Thursday, January 12, 2006

LESSONS IN TANYA: Friday, January 13, 2006


Tevet 13, 5766 * January 13, 2006


Today's Lesson:

Likutei Amarim
Chapter Eleven

[Having described in chapter. 9 the ongoing battle between the divine
and animal souls to capture and dominate the body, the Alter Rebbe
proceeds, in chapter 10, to define the term tzaddik within the context
of this struggle.

He explains there that tzaddikim are classified in two general
categories. The first is that of the "complete tzaddik," also known
as the "tzaddik who possesses (only) good." Such a tzaddik has
succeeded in completely transforming the evil of his animal soul to
good and holiness.

A tzaddik of the second category, that of the "incomplete tzaddik,"
or the "tzaddik who possesses evil," is one who has not yet completely
converted his animal soul to good; he still retains a vestige of its
native evil. This remaining fragment of evil, however, is completely
nullified within the far greater proportion of good.

In chapter 11, the Alter Rebbe now addresses himself to the definition
of the rank that is the antithesis of the tzaddik - that of the wicked
person, the rasha. In direct contrast to the tzaddik, whose divine
soul overpowers his animal soul, the rasha is one whose animal soul
overwhelms his divine soul.

The rank of rasha, too, is divided into two general categories:
the "complete rasha," or the "rasha who possesses only evil," and
the "incomplete rasha," or the "rasha who possesses some good."
These categories will be defined in this chapter .

(Note: Following the Talmudic expressions which the Alter Rebbe
employs, these terms are henceforth translated as the "rasha who
knows (only) evil," and the "rasha who knows good," respectively.)]

(1) "One is the opposite of the other": the "rasha who knows good"
is the antithesis of the "tzaddik who knows evil."

This means, that the good that is in [this rasha's] divine soul,
which is in his brain and in the right part of his heart [these being
the chief dwelling places of the divine soul, as explained in ch. 9],
is subservient to, and nullified within, the evil [of the animal soul
which stems] from the kelipah, which is in the left part [of the
heart, as explained in ch. 9.

Thus, in the "rasha who knows good" the evil of the animal soul
overpowers the good of the divine soul, to the extent that the good
is subservient to the evil and is nullified within it].

This rank, too, is subdivided into myriads of degrees.

[Just as the rank of the "tzaddik who knows evil" is subdivided into
myriads of degrees with respect to the nullification within him of the
evil to good, so too are there numerous subdivisions within the rank
of the "rasha who knows good" with respect to the nullification of
good to evil, as the Alter Rebbe continues]:

[The difference between these myriad sublevels lies] in the quantity
[i.e., the extent] and the quality of the nullification and
subservience of the good to the evil, G-d forbid.

[The "quantitative" difference between one "rasha who knows good"
and another is indicated by whether the good is merely outweighed by
a majority of evil, or whether the evil is (say) sixty times more
prevalent than the good, and so on.

The "qualitative" classification hinges on what aspect of the divine
soul is subservient to its evil counterpart: in one rasha the divine
soul's holy capacity for affection may be subservient to the animal
soul's affection for forbidden matters, while in another rasha the
subservience may lie in another area. The Alter Rebbe now provides
practical illustrations of different levels within the ranks of the
"rasha who knows good]."

There is one in whom the subservience and nullification [of good to
evil] are exceedingly minor, and even these minor degrees are not
permanent, nor recurrent at frequent intervals.

Rather, only on infrequent occasions does the evil prevail over
the good, conquering the "small city," i.e., the body [which, as
mentioned in chapter 9, is likened to a small city, whose conquest
is the objective of both the divine and animal souls.

Furthermore, even when the evil does conquer the body], yet not all
of the body falls under its dominion, but only part of it, subjecting
it - [that part of the body] - to its discipline, and causing it to
be a "chariot" to the evil, [i.e., as subservient to the evil as is
a chariot to its driver] and [further causing that part of the body]
to serve as a "garment" wherein one of the animal soul's
aforementioned three garments will be clothed.

[As mentioned in chapter 6, the garments of the animal soul are sinful
thought, speech and action.

