Judaism: Weekly Tanya Lecture: Chap. 6, Part I
In the previous chapters the Alter Rebbe discussed the divine soul; its ten faculties — three intellectual and seven emotional — and its three garments by which it expresses itself, namely, the thought, speech and action of Torah and the mitzvot.
He explained that the garments of the divine soul are actually on a higher level than the soul itself, inasmuch as Torah and G‑d are one, and that by “clothing” itself in these garments, i.e., by studying the Torah and by performing the mitzvot, the soul is united with G‑d. This is particularly true of Torah study, in which the soul both embraces and is embraced by the G‑dliness contained in Torah.
In ch. 6 the Alter Rebbe begins to discuss the animal soul. He explains that its structure exactly parallels that of the divine soul; it too has ten faculties and three garments; only, unlike the divine soul, the substance of the animal soul iskelipah, and its faculties and garments are impurity. By clothing itself in these garments the animal soul descends to an even lower state of impurity.
Concerning the concept of kelipah, we have noted in ch. 1 that al- though all existence was created by and receives its life from G‑dliness, yet, in order that man be able to choose between good and evil, and that he earn his reward by serving his Creator by his own effort, G‑d created forces of impurity which conceal the G‑dliness in all of creation. These forces are called kelipah (plural:kelipot), literally meaning “shells” or “peels”: Just as the shell conceals the fruit, so do the forces of kelipah conceal the G‑dliness in every created being.
There are two categories in kelipot: kelipat nogah (lit. “a kelipah [inclusive] of light”), and “the three unclean kelipot.”
The first category, kelipat nogah, contains some measure of good. It is thus an intermediary level between the realms of good and evil, and whatever receives its vitality via the concealing screen of this kelipah may be utilized for either good or evil. To this category belong all permitted physical objects; they may be used for a mitzvah and ascend thereby to the realm of holiness, or they may be used sinfully, G‑d forbid, and thereby be further degraded.
The second category — consisting of the “three impure kelipot” — is wholly evil. Whatever receives its vitality via the concealment of this type of kelipahcannot be transformed into holiness, nor, in some cases, may it even be used in the service of holiness. To this category belong all forbidden physical objects; whether forbidden only for consumption, in which case they cannot be transformed into holiness but they may serve it, or whether forbidden for any form of benefit, in which case they cannot even serve any holy purpose.
והנה זה לעומת זה עשה אלקים
1“The Almighty has created one thing opposite the other.”
Everything in the realm of holiness has its counterpart in kelipah. In our context, the animal soul, with its faculties and garments, is the counterpart (inkelipah) of the divine soul, with its faculties and garments.
כי, כמו שנפש האלקית כלולה מעשר ספירות קדושות ומתלבשת בשלשה לבושים קדושים
Just as the divine soul consists of ten holy [faculties, which correspond to the Ten Supernal] Sefirot, and is clothed in three holy garments, i.e., the thought, speech and action of Torah and the mitzvot,
כך הנפש דסטרא אחרא מקליפות נוגה המלובשת בדם האדם
so, too, the soul of sitra achra (defined further in this chapter) derived from kelipat nogah, which is clothed in man’s blood — as explained in ch. 1, the animal soul is clothed in the blood, and thereby animates the body — this soul too
כלולה מעשר כתרין דמסאבותא
consists of ten2 “crowns of impurity,” i.e., the faculties of kelipah, called “crowns” in kabbalistic terminology.
שהן שבע מדות רעות
These ten faculties are: seven evil middot (seven emotional traits),
e.g., lust, the equivalent in kelipah of the middah of Chesed (“kindness”); anger, which expresses the middah of Gevurah (“severity”); boastfulness, the equivalent of Tiferet (“beauty”); and so forth,
הבאות מארבעה יסודות רעים הנזכרים לעיל
which stem from the four evil elements mentioned above (in ch. 1),
Spiritual entities have their “elements” as physical objects do; in this case evil elements, since this is a soul of kelipah.
ושכל המולידן הנחלק לשלש, שהן חכמה בינה ודעת, מקור המדות
and the intellect (seichel) which gives birth to these [seven evil middot], which is subdivided into three, viz., Chochmah, Binah and Daat, the source of themiddot.
כי המדות הן לפי ערך השכל
The intellectual faculties are described as the source of the evil middot for the middot are commensurate with the quality of one’s intellect.
