Though, as stated above, the world obscures G‑dliness — i.e. the spirit of folly stemming from the animal soul can obscure the light and truth of the G‑dly soul — this affects only the middos, the emotive attributes of the G‑dly soul, but not its essence.

The bond of the soul with its Divine Source is alluded to in the phrase, "Yaakov is the cord of His inheritance."

The connection of the soul to G‑d is compared to a cord comprising 613 strands.

The cord is the soul itself: it is the soul that connects a Jew to G‑d. The 613 strands are the 613 faculties of the soul that are spoken of in Tanya, chapter 51.

This metaphor can be better understood in terms of the teaching of our Sages (Sanhedrin 4:5): "Every man is obligated to say, for me was the world created.'"

As we have seen, the word in the Holy Tongue for "world" has the same root as the word for "obscurity", for the very existence of the world conceals G‑dliness.

Perceived from this perspective, the above statement teaches that "every man is obligated to say, 'For me was G‑d's initial self-concealment and self-limitation created'" — so that I should seek out the Divine element within the world and elevate it.

Man is so structured that he has 248 organs and 365 sinews, a total of 613 components.

The universe, which is a macrocosm of man, therefore parallels this structure throughout all its spiritual realms, throughout all the stages in the progressive descent and self-concealment of the Divine light.

For this reason, too, [since it is the soul that connects a man's body and environment to G‑d,] the soul likewise has 613 faculties, and there are 613 mitzvos dependent on them.

[These 613 faculties of the soul are the 613 strands] of the cord connecting man to G‑d and establishing unity between them, just as the body of a cord that is suspended from above connects both ends.

Similarly, with the cord of the soul, the upper extremity is connected to G‑d; i.e., [in Kabbalistic terms,] the final letter hei of the Four-Letter Name of G‑d is connected to the first three letters.

The lower extremity of the cord of the soul is bound below; i.e. the lower reaches of the soul, that are known as the "reflection" of the soul, are enclothed in the body and give it life.

Through this explanation we can understand the above-mentioned verse, "Yaakov is the cord of His inheritance." [The name Yaakov is not only the name of the Patriarch but also refers to his descendants, the Jewish people.

This name comprises two elements: the letter yud stands for the Name of G‑d; the remaining three letters (ayin kuf and beis) mean ekev - "a heel."]

Through the cord of the soul, even those individuals who are at the humblest of levels — even the heels, so to speak, of the Jewish people — are firmly bound to the very Essence of G‑d, and are able to realize their potential as part of His inheritance.

When a Jew denies G‑d or commits a sin punishable by kares (excision), he affects the totality of his connection; he touches the very essence of the soul.

This is alluded to in the verse, "Your sins have made a separation between yourselves and your G‑d," i.e., between yourselves and the G‑dliness within your specific soul.

As is well known, nothing can obscure the connection of the essence of the soul.

For this reason, when the totality of a soul's connection is threatened [by certain categories of sin], the individual concerned senses that he would thereby become separate from G‑dliness — and, as has been said above, no Jew is willing or able to be thus severed from G‑d. He therefore stands up staunchly for his Jewishness.

Other sins, however, such as those not punishable by excision, affect only particular strands of the cord in the above metaphor; when the same individual is confronted by such sins, they do not arouse as powerful a response within him.

When one transgresses one of G‑d's commandments, whether a positive or a prohibitive mitzvah, one strand of the connecting cord is snapped, (robbing that particular faculty of the soul of its connection with G‑d, and) weakening the entire connection.

However, since only particular strands are cut, the individual will not react as strongly.

In these matters, the emotions of the animal soul conceal the emotions of the G‑dly soul, to the point where one cannot perceive the Divine light.

Thus they can bring an individual to sin.

This is the work of the spirit of folly that derives from the sitra achra, from the unholy side of the universe. It conceals the light of spiritual truth from a man until he is no longer light-sensitive; he sinks lower and lower until he transgresses the prohibitions of the Torah.

All this stems from the spirit of folly, as explained above.


The above chapter explains how the spirit of folly can cover only the emotions of the G‑dly soul; it cannot conceal its essence nor its essential connection with G‑d.