In ch. 29, the Alter Rebbe began to deal with the problem of timtum halev, insensitivity of the heart. He quoted the statement of the Zohar that a body impervious to the light of the soul needs to be crushed. By crushing one’s spirit, one crushes the sitra achara of his animal soul, whose arrogance is the cause of timtum halev.

In chs. 29-30, the Alter Rebbe described various means of arriving at a feeling of contrition (lit., “brokenheartedness”), e.g., reflecting on one’s spiritual failings in not waging an adequately strenuous battle against his evil impulse and realizing that one’s failure in this area places him on a level lower than that of the lowliest of his fellow Jews (as explained at length in ch. 30).

But while these methods may effectively dispel timtum halev, they would seem to have an undesirable side effect—depression. Ch. 31 deals with this problem.

Even if dwelling long and deeply on the abovementioned matters for an hour or two, to be lowly of spirit and contrite of heart, leads one to profound depression, let him not be perturbed.

וְהִנֵּה, אַף אִם כְּשֶׁיַּאֲרִיךְ הַרְבֵּה לְהַעֲמִיק בָּעִנְיָינִים הַנִּזְכָּרִים לְעֵיל כְּשָׁעָה וּשְׁתַּיִם, לִהְיוֹת בִּנְמִיכַת רוּחַ וְלֵב נִשְׁבָּר, יָבֹא לִידֵי עַצְבוּת גְּדוֹלָה – לֹא יָחוּשׁ.

True, atzvut (depression) derives from the realm of kelipat nogah, not of holiness,

וְאַף שֶׁעַצְבוּת הִיא מִצַּד קְלִיפַּת נוֹגַהּ, וְלֹא מִצַּד הַקְּדוּשָּׁה,

for concerning the realm of holiness, it is written: “Strength and gladness are in His place,”1 and likewise, “The Divine Presence abides…only in [man’s] joy…and the same joy is required for the study of the Halachah.”2

כִּי בְּצַד הַקְּדוּשָּׁה כְּתִיב: "עוֹז וְחֶדְוָה בִּמְקוֹמוֹ", וְ"אֵין הַשְּׁכִינָה שׁוֹרָה אֶלָּא מִתּוֹךְ שִׂמְחָה" "וְכֵן לִדְבַר הֲלָכָה וְכוּ'",

Any depression, then, comes from the realm of kelipat nogah, except that if the depression is due to spiritual matters arising from one’s realization of his spiritual failings, it stems from the good contained in kelipat nogah, for, as mentioned in ch. 1, kelipat nogah contains both good and evil—the evil in nogah is the source of ordinary depression, and the positive element in nogah gives rise to spiritually motivated depression. Yet, even the element of good contained in nogah is, after all, kelipah.

אֶלָּא, שֶׁאִם הָעַצְבוּת הִיא מִמִּילֵּי דִשְׁמַיָּא, הִיא מִבְּחִינַת טוֹב שֶׁבְּנוֹגַהּ.

(3For this reason, the Arizal writes that even worry over one’s sins is appropriate only during confession,

[וְלָכֵן כָּתַב הָאֲרִ"י זִכְרוֹנוֹ לִבְרָכָה, שֶׁאֲפִילוּ דַּאֲגַת הָעֲוֹנוֹת אֵינָהּ רְאוּיָה כִּי אִם בִּשְׁעַת הַוִּידּוּי,

but not during prayer and Torah study. These must be conducted with a joy deriving exclusively from the realm of holiness, as opposed to frivolity and the like.)

וְלֹא בִּשְׁעַת הַתְּפִלָּה וְתַלְמוּד תּוֹרָה, שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת בְּשִׂמְחָה שֶׁמִּצַּד הַקְּדוּשָּׁה דַּוְוקָא]

Why then should one strive to crush the spirit of sitra achara with methods that lead to depression, which itself stems from the sitra achara of nogah?

Yet, this is precisely the method of humbling the sitra achara—through something of its own species and kind, i.e., the sitra achara is most effectively attacked by utilizing the good contained within it as a weapon against itself.

