Judaism: Weekly Tanya Lecture: Chap 4, Part 1
ועוד יש לכל נפש אלקית שלשה לבושים
In addition [to its ten faculties — discussed in ch. 3], every divine soul(nefesh elokit) possesses three garments.
The soul possesses three auxiliary powers, which are its instruments of expression. Like garments, they can be donned or shed at will. When the soul utilizes any of these three powers it is “clothed” in them; when it does not use them, it is “divested” of them. Also, just as garments give expression to their wearer’s beauty and importance, so, too, when the soul dons and utilizes these “garments”, its intellect and emotion find expression.
שהם מחשבה דבור ומעשה של תרי״ג מצות התורה
They (the garments) are: thought, speech and action as they find expression in the 613 commandments of the Torah.
The Alter Rebbe now goes on to explain how the divine soul expresses itself through these three garments.
שכשהאדם מקיים במעשה כל מצות מעשיות
For, when a person actively fulfills all the precepts which require physical action (e.g., when he dons the tefillin or fulfills the commandment of tzitzit, etc.),
ובדיבור הוא עוסק בפירוש כל תרי״ג מצות והלכותיהן
and with his power of speech he occupies himself in expounding all the 613 commandments and the laws governing their fulfillments,
i.e., the person’s speech is immersed in the study of Torah which includes the exposition of the commandments. For example, Tractate Berachot deals with the commandments and the laws of blessings; Tractate Shabbat deals with the commandments and laws of Shabbat observance, etc.,
ובמחשבה הוא משיג כל מה שאפשר לו להשיג בפרד״ס התורה
and with his power of thought he comprehends all that he is capable of understanding in the Pardes (i.e., the four levels) of Torah,
The word Pardes (פרדס), whose literal meaning is “orchard”, is here used as an acronym of the four Hebrew words, Pshat, Remez, Derush and Sod, meaning, respectively: plain sense, intimation, homiletical exposition and esoteric meaning — the four levels of Scriptural interpretation.
הרי כללות תרי״ג אברי נפשו מלובשים בתרי״ג מצות התורה
then all of his soul’s 613 “organs” are clothed in the 613 commandments of the Torah.
Just as the human body consists of 248 organs and 365 blood vessels, corresponding to the Torah’s 248 positive commandments and 365 prohibitive commandments (613 in all), the soul similarly comprises 613 “organs” — the spiritual counterpart of the 613 bodily organs — each “organ” corresponding to a specific commandment. When, through its three “garments” (thought, speech and action), the soul embraces all 613 commandments, then all 613 “organs” of the soul are enclothed in all 613 commandments — each “organ” of the soul in its related commandment.
(Note the Alter Rebbe’s emphasis of the word “all” (“all the precepts which require physical action,” “in expounding all the 613 commandments,” “all that he is capable of understanding”). Should his “garments” fail to include all 613 commandments — were he to omit one specific commandment — then the corresponding “organ” of the soul will remain bereft of its mitzvah-“garment”.)
Thus we see, in a general sense, how fulfillment of all the commandments with one’s thought, speech and action, “clothes” the entire soul in all 613 commandments of the Torah. The Alter Rebbe now goes on to specify which components of the soul are “clothed” by which particular garment.
ובפרטות: בחינות חב״ד שבנפשו מלובשות בהשגת התורה שהוא משיג בפרד״ס, כפי יכולת השגתו ושרש נפשו למעלה
Specifically: the CHaBaD of his soul (i.e., his intellectual faculties) are clothed in the comprehension of the Torah, which he comprehends in [the four levels of] Pardes of the Torah, to the extent of his mental capacity and according to the supernal root of his soul.
One’s mental capacity determines how much he may understand; the root of his soul determines the area in Torah for which he will have the greatest aptitude. For example, one whose soul is related to the level of Pshat is more likely to comprehend the straightforward meaning of the words of Torah; a soul related to Remez will delve to the stratum of implied meaning underlying the words; and so on. When the person comprehends Torah to the extent of his mental capacity then the CHaBaDcomponents of his soul are clothed in the garment of thought of Torah, i.e., thought as it is related to Torah.