The mitzvot requiring action were a major theme in Essay 4. 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.

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

וּלְהָבִין פְּרָטֵי הַהֲלָכוֹת דְּלָא שְׁכִיחֵי כְּלָל,

and possibly never actually existed,

וְאֶפְשָׁר שֶׁלֹּא הָיוּ מֵעוֹלָם בִּמְצִיאוּת,

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

מִכָּל שֶׁכֵּן שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיוּ לֶעָתִיד לָבֹא,

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

כְּמוֹ פְּרָטֵי דִּינֵי פִּיגּוּל וּכְהַאי גַוְנָא.

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

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

הִנֵּה מוּדַעַת זֹאת, שֶׁכָּל אִיסּוּר שֶׁבָּעוֹלָם יֵשׁ לוֹ שֹׁרֶשׁ וּמְקוֹר חַיִּים בַּקְּלִיפּוֹת,

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

שֶׁאִם לֹא כֵן לֹא הָיָה יָכוֹל לִהְיוֹת בִּמְצִיאוּת בָּעוֹלָם בִּלְתִּי הַשְׁפָּעָה עֶלְיוֹנָה.

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

וַאֲפִילוּ הַמְסַלְסֵל בְּשַׂעֲרוֹ וּכְהַאי גַּוְנָא, מְקַבֵּל חַיּוּתוֹ בְּרֶגַע זוֹ מֵהֵיכְלוֹת הַקְּלִיפּוֹת, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּזֹּהַר.

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

וְהִלְכָּךְ, גַּם פְּרָטֵי הָאִיסּוּרִים שֶׁלֹּא בָאוּ לִידֵי מַעֲשֶׂה מֵעוֹלָם בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה הַגַּשְׁמִי,

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

מִכָּל מָקוֹם שָׁרְשֵׁי חַיּוּתָם הֵן בִּמְצִיאוּת בְּפוֹעַל מַמָּשׁ בְּהֵיכְלוֹת הַקְּלִיפּוֹת.

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

וְגַם הַפְּרָטִים שֶׁיּוּכַל לִהְיוֹת שֶׁלֹּא הָיוּ וְלֹא יִהְיוּ לְעוֹלָם בִּמְצִיאוּת,

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

כְּגוֹן טָעוּת וּשְׁגָגוֹת, שֶׁטָּעָה וְקָרָא לַתְּשִׁיעִי עֲשִׂירִי כוּ' וּכְהַאי גַּוְנָא,

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

דְּלֹא שַׁיָּיךְ בְּמֵזִיד לִהְיוֹת קְלִיפָּה שׁוֹרָה עַל זֶה,

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

וְיוּכַל לִהְיוֹת דִּכְהַאי גַּוְנָא אֵינוֹ בִּמְצִיאוּת בְּהֵיכְלוֹת הַקְּלִיפּוֹת

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

[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.]

[הגהה מאדמו"ר בעל צמח צדק זכרונו לברכה נשמתו עדן: נִרְאֶה לִי, מַה שֶּׁכָּתַב "וְיוּכַל לִהְיוֹת", אַלְמָא – דְּלָא בְּרִירָא לֵיהּ, הַיְינוּ מִשּׁוּם שֶׁהַשְּׁגָגוֹת בָּאוֹת מִנּוֹגַהּ, אִם כֵּן, יֵשׁ לוֹמַר, דְּיֵשׁ לָהֶם שֹׁרֶשׁ בְּהֵיכָלוֹת דְּנוֹגַהּ].

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,

מִכָּל מָקוֹם, עַל כָּל פָּנִים יֶשְׁנוֹ בִּמְצִיאוּת, לְהַבְדִּיל, בְּחָכְמָה עִילָּאָה, שֶׁנִּתְפַּשְּׁטָה בִּפְרָט זֶה לְמֹשֶׁה רַבֵּינוּ עָלָיו־הַשָּׁלוֹם בְּסִינַי,

[4as in the expression, “Whatever teaching] any seasoned student will one day innovate…[was taught to Moses at Sinai].”5

[כַּמַּאֲמָר: "מַה] שֶׁכָּל תַּלְמִיד וָתִיק עָתִיד לְחַדֵּשׁ כוּ'",

Likewise, all the detailed queries of R. Yirmiya, who posed so many hypothetical possibilities that he was escorted from the House of Study, as the Gemara relates,6

וְכָל פְּרָטֵי הָאִבַּעְיוֹת דְּרַבִּי יִרְמְיָה,

Obviously, his queries involved situations that were entirely unlikely to ever take place.7

and [detailed queries such as] “If she wrapped him…,” in ch. 4 of Chullin,8

וּ"כְרָכַתּוּ כוּ'" פֶּרֶק ד' דְּחוּלִּין.

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.

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.

כִּי הִתְפַּשְּׁטוּת חָכְמָה עִילָּאָה הִיא בִּבְחִינַת "אֵין־סוֹף" הַמְלוּבָּשׁ בָּהּ בְּפוֹעַל מַמָּשׁ,

Every particular of the law is a gate drawn from the supreme wisdom

וְכָל פְּרַט הֲלָכָה, הוּא שַׁעַר נִמְשָׁךְ מֵחָכְמָה עִילָּאָה,

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

דְּ"יָסַד בְּרַתָּא", וּמְלוּבָּשׁ בָּהּ,

Chochmah (the “father”) founded malchut (the “daughter”). “Malchut is the mouth, which we call the Oral Torah.”9 Chochmah, then, is clothed in the laws of the Oral Torah as they are to be found in their source in malchut of Atzilut.

and from [malchut], [chochmah] is drawn and invested in Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah.

