Wednesday, January 04, 2006

LESSONS IN TANYA: Thursday, January 5, 2006


Tevet 5, 5766 * January 5, 2006


Today's Lesson:

Likutei Amarim
(Middle of Chapter Seven)

On the other hand, if a person is one of those who gluttonously eat meat and quaff wine in order to satisfy their bodily appetites and animal soul, then since, of the animal soul's four evil elements, this desire belongs to the element of Water, from which comes the appetite for pleasures, [as explained in the first chapter, all evil characteristics come from the four evil elements of the animal soul, with the appetite for pleasures emanating from the element of Water], in such case the vitality of the meat and wine that he ingested is thereby degraded, and absorbed temporarily in the utter evil of the three unclean kelipot.

His [the glutton's] body becomes a garment and a "vehicle" for these kelipot. [The term "vehicle" is an analogy for total subservience; just as a vehicle is completely subservient to the will of its driver, having no will of its own, so (in this case) is this person totally subservient to the three unclean kelipot.

But his body remains so only] temporarily, until the person repents and returns to the service of G-d and His Torah - [whereupon he ceases to be a vehicle for the kelipot; the energy of the food and drink is then released from the kelipot and returns to Sanctity].

For, inasmuch as the meat and wine were kosher and permissible [and it was only the person's desire for pleasure that degraded them], they have the power to revert and ascend with him when he returns to the service of G-d - [at which time the strength gained from the food and drink are utilized in serving G-d].

This is implied in the terms hetter ("permissibility") and mutar ("permissible"). [That which may be done or eaten is called "mutar," literally meaning "released" or "unbound." In our context the term means that the permissible object is not "chained" (asur) to the kelipot]. That is to say, it is not tied and bound by the power of the "extraneous forces," [i.e., the kelipot and sitra achra which are extraneous to the realm of Sanctity], preventing it from returning and ascending to G-d.

[Rather, it can return and ascend to G-d when the person involved returns to the service of G-d, as explained above].

Nevertheless, [even when this energy reverts to Sanctity through the person's return to the service of G-d], a trace [of the evil] remains in the body.

[Eating permissible food for bodily pleasure causes the food to descend into total evil. Subsequently, the food becomes part of the body. Though repentance elevates not only the person but also the energy of the food and drink as well, still, having become a part of the body, a vestige of evil remains].

For this reason the body must undergo the "Purgatory of the Grave," as will be explained later. (6)

[Like all heavenly punishments, "Purgatory of the Grave" too is a means of spiritual purification. All remaining traces of evil energy created by eating and drinking for bodily pleasure are removed through this punishment].

So, too, with regard to the vitality of the drops of semen emitted from the body with animal lust, by him who has not conducted himself in a holy manner during intimacy with his wife during her state of purity. [Here, too, the vitality is temporarily absorbed in the total evil of the three unclean kelipot until the person repents.

In the above instances, the fault lies not in the acts, which in themselves are permissible, but rather in the person's intention in doing them - acting out of regard for bodily pleasure, not for the sake of heaven].

Such is not the case, however, with forbidden foods and illicit coition, which [inasmuch as they are prohibited acts] derive their vitality from the three entirely unclean kelipot. These are tied and bound by the "extraneous forces" (the kelipot) forever.

They [the vitality of these prohibited acts] are not elevated from [the kelipot] until "their day comes" [the time when evil will totally disappear from the world], when "death [i.e., the kelipot, called "death" because they oppose G-dliness, which is life] will be swallowed up [i.e., eradicated] forever," as it is written: (7) "And I (G-d) will remove the spirit of impurity from the earth." [Then, when the kelipot cease to exist, the sparks of holiness will of themselves be freed from them.]

Or, until [the sinner repents in the manner presently described, in which case the sparks of holiness need not remain in the clutches of the kelipot until the End of Days; they may even be freed, and restored to holiness, when] he [the sinner] repents so earnestly that his premeditated sins become transmuted into veritable merits.

This is achieved through "repentance out of love (of G-d)," coming from the depths of the heart, with great love and fervor, and from a soul passionately desiring to cleave to the blessed G-d, and thirsting for G-d like a parched and barren soil [thirsts desperately for water].

For inasmuch as till now [until he repented] his soul had been in a barren wilderness and in the shadow of death, which is the sitra achra, and [had been] far removed from the light of the Divine Countenance, in the greatest possible measure, therefore, [now that he "repents out of love]" his soul thirsts [for G-d] even more intensely than the souls of the righteous [who have never sinned.

The righteous tzaddik, ever close to G-d, is like one who always has water near at hand - his thirst is never so intense. The penitent, however, finds himself as if in a desert, where the very absence of water causes his thirst to burn with greater intensity].

As our Sages say: (8) "Where penitents stand .... [not even the perfectly righteous can stand. For, as explained earlier, the tzaddik lacks the penitent's intense yearning for G-d].

[Only] concerning repentance out of such great love has it been said (9) that [the penitent's] premeditated sins become, for him, like virtues, since through them [through the sins which previously had distanced him from G-d] he attained [when he repented] to this great love. [Thus, his sins affected him in the same way as mitzvot: they brought about within him a greater love of G-d.

In summary: It is possible even now, before evil completely disappears from the earth, to extricate the vitality of forbidden acts from the kelipot, through "repentance out of love of G-d.]"

But in the case of repentance that does not come from such love, though it be proper repentance, and G-d will surely pardon him, nevertheless [his sins] are not transformed for him [into the equivalent of virtues].

They [are not released and hence] do not completely ascend from the kelipah [so that no trace of the sin remains] (10) "until the end of time," when (11) "death will be swallowed up forever."

[Thus we have learned that the energy of forbidden foods and illicit coition is released from the kelipot only when one repents out of love or when evil ceases. Now we shall learn that in the case of one specific prohibition, ordinary repentance can accomplish what normally requires "repentance out of love]."


6. Ch. 8.
7. Zechariah 13:2.
8. Berachot 34b.
9. Yoma 86b.
10. Daniel 11:35.
11. Cf. Yeshayahu 25:8.


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