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As Divided for a Leap Year
Tanya for 7 Teves
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].
* NOTE[Yet, because the creatures of this world are not openly surrendered to G-d, this is a world of kelipot and sitra achra.
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, chapter 2, and in Sefer Gilgulim, chapter 20.
END OF NOTE
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. ]
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  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, chapter 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 chapter 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].
- (Back to text) The Rebbe Shlita 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, chapter 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 chapter 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 chapter 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.
- (Back to text) Yechezkel 1:4.
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