Certain penitential fasts, then, are to be actually undertaken, while others are to be redeemed through charity.

ואולם כל הנ״ל הוא לגמר הכפרה ומירוק הנפש לה׳ אחר התשובה

However, all we have said refers to the culmination of the atonement — to polishing the soul clean before G‑d, so that no vestige of former sin remains, after repentance,

כמו שהובא לעיל מהגמרא, פרק קמא דזבחים, דעולה דורון היא לאחר שריצה הפרקליט וכו׳

as cited above1 from the Talmud, ch. 1 of Zevachim, where the olah sacrifice brought for transgressing a positive command is described as the gift offered to the offended party after an intercessor’s successful plea.

The above-mentioned fasts (or their counterpart in charity) serve a similar function.

אמנם התחלת מצות התשובה ועיקרה

But the beginning of the mitzvah of teshuvah and its core

לשוב עד ה׳ באמת ובלב שלם

is a true and wholehearted return to G‑d.

As will soon become apparent, this “return (lit.:) until G‑d” means returning until the point that one has restored completeness to Havayah, the Four-Letter Name of G‑d, that is to be found within every Jewish soul.

The letters that comprise the Tetragrammaton are (in descending order) yud and hei, and vav and hei.

ההכרח לבאר היטב בהרחבת הביאור

This must now be explained thoroughly and comprehensively.

בהקדים מה שכתוב בזהר הקדוש בביאור מלת תשובה על דרך הסוד

Let us begin with the Zohar’s interpretation2 of teshuvah according to Sod, the mystical approach to the Torah:

תשוב ה׳

“[Teshuvah is] tashuv hei (‘the hei is to be returned’);

The function of teshuvah is to return the letter hei of the Divine Name Havayah — to reattach it to the level represented by the letter that precedes it, just as it was attached to it before the individual sinned.

ה׳ תתאה תשובה תתאה

[the reconnection of] the latter hei [to the preceding letter vav] is teshuvah tata‘ah (’lower-level teshuvah‘);

ה׳ עילאה תשובה עילאה

[the reconnection of] the former hei [to the preceding letter yud] is teshuvah ila‘ah (’higher-level teshuvah‘).“

וגם מה שכתוב בזהר הקדוש בקצת מקומות שאין תשובה מועלת לפוגם בריתו ומוציא זרע לבטלה

We must also note that the Zohar states several times3 that teshuvah is ineffective for violation of the covenant and for the wasteful emission of semen.

והוא דבר תמוה מאד, שאין לך דבר עומד בפני התשובה, ואפילו עבודה זרה וגילוי עריות וכו׳

This is most astonishing, for4 “nothing can stand in the way of teshuvah, even idolatry, incest, and so on.”

Jews are commanded to give up their lives rather than transgress these prohibitions, yet repentance atones even for them. How, then, can it be that there are other sins for which repentance is ineffective?

ופירש בראשית חכמה שכוונת הזוהר שאין מועלת תשובה תתאה, כי אם תשובה עילאה וכו׳

The Reishit Chochmah explains5 that the intention of the Zohar is that though teshuvah tata‘ah (the conventional level of repentance) is not effective, teshuvah ila’ah is.

הנה להבין זאת מעט מזעיר

To grasp even a minute glimmer6 of this,

צריך להקדים מה שמבואר מהכתוב ומדברי רז״ל, ענין הכרת ומיתה בידי שמים

we must preface what Scripture and our Sages say about [what is entailed by] excision and death by divine agency.

כשעבר עבירה שחייבים עליה כרת, הי׳ מת ממש קודם חמשים שנה

A violator of a sin punishable by excision would actually7 die before his fiftieth year.8

ובמיתה בידי שמים, מת ממש קודם ששים שנה

In the case of death by divine agency he would actually9 die before sixty,

כחנניה בן עזור הנביא, בירמיהו

like the prophet Chananiah ben Azur in Jeremiah.10

As a result of his false prophecy, G‑d told him, “I shall banish you from the face of the earth….” This resulted in his actual death.

ולפעמים גם במיתה בידי שמים נפרעין לאלתר, כמו שמצינו בער ואונן

(11Indeed, there have been instances in which the punishment of death by divine agency was also meted out instantly, as with Er and Onan.)