אַף־עַל־פִּי־כֵן, הֲרֵי כָּךְ הִיא הַמִּדָּה, לְאַכְפָּיָא לְסִטְרָא אָחֳרָא בְּמִינָהּ וְדוּגְמָתָהּ.

As our Sages expressed it: “From the forest itself comes [the handle for] the ax [which fells the forest],”4 and in a similar vein, “He encountered one of his own kind.”5

כְּמַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: "מִינֵּיהּ וּבֵיהּ אִבָּא לִשֽׁדְּיָא בֵּיהּ נַרְגָּא", וּ"פָגַע בּוֹ כַּיּוֹצֵא בוֹ".

Of this sadness resulting from contemplation of one’s spiritual state it is written, “In every sadness, there will be profit.”6 The profit lies in the joy which follows the sadness, as will be explained later—i.e., in what way the sadness itself leads to joy.

וְעַל זֶה נֶאֱמַר: "בְּכָל עֶצֶב יִהְיֶה מוֹתָר", וְהַיִּתְרוֹן, הִיא הַשִּׂמְחָה הַבָּאָה אַחַר הָעֶצֶב, כְּדִלְקַמָּן.

In truth, however, the state of being contrite of heart and bitter of soul—i.e., remorseful over one’s remoteness from G‑d and over the fact that one’s soul is clothed in the sitra achara—can by no means be described in the Holy Tongue (Hebrew) by the term “atzvut.

אַךְ בֶּאֱמֶת, אֵין לֵב נִשְׁבָּר וּמְרִירוּת הַנֶּפֶשׁ – עַל רִיחוּקָהּ מֵאוֹר פְּנֵי ה' וְהִתְלַבְּשׁוּתָהּ בְּסִטְרָא אָחֳרָא – נִקְרָאִים בְּשֵׁם "עַצְבוּת" כְּלָל בִּלְשׁוֹן הַקּוֹדֶשׁ,

The word atzvut, meaning “melancholy,” stems from a root which means “constricted.” In this context, it refers to a numbing depression that constricts one’s heart, blocking out all feeling, as the Alter Rebbe continues:

For atzvut” means that one’s heart is as dull as a stone and that there is no vitality—arousal of feeling—in his heart.

כִּי עַצְבוּת – הִיא שֶׁלִּבּוֹ מְטוּמְטָם כָּאֶבֶן וְאֵין חַיּוּת בְּלִבּוֹ,

But “bitterness” (merirut) and contrition are just the opposite, since the very fact that one is moved to be embittered is itself a sign of life,

אֲבָל מְרִירוּת וְלֵב נִשְׁבָּר, אַדְּרַבָּה, הֲרֵי יֵשׁ חַיּוּת בְּלִבּוֹ לְהִתְפָּעֵל וּלְהִתְמַרְמֵר,

except that this vitality derives from the holy attributes of severity (Gevurot) and it therefore expresses itself as bitterness, whereas joy derives from the [holy] attributes of kindness (Chasadim), for the heart contains both these attributes—kindness and severity.

רַק שֶׁהִיא חַיּוּת מִבְּחִינַת גְּבוּרוֹת קְדוֹשׁוֹת, וְהַשִּׂמְחָה מִבְּחִינַת חֲסָדִים, כִּי הַלֵּב – כָּלוּל מִשְׁתֵּיהֶן.

At any rate, we see that the dejection accompanying one’s disappointment with his spiritual situation stems from the realm of holiness, unlike atzvut, which derives from kelipat nogah.7

At times, one must arouse the holy attributes of severity (Gevurot) in order to temper (lit., “sweeten”) stern judgments, which in this context denote the animal soul and the evil inclination, whenever it (the latter) dominates a man, G‑d forbid,

וְהִנֵּה, לְעִתִּים צָרִיךְ לְעוֹרֵר בְּחִינַת גְּבוּרוֹת הַקְּדוֹשׁוֹת כְּדֵי לְהַמְתִּיק הַדִּינִים, שֶׁהֵם בְּחִינַת נֶפֶשׁ הַבַּהֲמִית וְיֵצֶר הָרָע כְּשֶׁשּׁוֹלֵט חַס וְשָׁלוֹם עַל הָאָדָם,

for stern judgments i.e., restraints on one’s spiritual well-being can only be “sweetened” by means of their source.

