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As Divided for a Regular Year
Tanya for 19 Tamuz
Scripture states:  "Jacob is the rope of [G-d's] heritage." 
The analogy [compares the soul of a Jew] to a rope, with one end above and the other end below.
When one pulls the lower end he will move and pull after it the higher end as well, as far as it can be pulled.
It is exactly so with regard to the root of the soul of man and its source in the latter hei.
Through one's evil deeds and thoughts one draws down the life-force [issuing from the latter hei] into the chambers of the sitra achra, as it were, from which he receives his thoughts and deeds.
[Although a person punishable by excision has severed his ropes, so to speak, he is still able to draw down the life-force issuing from the latter hei into the chambers of the sitra achra.
The reason, as is explained elsewhere in the literature of Chassidut, is that even after the rope is severed, some external vestige of it survives. And it is through this remnant that the life-force of holiness is drawn down into the chambers of the kelipot].
Because it is he, the sinful individual, who draws the flow of vitality into [the chambers of the sitra achra], it is he who receives the greatest portion from them.
[I.e., in even greater measure than do other living creatures.
Nevertheless, it is explained in the literature of Chassidut  that ultimately the sinner will cease to draw vitality from this flow, for the sitra achra can serve a Jew as a source only temporarily].
This will suffice for the understanding.
Hence the statement of our Sages,  of blessed memory: "It is not within our hands [i.e., it is not given us] to understand the reason for either the tranquillity of the wicked [or the suffering of the righteous]."
The quotation specifies "in our hands," i.e., in this time of exile after the Destruction, [when the wicked receive added vitality through the kelipot and sitra achra].
This is an expression of the "Exile of the Divine Presence," as it were, [during which time the life-force emanating from the latter hei flows into the kelipot], viz., [G-d's] granting [supplementary measures of] life-force to the chambers of the sitra achra that He despises.
But when the sinner repents appropriately, he then removes from them the life-force that he had drawn into them through his deeds and thoughts, for by his [teshuva] repentance, he returns the flow issuing from the Shechinah to its proper place.
This, then, is the meaning of [the teaching of the Zohar, quoted in chapter 4, that "teshuvah is] tashuv hei, the return of the lower hei from exile" - [that the lower level of repentance consists of returning the Shechinah, which is represented by the latter hei of the Tetragrammaton, from its state of exile].
As the verse states,  "The L-rd, your G-d [the source of your soul], will return [i.e., bring back] those of you who return";
[Regarding the verb as being intransitive], this means [that G-d Himself will return] with your return.
As our Sages have commented  on this verse, "Scripture does not say, `He shall bring back,' [but that He Himself will return]."
[The verse is thus telling every Jew:
When through repentance you extricate yourself from your own spiritual exile, you will thereby liberate "your G-d" - the Shechinah, the source of your soul - from His exile too].
- (Back to text) Devarim 32:9.
- (Back to text) The Rebbe Shlita observes that the analogy of the rope is introduced here in terms that suggest that it is a novel thought, when in fact it occupied the whole of the previous chapter. By way of explanation, the Rebbe Shlita writes that the Alter Rebbe is indeed introducing a thought that is not only novel but even contrary to what was written in the previous chapter; moreover, this approach will explain much of the variance between the two chapters.
In brief: The Alter Rebbe explained in ch. 4 how a soul is part of the Tetragrammaton. He went on to explain in ch. 5 how this soul-level descends into the body by way of "Jacob, ..... the rope of His inheritance, ...... whose upper end is bound above and the lower end below."
In ch. 6, however, the Alter Rebbe emphasizes that the movements of the lower end of the rope also affect the upper end. Furthermore, as the Alter Rebbe goes on to say here, this rope not only descends as far as "Jacob" but even provides additional life-force to the chambers of unholiness; i.e., the effect of the rope is able to descend even lower than the level of "Jacob" which it itself embodies.
This is the anomaly that the Alter Rebbe resolves, when he repeats that a person's sins make him descend so sharply that he reaches the lowly level of the very kelipot and sitra achra "from which he receives his thoughts and deeds." Since the sinful individual sinks to such a low level that in this respect he is a recipient from the kelipot, his "rope" descends there as well, and the kelipot and sitra achra are able to receive their life-force from its lower extremity.
- (Back to text) Kuntres Uma'ayon [English translation by Rabbi Zalman I. Posner; Kehot, N.Y., 1969], Discourse 8.
- (Back to text) Avot 4:15.
- (Back to text) Devarim 30:3.
- (Back to text) Megillah 29a.
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