כי הקטן חושק ואוהב דברים קטנים פחותי הערך, לפי ששכלו קטן וקצר להשיג דברים יקרים יותר מהם
A child desires and loves (i.e., he expresses his middah of Chesed towards) petty things of little value, for his intellect is too immature and deficient to appreciate more valuable things.
וכן מתכעס ומתקצף מדברים קטנים, וכן בהתפארות ושאר מדות
Similarly with regard to the middah of Gevurah: he is angered and vexed by trivial things, and likewise with regard to boastfulness (which expresses the middah ofTiferet), and other middot.
This correlation between middot and intellect indicates that the intellect affects the nature and expression of middot, and for this reason, the three intellectual faculties are said to be the source of the seven middot.3
ועשר בחינות אלו הטמאות, כשאדם מחשב בהן או מדבר או עושה
Now these ten unclean categories, when a person thinks [thoughts originating from] them (e.g., when he thinks of ways of obtaining something he desires), or speakswords originating from them or does an act which serves or expresses them,
הרי מחשבתו שבמוחו ודבורו שבפיו וכח המעשה שבידיו ושאר איבריו, נקראים לבושי מסאבו לעשר בחינות אלו הטמאות
then the thought in his brain, the words in his mouth and the power of action in his hands and other organs, are called “impure garments” for these ten unclean categories,
שמתלבשות בהן בשעת מעשה או דבור או מחשבה
which clothe themselves in these garments, during the act, speech or thought.
But what sort of thoughts, words and action are the “garments” of the animal soul? Earlier, in ch. 4, we learned that the divine soul has specific thoughts, etc., in which it clothes itself, namely, thought, speech and action in matters of Torah and the mitzvot. Are we then to understand that the animal soul, too, has specific garments — sinful thoughts, words or actions, perhaps?
Not so, states the Alter Rebbe presently. All thoughts, words and acts that are not directed toward G‑d and the service of G‑d, even though they are not actually sinful, are garments of the kelipah, and hence, of the animal soul.
In his words:
והן הם כל המעשים אשר נעשים תחת השמש
These garments of the animal soul comprise all the deeds that are done under the sun (i.e., all mundane actions),
אשר הכל הבל ורעות רוח, וכמו שכתוב בזהר בשלח, שהן תבירו דרוחא כו׳
which are all4 “vanity and an affliction of the spirit,” as the Zohar5 (Parshat Beshallach) interprets this: “a ruination of the spirit [of holiness].”
וכן כל הדבורים וכל המחשבות אשר לא לה׳ המה ולרצונו ולעבודתו
Similarly, all words and all thoughts that are not directed to G‑d and to His Will and His service are all garments for the animal soul.
שזהו פירוש לשון סטרא אחרא פירוש: צד אחר, שאינו צד הקדושה
For this is the meaning of the term sitra achra — literally “the other side,” i.e., not the side of holiness.
Thus, whatever does not belong to the realm of holiness is sitra achra. But what, in fact, does the realm of holiness encompass?
וצד הקדושה אינו אלא השראה והמשכה מקדושתו של הקדוש ברוך הוא
The side of holiness is nothing but the indwelling and extension of G‑d’s holiness.
1.Kohelet 7:14. See Zohar III, 47b.
2 Ibid. 41a; 70a.
3 Comparison of the Alter Rebbe’s description here of the faculties of the animal soul, with his description — in ch. 3 — of the divine soul, yields several significant differences. In ch. 3 theseichel faculties are given first; here middot precede seichel. In both cases the seichel is said to be the source of middot; yet, whereas in ch. 3 this is explained to mean that seichel “gives birth” tomiddot, here it is stated only that middot are “commensurate” with the quality of seichel.
These variations arise from the fundamental difference between the nature of the divine soul and of the animal soul. The divine soul is essentially intellective (wherefore it is called Adam, which, of the various Hebrew words for “man”, means “man, the intelligent being”). Its middot actually arise out of the seichel; i.e., its emotions of love and fear of G‑d stem from the seichel’s contemplation of His greatness. The animal soul, on the other hand, is essentially and instinctively passionate. It inclines naturally towards physical pleasures, and need not ponder their desirability in order to desire them. Here, the seichel serves merely to steer and channel the development of middot.Therefore the general quality of its middot reflects, and is commensurate with, the general state of its seichel.