כִּי אֵין הַדִּינִים נִמְתָּקִין אֶלָּא בְּשָׁרְשָׁן.

All evil is simply a degenerate form of the attribute of severity (Gevurot) that derives from the realm of holiness. Myriad “contractions” (tzimtzumim) and descents of this attribute transform it to evil, the evil of kelipah. Naturally, this includes also the sitra achara of one’s animal soul and his evil impulse. In order to elevate or “sweeten” evil, to return evil to the realm of holiness, it is necessary to bring its source to bear on it. In terms of one’s divine service, this means crushing one’s evil impulse by merirut, bitter remorse, which derives its vitality from the holy attribute of severity—the source of the evil impulse.

For this reason, our Sages said: “One should always incite the good inclination to anger [against the evil inclination].”8

וְלָכֵן אָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: "לְעוֹלָם יַרְגִּיז אָדָם יֵצֶר הַטּוֹב",

Since anger stems from the attribute of severity, it is capable of “sweetening” the evil inclination.

The word “always” (“one should always incite…”) is, however, to be understood in a qualified sense. Joy, not severity, is usually the proper setting for divine service. Thus, when our Sages state that one should always incite the good inclination, this means whenever he finds it necessary for himself, as, for example, when one sees that the arrogance of his animal soul does not permit the light of his divine soul to penetrate his heart, causing timtum halev.

וְהַיְינוּ, בְּכָל עֵת שֶׁרוֹאֶה בְּנַפְשׁוֹ שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לְכָךְ.

However, the appropriate time for this anger” of the divine soul at the animal soul, meaning the time which is opportune and fitting for most people,

אַךְ שְׁעַת הַכּוֹשֶׁר, שֶׁהִיא שָׁעָה הַמְיוּחֶדֶת וּרְאוּיָה לְכָךְ לְרוֹב בְּנֵי אָדָם,

is when one is in any case depressed over mundane matters, or just so, without any discernible cause.9

הִיא בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁהוּא עָצֵב בְּלָאו הָכֵי מִמִּילֵּי דְעָלְמָא, אוֹ כָּךְ בְּלִי שׁוּם סִבָּה,

This is an opportune time for redirecting the depression toward spiritual matters to be among the “masters of accounts” mentioned above, i.e., to engage in soul-searching and spiritual stocktaking,

אֲזַי הִיא שְׁעַת הַכּוֹשֶׁר לְהַפֵּךְ הָעֶצֶב לִהְיוֹת מִ"מָּרֵי דְחוּשְׁבָּנָא" הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל,

and to fulfill the previously mentioned teaching of our Sages that one should always incite his good inclination against his evil inclination, since both of these paths harness the attribute of severity.

וּלְקַיֵּים מַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה "לְעוֹלָם יַרְגִּיז וְכוּ'", כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל,

He will thus also be rid of the depression brought on by mundane matters.

וּבָזֶה יִפָּטֵר מֵהָעַצְבוּת שֶׁמִּמִּילֵּי דְעָלְמָא,

I.e., redirecting his depression into soul-searching, and into anger at his evil inclination, will dispel the mundane depression.

He will then arrive at a true joy, as follows: In order to comfort his heart in double measure, let him—in the wake of the above words of truth concerning his lowly spiritual stature—tell himself the following.

וְאַחַר כָּךְ יָבֹא לִידֵי שִׂמְחָה אֲמִיתִּית. דְּהַיְינוּ, שֶׁזֹּאת יָשִׁיב אֶל לִבּוֹ לְנַחֲמוֹ בְּכִפְלַיִים, אַחַר הַדְּבָרִים וְהָאֱמֶת הָאֵלֶּה הַנִּזְכָּרִים לְעֵיל,

The comfort is dual: not only is his depression eliminated, but he will also attain a joy which he would never experience were it not for his earlier depression.

