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As Divided for a Regular Year
Tanya for 6 Cheshvan
[The Alter Rebbe will now point out that a careful reading of the passage from Ra'aya Mehemna reveals that it is not the laws themselves nor the study of them that are termed the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Rather, this term is applied to the actual food or other things which are prohibited or permitted, and which derive their life-force from kelipat nogah - for this is the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, as will soon be explained].
But in truth, if you examine closely the above-quoted text of Ra'aya Mehemna - "And the Tree of [Knowledge of] Good and Evil, i.e., prohibition and permission..." - [you will note that] it does not say "the teachings [i.e., studying the subjects] of prohibition and permission," nor "the laws of prohibition and permission," [which would suggest that they are (G-d forbid) the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil].
Rather, it means to say that the actual thing which is prohibited, or the thing which is permitted, is of the Tree of Good and Evil, i.e., of kelipat nogah, as stated in Etz Chayim. 
This, in fact, is the root of "assur" [meaning "forbidden"; lit., "bound":] the kelipah hovers over [the forbidden thing] so that it cannot rise aloft to holiness like that which is "muttar" [meaning "permitted"; lit., "unbound"; while "muttar"] means that [a permitted object] is not tied and bound "assur" to the kelipah [that would anchor it], and is [therefore] able to ascend by means of the person eating it with his mind on G-d, [e.g., in order to have the strength to serve Him].
The same applies when there is no specific intent, with any person who serves G-d, who studies [Torah] and prays to G-d with the energy derived from this eating, so that the letters of Torah and of prayer which ascend to G-d are formed out of the energy distilled from that food.
[In other words, the life-force that derives from kelipat nogah is thereby elevated to G-d].
This is so during the week: [In order for the food eaten on week-days to be elevated, it must be utilized for Torah or prayer.]
But on the Sabbath, the kelipat nogah itself is elevated, together with the external aspect of all the worlds, [for the Sabbath is characterized by the "elevation of the worlds" (aliyat haolamot)]. 
It is therefore a mitzvah to eat all kinds of pleasurable things on the Sabbath, [for the sake of oneg Shabbat "enjoying the Sabbath", irrespective of the fact that it gives one the strength to serve G-d], and to partake of more meat and wine than usual, even though on a weekday one would be called a glutton and a drunkard.
It is otherwise with a forbidden thing.
It cannot ascend [to holiness,] neither on the Sabbath nor on a weekday, even if one were to pray and study with that energy, [i.e., with the energy derived from eating it]  - unless one ate in order to save an endangered life, which is permitted by our Sages, of blessed memory, so that [the food] becomes [entirely]  permissible.
But the study of Torah, even the laws of issur and het-ter, impurity and purity, [i.e., not the objects but the laws concerning them], those being the Mishnayot and the Beraitot in the Gemara [that address these issues], and the codifiers who explain and clarify their words for practical application, these constitute the body of the Oral Torah, which is the Sefirah of Malchut in [the World of] Atzilut, as stated in innumerable places in the sacred Zohar.
It is likewise written at the beginning of the Tikkunim,  "Malchut [lit.,`sovereignty'] - that is the Mouth, which we call the Oral Torah."
And in Atzilut, "He and His causations [garmohi; lit., `organs'] are one in them." [I.e., the [infinite] Ein Sof-light, and the vessels (kelim) which emanate from Him, and so too His attributes, are all one with Him - in the Sefirot. 
That is, the [infinite] Ein Sof-light unites itself in Atzilut in an absolute unity, so that He, and His will and wisdom - vested in His speech, which is called Malchut - are entirely one.
[This indivisible level of Divinity can thus not be described in compound terms, as the Tree of Knowledge of [both] Good and Evil.
And the laws of the Oral Torah - in the Mishnayot, the Beraitot and the legal codes - which relate to the Sefirah of Malchut in the World of Atzilut, partake of the same indivisible unity.
These laws can thus not be described in terms of the Tree of Knowledge of [both] Good and Evil.]
- (Back to text) Shaar 49, ch. 2.
- (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita: "With regard to the above, compare the Alter Rebbe's own wording (in Torah Or, Parshat Chayei Sarah) and see the commentary of the Tzemach Tzedek (printed as an addendum to the Kehot editions of Torah Or)."
- (Back to text) Cf. Tanya, ch. 7.
- (Back to text) See the Addendum to this chapter.
- (Back to text) Tikkunei Zohar, p. 17a (in the Introduction that begins Patach Eliyahu).
- (Back to text) These terms are explained above, at the beginning of Epistle 20 (Vol. IV in the present series, p. 357).
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