The mitzvot requiring action were a major theme in Essay IV. There the Alter Rebbe explained how their observance extricates and elevates the sparks of holiness that originated in the World of Tohu and that are embedded in this material world, and thereby causes G‑dliness to descend there. The same, it was stated, is true regarding the study of the laws that govern the mitzvot.

The Alter Rebbe went on to say that this applies as well to the prohibitory mitzvot, where one cannot apply the dictum that “it is considered as if one performed the command.” Moreover, Torah study remains valuable even with regard to the laws concerning situations that will never occur, even though there too we cannot say that “if one remained passive and did not transgress, he is rewarded as if he had performed a mitzvah.” Nevertheless, even in such cases, a Torah law draws down Supernal Wisdom within the world.

In the Essay before us, the Alter Rebbe will state that although it would seem that purifications (beirurim) cannot be brought about when studying these types of laws (for one only draws down Supernal Wisdom), yet in point of fact, purifications do come about through this Torah study. Moreover, the reason for this is not that the Torah study leads one to observe a positive commandment or to refrain from transgressing a prohibition; nor is it that by virtue of his study he is regarded “as if” he performed the positive commandment or is rewarded for refraining from transgressing a prohibition.

ולהבין פרטי ההלכות דלא שכיחי כלל

Let us understand [how this applies to] the details of the laws that never occur at all,

ואפשר שלא היו מעולם במציאות

and possibly never actually existed,

מכל שכן שלא יהיו לעתיד לבא

and certainly will not come to pass in the Time to Come;

כמו פרטי דיני פיגול, וכהאי גוונא

for example, the detailed laws of pigul1 and the like.

How does the study of these laws extract, refine and elevate the sparks of Tohu?

הנה מודעת זאת שכל איסור שבעולם יש לו שרש ומקור חיים בקליפות

It is known that every prohibited thing in the world has a source and a root of life in the kelipot.

שאם לא כן, לא היה יכול להיות במציאות בעולם, בלתי השפעה עליונה

Otherwise, it could not exist in this world, without the flow from above, i.e., without receiving vitality from a spiritual source.

ואפילו המסלסל בשערו, וכהאי גוונא, מקבל חיותו ברגע זו מהיכלות הקליפות, כמו שכתוב בזהר

Even one who crinkles his hair, and the like, receives his life-force at that moment from the spiritual chambers of the kelipot, as is explained in the Zohar.2

והלכך גם פרטי האיסורים שלא באו לידי מעשה מעולם, בעולם הזה הגשמי

Therefore even the particular prohibitions that never became practical issues in this physical world,

מכל מקום שרשי חיותם הן במציאות בפועל ממש בהיכלות הקליפות

still the roots of their life-force do actually exist in the spiritual chambers of the kelipot.

וגם הפרטים שיוכל להיות שלא היו ולא יהיו לעולם במציאות

Even the particular instances that possibly never did and never will actually occur,

כגון טעות ושגגות, שטעה וקרא לתשיעי עשירי כו׳, וכהאי גוונא

for example errors and unwitting misdeeds, like (when tithing) erroneously calling the ninth [sheep] the tenth,3 and the like,

דלא שייך במזיד, להיות קליפה שורה על זה

the kind of eventuality that cannot be deliberate and thereby cause a kelipah to light upon it.

ויוכל להיות דכהאי גוונא אינו במציאות בהיכלות הקליפות

Possibly in these circumstances it does not exist in the chambers of the kelipot.

How, then, does it possess a source and root in the kelipot?

הגה״ה מאדמו״ר בעל צמח צדק, זכרונו לברכה, נשמתו עדן: נראה לי מה שכתב ויוכל להיות, אלמא דלא ברירא ליה, היינו משום שהשגגות באות מנוגה, אם כן יש לומר דיש להם שרש בהיכלות דנוגה

[4Note inserted by the Tzemach Tzedek, of blessed memory: It appears to me that the Alter Rebbe uses the word “possibly”, implying uncertainty, because unwitting errors derive from nogah. It may therefore be said that their origin is in the chambers of nogah.]

