Tanya/Iggeres Ha’Teshuvah - The Epistle on Repentance,Chapter 7, Class 4

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But the true humbling of the heart, so that it be broken and crushed,

אַךְ עִיקַּר הַכְנָעַת הַלֵּב, לִהְיוֹת נִשְׁבָּר וְנִדְכֶּה

and so that the spirit of impurity and sitra achara will be removed,

וְהַעֲבָרַת רוּחַ הַטּוּמְאָה וְסִטְרָא אָחֳרָא,

is achieved through being a “master of accounting” with all the profundity of one’s mind.

הוּא לִהְיוֹת מִ"מָּארֵי דְּחוּשְׁבָּנָא" בְּעוֹמֶק הַדַּעַת,

One’s personal stocktaking should be as scrupulous as the accounting made by the master or owner of a business, to whom every detail is critical.

One should concentrate his intellect and understanding deeply for a period18 every day, or at night before Tikkun Chatzot,

לְהַעֲמִיק דַּעְתּוֹ וּבִינָתוֹ שָׁעָה אַחַת בְּכָל יוֹם אוֹ לַיְלָה לִפְנֵי תִּיקּוּן־חֲצוֹת,

to contemplate how through his sins, he has brought about the exile of the Divine Presence, as noted above,

לְהִתְבּוֹנֵן בְּמַה שֶּׁפָּעַל וְעָשָׂה בַּחֲטָאָיו בְּחִינַת גָּלוּת הַשְּׁכִינָה כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל,

and caused his spirit and Divine soul to be uprooted from the Divine Source of all Life,

וְגָרַם לַעֲקוֹר נִשְׁמָתוֹ וְנַפְשׁוֹ הָאֱלֹקִית מֵחַיֵּי הַחַיִּים בָּרוּךְ־הוּא,

and demeaned it to a place of defilement and death, namely, the chambers of the sitra achara,

וְהוֹרִידָהּ לִמְקוֹם הַטּוּמְאָה וְהַמָּוֶת, הֵן הֵיכְלוֹת הַסִּטְרָא אָחֳרָא,

[his soul] becoming a vehicle for them,

וְנַעֲשֵׂית בִּבְחִינַת מֶרְכָּבָה אֲלֵיהֶם

Just as a vehicle has no will of its own and is completely subservient to the desires of its driver, so, too, is his soul subservient to the impure chambers of the sitra achara from whence it derives nurture.

receiving from them vitality to endow his body, as noted above—that the nurture and life-force of the sinner emanate from the kelipot and sitra achara.

לְקַבֵּל מֵהֶם שֶׁפַע וְחַיּוּת לְהַשְׁפִּיעַ לְגוּפוֹ, כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל.

Meditation along these lines will bring a man to a state of contrition—itself a fit offering to the Divine Name Elokim.

Thus, our Sages declared that “the wicked while alive (lit., “in their life”) are called ‘dead.’”19

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁאָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: "רְשָׁעִים בְּחַיֵּיהֶם קְרוּיִים מֵתִים",

This means to say that their life is derived from the site of death and impurity—from the chambers of the kelipot and sitra achara, as opposed to holiness, which is true life.

כְּלוֹמַר, שֶׁחַיֵּיהֶם נִמְשָׁכִים מִמְּקוֹם הַמָּוֶת וְהַטּוּמְאָה,

(20Accordingly, the verse that says that “the dead will not praise…” is no “mockery of the impoverished,”21 G‑d forbid,22 for it does not refer to those who are physically dead.

(וְכֵן מַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב: "לֹא הַמֵּתִים יְהַלְלוּ וְגוֹ'", אֵינוֹ כְּ"לוֹעֵג לָרָשׁ" חַס וְשָׁלוֹם

Rather, the reference is to the wicked who, while alive, are called dead, and being spiritually dead are unable to praise G‑d,

אֶלָּא הַכַּוָּונָה עַל הָרְשָׁעִים שֶׁבְּחַיֵּיהֶם קְרוּיִים מֵתִים,

for they are confused with alien thoughts while yet in their wickedness and do not desire repentance, as is known.)

שֶׁמְּבַלְבְּלִים אוֹתָם בְּמַחֲשָׁבוֹת זָרוֹת בְּעוֹדָם בְּרִשְׁעָם וְאֵינָם חֲפֵיצִים בִּתְשׁוּבָה, כַּנּוֹדָע).

While in such a state, the evil person will find it well nigh impossible to praise G‑d fittingly because of the confusing, alien thoughts which are thrust upon him.

Thus, an individual will become contrite of heart when he contemplates how his soul has been uprooted from its Source because of a sin incurring excision or death by Divine agency.

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FOOTNOTES

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18. Note by the Rebbe: “Although with difficulty this phrase could be said to mean an actual hour, like the preparatory period before prayer by early Chasidim, which was one hour (Berachot 32b, but see the Alter Rebbe’s ruling, Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, beg. 93). At first glance, it is imperative to say that this meant to be specific, for if not, the words ‘one hour’ are superfulous. See ch. 42: ‘a long period…is not the same for every soul…,’ and ch. 31: ‘an hour or two…’ et al. This requires further examination.”

19.Berachot 18b.

20. Parentheses are in the original text.

21.Psalms 115:17.

22. Note by the Rebbe: “For this is so utterly forbidden that our Sages have said, ‘One should not go…’ (Berachot 18a).”