Monday, January 02, 2006

LESSONS IN TANYA: Tuesday, January 3, 2006


Tevet 3, 5766 * January 3, 2006


Today's Lesson:

Likutei Amarim
(Conclusion of Chapter Six)

Anything, however, that does not surrender itself to G-d, but [considers itself as if it] is a thing separate unto itself, does not receive its life from the holiness of G-d -

[But where else would it receive its vitality? G-dliness and holiness is the source of vitality for every existing being, as it is written, "You give life to them all" (Nechemiah 9:6).

The Alter Rebbe goes on to qualify his previous remark, stating that those beings who do not surrender themselves to G-d receive their vitality only from a superficial, external level of G-dliness; and from this level, too, only when it descends degree by degree through numerous "contractions" of the life-force.

To return to the Alter Rebbe's words: The self-styled separate being does not receive its vitality] from the pnimiyut, the inner aspect of holiness, from its every essence and core, but from its achorayim, its "hind-part", so to speak.

[To bestow from one's "pnimiyut" (literally, one's "face") means, as explained in chapter 22, to give with a pleasurable will and desire; "achorayim" (literally, "behind one's back") means to bestow without desire or pleasure, out of some extenuating factor.

The giver's attitude will be apparent, in either case, in his manner of giving. If one gives something to his enemy, for example, he will avert his face from him, for one's face represents his inner feelings; since the giver's heart is not in his gift, he turns his face away, presenting his enemy with his rear. Thus, pnimiyut and achorayim in the sense of internal and external aspects (of one's will) are related to their literal meanings of "face" and "rear".

In our context, everything in the realm of holiness, whose existence and life G-d desires, receives its life from the pnimiyut of G-dliness; while the kelipot, in which G-d has no desire (since He created them only for the reasons given in the paragraphs introducing this chapter), receive their life from the achorayim of G-dliness.

This limited form of life-force reaches the kelipot] by descending degree by degree through myriads of levels, in the chain-like descent of the worlds, in the manner of cause and effect.

[The higher level is the "cause" for the lower level which emerges from it. However, in a descent which is a sequence of cause and effect, the effect, although lower, is always comparable to the cause.

Such descents, now matter how numerous, would be insufficient to produce the low level of vitality bestowed upon kelipot. This can be produced only by the descent of the vitality through tzimtzum, as the Alter Rebbe now continues:

The vitality descends] also through many tzimtzumim, or contractions - [and this procedss diminishes the vitality to the point where it is incomparably lower than in its original state.]

So greatly diminished does the light and life-force become, diminution after diminution, until it is able to become contracted and clothed in a manner of exile, [meaning that instead of being surrendered to the Divine life-force, the object in which the vitality is clothed masters it; as, for example, a captive in exile is mastered by his captors.

The vitality is thus in a state of exile] within that object which is [i.e., which considers itself] separate from holiness, giving it vitality and existence, [causing that object to pass] from non- existence to existence, so that is does not return to its original state of non-existence, as it was before it was created [by the vitality clothed in it.

In brief: All that is not surrendered to G-d, but considers itself separate from Him, receives its vitality from the achorayim of G-dliness by way of numerous descents and various contraction.

The Divine life-force is concealed within it in a state of exile; thus it belongs to the realm of kelipah. It is now clear why any thought, word or action not directed toward [serving] G-d - hence, not surrendered to G-dliness - is a garment of the animal soul that derives from kelipah, even if that thought, word or deed is not actually evil].

That is why this world with all it contains is called the world of kelipot and sitra achra - despite the fact that this world, too, receives its vitality from G-d's holiness.

[Since the creatures of this physical world feel themselves to be independent, separate beings, and their surrender to G-dliness is not apparent, they automatically belong to the realm of kelipah].

This is also why all affairs of this world are severe and evil, and the wicked prevail in it (as is written in Etz Chayim, Portal 42, end of chapter 4).*

[In the following note, referring to his previous statement that this is a world of kelipot, the Alter Rebbe writes that this is so, notwithstanding the fact that G-dliness pervades all existence; or, stated in the terminology of the Kabbalah, that G-d's infinite light (Or Ein Sof) clothes itself in the Sefirot of the four Worlds - Atzilut, Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah, and thereby even this physical world is filled with the Or Ein Sof; yet, despite all this, it is still a world of kelipot].


