Tuesday, January 03, 2006

LESSONS IN TANYA: Wednesday, January 4, 2006


Tevet 4, 5766 * January 4, 2006


Today's Lesson:

Likutei Amarim
Chapter Seven

However, [unlike the life-forms mentioned at the conclusion of ch. 6, which are derived from the three wholly unclean kelipot, the following life-forms are derived from kelipat nogah]:

The vitalizing animal soul in the Jew, which is derived from the side of kelipah and which clothes itself in the human being's blood [providing him with physical life], as stated above, (1) and the souls (2) of the animals, beasts, birds and fish which are pure [according to the laws of the Torah] and [are thus] permitted for [Jewish] consumption, as also the existence and vitality of everything in the inanimate and the vegetable world that is permissible for consumption.

So, too, the existence and vitality of every act, utterance and thought in mundane matters that contain no forbidden aspect - being neither root nor branch of the 365 prohibitive precepts and their offshoots, prohibited either on the explicit authority of the Torah, or by Rabbinic enactment - yet [when these permitted thoughts, utterances, or acts] are not performed for the sake of heaven [as they ought to be;

A Jew's actions, words and thoughts should be directed toward the service of G-d. For example: in eating, one's intention should be that the food supply strength for study, prayer, or performing other commandments; he should conduct his business with the intention of providing for his family, educating his children in the path of Torah and mitzvot, and giving charity, etc. But when his deeds, words and thoughts do not serve this purpose] - instead [they serve] only the will, desire and lust of the body;

And even where it is a need of the body and [necessary] for its very preservation and life [such as eating, which the body requires for its very existence and without which it cannot possibly live. Thus, the act itself cannot be faulted], but [the fault lies in that] his intention is not for the sake of heaven, i.e., to utilize his body [as an instrument] in the service of G-d.

[If this spiritual intent is absent, then]: All these acts, utterances and thoughts are no better than the vitalizing animal soul itself; and everything in this totality of things [i.e., the soul with its actions, utterances and thoughts] flows and is drawn from the second gradation of kelipot and sitra achra, which is [in the progressively ascending order of kelipot] the fourth kelipah, called kelipat nogah ["kelipah that shines"; for within this kelipah there is yet found a ray of holiness].

For in this world, called the "World of Asiyah" (`Action'),' most, indeed almost all, of [the kelipat nogah] is evil, with only a little good intermingled within it.

[Kelipat nogah is found in the higher Worlds as well. However, the proportions of good and evil which comprise it vary from one World to the next. In Beriah, kelipat nogah is mostly good, possessing only a small measure of evil which is separate from the good. In Yetzirah it is composed equally of good and evil, while in the spiritual Asiyah evil predominates. In our physical world, kelipat nogah is almost totally evil, with only a minute representation of good and light].

(From this [minute amount of good within kelipat nogah] come the good qualities which are found in the animal soul of the Jew, as is explained above.

[As explained in the first chapter, the Jew's inherent qualities of compassion and benevolence stem from his animal soul. This is a soul of kelipah, yet, because its origins are in kelipat nogah which incorporates good as well, it gives rise to the good traits of compassion and benevolence.)

Since kelipat nogah is a mixture of good and evil, any action, utterance and thought emanating from this kelipah can be utilized for good or evil. Indeed, as the Alter Rebbe will explain presently, the very same action, utterance or thought may be holy, if done for the sake of heaven, or evil, if otherwise intended].

Now, kelipat nogah is an intermediate category between the three completely unclean kelipot and the category and order of Sanctity.

Hence it is sometimes absorbed within the three unclean kelipot (as is explained in Etz Chayim, Portal 49, beginning of ch. 4, citing the Zohar), and at other times it is absorbed in and elevated to the category and level of Sanctity.

That is, [it is absorbed within Sanctity] when the good that is intermingled in it is extracted [and separated] from the evil, prevails [over it], and ascends to be absorbed in Sanctity.

[The Alter Rebbe now provides an example of a "neutral" action or utterance that is derived from kelipat nogah and can thus be utilized for either good or evil, demonstrating how the action or word itself becomes holy when its motivation is for the sake of heaven, and how it is degraded to the level of the "three completely unclean kelipot" if prompted purely by physical desire].

For instance, if one eats fat beef and drinks spiced wine not out of physical desire, but in order to broaden his mind for the service of G-d and for His Torah, as Rava said, (3) "Wine and fragrance [make my mind more receptive]," or in order to fulfill the commandment to enjoy the Sabbath and the festivals. (4)

[In the latter case his eating and drinking are not merely the means to a spiritual end, as in the previous example, but are a mitzvah in themselves, for we are enjoined to enjoy the Sabbath and festivals through eating meat and drinking wine.

When one eats and drinks in the above-mentioned manner] then the vitality of the meat and the wine which originated in kelipat nogah is then extracted from the evil and ascends to G-d like a burnt offering and sacrifice [i.e., the life-force of kelipat nogah that the food and drink contain is absorbed in Sanctity].

So, too, [concerning speech: The vitality of words spoken for a sacred purpose ascends and is absorbed in Sanctity. For example]: he who makes a humorous remark to sharpen his mind and make his heart rejoice in G-d and His Torah and service, which should be practiced joyfully, as Rava was wont to do with his pupils, prefacing his discourse with a humorous remark, whereupon the students became cheerful (5) [and thereby more receptive and better able to understand the discourse.

When a humorous remark is made with this intent, the vitality of the words, which originates in kelipat nogah, is extracted from the evil of kelipat nogah and is absorbed in Sanctity].


1. In ch. 1.
2. According to the AriZal, all things, including inanimate objects,
possess a soul, which is the creative and preserving force of the
Creator, the thing's reality. This doctrine was adopted and
expounded by the Baal Shem Tov and the Alter Rebbe. See Shaar
HaYichud VehaEmunah ch. 1.
3. Yoma 76b.
4. Maimonides, Code, Hilchot Shabbat 30:7, Hilchot Yom-Tov 6:16;
Shulchan Aruch by the Alter Rebbe 242:1; 529:1,3.
5. Pesachim 117a (Rabbeinu Channanel's reading).


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