This involved a sin incurring death by divine agency.12

In any event, both Scripture and the Sages attest that those guilty of sins punishable by excision or death by divine agency would actually die before they reached the age of fifty or sixty. This leads to the following question:

והרי נמצאו בכל דור כמה וכמה חייבי כריתות ומיתות, והאריכו ימיהם ושנותיהם בנעימים

But in every generation there are so many individuals liable to excision and death who nevertheless enjoy extended and pleasant13 days and years!

אך הענין יובן על פי מה שכתוב: כי חלק ה׳ עמו וגו׳

The key to this will be found in the phrase,14 “For [G‑d’s] people are part of G‑d...”;

חלק משם הוי׳ ברוך הוא

[they are] part of the Four-Letter Name of G‑d.

כדכתיב: ויפח באפיו נשמת חיים

Thus, describing G‑d’s infusion of a soul into the body of Adam, it is written:15 “And He blew into his nostrils a soul of life,”

ומאן דנפח מתוכו נפח וכו׳

and, as the Zohar comments,16 “He who blows, does so from within him, etc.”17

The metaphor of blowing signifies that the soul of a Jew originates in the innermost aspect of G‑dliness — in the Tetragrammaton, as shall be soon explained.

ואף שאין לו דמות הגוף וכו׳ חס ושלום

Now [G‑d] has no bodily form, and so on,18 G‑d forbid.

How, then, is it possible to say that G‑d “blew”, and to speak of a “part” of Himself?

אך דברה תורה כלשון בני אדם

However, the Torah19 “speaks as in the language of men,” i.e., anthropomorphically.

כי כמו שיש הפרש והבדל גדול באדם התחתון, על דרך משל, בין ההבל שיוצא מפיו בדבורו להבל היוצא על ידי נפיחה

By way of analogy: There exists a vast difference in the case of mortal man between the breath issuing from his mouth while speaking and the breath of forceful blowing.

שביוצא בדיבורו מלובש בו כח וחיות מעט מזעיר

The breath that issues with his speech embodies the soul’s power and life-force only minimally,

והוא בבחינת חיצוניות מנפש החיה שבקרבו

and that is only from the superficial aspect of the soul that dwells within him.

אבל ביוצא בכח הנופח דמתוכו נפח

But the breath that issues when he blows forcefully, from deep within himself,

מלובש בו כח וחיות פנימית מבחינת נפש החיה וכו׳

embodies the internal power and life-force of the vivifying soul….

Just as there exists a vast difference between man’s speaking and forceful blowing:

ככה ממש, על דרך משל, המבדיל הבדלות לאין קץ

Precisely so in the analogy [of Creation], allowing for the infinite differentiations involved [between Creator and created],

יש הפרש עצום מאד למעלה

there exists a prodigious difference Above,

בין כל צבא השמים, ואפילו המלאכים, שנבראו מאין ליש

between all the hosts of heaven, even the spiritual beings like angels, who were created ex nihilo, [and the soul of man].

וחיים וקיימים מבחינת חיצוניות החיות והשפע שמשפיע אין סוף ברוך הוא להחיות העולמות

They derive their life and existence from the external aspect of the life-force issuing forth from the Infinite One to vitalize creation.

ובחינה זו נקראת בשם רוח פיו, על דרך משל, כמו שכתוב: וברוח פיו כל צבאם

his [external] aspect of the life-giving power is called the “breath of His mouth,” as it were, as the verse states:20 “By the breath of His mouth all their hosts [were created].”

והיא בחינת חיות המלובשת באותיות שבעשרה מאמרות

This is the creative power embodied in the letters of the Ten Utterances

שהן בחינת כלים והמשכות וכו׳, כמו שנתבאר בלקוטי אמרים חלק ב׳ פרק י״א

(21these letters being in the nature of vessels, and a drawing down and so forth of the life-force, as explained in Likutei Amarim, Part II, ch. 11).

ובין נשמת האדם שנמשכה תחלה מבחינת פנימיות החיות והשפע שמשפיע אין סוף ברוך הוא

In contrast, the soul of man derives initially from the innermost dimension of the life-force and flow issuing from the Infinite One,

כמו שכתוב: ויפח וגו׳

as in the verse quoted above, “And He blew….”

As mentioned earlier, this verb indicates the internal aspect of the Divine flow of life-force, for “he who blows, does so from his innermost being.”