To be sure, this world contains the Ten Sefirot of [the World of] Asiyah, as is written in Etz Chayim, Portal 43.

[The World of Asiyah comprises both our physical world, and the spiritual World of Asiyah. The Sefirot of the spiritual Asiyah are, however, contained in the physical Asiyah as well.]

Now, within these Ten Sefirot of Asiyah are [contained] the Ten Sefirot of the World of Yetzirah, and within them the Ten Sefirot of the World of Beriah, and in them the Ten Sefirot of the World of Atzilut, in which abides the Or Ein Sof.

Thus, the Or Ein Sof pervades this entire lowest world by being clothed in the Ten Sefirot of the four Worlds - Atzilut, Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah, as is written in Etz Chayim, Portal 47, ch. 2, and in Sefer Gilgulim, ch. 20.


[Yet, because the creatures of this world are not openly surrendered to G-d, this is a world of kelipot and sitra achra.

Until here it has been explained that all thoughts, utterances and actions that are not directed towards holiness are sitra achra, and that these are the garments by which the animal soul expresses itself.

But this merely places the garments on a par with the animal soul itself, which like them stems from the sitra achra. It was explained earlier, however, that the garments of the divine soul are of a higher spiritual level than the soul itself, and elevate it, and that the animal soul is structured as a mirror-image of the divine soul. It follows, then, that the animal soul's garments are on an even lower level than the animal soul itself and that they degrade it.

The Alter Rebbe goes on to explain that this is indeed the case. After a discussion of the two categories of kelipah (mentioned in the introduction to this chapter), he concludes that there are those garments of the animal soul that drag down the soul from the level of kelipat nogah - the soul's natural state - to the level of the three completely impure kelipot. These are: sinful thoughts, and forbidden words and actions. (8)]

However, the kelipot are divided into two categories, one lower than the other. The lower category consists of three completely unclean and evil kelipot, containing no good whatever.

In the prophet Yechezkel's vision of the Divine chariot [in which he saw and described the forces that conceal G-dliness] they are described (9) as "a stormwind," "a great cloud" [and "a flaring fire," representing these three wholly unclean kelipot].

From them flow and are derived the souls of all the nations of the world, and the sustaining force of their bodies [which sustains their existence; apart from the soul, which animates them. Also derived from these kelipot are the] souls of all living creatures that are unclean and forbidden to be eaten, and the sustaining force of their bodies.

The existence and life of all forbidden vegetation, too, such as orlah [the first three years' fruit of a tree], and a mixture of grain seeds in a vineyard, and so forth, [are derived from these kelipot], as is written in Etz Chayim, Portal 49, ch. 6.

Similarly, the existence and life of any act, utterance or thought in violation of any one of the 365 [Biblical] prohibitions, as well as their [Rabbinic] offshoots [are all derived from these three impure kelipot], as is written there, end of ch. 5.

[The animal soul, on the other hand, is of kelipat nogah, which contains an element of good (as mentioned in chapter 1). These sinful garments, belonging to the realm of wholly impure kelipot, are thus lower than the animal soul itself, and drag it down to their level; in exact opposition to the divine soul's garments of the thought, speech and action of Torah and the mitzvot which are higher than the soul and elevate it].


8. The Rebbe notes: In the case of one who ate "neutrally"
(neither "for the sake of heaven" nor to indulge his animal soul's
desire, but merely to sate his hunger), it is questionable whether
this applies (i.e., whether this too degrades the animal soul). It
would appear so from Kuntres Etz HaChayim, ch. 3 (where it is
written that eating "neutrally" coarsens one at least to the point
of leading him to self-indulgence). It is similarly written further
in ch. 13 of Tanya that one's animal soul gains strength by being
exercised through eating and drinking. No proof to the contrary can
be adduced from the expression in ch. 7 that such ("neutral")
actions are "no better" than the animal soul itself (and hence,
they are apparently also no worse), for it is quite possible that
the words "no better" indicate merely that they all belong to the
same category: like the animal soul itself, such actions are of the
realm of kelipat nogah, not of holiness. In his Kitzurei Tanya, the
Tzemach Tzedek apparently takes these words in the same vein.
9. Yechezkel 1:4.


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