Let him say to his heart: “Indeed, without a doubt, I am far removed, utterly remote from G‑d, and am despicable, contemptible, and so on.

לֵאמֹר לְלִבּוֹ: "אֱמֶת הוּא כֵּן בְּלִי סָפֵק, שֶׁאֲנִי רָחוֹק מְאֹד מֵה' בְּתַכְלִית, וּמְשׁוּקָּץ וּמְתוֹעָב כוּ',

“But all this is true only of me—that is, my body and the animating soul within it.

אַךְ כָּל זֶה הוּא אֲנִי לְבַדִּי, הוּא הַגּוּף עִם נֶפֶשׁ הַחִיּוּנִית שֶׁבּוֹ,

“Yet within me, there is a veritable ‘part’ of G‑d, which is present even in the most worthless of my fellows, so that even if I am no better than he, I still have this ‘part’ of G‑d within me, namely, the divine soul and the spark of G‑dliness itself clothed in it, animating it.

אֲבָל מִכָּל מָקוֹם, יֵשׁ בְּקִרְבִּי "חֵלֶק ה'" מַמָּשׁ, שֶׁיֶּשְׁנוֹ אֲפִילוּ בְּקַל שֶׁבְּקַלִּים, שֶׁהִיא נֶפֶשׁ הָאֱלֹהִית עִם נִיצוֹץ אֱלֹקוּת מַמָּשׁ הַמְלוּבָּשׁ בָּהּ לְהַחֲיוֹתָהּ,

“It is only that when the body and animating soul are in such a lowly state, the divine soul is in exile within them.

רַק שֶׁהִיא בִּבְחִינַת גָּלוּת,

“If so, then, on the contrary, the further I am removed from G‑d, and the more despicable and contemptible,

וְאִם כֵּן, אַדְּרַבָּה, כָּל מַה שֶּׁאֲנִי בְּתַכְלִית הָרִיחוּק מֵה' וְהַתִּיעוּב וְשִׁיקּוּץ

the deeper in exile is my divine soul, and all the more is it to be pitied.

הֲרֵי נֶפֶשׁ הָאֱלֹהִית שֶׁבִּי בְּגָלוּת גָּדוֹל יוֹתֵר, וְהָרַחֲמָנוּת עָלֶיהָ גְּדוֹלָה מְאֹד,

“Therefore, I will make it my entire aim and desire to extricate it from this exile and to ‘return her to her father’s house i.e., to restore it to its source and its original state as in her youth,’

וְלָזֶה אָשִׂים כָּל מְגַמָּתִי וְחֶפְצִי – לְהוֹצִיאָהּ וּלְהַעֲלוֹתָהּ מִגָּלוּת זֶה, לַהֲשִׁיבָהּ אֶל בֵּית אָבִיהָ כִּנְעוּרֶיהָ,

i.e., as it was before being clothed in my body, when it was completely absorbed in G‑d’s light and united with Him.

קוֹדֶם שֶׁנִּתְלַבְּשָׁה בְּגוּפִי, שֶׁהָיְתָה נִכְלֶלֶת בְּאוֹרוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ וּמְיוּחֶדֶת עִמּוֹ בְּתַכְלִית,

“Now, too, will it likewise be absorbed and united with Him once again, when I concentrate all my aspirations on the Torah and the mitzvot, in an effort to clothe therein all [of the soul’s] ten faculties; i.e., by applying my mental faculties to Torah study and my emotive faculties to the performance of the mitzvot with the vitality lent them by the love and fear of G‑d, as explained above in ch. 4. Thus will my divine soul be reunited with G‑d.

וְגַם עַתָּה כֵּן – תְּהֵא כְּלוּלָה וּמְיוּחֶדֶת בּוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ, כְּשֶׁאָשִׂים כָּל מְגַמָּתִי בְּתוֹרָה וּמִצְוֹת, לְהַלְבִּישׁ בָּהֶן כָּל עֶשֶׂר בְּחִינוֹתֶיהָ כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל,

“Especially in fulfilling the mitzvah of prayer will I try to release my divine soul by crying out to G‑d because of the distress of its exile in my loathsome body so that He release it from captivity and bind it to Himself.”

