The previous chapter taught that the Jewish soul is a part of the Tetragrammaton, the internal aspect of G‑dliness, from which it derives. In this, it differs from other created beings whose source is more external—the Divine Name Elokim and supernal speech.

However, in order that the soul be able to become enclothed in a physical body in this corporeal world, it had to descend through ever more concealing planes by means of the letters that comprise the Divine utterance, “Let us make man.”

Deriving as it does from the internal aspect of the Divine life-force, the soul itself is thus loftier than the degree of supernal speech; it merely undergoes a descent through Divine speech. It is for this reason that concerning the infusion of man’s soul into the body, the Torah uses the expression “He blew,” indicating that it comes from an internal level, for “he who blows does so from the innermost aspect of his being.” Because the soul is part of the Tetragrammaton, it also comprises ten faculties that parallel the ten sefirot that are found within the Tetragrammaton.

In this chapter, the Alter Rebbe goes on to say that even though the soul was invested in the body through the external agency of speech—the utterance, “Let us make man”—nevertheless, it derives from the internal aspect of speech, namely, “breath.” In this regard, man differs from all other creatures, including angels, which derive their existence from the external aspect of speech. Accordingly, both the internal and external aspects of the soul derive from the internal aspect of G‑dliness, the internal aspect of the soul deriving from the internal aspect of G‑dliness, namely, the Tetragrammaton, the external aspect of the soul deriving from the internality of the external level of Divine speech.

Bringing the G‑dly soul down into this physical world to invest itself in a human body, this process resulting from Divine speech, viz., the utterance, “Let us make man,”

וְהִנֵּה, הַמְשָׁכַת וִירִידַת הַנֶּפֶשׁ הָאֱלֹקִית לָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה לְהִתְלַבֵּשׁ בְּגוּף הָאָדָם,

derives from the internal aspect, the source, of speech.

נִמְשְׁכָה מִבְּחִינַת פְּנִימִיּוּת וּמְקוֹר הַדִּיבּוּר,

This is the “breath” of the Supreme One that is indicated in the latter hey [of Havayah, the Four-Letter Name of G‑d] discussed above.

הוּא הֶבֶל הָעֶלְיוֹן, הַמְרוּמָּז בְּאוֹת הֵ"א תַּתָּאָה כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל,

As Scripture states concerning the vestiture of the soul within the body, “He blew into his nostrils a breath of life, and man became a living creature,”1

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "וַיִּפַּח בְּאַפָּיו נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים, וַיְהִי הָאָדָם לְנֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה",

and “he who blows does so from within him, [from his inwardness and innermost being].”

וּ"מַאן דְּנָפַח וְכוּ'".

Thus, even the external aspect of the soul that is vested within the body is vested in an inward manner, albeit with the inwardness of speech—the internal aspect of the external level of speech. In this regard, it is unlike the internal aspect of the soul, which emanates from the most internal aspect of G‑dliness.

This, then, is the meaning of the verse, “For [G‑d’s] people is a part of G‑d; Jacob is the rope of His inheritance.”2

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "כִּי חֵלֶק ה' עַמּוֹ, יַעֲקֹב חֶבֶל נַחֲלָתוֹ",

This verse implies that within the soul, there are to be found two levels: the internal aspect of the soul is “part of G‑d”; the external aspect of the soul is the “rope of His inheritance.”

The analogy is of a rope, whose upper end is bound above and the lower end below; so, too, the “upper end” of the soul is “bound Above,” and its “lower end” is enclothed within the body.

פֵּירוּשׁ, כְּמוֹ חֶבֶל, עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל, שֶׁרֹאשׁוֹ אֶחָד קָשׁוּר לְמַעְלָה וְקָצֵהוּ לְמַטָּה.

The simple meaning3 of the words “He blew” stated in reference to the soul’s vestiture within the body is to instruct us that just as, for example, if one blows in some direction,

כִּי הִנֵּה, פְּשַׁט הַכָּתוּב מַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב "וַיִּפַּח", הוּא לְהוֹרוֹת לָנוּ, כְּמוֹ שֶׁעַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל כְּשֶׁהָאָדָם נוֹפֵחַ לְאֵיזֶה מָקוֹם,

and there is any separation or obstruction there, then the exhaled breath will not reach that place at all,4

אִם יֵשׁ אֵיזֶה דָבָר חוֹצֵץ וּמַפְסִיק בֵּינְתַיִים אֵין הֶבֶל הַנּוֹפֵחַ עוֹלֶה וּמַגִּיעַ כְּלָל לְאוֹתוֹ מָקוֹם,

precisely, this is the case if any obstruction separates man’s body from the “breath” of the Supreme One, concerning which Scripture states, “He blew.”