וּמִמֶּנָּה נִמְשָׁךְ וּמִתְלַבֵּשׁ בִּבְרִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה.

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

It is known that the nurture of the kelipot derives from the hinderpart of the ten sefirot of holiness,

וְנוֹדָע, כִּי יְנִיקַת הַקְּלִיפּוֹת מֵאֲחוֹרַיִים דְּי' סְפִירוֹת דִּקְדוּשָּׁה,

and more precisely, from the garments of the ten sefirot of Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah,

וּבִפְרָט מִלְּבוּשִׁים דְּי' סְפִירוֹת דִּבְרִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה,

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

וּבִפְרָט דִּיצִירָה וַעֲשִׂיָּה הַמְעוֹרָבִים בַּקְּלִיפּוֹת,

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

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

כַּנּוֹדָע, שֶׁיְּנִיקָתָם מִבְּחִינַת הַלְּבוּשִׁים.

Through the study of the laws, in speech and in thought, they become separated10 and distinct from the sacred.

וְעַל־יְדֵי עֵסֶק הַהֲלָכוֹת בְּדִבּוּר וּמַחֲשָׁבָה מִתְפָּרְשִׁים וּמִתְפָּרְדִים מֵהַקְּדוּשָּׁה,

Thus, it is stated in Tikkunim and Raaya Mehemna, “To separate [11etc.] [the kelipot from holiness through Torah study].”12

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּתִּיקּוּנִים וְרַעְיָא מְהֵימְנָא: "לְאַפְרָשָׁא [כוּ']".

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?

This accords with what is known concerning the teaching of our Sages13 (in answer to the prophet’s query,14 “Why was the land destroyed?”): “For they did not recite the blessing before Torah study….”

וְהַיְינוּ – כַּנּוֹדָע מִמַּה שֶּׁאָמְרוּ: "עַל שֶׁלֹּא בֵּרְכוּ בַּתּוֹרָה תְּחִלָּה" כוּ',

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.

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

שֶׁהוּא עַל־יְדֵי הַמְשָׁכַת אוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בְּחָכְמָה עִילָּאָה הַמְלוּבֶּשֶׁת בָּהֶן,

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

וּ"בְחָכְמָה אִתְבְּרִירוּ" – בְּאוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף שֶׁבָּהּ.

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.

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

וְהַמְשָׁכָה זוֹ נַעֲשַׂה עַל־יְדֵי דְּיוֹקָן הָעֶלְיוֹן שֶׁל הָאָדָם, הָעוֹסֵק גַּם כֵּן בַּהֲלָכוֹת אֵלּוּ לְמַעְלָה

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

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

בְּשָׁרְשׁוֹ, בְּנוּקְבָא דִ"זְעֵיר אַנְפִּין" דִּבְרִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה.

Thus, we can understand the requirement15 that every nefesh-ruach-neshamah fulfill all 613 commandments in thought, speech, and deed,

וּבָזֶה יוּבַן חִיּוּב כָּל נֶפֶשׁ־רוּחַ־נְשָׁמָה לְהַשְׁלִים כָּל הַתַּרְיַ"ג בְּמַחֲשָׁבָה דִּבּוּר וּמַעֲשֶׂה

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

שֶׁהֵן פְּרָטֵי הַהֲלָכוֹת,

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,16

וּצְרִיכוֹת לָבֹא בְּגִלְגּוּל לְהַשְׁלִים הַתּוֹרָה בִּפְשַׁט־רֶמֶז־דְּרוּשׁ־סוֹד,

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

כְּדֵי לְבָרֵר כָּל הַבֵּירוּרִין הַנּוֹגְעוֹת לָהֶם מִכָּל הָרַפַּ"ח, שֶׁהִיא קוֹמַת אָדָם שְׁלֵמָה,

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

תַּרְיַ"ג בְּחִינוֹת כְּלָלִיּוֹת וּפְרָטִיּוֹת.

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.

אֲבָל לֶעָתִיד לָבֹא, כְּשֶׁיּוּשְׁלַם הַבֵּירוּר, יִהְיֶה עֵסֶק הַתּוֹרָה בִּבְחִינַת "עֲשֵׂה טוֹב" לְבַד –

[Its purpose will be] to elevate the nefesh-ruach-neshamah ever and infinitely higher,

לְהַעֲלוֹת הַנֶּפֶשׁ־רוּחַ־נְשָׁמָה מַעְלָה מַּעְלָה עַד אֵין סוֹף,

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

וְגַם בְּשַׁסַ"ה לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה בְּשָׁרְשָׁן לְמַעְלָה, שֶׁהֵן גְּבוּרוֹת קְדוֹשׁוֹת,

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.

וּלְהַמְתִּיקָן בַּחֲסָדִים בְּרַמַ"ח מִצְוֹת עֲשֵׂה, וּלְכָלְלָן יַחַד.

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

וְעַל כֵּן, הַתּוֹרָה כוּלָּהּ נִצְחִית בִּכְלָלָהּ וּבִפְרָטָהּ,

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

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

שֶׁגַּם פְּרָטֵי הַהֲלָכוֹת דְּשַׁסַ"ה לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה, הֵן הֵן עֲנָפִים מֵהַכְּלָלוֹת,

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

וְיֵשׁ לְכוּלָּם שֹׁרֶשׁ לְמַעְלָה בְּה' גְּבוּרוֹת דִּקְדוּשָּׁה,

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

כְּמוֹ הַשַׁסַ"ה לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה עַצְמָן, שֶׁהֵן לְמַעְלָה בְּחִינַת הַדָּם הַמְחַיֶּה הָאֵבָרִים דְּכֵלִים דִּ"זְעֵיר אַנְפִּין":