Two basic elements, as the Alter Rebbe made clear in the previous chapter, enable the lower level of repentance to be true and direct: (a) considering how one's soul and its Source, the Shechinah, are to be pitied, and arousing Supreme compassion upon them; (b) making a thoughtful, soulful and accurate accounting of the extent to which one's own sins have brought about the “exile of the Shechinah.” This will make one's heart humble and contrite, which in turn will crush the spirit of the kelipot and sitra achra.

והנה אחרי העמקת הדעת בכל הנ"ל

After deeply considering all this,

יוכל לבקש באמת מעומקא דלבא כרוב רחמיך מחה פשעי וגו'

one can truly plead, from his inmost heart,1 “In accordance with Your abounding compassion, erase my transgressions….”

This verse is recited during Tikkun Chatzot as well as during the bedside reading of Keriat Shema - propitious times for spiritual stocktaking, which will enable him to recite it wholeheartedly.

כי אזי תקבע בלבו באמת גודל הרחמנות על בחי' אלקות שבנפשו ושלמעלה כנ"ל

For by then his heart will be thoroughly impressed with the pathetic state of the spark of Divinity within his soul, and [in his soul's Source] Above, as noted earlier.

ובזה יעורר רחמים העליונים מי"ג מדה"ר הנמשכות מרצון העליון ברוך הוא

He will thereby arouse Supreme mercy, from the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy which derive from the Supreme Will,

הנרמז בקוצו של יו"ד

alluded to by the “thorn” atop the yud,

שלמעלה מעלה מבחינת ההשפעה הנשפעת מאותיות שם הוי'

which by far transcends the flow issuing from the letters of the Tetragrammaton.

Sins cause a blemish in the individual letters of the Tetragrammaton, as explained above. This causes the flow emanating from there, and from which a Jew derives his life-force, to descend into the kelipot and sitra achra and provide them with additional nurture.

When one arouses the Supreme mercies of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy, which emanate from the level of the Supreme Will that transcends the letters of the Tetragrammaton, he is then able to rectify the letters and redirect their flow into his soul.

ולכן הי"ג מדות הרחמים מנקים כל הפגמים

Therefore, on account of their lofty origin, these Thirteen Attributes of Mercy correct all defects,

וכמו שכתוב נושא עון ופשע ונקה

as it is written,2 “He bears sin and transgression…, and cleanses.”

With this awakening of mercies following the contrition,

ושוב אין יניקה להחיצונים והסטרא אחרא מהשפעת ה"א תתאה כנ"ל

there is no further nurture for the evil (lit., “extraneous”) forces and for the sitra achra from the life-force emanating from the lower hei, as noted.

(ובזה תשוב ה"א תתאה למקומה להתייחד ביה"ו וד"ל)

(3The latter hei thereupon returns to its proper place, reunited with [the preceding three letters of the Tetragrammaton,] yud-hei-vav. This will suffice for the understanding.)

This, then, is the meaning of the statement quoted in chapter 4, that the lower level of teshuvah consists of the “return of the lower hei.

וכן ממש למטה בנפש האלקית שבאדם

Just as there is a restoration of the hei Above, exactly so below in the Divine soul within man,

שוב אין עונותיכם מבדילים

no more do4 “your sins separate [you from G‑d].”

וכמו שכתוב ונקה מנקה הוא לשבים

Thus it is written, naming one of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy,5 “He cleanses,” on which our Sages comment,6 “He cleanses those who return to Him in penitence,”

לרחוץ ולנקות נפשם מלבושים הצואים הם החיצונים והסטרא אחרא

to lave and cleanse their souls of the soiled garments, which are the evil (lit., “extraneous”) forces, i.e., the kelipot and sitra achra,

כמו שכתוב בגמרא מלפפתו וכו'

that the Talmud describes 7 as [a garment born of a man's sin that] “envelops him….”

ומאחר שרוח עברה ותטהרם

After the8 “wind [of forgiveness] passes over [the souls of sinners] and purifies them,”

אזי תוכל נפשם לשוב עד הוי' ברוך הוא ממש

then their souls are enabled to return literally unto G‑d Himself,

ולעלות מעלה מעלה למקורה ולדבקה בו יתברך ביחוד נפלא

to ascend the greatest heights, to their very Source, and cleave to Him with a remarkable unity,

כמו שהיתה מיוחדת בו יתברך בתכלית היחוד בטרם שנפחה ברוח פיו ית'

in ultimate union with Him, just as before the soul was blown forth by the breath of His mouth

לירד למטה ולהתלבש בגוף האדם

to descend and be incorporated within the body of man.

(וכמו על דרך משל באדם הנופח ברוח פיו בטרם שיוצא הרוח מפיו הוא מיוחד בנפשו)‏

(9To illustrate this unity: Before one exhales, the breath is one with the person, inseparably.)

Likewise, just as the soul was utterly united with G‑d before it was “blown” or “breathed” into the body, so too, does it now unite with Him after repentance.

וזו היא תשובה שלימה

This is perfect return - Teshuvah.

והנה בחינת יחוד זה ותשובה זו היא בחינת תשובה עילאה, שלאחר תשובה תתאה

This state of unity and this return are called teshuvah ila'ah, the higher level of repentance, that follows teshuvah tata'ah, the lower level of repentence.

וכמו שכתוב בזוהר הקדוש ברעיא מהימנא פרשת נשא דתשובה עילאה היא דיתעסק באורייתא בדחילו ורחימו דקודשא בריך הוא וכו'

The Zohar, in Ra'aya Mehemna (Parshat Nasso),10 explains that Teshuvah ila'ah means engaging in the study of the Torah, in awe and love of the Holy One, Blessed be He….

The Zohar goes on to say that doing so makes one worthy of the revelation of the letter vav of the Tetragrammaton,

דאיהו בן י"ה בינה וכו'

for this [letter vav] is the child of yud-hei, or Binah….

Binah is the level of Teshuvah ila'ah, the return of the higher letter hei of the Tetragrammaton. The word itself is a composite of the words ben yud-hei.” This alludes to the spiritual emotions of love and fear (represented by the letter vav) that are born of the intellective levels of the Tetragrammaton, the yud of Chochmah and the hei of Binah.

(ומעלת בעלי תשובה על צדיקים גמורים בזה היא

(11Herein lies the superiority of penitents over the perfectly saintly.

Seemingly, the study of Torah permeated with love and fear of G‑d, is not the unique prerogative of penitence; the perfectly saintly do this as well. Wherein lies the superiority of baalei teshuvah?

כמו שכתוב בזוהר הקדוש פרשת חיי שרה: דאינון משכי עלייהו ברעותא דלבא יתיר ובחילא סגי, לאתקרבא למלכא וכו')

As the Zohar states in Parshat Chayei Sarah12 “They draw upon themselves with a more intense longing of the heart, and with great forcefulness, to approach the King….”)