Iggeres HaT’shuva: Chapter Five, Tammuz 17, 5775

Iggeres HaT’shuva: Chapter Five, Tammuz 17, 5775

In the previous chapter, the Alter Rebbe explained to us that all of life receives its life from Hashem’s speech (more externally, the latter hei in Havaye), as opposed to us who receive life from Hashem’s breath (from a deeper place, the thorn on the yud).

Today the Alter Rebbe explains how koreis (being cut off) works: how could anything separate us from Hashem?

The answer, he explains is based on a few pessukim:

1. “He breathed into his nostrils the soul of life,” means, that just as with breath, this life comes from a deeper place. However, breath can be blocked by easily by placing something between the breath and you.

2. “His nation are a portion of G-d and Yaakov is the rope of His inheritance.” This means that whatever we do down here has an effect Above. Just like with a physical rope, if one end is attached above and the other below, shaking the bottom will affect the top.

3. However, “the heavens and the earth are filled with His glory,” and “there is no place devoid of Him.” So how could anything be a blockage to Hashem?

4. “Your sins separate you from your G-d,” because sins are against His will– and will is that deep place. His will is what creates everything (implied by the thorn on top of the yud of Havaye).

5. The wording of the possuk is, “And that nefesh will be cut off from before Me, I am Havaye.” “Before Me,” but not after: our quality life-force no longer from as deep a place, i.e., holiness.

If a person does too many aveiros (violations), G‑d forbid, then many strands are severed and the “rope” is seriously weakened. Sins punishable by koreis (or death by divine agency) cause the entire “rope” to be cut, G-d forbid.

Excerpt from the Rebbe’s note:

“…speech is heard even if there is an obstruction between speaker and listener. Accordingly, when describing the soul already situated in the body, how is it appropriate to use the image of exhaled breath, that can be prevented by an obstruction from arriving at its destination?

It is this question that the Alter Rebbe answers by saying that the “simple meaning” of the verse is to “instruct us” that even after the Utterance “Let us make man,” i.e., even when the investiture of the soul in the body takes place by means of speech, it still retains the characteristics of “blowing”.

Just as an obstacle can obstruct the passage of breath, so, too, sins can obstruct the soul’s lifeline to G‑dliness. This explains why other creatures which derive their nurture through Divine “speech” are not subject to excision, for the sound of speech can penetrate an obstruction. Souls, however, throughout their sojourn in the body, constantly depend on the nurture which is (so to speak) blown into them; they must always have an unobstructed path to their life-source.”

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