Thus, the soul originated in the internal aspect of the life-force and flow issuing from G‑d. It is only afterwards, in order to enable it to be invested within the body, that the soul descended to a more external level, as the Alter Rebbe now goes on to say.

ואחר כך ירדה בסתר המדרגה, גם כן על ידי בחינת האותיות שבמאמר: נעשה אדם וכו׳

It then descended through ever more concealing planes, also (like the angels who were created by means of “letters”) by means of the letters that comprise the Divine Utterance,22 “Let us make man...,”

כדי להתלבש בגוף עולם הזה התחתון

in order that it could eventually be invested in a body in this inferior, [physical] world.

This, then, is the difference between souls and angels: Souls derive from the innermost aspect of G‑dliness, the Tetragrammaton, while angels are rooted in the external aspect of G‑dliness, the Divine Name Elokim, as is now explained.

ולכן נקראו המלאכים בשם אלקים בכתוב

For this reason Scripture calls the angels “Elokim”,

וכמו שכתוב: כי ה׳ אלקיכם הוא אלקי האלקים גו׳

as23 in the phrase,24 “For the L‑rd your G‑d, 25He is the G‑d of G‑ds (Elokim).,” the last word here referring to angels,

הודו לאלקי האלקים גו׳

[and likewise],26 “Praise the G‑d of G‑ds (Elokim).,” once again referring to angels by the name “Elokim”,

ויבואו בני האלקים להתייצב גו׳

and (in yet another reference to angels),27 “The sons of G‑d (Elokim) came to present themselves….”

The Name Elokim is applied to angels:

לפי שיניקת חיותם היא מבחינת חיצוניות, שהיא בחינת האותיות לבד

Because they derive their nurture from the external degree [of G‑dliness], which is merely the state of “letters”.

ושם אלקים הוא בחינת חיצוניות לגבי שם הויה ברוך הוא

Similarly, the Name Elokim is an external state relative to the Tetragrammaton.

אבל נשמת האדם, שהיא מבחינת פנימיות החיות, היא חלק שם הויה ברוך הוא

But the soul of man, deriving from the internal aspect of the G‑dly vivifying power, is a part of the Tetragrammaton,

כי שם הויה מורה על פנימיות החיות, שהיא למעלה מעלה מבחינת האותיות

for the Tetragrammaton indicates the innermost dimension of the life-giving power, which far transcends the state of letters.

וביאור הענין

To explain:

What characteristics of the soul also characterize Havayah, the Four-Letter Name of G‑d, and thus indicate that the soul is indeed a part of that Name? In answer to this question, the Alter Rebbe now explains that just as the Ten Sefirot are included within the Tetragrammaton, so, too, there are ten corresponding faculties that are intrinsic to the soul.

כנודע ממאמר אליהו: אנת הוא דאפיקת עשר תיקונין, וקרינן להון עשר ספירן, לאנהגא בהון עלמין סתימין וכו׳

There is a well-known statement of Eliyahu, in the passage entitled Patach Eliyahu, in the introduction to Tikkunei Zohar: “You are He Who elicited the ten tikkunim (lit., ‘garments’) which we call the Ten Sefirot, by which to conduct the concealed worlds…[and the revealed worlds...].28

אנת הוא חכים, ולא בחכמה ידיעא

You are wise, but not with a knowable attribute of wisdom;

אנת הוא מבין, ולא בבינה ידיעא וכו׳

You understand, but not with a knowable attribute of understanding; and so on“ — with regard to the remaining Sefirot.

וכל הי׳ ספירות נכללות ונרמזות בשם הויה ברוך הוא

All the Ten Sefirot are included and represented in their source, the Tetragrammaton.

The Alter Rebbe now shows how the various Sefirot find expression in the four letters that comprise this Divine Name, Havayah.

כי היו״ד, שהיא בחינת נקודה לבד, מרמזת לחכמתו ית׳

The yud, which is a simple point, extending in neither length nor breadth, indicates G‑d’s Wisdom, the Sefirah of Chochmah,

שהיא בבחינת העלם והסתר קודם שבאה לבחינת התפשטות וגילוי ההשגה וההבנה

which is the state of concealment and obscurity, before it develops into a state of expansion and revelation in comprehension and understanding.

והקוץ שעל היו״ד רומז לבחינת רצון העליון ברוך הוא, שלמעלה מעלה ממדרגת בחינת חכמה עילאה כנודע

(29The “thorn” above30 the yud indicates the Supreme Will, this being the level of Keter, which transcends by far the level of Chochmah Ila‘ah, Supernal Wisdom, as is known.)