וּבִפְרָט בְּמִצְוַת תְּפִלָּה, לִצְעוֹק אֶל ה' בַּצַּר לָהּ מִגָּלוּתָהּ בְּגוּפִי הַמְשׁוּקָּץ, לְהוֹצִיאָהּ מִמַּסְגֵּר, וּלְדָבְקָה בּוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ".

This service of G‑d, in which one seeks to restore the soul to its source, is referred to as “teshuvah with good deeds.”10

וְזוֹ הִיא בְּחִינַת "תְּשׁוּבָה וּמַעֲשִׂים טוֹבִים",

This is an oft-used Talmudic expression denoting the mitzvot (as in the statement, “One hour of teshuvah with good deeds in this world is better than all the life of the World to Come”). At first glance, the juxtaposition of the two seems incongruous; teshuvah deals with atoning for one’s past imperfections, while “good deeds” are performed in the present and would seem to bear no relation to one’s past. According to the Alter Rebbe’s statement, however, that one’s performance of the mitzvot should be motivated by a desire to return his soul to its source within G‑d, the connection between the two is clear: the “good deeds” themselves actually constitute teshuvah, which means “return.” As the Alter Rebbe continues:

This denotes the “good deeds” which one does with the intention of returning the soul, which is part of G‑d, to the [Divine] source and root of all the worlds.

שֶׁהֵן מַעֲשִׂים טוֹבִים שֶׁעוֹשֶׂה כְּדֵי לְהָשִׁיב "חֵלֶק ה'" לִמְקוֹרָא וְשָׁרְשָׁא דְּכָל עָלְמִין.

This, then, should be one’s lifelong aim in the service of G‑d with great joy—the joy of the soul upon leaving the loathsome body and returning, during one’s study of the Torah and service of G‑d through prayer, to “her father’s house as in her youth,” i.e., to the unity with G‑d that it enjoyed before it descended into the body.

וְזֹאת תִּהְיֶה עֲבוֹדָתוֹ כָּל יָמָיו בְּשִׂמְחָה רַבָּה, הִיא שִׂמְחַת הַנֶּפֶשׁ בְּצֵאתָהּ מֵהַגּוּף הַמְתוֹעָב, "וְשָׁבָה אֶל בֵּית אָבִיהָ כִּנְעוּרֶיהָ", בִּשְׁעַת הַתּוֹרָה וְהָעֲבוֹדָה,

This corresponds to the statement of our Sages11 that one ought to engage in teshuvah throughout his life.

וּכְמַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: לִהְיוֹת כָּל יָמָיו בִּתְשׁוּבָה.

If the word teshuvah is understood only in the sense of repentance for sin, why the need for further repentance once one has already repented? However, teshuvah as explained here, returning the soul to its source, is something in which one may well engage throughout his life—whenever he studies Torah or performs a mitzvah.

Surely, there is no joy as great as that of being released from exile and captivity. It is comparable to the joy of a prince who was taken captive and was subjected to the hard labor of turning the millstone in prison12 while covered with filth,

וְאֵין לְךָ שִׂמְחָה גְדוֹלָה כְּצֵאת מֵהַגָּלוּת וְהַשִּׁבְיָה, כִּמְשַׁל בֶּן מֶלֶךְ שֶׁהָיָה בְּשִׁבְיָה וְטוֹחֵן בְּבֵית הָאֲסוּרִים וּמְנֻוָּול בְּאַשְׁפָּה,

and who then goes free to the house of his father, the king.

וְיָצָא לַחָפְשִׁי – אֶל בֵּית אָבִיו הַמֶּלֶךְ.

Such a prince, descended from the Supreme King, is the soul—and by means of the Torah and the mitzvot, it is redeemed from the captivity and degradation imposed on it by the body.