כָּכָה מַמָּשׁ, אִם יֵשׁ דָּבָר חוֹצֵץ וּמַפְסִיק בֵּין גּוּף הָאָדָם לִבְחִינַת הֶבֶל הָעֶלְיוֹן.

The truth is, though, that nothing material or spiritual is a barrier before Him,

אַךְ בֶּאֱמֶת, אֵין שׁוּם דָּבָר גַּשְׁמִי וְרוּחָנִי חוֹצֵץ לְפָנָיו יִתְבָּרֵךְ,

for, as the verse states, “Do I not fill heaven and earth?”5

כִּי "הֲלֹא אֶת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת הָאָרֶץ אֲנִי מָלֵא",

Furthermore, Scripture states, “All the world is full of His glory.”6

וּ"מְלֹא כָל הָאָרֶץ כְּבוֹדוֹ",

Also, “There is no place devoid of Him,”7

וְ"לֵית אֲתַר פָּנוּי מִינֵּיהּ",

[and] “In the heavens above and on the earth below there is none else,”8

"בַּשָּׁמַיִם מִמַּעַל וְעַל הָאָרֶץ מִתָּחַת אֵין עוֹד",

[and] “He fills all worlds….”9

וְ"אִיהוּ מְמַלֵּא כָּל עָלְמִין וְכוּ'",

Since G‑d is everywhere and within everything, it is thus seemingly impossible for anything to act as a barrier before Him.

Rather, as Isaiah declares, “Only your sins separate you from your G‑d.”10

אֶלָּא כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בִּישַׁעְיָה: "כִּי אִם עֲווֹנוֹתֵיכֶם הָיוּ מַבְדִּילִים בֵּינֵיכֶם לְבֵין אֱלֹקֵיכֶם".

The reason is that sins oppose the will of the Supreme One, Who gives life to all,

וְהַטַּעַם, לְפִי שֶׁהֵם נֶגֶד רָצוֹן הָעֶלְיוֹן בָּרוּךְ־הוּא הַמְחַיֶּה אֶת הַכֹּל,

as in the verse, “Whatever G‑d wills, He has done in heaven and earth.”11

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "כֹּל אֲשֶׁר חָפֵץ ה' עָשָׂה בַּשָּׁמַיִם וּבָאָרֶץ"

(12It has been noted above that [the supreme will] is the source of the sustenance issuing from the Tetragrammaton and is represented in the “thorn” atop the letter yud.)

(וּכְמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְעֵיל, שֶׁהוּא מְקוֹר הַשְׁפָּעַת שֵׁם הַוָיָ', וְנִרְמָז בְּקוֹצוֹ שֶׁל יוּ"ד).

Inasmuch as the Tetragrammaton sustains all of creation, it follows that sins, which act in opposition to it, also oppose and conceal the Divine life-force. Sins are thus capable of preventing the Divine “breath” (concerning which it is written “He blew”) from reaching man.

This, then, is the meaning of excision:

וְזֶהוּ עִנְיַן הַכָּרֵת,

the “rope” drawn from the final hey in the Four-Letter Name of G‑d is severed, cut off.

שֶׁנִּכְרָת וְנִפְסָק חֶבֶל הַהַמְשָׁכָה מִשֵּׁם הַוָיָ' בָּרוּךְ־הוּא, שֶׁנִּמְשְׁכָה מֵהֵ"א תַּתָּאָה כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל,

As a result, the soul clothed within the body is unable to receive vitality from its source in that Divine Name. During those times when the Jewish people received their vitality only from the “side” of holiness (as, for example, during the period of the Temple, as the Alter Rebbe will say in the next chapter), the lack of this life-force led to physical death.