מכל מקום, על כל פנים ישנו במציאות, להבדיל, בחכמה עילאה שנתפשטה בפרט זה למשה רבנו, עליו השלום, בסיני

In any event, it does exist if not in kelipot, then at least — keeping in mind the distinction between the sacred and the profane — in the Supreme Wisdom that issued and descended in this detail to Moses at Sinai,

כמאמר: מה שכל תלמיד ותיק עתיד לחדש כו׳

[5as in the expression,6 “Whatever teaching] any seasoned student will one day innovate... [was taught to Moses at Sinai].”

וכל פרטי האבעיות דרבי ירמיה

Likewise, all the detailed queries of R. Yirmeyah, who posed so many hypothetical possibilities that he was escorted from the House of Study, as the Gemara relates,7

Obviously, his queries involved situations that were entirely unlikely to ever take place.8

וכרכתו כו׳, פרק ד׳ דחולין

and [detailed queries such as] “If she wrapped him...,” in ch. 4 of Chullin.9

The question discussed there is whether a firstborn animal can be considered to have directly “opened the womb” (and hence be sanctified) in either of two hypothetical cases. According to Rashi, it is a question of what happens if the person assisting in the birth entirely wraps up the animal as it is born. According to Rabbeinu Tam, the question involves a multiple birth, with a cow being born together with the firstborn bull, and wrapping itself completely around it — something extremely unlikely to ever occur.

Nevertheless, all these detailed queries were given to Moses at Sinai.

כי התפשטות חכמה עילאה היא בחינת אין סוף, המלובש בה בפועל ממש

For the extension of the Supreme Wisdom that is vested in the laws of Torah is infinite, since the Infinite is actually clothed in it.

וכל פרט הלכה הוא שער נמשך מחכמה עילאה

Every particular of the law is a gate drawn from the Supreme Wisdom

דיסד ברתא, ומלובש בה

which “founded the daughter,” and is clothed in it,

Chochmah (the “father”) founded Malchut (the “daughter”). “Malchut is the mouth, which we call the Oral Torah.”10 Chochmah, then, is clothed in the laws of the Oral Torah as they are to be found in their source in Malchut of Atzilut.

וממנה נמשך, ומתלבש בבריאה יצירה עשיה

and from [Malchut], [Chochmah] is drawn and invested in Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah.

The Alter Rebbe will now conclude by explaining how this brings about the refinement of the sparks.

ונודע כי יניקת הקליפות, מאחוריים דיו״ד ספירות דקדושה

It is known that the nurture of the kelipot derives from the hinderpart of the Ten Sefirot of holiness,

ובפרט, מלבושים דיו״ד ספירות דבריאה יצירה עשיה

and more precisely, from the garments of the Ten Sefirot of Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah,

ובפרט, דיצירה ועשיה המעורבים בקליפות

and yet more precisely, [they derive their nurture from the garments] of Yetzirah and Asiyah that are intermingled with kelipot,

The evil of the kelipot in the Worlds of Yetzirah and Asiyah is intermingled with the good.

כנודע שיניקתם מבחינת הלבושים

for, as is known, their nurture derives from the state of garments.

ועל ידי עסק ההלכות בדבור ומחשבה, מתפרשים ומתפרדים מהקדושה

Through the study of the laws, in speech and in thought, they become separated11 and distinct from the sacred.

כמו שכתוב בתיקונים ורעיא מהימנא: לאפרשא כו׳

Thus it is stated in Tikkunim and Raya Mehemna,12 “To separate [13etc.] [the kelipot from holiness through Torah study].”

How does Torah study accomplish the separation and refinement of the kelipot, when the issue of Supernal Wisdom originally in Torah was unable to effect this, and there came about the admixture of good and evil in the Worlds of Yetzirah and Asiyah?