True, the body remains abominable and loathsome, and as the Zohar says, it is called “a serpent’s skin,”13

וְאַף שֶׁהַגּוּף עוֹמֵד בְּשִׁיקּוּצוֹ וְתִיעוּבוֹ, וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּזֹּהַר דְּנִקְרָא "מַשְׁכָּא דְחִוְיָא",

since the essential character of the animal soul has not been transformed to good so that it might be absorbed into the realm of holiness.

כִּי מַהוּתָהּ וְעַצְמוּתָהּ שֶׁל הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַבַּהֲמִית לֹא נֶהְפַּךְ לְטוֹב לִיכָּלֵל בִּקְדוּשָּׁה,

For, as explained above, the beinoni may indeed elevate the “garments” of the animal soul—the thought, speech, and action through which it expresses itself—by performing the mitzvot by means of his thought, speech, and action, but the essential character of the animal soul—its intellectual and emotional faculties—remains subject to the realm of kelipat nogah. How, then, can one be expected to rejoice, knowing that his body and animal soul are still in such an undesirable state?

Yet, let his divine soul be more precious to him than his loathsome body so that he rejoices in the soul’s joy at its liberation, through the observance of the Torah and the mitzvot, from the exile of the body, without letting the sadness on account of the lowly state of his body interfere with or disturb the joy of the soul.

מִכָּל מָקוֹם, תִּיקַר נַפְשׁוֹ בְּעֵינָיו – לִשְׂמוֹחַ בְּשִׂמְחָתָהּ יוֹתֵר מֵהַגּוּף הַנִּבְזֶה, שֶׁלֹּא לְעַרְבֵּב וּלְבַלְבֵּל שִׂמְחַת הַנֶּפֶשׁ בְּעִצְּבוֹן הַגּוּף.

This form of divine service—in which the divine soul breaks free of its exile within the body while the body and animal soul remain in their lowly state—is analogous to the Exodus from Egypt, of which it is written that “the people escaped.”14

וְהִנֵּה, בְּחִינָה זוֹ הִיא בְּחִינַת יְצִיאַת מִצְרַיִם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בָּהּ: "כִּי בָרַח הָעָם",

The Jews told Pharaoh that they would leave Egypt for only three days, but upon being released from his land, they escaped.

At first glance, it seems strange: Why should it have been so, in a manner of flight? Had they demanded of Pharaoh that he set them free forever, would he not have been forced to do so, having been stricken by the Plagues?

דְּלִכְאוֹרָה הוּא תָּמוּהַּ, לָמָּה הָיְתָה כָּזֹאת? וְכִי אִילּוּ אָמְרוּ לְפַרְעֹה לְשַׁלְּחָם חָפְשִׁי לְעוֹלָם, לֹא הָיָה מוּכְרָח לְשַׁלְּחָם?

The explanation, the Alter Rebbe goes on to say, lies in the spiritual aspect of the Exodus, and this was reflected in its physical counterpart, just as every event in Jewish history reflects a parallel spiritual process.

The corporeal enslavement of the Jewish people in Egypt reflected the enslavement of their souls by the kelipah of Egyptian impurity. Their Exodus from Egypt likewise represented a spiritual liberation from this kelipah. Since the spiritual Exodus was an act of escape—i.e., their soul broke away and “escaped” from the impurity of Egypt, while the body and animal soul were still in exile within the kelipah—therefore, the physical Exodus likewise assumed the manner of an escape.

In the Alter Rebbe’s words:

But escape was necessary because the evil in the [animal] souls of Israel was still strong in the left part of the heart, the seat of the animal soul,

אֶלָּא, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהָרָע שֶׁבְּנַפְשׁוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל עֲדַיִין הָיָה בְּתָקְפּוֹ בֶּחָלָל הַשְּׂמָאלִי,

for their impurity (the impurity of kelipah) did not cease until the Giving of the Torah.15

כִּי לֹא פָסְקָה זוּהֲמָתָם עַד מַתַּן תּוֹרָה,

Yet, their aim and desire was that their divine soul leave the exile of the sitra achara—the impurity of Egypt—and that it cleave to G‑d.16

