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Avot: 3:7 Ba’al HaTanya Print E-mail

Pirkei AvosHow do we know that the Divine Presence rests on even one person who is studying Torah? For it is said, “In every place where I cause My Name to be mentioned, and I will come to you and bless you (Exodus 20:21).” (Avot 3:7)

 

“God has made even the one as well as the other (Ecclesiastes 7:14).” [As understood by Kabbalists, this means that good and evil are symmetrical: everything in the realm of the holy and the good has its counterpart in the forces of evil and the Kelipot, the shells.] Just as the divine soul consists of Ten holy Sefirot and is clothed in three holy garments (thought, speech, and deed), so the soul, which is derived from the Sitra Achra of the Kelipat Nogah, which is clothed in man's blood, consists of 10 crowns of impurity. These are the seven evil attributes, which stem from the four evil elements and the intellect be getting them, which is subdivided into three, namely, Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge, the source of these attributes. For the Middot vary according to the quality of the intellect. Hence a child desires and lives petty things of little worth because his intellect is limited and too immature to appreciate things that are much more precious. Likewise, he is provoked to anger and vexation over trivial matters; so, too, with boasting and other attributes.

When a person meditates on these 10 unclean categories, or speaks them, or acts by them, then the thought in his brain, the speech in his mouth, and the power of action in his hands and other limbs are called the impure garments of these 10 unclean categories and enclothe them at the time of the action, speech, or thought. Together these constitute all the deeds that are done under the sun, which are all, “vanity and striving after wind (Ecclesiastes 1:14),” in this sense of “ruination of the spirit,” as interpreted in the Zohar (to see II:59a).

This is true as well of all words and thoughts that are not directed toward God and His will and service. For this is the meaning of Sitra Achra, meaning, not the side of holiness. The whole side is nothing but the indwelling and extension of the holiness of the Holy One, and He rests only on that which abdicates itself completely to Him, either actually, as in the case of the angels above, or potentially, as in the case of every Jew down below, for every Jew has the capacity to abdicate himself completely to the Holy One, through martyrdom for the sanctification of God.

That is why our Sages said that even, “when a single individual sits and engages in the Torah, the Divine Presence rests on him,” and that the Divine Presence rests on every gathering of ten Jews.” (Tanya, Likkutei Amarim, Chapter 6)

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