והיינו כנודע ממה שאמרו: על שלא ברכו בתורה תחלה כו׳

This accords with what is known concerning the teaching of our Sages14 (in answer to the prophet’s query,15 “Why was the land destroyed?”): “For they did not recite the blessing before Torah study....”

The inner meaning of this is that the people of those times failed to draw down the infinite light into their study of the Torah (for ברך, the root of the word in the Holy Tongue that means “blessing”, signifies “drawing down”). Evil cannot be separated from good by the Torah alone: it must be studied in the proper manner.

שהוא על ידי המשכת אור אין סוף בחכמה עילאה המלובשת בהן

This [separation] is effected by drawing down the infinite light into the Supreme Wisdom clothed in them, in the laws of the Torah.

ובחכמה איתברירו, באור אין סוף שבה

Through Chochmah they are sorted out — through the infinite light that is within it, i.e., within Chochmah.

This is equally true regarding the study of the laws of prohibitory commands, even those that most probably will never occur. For the Torah study itself accomplishes this purification.

והמשכה זו נעשה על ידי דיוקן העליון של האדם, העוסק גם כן בהלכות אלו למעלה

This [light] is drawn into the Supreme Wisdom by the supernal “likeness” of man, who is also occupied with these laws above,

When a man studies Torah below, his source above engages in Torah study as well.

בשרשו בנוקבא דז״א דבריאה יצירה עשיה

in its source in nukva of Za of Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah.

ובזה יובן חיוב כל נפש רוח נשמה להשלים כל התרי״ג, במחשבה דבור ומעשה

Thus we can understand the requirement16 that every Nefesh-Ruach-Neshamah fulfill all 613 commandments in thought, speech and deed,

שהן פרטי ההלכות

meaning the details of the laws, for thought and speech refer to the study of all these details.

וצריכות לבא בגלגול להשלים התורה בפשט, רמז, דרוש, סוד

They (any Nefesh-Ruach-Neshamah that failed to complete a previous mission in this world) must be reincarnated to fulfill the Torah — in its simple meaning, allusions, homiletics and secrets,17

כדי לברר כל הבירורין הנוגעים להם מכל הרפ״ח, שהיא קומת אדם שלמה

in order to sort out and refine all that pertains to them from among the 288 sparks that constitute the complete structure of man,

תרי״ג בחינות כלליות ופרטיות

with the 613 categories, general and particular, that relate to each soul.

אבל לעתיד לבא, כשיושלם הבירור, יהיה עסק התורה בבחינת עשה טוב לבד

But in the Time to Come, when the refinement is culminated, the study of Torah will be in the form of “do good” alone, and no longer in order to separate good from evil.

להעלות הנפש רוח נשמה מעלה מעלה עד אין סוף

[Its purpose will be] to elevate the Nefesh-Ruach-Neshamah ever and infinitely higher;

וגם בשס״ה לא תעשה, בשרשן למעלה, שהן גבורות קדושות

and also, with regard to [the study of] the 365 prohibitions, [to elevate them] to their source, the holy attributes of Severity,

ולהמתיקן בחסדים ברמ״ח מצות עשה, ולכללן יחד

and to “sweeten” them through the attributes of Kindness that are in the 248 positive commandments, and to fuse them — the attributes of Severity with the attributes of Kindness.

ועל כן התורה כולה נצחית בכללה ובפרטה

The entire Torah is thus eternal in general and in detail.

I.e., including even all the detailed laws that have no practical application at all in the Time to Come.

שגם פרטי ההלכות דשס״ה לא תעשה, הן הן ענפים מהכללות

For even the individual laws of the 365 prohibitions are branches of the Torah’s general statements.

ויש לכולם שרש למעלה, בה׳ גבורות דקדושה

All of them have a source above in the five holy attributes of Severity,

כמו השס״ה לא תעשה עצמן שהן למעלה, בחינת הדם המחיה האברים דכלים דז״א

just as the 365 prohibitions themselves as they are above, in the state of “blood” that animates the organs of the vessels of Za.