In kabala/chassidus Klipa translated as a shell, (i think it is used as a name of the source of evil)

That is the etymology of the word?
Why is the word shell used?
It is somthing in it? (what?) or is it that it is empty inside?
Is it a protection? Of what? From what?

Sources on subject please

Related From which side does Klipa come?

  • I'm voting to close as questions about kabbalah are best asked in private with an expert.
    – ezra
    Jun 21, 2018 at 18:38
  • 2
    @ezra thie word is used in chassidus and chassidus is something many orthodox rabbis considder good spreading
    – hazoriz
    Jun 21, 2018 at 18:39
  • 1
    much like a fruit's peel conceals the fruit within, so too Klipa conceals the G-dliness within. Read more about it here: hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=15600&pgnum=145
    – Menachem
    Jun 21, 2018 at 19:08
  • @ezra Can you link to a policy that includes kabbalah in that category?
    – Alex
    Jun 21, 2018 at 19:18
  • 1
    @Alex judaism.meta.stackexchange.com/a/4634/1569
    – b a
    Jun 21, 2018 at 21:41

5 Answers 5


THis is a very widely used term, but its basic meaning is simple - קליפה קודמת לפרי - the peel comes (ripens) before the fruit.

We always distinguish between the inner and the outer: the outer "contains" the inner, protects it, precedes it (comes first) but is useless and is thrown out when used out. THis is what the the Mishna in Avos 4,20) calls "אל תסתכל בקנקן אלא במה שיש בו" - "don't look at the vessel but at its content.

THink about clothes - they contain us, but they are temporary, our body also contains us and it is also temporary. The גויים are also the "framework" that contains us יהודים and they also came first - Ishmael before Itzchok and Eisov before Yaakov. And this is true just about anything.

So in general, the bad that surrounds us is just a peel for the good, that serve the goal in this world, but one day will be totally disposed.

As the peel is fed by/from the fruit - so you understand the parable...

  • I grealty appreciate this
    – hazoriz
    Jun 26, 2018 at 18:52

Well here's an explanation of what klippa is, taken from a few years of in depth learning of Chassidus:

Consider a situation where someone is having a good period in their life. Things are going great, they're succeeding in all sorts of areas, when suddenly there occurs (ch"v) a tragedy in this person's family. The situation, so to speak, "covers" over his regular joy, not allowing it to shine through as usual.

Another scenario: consider someone who is extremely intelligent, but has a speach impairment which effectively prevents his great intellect to be expressed outwards properly.

In Chassidus/Kabbalah, oftentimes the words Darkness and Light are mentioned. In a (very) general sense, these terms can be observable in the above instances. Light = where things are looking good, you can see a bright future ahead, etc; intellect, where ideas are clear in your head, the answers are known to you (like when you turn on the lights in a dark room) and so on. Darkness = the hidden state of those things, like (from the above examples) a speech impairment or a tragedy.

The thing is, that darkness isn't really a "thing". All it is, is a lack of light. But I cannot, for example, make a device that creates darkness.

In Chassidic teachings, G-dliness (meaning, a positive spiritual expression, whether as a miracle, as a positive state of being, or quite simply a palpable, practical connection to G-d) is likewise represented by the term "Light".

And then there's the darkness which blocks off the G-dliness, something which can occur in many different ways. One classic example: when the world is in full-on "G-dliness" mode, it is clear and plain for all to see that all is in the hands or G-d, that He is running the show, and so on. So when something (or someone) claims proudly (whether by word of mouth, or by its very existence) that it exists independent of G-d's will, this is a sort of "covering over" the light of G-d shining through, so to speak.

Or, in a more extreme fashion, when there exists a situation or a case of anything which negates the Torah (and thereby G-d/G-dliness), this is a form of darkness, or--you guessed it!--klipa.

Much like a "klipa" (a shell/external covering) covers over a fruit and protects it, so too klipa in the spiritual sense covers over the contents hidden beneath it.

The fact that we call it klipa and not darkness is a topic on its own--part of it has to do with what I mentioned above, that darkness has no real essense about it.

Let me know if you want further details.

I'll just add one more important anecdote: There are two types of "klippa". One is referred to as "klipat noga", and the other "shalosh klippot tmei'ot".

When I get home, perhaps, I'll expound, since I'm writing on my phone and it can get rather tiresome!