רַק מְגַמָּתָם וְחֶפְצָם הָיְתָה לְצֵאת נַפְשָׁם הָאֱלֹהִית מִגָּלוּת הַסִּטְרָא אָחֳרָא, הִיא טוּמְאַת מִצְרַיִם, וּלְדָבְקָה בּוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ,

So it is written—that there is a divine service which consists of the divine soul’s “escape” from the impurity of the body and animal soul: “G‑d is my strength and my fortress, my refuge in the day of affliction”17; “[He is] my high tower and my refuge”18; “and He is my escape….”19

וּכְדִכְתִיב: "ה' עוּזִּי וּמָעוּזִּי וּמְנוּסִי בְּיוֹם צָרָה וְגוֹ'", "מִשְׂגַּבִּי וּמְנוּסִי וְגוֹ'", "וְהוּא מָנוֹס לִי וְגוֹ'".

And the Exodus from Egypt exemplified this idea of “escape.”

Hence, it is written of the Redemption which will take place in the time to come, when G‑d will remove the spirit of impurity from the earth and there will therefore be no evil necessitating spiritual escape: “[You will not go out in haste,] nor go in flight, for G‑d will go before you.”20

וְלָכֵן, לֶעָתִיד, כְּשֶׁיַּעֲבִיר ה' רוּחַ הַטּוּמְאָה מִן הָאָרֶץ, כְּתִיב: "וּבִמְנוּסָה לֹא תֵלֵכוּן, כִּי הוֹלֵךְ לִפְנֵיכֶם ה' וְגוֹ'".

The Exodus from Egypt, however, took place in a manner of flight, for the evil was still strong in the people’s animal souls. Similarly, whenever one disregards the lowliness of his body and animal soul and engages in the Torah and the mitzvot in order to free the divine soul from its corporeal exile, he effects the spiritual equivalent of the Exodus from Egypt.

One may lend this teshuvahthe restoration of his soul to its source—additional strength from the depths of his heart and likewise add a greater measure of light and joy to the joy of his soul brought on by the teshuvah,

וְלִהְיוֹת בְּחִינַת תְּשׁוּבָה זוֹ בְּיֶתֶר שְׂאֵת וְיֶתֶר עֹז מֵעוּמְקָא דְלִבָּא, וְגַם שִׂמְחַת הַנֶּפֶשׁ תִּהְיֶה בְּתוֹסֶפֶת אוֹרָה וְשִׂמְחָה –

by comforting his heart from its distress and sorrow, through reflecting (lit., “speaking to his heart”) with knowledge and understanding, as follows:

כַּאֲשֶׁר יָשִׁיב אֶל לִבּוֹ דַּעַת וּתְבוּנָה לְנַחֲמוֹ מֵעִצְּבוֹנוֹ וִיגוֹנוֹ, לֵאמֹר כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל:

“Certainly it is true, as said above, that I am utterly remote from G‑d, etc., but it was not I who created myself in a manner that permits the divine soul to be exiled within the impurity of the body and animal soul. It was G‑d Who created me thus.

"הֵן אֱמֶת כוּ'", "אַךְ אֲנִי לֹא עָשִׂיתִי אֶת עַצְמִי.

“Why then has G‑d done such a thing—to cause [the divine soul,] a part of His light which fills and encompasses all worlds and before which all is as naught, to descend into [the body] and be clothed in a ‘serpent’s skin’ and a ‘fetid drop’?

וְלָמָּה עָשָׂה ה' כָּזֹאת, לְהוֹרִיד חֵלֶק מֵאוֹרוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ, הַמְמַלֵּא וְסוֹבֵב כָּל עָלְמִין וְכוּלָּא קַמֵּיהּ כְּלָא חֲשִׁיב, וְהִלְבִּישׁוֹ בְּ"מַשְׁכָּא דְחִוְיָא" וְ"טִפָּה סְרוּחָה"?

“Surely this descent must be for the sake of a subsequent ascent.