ואחר שבאה לבחינת התפשטות וגילוי ההשגה וההבנה לעלמין סתימין

When [the seminal “point” of Chochmah] is eventually amplified and revealed as something comprehensible to the concealed worlds, i.e., when it descends to the level and Sefirah of Binah,

נכללת ונרמזת באות ה׳, שיש לה בחינת התפשטות לרוחב, המורה ומרמז על הרחבת הביאור וההבנה

it is then contained and represented in the letter hei of the Tetragrammaton. This letter extends in breadth, implying a breadth of explanation and understanding, which is the function of Binah.

וגם לאורך, המורה על בחינת ההמשכה וההשפעה מלמעלה למטה לעלמין סתימין

[The letter hei] also extends in length, to indicate extension and flow downward into the concealed worlds.

The hidden worlds are nourished from the level of Binah, so that they may have an understanding of G‑dliness.

ואחר כך, כשנמשכת המשכה והשפעה זו יותר למטה לעלמין דאתגליין

In the next stage, when this extension and flow are drawn still lower into the revealed worlds,

וכמו האדם שרוצה לגלות חכמתו לאחרים על ידי דבורו, על דרך משל

which may be compared, by way of analogy, to one who wishes31 to reveal his thoughts to another through his speech,

נכללת ונרמזת המשכה זו באותיות ו״ה

this extension is contained and represented in the [final] letters vav and hei [of the Tetragrammaton].

כי הוי״ו מורה על ההמשכה מלמעלה למטה

For the letter vav, which is shaped like a vertical line, indicates downward extension.

There is another connection between this stage and the letter vav:

וגם המשכה זו היא על ידי מדת חסדו וטובו ושאר מדותיו הקדושות, הנכללת בדרך כלל במספר שש שבפסוק: לך ה׳ הגדולה וגו׳ עד לך ה׳ הממלכה, ולא עד בכלל

Also, this downward flow into the revealed worlds is effected through the Divine traits of benevolence and goodness and [G‑d’s] other holy traits, included in general terms in the six attributes, the numerical equivalent of vav, in the verse,32 “Yours, O G‑d, is greatness...,” — until “Yours, O G‑d, is sovereignty...,” but not including it.

כי מדת מלכותו ית׳ נקראת בשם דבר ה׳

For His attribute of sovereignty is called the “Word of G‑d” (and speech is not one of the middot, the spiritual emotive attributes),

כמו שכתוב: באשר דבר מלך שלטון

as in the verse,33 “Wherever the word of the king holds sway.”

Supernal speech, then, is related to Malchut, G‑d’s sovereignty.

ונכללת ונרמזת באות ה׳ אחרונה של שם ה׳

This [attribute of sovereignty] is contained and represented in the final hei of the Tetragrammaton, in the following manner:

כי פנימיות ומקור הדבור הוא ההבל העולה מן הלב, ומתחלק לה׳ מוצאות הפה: אחה״ע מהגרון וכו׳

The internal aspect and the source of speech is the breath that rises from the heart, then is particularized into the five oral articulations (five being the numerical equivalent of the letter hei). [One of these produces the bracket of letters] alef, chet, hei and ayin from the throat, another produces the bracket of letters beit, vav, mem and pei from the lips, and so on.

At any rate, the internal aspect of speech is breath.

וגם הברת הה״א היא בחינת הבל לבד

In particular, the enunciation of the letter hei is solely unvocalized breath,

כמו שכתוב: אתא קלילא דלית בה מששא

as in the phrase,34 “A light letter without substance.”

Emanating, as it does, solely from the breath, it alludes to the level of Malchut and speech whose internal aspect is “breath”.

ואף שאין לו דמות הגוף חס ושלום

Now “He has no corporeal form,” G‑d forbid.

How, then, can one differentiate Above between those letters that possess substance and those that do not?

אך דברה תורה כלשון בני אדם

Nevertheless, “the Torah speaks as in the language of men.”

Since on the mortal plane this differentiation exists, it is also applied to the Divine plane, for spiritually, too, there exists a corresponding difference between the letter hei and the other letters.