I admittedly don't know a lot about it, but my understanding is that the 'netzitzot hakdusha', or 'sparks of holiness', are contained inside the klipa, which is a shell around it and prevents it from reuniting with its source. So the goal is to break the shell and release the spark (which is then reunited with god or something along those lines), this is done by doing good deads and mitzvot.

My cousin is into Tanya and Chassidus, he can probably give a more thourough explanation, when I meet him I'll ask him and update this answer.

  • +1 Thanks please tag me when you update it
    – hazoriz
    Jun 21, 2018 at 23:13
  • @hazoriz I spoke to him he said that he thought that what I answered was accurate. He also added that they can be found in many places, such as food, and when you eat the food with the proper intention you break the klipot and release the sparks. I don't know if I believe in all this but its interesting. Jun 22, 2018 at 0:43
  • thank you for your work and time, but i am looking on a deaper level and original source
    – hazoriz
    Jun 22, 2018 at 1:28

The best way to think of klippot in the modern, scientific sense is to borrow a term from chemistry, namely phase separation.

As found in Sefer Kehillat Yaacov by Rabbi Yaacov Tzvi Yolles, ערך קליפות, klippot have no substance to themselves (אין להם אחיזה ויניקה). In other words, they only serve to indicate a point of transition.

As pointed out there in Kehillat Yaacov, there are 3 klippot, one for each of the three Unfit Worlds and each klippah has a distinct name which would relate to the nature of that type of separation, each one increasingly severe.

It is important to emphasize that this doesn’t mean that there are not other klippot, but that because Torah details this world and the three completely unfit (commonly translated as unclean) worlds, it also details the associated klippah or point of separation.

Rabbi Yolles also points to Saba d’Mishpatim in Zohar which refers to the klippot as the Petals of a Flower (נחשא דפרח באוירא). They begin at their base together and end in a state of separation.

For a more detailed discussion of this concept, see Pardes Rimonim Sha’ar 25 by Rabbi Moshe Cordevero who refers to the klippot as eyelids from the Aramaic תימורא. The eyelids prevent the eye from seeing, but they also protect the eye from being damaged and destroyed by the intense light from the sun. Also, a careful review of פתח ל from 138 Keys of Wisdom by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato is worth looking at.

Ramchal explains that all of this relates to G-d introducing the innovation of otherness (what is commonly called Sitra Achra) at the beginning of creation.

The klippot are the transition point from G-d’s unity, to the potential for separate creations. And it is in that context that the allegory comparing klippah to the skin of a piece of fruit is understood. All of creation, the appearance of separate existence, apart from the Creator, is in contradiction to G-d’s true unity (that G-d is one). Or as the expression of our Sages goes (see Likkutei Amarim Tanya, chapter 21), “There is no place devoid of Him.”

Our continued existence is only possible by G-d’s will which permits the appearance of otherness. In the allegory, all of existence, all of creation is the fruit and the klippot are the point where that became possible via G-d’s will.

  • לעת אתר פנוי מיניה is from tikune hazohar
    – kouty
    Dec 17, 2018 at 21:17
  • @kouty Yes, the citation is brought by the Alter Rebbe along with some others relevant to the subject. Dec 17, 2018 at 21:19

Because I can't use comment, below is a comment only.

Klippa is Hebrew, in English, it means a "curtain".

When Sages used this term, the situation is one is standing in the physical world, while spiritual world is another. And between these 2 worlds, there is a boundary, a klippa/curtain. It means from where you stand, you don't see the entire "things or world" through, because of the klippa/curtain is in the way.

It is not a protection, but a prevention, to prevent or stop you to see through the reality, so that you don't see it spiritually but only physically.

In today's brain science term, it can be considered as "illusions".

  • +1 I think you are mixing up with "parsa"
    – hazoriz
    Jun 22, 2018 at 1:27
  • some translated as "clipa" too. since you are talking about "shell" here, I assume you are talking "clipa". The clipa covers the truth, so one is not able to see the spiritual part.
    – Questions
    Jun 22, 2018 at 1:35
  • i would appreciate a source
    – hazoriz
    Jun 22, 2018 at 1:36
  • books of Kabbalah, rabbis' lectures on youtube, too many
    – Questions
    Jun 22, 2018 at 1:37
  • In Hebrew it does not mean curtain, it only means peel, like apple peel. Come to Israel!
    – Al Berko
    Jun 26, 2018 at 18:21

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