As the verse says in Parashat Emor: “That soul shall be cut off from before My face; I am G‑d.”13

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּפָרָשַׁת אֱמוֹר: "וְנִכְרְתָה הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַהִיא מִלְּפָנַי, אֲנִי ה'" –

The verse here uses the Tetragrammaton in referring to G‑d. Excision thus involves being sundered from the internal aspect of G‑dliness. It is this that the Alter Rebbe now goes on to say.

The expression chosen is “from before My face”; i.e., the soul is excised from the innermost aspect of G‑dliness, the Tetragrammaton.

"מִלְּפָנַי" דַּיְיקָא.

Other sins that do not incur excision

וּבִשְׁאָר עֲבֵירוֹת שֶׁאֵין בָּהֶן כָּרֵת –

do cause at least a defect in the soul, in the sense of the defect or nick that invalidates a blade for ritual slaughter.

עַל כָּל פָּנִים הֵן פּוֹגְמִין הַנֶּפֶשׁ, כַּנּוֹדָע; וּפְגַם, הוּא מִלְּשׁוֹן פְּגִימַת הַסַּכִּין.

As with the defective blade, a sin causes something to be lacking in the ropelike flow of life-force from the Tetragrammaton downward to the soul, as is now explained.

This is analogous to a thick rope woven of 613 thin strands.

וְהוּא עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל, מֵחֶבֶל עָב שָׁזוּר מִתַּרְיַ"ג חֲבָלִים דַּקִּים,

So, too, the “rope” of the downward flow mentioned above is comprised of the 613 mitzvot,14 each mitzvah being an individual, thin strand.

כָּכָה חֶבֶל הַהַמְשָׁכָה הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל – כָּלוּל מִתַּרְיַ"ג מִצְוֹת,

When one violates one of them, G‑d forbid, a thin strand consisting of that particular commandment is severed….

וּכְשֶׁעוֹבֵר חַס וְשָׁלוֹם עַל אַחַת מֵהֵנָּה – נִפְסָק חֶבֶל הַדַּק וְכוּ'.

Should an individual violate many commandments, G‑d forbid, then many strands are severed, and the “rope” is grievously weakened. Sins punishable by excision (or death by Divine agency) cause the entire “rope” to be severed, heaven forfend.

However, even if one has incurred excision or death, there yet remains an impression within him of his Divine soul,

אַךְ גַּם בְּחַיָּיב כָּרֵת וּמִיתָה נִשְׁאָר עֲדַיִין בּוֹ הָרְשִׁימוּ מִנַּפְשׁוֹ הָאֱלֹקִית,

and through this, he may live until fifty (in the case of excision) or sixty years (in the case of death by Divine agency), but no more.

וְעַל־יְדֵי זֶה יָכוֹל לִחְיוֹת עַד נ' אוֹ ס' שָׁנָה וְלֹא יוֹתֵר

(15As to the statement attributed to the Arizal that the makif, a transcendent level of life-force, enters such an individual, and so on,

(וּמַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב בְּשֵׁם הָאֲרִיזַ"ל שֶׁנִּכְנְסָה בּוֹ בְּחִינַת הַמַּקִּיף וְכוּ' –

Though unable to receive vitality from the internal aspect of G‑dliness, he is still able to receive vitality from this transcendent (lit., “encompassing”) level of G‑dliness. If this is indeed so, why can he not live longer than fifty or sixty years?

this is irrelevant to the life of the physical body,16 which cannot survive once there remains no vestige of the Divine soul,

אֵינוֹ עִנְיָן לְחַיֵּי גַּשְׁמִיּוּת הַגּוּף,

and applies only until fifty years,

וּמַיְירִי עַד נ' שָׁנָה,

I.e., the transcendent level is also found within an individual only so long as he is able to remain alive by virtue of the impression of the Divine soul that is still within his body.

or to the contemporary period, as will be noted.)

אוֹ בִּזְמַן הַזֶּה – כְּדִלְקַמָּן):

In this era, when a Jew’s vitality reaches him through becoming clothed in unholy media, it is possible for a person to live even after his soul has been sundered from its source in the Four-Letter Name of G‑d. This is why it is now possible for someone liable to excision or death by Divine agency to live longer than fifty or sixty years. And during this time, the holy life-force which must be found within a Jew is received from the transcendent level, as the Arizal teaches.