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As Divided for a Regular Year
Tanya for 8 Cheshvan
Now, when Malchut of Atzilut is vested in kelipat nogah in order to extract and refine the sparks that fell with the sin of Adam, as well as the 288 sparks that fell with the "breaking of the vessels," Malchut of Atzilut, too, is then referred to as the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, relative to Z'eir Anpin of Atzilut which does not descend there and which is referred to as the Tree of Life.
[The concept of shevirat hakelim (the primordial "breaking of the vessels") and the elevation of the 288 sparks of holiness hidden in the material world is explained at length elsewhere in the literature of Chassidut.]
And the investiture of [the Sefirah of] Malchut in kelipat nogah is the Kabbalistic principle of the exile of the Shechinah, whereby  "man rules over man, to his detriment."
[In Epistle 25 (above), the Alter Rebbe quotes the exposition of this verse in Sefer HaGilgulim.
During the time of exile, the "evil man" (of kelipah) rules over the "sacred man" (i.e., the holy "side" of the universe).
At this time, the Divine Presence is in a state of exile within the universe.
However, this temporary dominion of evil is "to his [ultimate] detriment," for its underlying intent is that the sparks of holiness that are embedded within evil, be extracted and elevated.
The Alter Rebbe will now answer another question which he himself had posed earlier.
The Ra'aya Mehemna had stated that so long as the bipolar influence of the Tree of Knowledge of [both] Good and Evil is dominant in the world, Torah scholars (who are likened to the Shabbat and festivals) are supported only by their unlettered ("week day") brethren, whose food is sometimes pure but sometimes not.
This is why the scholars engage in the study of the correspondingly bipolar laws of issur vs. hetter (ritual prohibition vs. permission), and the like.
Concerning this statement the Alter Rebbe asked above:
Even though the Sages in Second Temple times tilled their own fields and vineyards, did they not mainly study the very same laws of issur and hetter, and the like?
In reply, the Alter Rebbe now explains the meaning of this passage from Ra'aya Mehemna.
During the present era of exile, when the world is dominated by the influence of the Tree of Knowledge of [both] Good and Evil, the Divine Presence grants life-force to the chitzonim.
These negative forces belong to the ambivalent realm of kelipat nogah, which veils the holy potential embedded in the material things of this world.
(Torah scholars are nourished only by the distilled essence of the Divinely-endowed life-force.)
In order to extract and refine the sparks of holiness hidden in this material world during this era of exile, scholars study the laws of prohibition and permission, and the like.
Through painstaking debate and deliberation, they isolate and salvage that which is permitted from that which is prohibited, and that which is pure from that which is impure.
Ultimately, their Torah study removes the Divinely-imposed veil, so that a clear adjudication of the law results. This is what the Alter Rebbe now goes on to say]:
And this is the meaning of the statement in Ra'aya Mehemna: "While the Tree of Good and Evil dominates [the world],... these [Sages, who are likened to the Sabbaths and festivals, have nothing except what is given to them by those who are called `un sanctified ones,'...]."
This means that at the time of the exile of the Shechinah - which grants life-force to the chitzonim that belong in the realm of kelipat nogah, from which the "mixed multitude" derive their life-force,  and from whose distilled essence the Torah scholars are nourished during the exile, - at this time the main spiritual task of man, and the main purpose of being engaged in Torah and the commandments, is to disencumber and elevate the sparks, as is known from the teachings of R. Isaac Luria, of blessed memory.
For this reason, study chiefly involves deliberation and argumentation on the laws of issur and hetter, impurity and purity, in order to disencumber the permitted and the pure from the forbidden and the impure by means of deliberation and argumentation on the law - with wisdom, understanding and knowledge, [with all the three intellective faculties of the soul that clarify the law].
For as is known,  the Torah derives from Chochmah.
Hence, [the sparks of holiness hidden in a legal question] can be extracted and elevated only through Chochmah. 
Specifically: the Supernal Chochmah of Atzilut which is vested in Malchut of Atzilut - this being the Kabbalistic principle of the Oral Torah (according to the Kabbalistic principle by which  "the `father' [i.e., Chochmah of Atzilut] begat [lit., `founded'] the `daughter' [i.e., Malchut of Atzilut]") - which, [in turn], is vested in Malchut of Yetzirah.
[(This accords with the Kabbalistic principle of] the Mishnayot (and the Beraitot that are vested in the kelipat nogah, which corresponds to the World of Yetzirah; for there begins the Knowledge [of Good and Evil]: "[for there begins] the evil"] which is inherent in nogah), [for the kelipat nogah in the World of Yetzirah is equally good and evil].
(A variant reading: "and the Beraitot that are vested in the kelipat nogah which corresponds to the World of Asiyah, from where there begins the evil of nogah"), [for the kelipat nogah of Asiyah is mostly evil and minimally good].
The above is known from the teachings of R. Isaac Luria, of blessed memory.
- (Back to text) Kohelet 8:9.
- (Back to text) In the original, eirev-rav; cf. Shmot 12:38. Likkutei Haggahot LeSefer HaTanya emends our text to "nations of the world."
- (Back to text) Zohar II, 85a; et al.
- (Back to text) Ibid., 254b.
- (Back to text) Zohar III, 248a.
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