The Rebbe's Initial Questions
Why does he go through the process of first saying there are three things, a description of the three categories, and then in detail what the three things are? Why not just say, "If you reflect on knowing that you come from a tepid drop, that you will be going to a place of dust, maggots and worms, and you are destined to give an accounting before G-d, you will not come to sin?"
Secondly, does everyone need to reflect on all three? Maybe he could have said just one thing that reminds us that we are a lowly being? Why all three?
Why does he use the language of y’dei avera - to the hands of sin - and not just say, come to sin himself?
Friediker Rebbe, in an audience with the Achot Hatemimos (a Chassidic girls club) in 1940:
...This is the difference between Chassidus and Mussar. Besides, Mussar mainly addresses the subordination of the heart, which is accomplished by crushing one’s desires, by self-mortification, whereas the subordination of mind and heart brought about by Chassidus is accomplished only by kiruv and hamshachah – drawing near and being drawn near to G-dliness.
In order to repel evil character traits and rid oneself of bad habits, and to cultivate good habits and positive character traits, one must follow the longstanding practice of studying certain classic works of Mussar – with chassidic sensitivity.
תניא פרק כד
ואין לך גלות גדול מזה מאיגרא רמה כו' וכמש"ל דשרש ומקור נפשו' כל בית ישראל הוא מחכמה עילאה והוא ית' וחכמתו אחד וכו' והוא כמשל האוחז בראשו של מלך ומורידו למטה וטומן פניו בתוך בית הכסא מלא צואה שאין לך עלבון גדול מזה
Tanya Chapter 24
There is no greater exile than this exile of the divine soul within the animal soul, that is brought about through sin. It is a plunge from a lofty roof to a deep pit. For, as explained earlier, the source and root of all Jewish souls are in the Divine Wisdom, and G-d and His wisdom are one and the same... and sin plunges the soul from this lofty plane to the depths of exile within the sitra achra. It is comparable to one who seizes the king’s head, drags it down, and dips his face in a privy full of filth — the ultimate in humiliation, even if he does it only for a moment.
לקותי תורה, בחוקותי נ, ד
וזהו דע מאין באת. כי ומותר האדם מן הבהמה אין (בקהלת סי׳ ג־ י־ט) ועיין מזה בתד״א ח׳׳ב פכ״ד מה שהקשה ע׳׳ז ועיין בקהלת רבה והבחיי פ׳ בראעוית 7׳פ ויפח באפיו פי׳ כי אין הוא חכמה
כמ״ש והחכמה מאין תמצא. וזהו מותר האדם כו׳ אך מ״ש כי הכל הבל היינו כי גם חכמה עילאה נק׳ הבל הארה בעלמא .... ולאן אתה הולך. אן נופל על מקום כמו אנה פניך מועדות. אנה אתם הולכים. והיינו כי עיקר הגמול בתח״ה
שהוא בעוה׳׳ז במקום גשמי. ולכאורה תמוה ששרשו מאין חכמה והולך
לאן מקום גשמי. אלא כי זהו ע״י גילוי אור א׳׳ם דקמי׳ רוחניות וגשמיות שוין. ע״ב יהיה הגילוי בגשמיות עוה״ז. דירה בתחתונים וזהו ולפני מי אתה עתיד בו׳ בחי׳ מי ברא אלה. כו׳ והיינו בחי׳ ע״ק כו׳;
Likutei Torah, Parashat Bechokotai
And this is what "know from where you come" - It says what differentiates the man and the animal is Ayin - nothingness. Kohelet Rabbah says Ayin is Chochma Ilah, where on that level, the rays that are transmitted from G-d is like nothingness in the face of G-d...
"And to where are you going:" Like it says in Ezekiel, "to where are you bound?" the main point is the Techiyat Hamaytim, the revival of the dead, which is in this world, on a physical plane. It seems strange that the source is from Ayin of Chochma and goes to a physical place? However, all this is through the revelation of the light of Ein Sof in which spiritual and material are the same.
And through this revelation within the physical of the world, a dwelling place for G-d will be established and this is what it means "and before whom will you pay a reckoning in the future" - this is the level of Mi, is who created these... - Mi? is from the level of Atik of Keter. (Keter, the “crown,” represents the initial revelation of every level of existence within the Spiritual Cosmos. Atik refers to G‑d’s pleasure and delight that spurred His desire to bring the entire Spiritual Cosmos into being.)
A Letter from the Lubavitcher Rebbe
Scholarly explanation of Chassidic story regarding “Akavya ben Mahalalel says:
Why was (Kenan’s (great-grandson of Adam) named Mahalalel? Because he was the first to repent and to begin to recite praise before the Holy One, blessed be He.” The writings of the AriZal,Shaar HaGilgulim (Introduction 31) state: “Know that all the souls... are included and dependent on Adam, the first man.... Every one of his 248 limbs [is associated with specific souls].... The heel... is divided into more than 613 sparks of souls. Included among them are the souls of... and the soul of Akavya ben Mahalalel.” More explanation is given in that source (at the conclusion of Introduction 32): “Akavya ben Mahalalel... [is associated with] the secret of the heel (eikev). For this reason, he is called Akavya. And since this Akavya corrected the attributes of Mahalalel ben Kenan, he is called Akavya ben Mahalalel.”
“When the courtyard of the BeisHaMikdash was locked, there was no member of the Jewish people equivalent to Akavya ben Mahalalel in wisdom — according to other versions, in humility — and in the fear of sin.