The above can be understood by prefacing the concepts explained in the discourse cited above:1 that the aspect of exile and captivity applies only to the keilim, the vessels, since they are an entity unto themselves. In contrast, the or, the light, which is characterized by ayin, nothingness and nullification, is not subject to exile.

The concept (that exile does not apply to or) is quite simple to understand, inasmuch as “a little light banishes a great deal of darkness.”2 This means that even after the light descends and is drawn down in a state of measure and limitation {for only then do the terms “little” or “much” apply}, the light is capable of banishing darkness. Indeed, even “a little light banishes a great deal of darkness.”

Moreover, darkness is repelled effortlessly by light.3 {At the beginning of creation, light and darkness were intermingled.4 However, after “G‑d caused a separation between the light and the darkness,”5 darkness is banished by light}. We can thus un­derstand that in the simple sense as well, that exile cannot apply to light, for the darkness (of exile) is banished by the light.

Similar concepts apply with regard to the soul and the body, which resemble a light and its vessel.6 And as the renown decla­ration of the Previous Rebbe states,7 only the body is in exile, not the soul. Even as the soul exists within the body which is in exile, the soul is not in exile. Nevertheless, since the body is in exile, the soul that is enclothed in the body finds itself out of place, and it must return [to its true place].

Thus [on the verse,8 “I am asleep, but my heart is awake,”] our Sages comment,9 “I sleep in exile, but my heart — the soul10 — is awake.” The soul is “an actual (mamesh) a part of G‑d above.”11 This expression implies that even when the soul becomes manifest in a physical body and thus is given tangible expression (mamoshos 12), it remains a part of G‑d above {indeed, an “actual part of G‑d above”}.

The Baal Shem Tov 13 teaches, “When you grasp part of the essence, you grasp it in its entirety.” Therefore, [even after G‑d] — with His faculty to perform wonders14 — caused the soul to descend and vest itself within the body, and even when [the world at large] is in a time of exile, [the soul] is not in exile.

Accordingly, we may say that the term, “those who return,” refers not to one particular category of Jews, but to the soul which all Jews possess. Since the soul is not in exile, the term redemption does not apply. Nevertheless, [even the soul] must return. For its enclothment within the body [influences it], to the extent that it is affected by the events that transpire concerning the body.15 Therefore, when the body is exiled, the soul is also found in a place of exile, and it must return.