אֵין זֶה, כִּי אִם יְרִידָה זוֹ – הִיא צוֹרֶךְ עֲלִיָּה,

“That is, to elevate to G‑d the entire animating, animal soul, which derives from kelipat nogah, and also its ‘garments’ of thought, speech, and action,

לְהַעֲלוֹת לַה' כָּל נֶפֶשׁ הַחִיּוּנִית הַבַּהֲמִית שֶׁמִּקְּלִיפַּת נוֹגַהּ וְכָל לְבוּשֶׁיהָ, הֵן בְּחִינוֹת מַחֲשָׁבָה דִּבּוּר וּמַעֲשֶׂה שֶׁלָּהּ,

by means of clothing them in the action, speech, and thought of the Torah.

עַל יְדֵי הִתְלַבְּשׁוּתָן בְּמַעֲשֵׂה דִּבּוּר וּמַחֲשֶׁבֶת הַתּוֹרָה

For by performing the mitzvot and by speaking and thinking words of Torah, the animal soul and its ‘garments’ are elevated toward G‑dliness.

(21The subject of this ascent will be discussed further on at length;22 it will be shown how this is the purpose for which the world was created.)

[וּכְמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר לְקַמָּן עִנְיַן הַעֲלָאָה זוֹ בַּאֲרִיכוּת, אֵיךְ שֶׁהִיא תַּכְלִית בְּרִיאַת הָעוֹלָם],

“If this be so, there is one thing for me to do, and this shall be my sole aim throughout my life:

וְאִם כֵּן אֵיפוֹא, זֹאת אֶעֱשֶׂה וְזֹאת תִּהְיֶה כָּל מְגַמָּתִי כָּל יְמֵי חֶלְדִּי –

To immerse therein—in the thought, speech, and action of the Torah and the mitzvot—the life of my spirit and soul, as it is written, ‘to You, G‑d, I raise my soul.’23

לְכָל בָּהֶן חַיֵּי רוּחִי וְנַפְשִׁי, וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "אֵלֶיךָ ה' נַפְשִׁי אֶשָּׂא",

In practical terms, this means: To bind my thought and speech with G‑d’s thought and speech—which are, in fact, the very laws which have been set out before us. For the laws of the Torah are G-d’s ‘thought’ and ‘speech,’ and by studying them, one binds his own faculties of thought and speech with their Divine counterparts. Similarly with action: I will bind my faculty of action with G‑d’s faculty of action through performing the commandments.”

דְּהַיְינוּ, לְקַשֵּׁר מַחֲשַׁבְתִּי וְדִבּוּרִי – בְּמַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ וְדִבּוּרוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ, וְהֵן הֵן גּוּפֵי הֲלָכוֹת הָעֲרוּכוֹת לְפָנֵינוּ, וְכֵן מַעֲשֶׂה – בְּמַעֲשֵׂה הַמִּצְוֹת,

For this reason, the Torah is described as “that which restores the soul,”24 i.e., it restores the soul to its source and root.

שֶׁלָּכֵן נִקְרֵאת הַתּוֹרָה "מְשִׁיבַת נָפֶשׁ", פֵּירוּשׁ – לִמְקוֹרָהּ וְשָׁרְשָׁהּ,

Moreover, concerning this occupation in the Torah and the mitzvot which brings joy to the soul by restoring it to its source and which banishes the sadness of its exile in the body and animal soul, it is written: “G‑d’s commandments are just; they gladden the heart.”25

וְעַל זֶה נֶאֱמַר: "פִּקּוּדֵי ה' יְשָׁרִים מְשַׂמְּחֵי לֵב":

When one considers that one’s study of the Torah and observance of the mitzvot elevate not only his divine soul but also his animal soul, his teshuvah will gain in depth, and the joy of his soul will gain in intensity.

For although the soul’s “escape” from exile within the body and animal soul (spoken of earlier) would in itself be sufficient cause for great joy, yet this is a joy tempered by sadness over the lowly state in which one’s body and animal soul remain. When one realizes, however, that Torah and the mitzvot elevate the body and animal soul as well, his joy will be untarnished.