify this. Still, it is explained elsewhere that if the repentance is powerful enough, it can actually effect the death of the bastard, and once it ceases to be a body of flesh and blood, its vitality can ascend to holiness.15