Moreover (i.e., there is yet another reason why this analogy is apt, notwithstanding the fact that G‑d has no corporeal form):

שגם דבר ה׳ כ״ב אותיות המתחלקות לה׳ חלקי המוצאות, ובהן נברא כל היצור

for G‑d’s speech as well consists, as it were, of twenty-two letters that separate into the five articulations that produce the Divine speech from which all beings were created.

וכמו שכתוב בליקוטי אמרים חלק ב׳ פי״א ביאור ענין אותיות אלו

(35For a discussion of these letters and their significance, see Likutei Amarim, Part II, ch. 11.)

We thus see that all the Ten Sefirot are included and represented within the Tetragrammaton. The Alter Rebbe now goes on to explain that likewise within the soul, which is part of the Tetragrammaton, there exist ten corresponding levels or faculties.

וככה ממש, על דרך משל, המבדיל הבדלות לאין קץ, בנשמת האדם

Analogously, exactly the same applies to the soul of man, again keeping in mind the infinite separation between the Creator and the created soul,

שהיא בחינת נפש האלקית דמתוכיה נפח

which is the divine soul which “He blew from within Himself.”

Since the soul derives from the internal aspect of G‑dliness, the Tetragrammaton, which comprises the Ten Sefirot, the soul likewise comprises the following characteristics:

יש בה בחינת שכל הנעלם, המרומז באות יו״ד

There is [the initial state of Chochmah,] the hidden concept alluded to by the letter yud,

Just as the letter yud lacks length and breadth and is but a simple point, so, too, is Chochmah a faculty that lacks intellectual length and breadth, merely —

שבכחו לצאת אל הגילוי, להבין ולהשכיל באמתתו ית׳ ובגדולתו וכו'

possessing the potential of being revealed, and thereby understanding and conceiving G‑d’s true existence and greatness,

כל חד וחד לפום שיעורא דיליה, לפי רוחב שכלו ובינתו

in each person according to his measure, according to the breadth of his intellect and understanding.

While the degree of one’s comprehension of G‑dliness depends on the breadth of one’s intellect, a Jew’s essential ability to find G‑d’s true being and greatness securely integrated in his mind, stems from the soul’s attribute of Chochmah, alluded to in the letter yud.

וכפי אשר מעמיק שכלו ומרחיב דעתו ובינתו להתבונן בגדולתו ית׳

As a man deepens his intelligence, as he broadens his mind and comprehension, to contemplate G‑d’s greatness,

אזי מרומזת בינתו באות ה״א, שיש לה רוחב

his now-developed understanding, the faculty of Binah, is alluded to by the letter hei, that has breadth, indicating the breadth of his understanding.

וגם אורך, המורה על ההמשכה מלמעלה למטה

[The hei] also has length, to indicate downward extension,

להוליד מבינתו והתבוננותו בגדולת ה׳ אהבה ויראה ותולדותיהן

so that from his understanding and contemplation of G‑d’s greatness, he arouses love and fear and their offspring, i.e., the other emotive attributes, which are termed the offspring or branches of love and fear,

במוחו ותעלומות לבו

in his mind and in the recesses of his heart,

At this early stage in the generation of the spiritual emotions of love and fear and so on, they are not yet manifest.

ואחר כך בבחינת התגלות לבו

until ultimately they find overt expression in his heart.

The downward progression of intellect into the realm of emotions is thus indicated by the vertical length of the letter hei.

ומזה נמשכה עבודה האמיתית בעסק התורה והמצות, בקול ודבור או מעשה

These [spiritual emotions] lead to the true service of G‑d, in Torah study and mitzvah observance, with voice and speech or with deed.

True divine service is that which is motivated by the love and awe of G‑d, as explained above in Part I, ch. 4.

הן אותיות וא״ו ה״א וכו׳

This is the import of the [final] letters vav and hei [of the Four-Letter Name, Havayah]..., for vav alludes to voice and speech, while hei alludes to action.

וגם ההתבוננות, להבין ולהשכיל באמתתו וגדולתו ית׳, נמשכה גם כן מן התורה

Furthermore, contemplation that endeavors to understand and conceive of G‑d’s true being, also derives from Torah,

I.e., such contemplation must necessarily be preceded by the study of Torah,

דאורייתא מחכמה נפקא, היא בחינת יו״ד של שם הויה וכו׳

for36 “Torah proceeds from Chochmah,” which is the yud of the Tetragrammaton.