In the case of the rasha now described the evil of the animal soul,
even on those rare occasions when it does prevail over the good, can
do no more than express itself in one of these areas or "garments".

Furthermore, even in this restricted field of expression, the evil
is further limited in that it can motivate this rasha to commit only
minor transgressions, as the Alter Rebbe now continues]:

Namely, [the animal soul prevails] either in deed alone, in the
commission of minor transgressions [only], not major ones, G-d
forbid - [for his animal soul has not the power to prevail to such
an extent]; or [it may prevail] in speech alone, [but merely] in
the utterance of that which borders on slander or scoffing, [the
evil being too weak to cause him to engage in actual slander or
scoffing] and the like; or [the evil may prevail] in thought alone,
in contemplations of sin which are [in certain respects worse than
actual sin. (2)

[Thought is more refined than speech and action, and of the soul's
three garments, it is the one most intimately connected with the soul
itself. Therefore, contemplations of sin can befoul the the soul even
more than the sinful deed itself].

[This is the case] even where one does not actually contemplate
committing a sin, but merely indulges in contemplation on the carnal
union of male and female in general, whereby he violates the
admonition of the Torah, (3) "You shall guard yourself from every
wicked thing," [which our Sages interpret as an injunction that] (4)
"one must not harbor impure fancies by day [so that he will not become
polluted at night"; thus, contemplation on such matters violates
a command of the Torah], or [another area in which the evil may
prevail in the case of such a partial rasha]: when, at a time fitting
for Torah study, he turns his heart to inane matters, as stated in the
Mishnah, Tractate Avot: (5) "He who awakens at night [when he has time
to study Torah ...] and turns his heart to vanity, [is guilty against
his own soul."

In the latter two instances, then, the animal soul's garment of
thought has prevailed and manifested itself in his body].

In any one of all these instances, or their like, [i.e., whenever one
commits even a minor transgression in thought, speech or action], he
is called rasha, wicked, at that time; [the term rasha] meaning that
the evil of his [animal] soul prevails within him, clothing itself in
his body, inducing it to sin and defiling it.

Afterwards, [after this person has transgressed in any of the above-
mentioned matters], the good that is in his divine soul asserts
itself, and he is filled with remorse [over his transgression in
thought, word or action]; he will seek pardon and forgiveness of
G-d [for his transgression], and if he repents with the appropriate
penitence, in accordance with the counsel of our Sages of blessed
memory, G-d will indeed forgive him, with [one of] the three forms of
pardon expounded by Rabbi Yishmael, (6) as explained elsewhere. (7)

[The three forms of pardon:

(a) If one transgresses a positive precept and repents, he is pardoned
at once;

(b) if he transgresses a prohibitive commandment and repents, the Day
of Atonement together with his repentance atones;

(c) if his transgression carries the penalty of karet (spiritual
excision) or execution at the hands of the court, then after having
repented and undergone the spiritual cleansing of Yom Kippur,
suffering brings about full atonement.

However, as the Rebbe notes, the divine pardon elicited by
this person's repentance does not change his status of rasha in the
true sense of the term, but only in the borrowed sense of the terms
rasha and tzaddik as applied to reward and punishment. Indeed, when
weighed on the scales of merits and sins, such a person - who sins
rarely, only in minor matters, and then repents immediately - is
deemed a tzaddik and deserves reward, since the overwhelming majority
of his deeds are good.

But this usage of tzaddik is merely a borrowed term, as explained
in chapter 1. As true definitive terms, tzaddik and rasha describe
the quality of the good or evil in one's soul. Viewed in this
perspective the person described above is classified as a rasha
even after he repents and is pardoned, for he still retains his
predisposition toward sin, and his animal soul still tends to
dominate him.

Thus far the Alter Rebbe has discussed a higher-level rasha - the
"rasha who knows good" - one in whom the animal soul rarely prevails,
and then only in one of the three soul-garments of thought, speech and

There is, however, another [type of "rasha who knows good"], in whom
the evil prevails more strongly.

All three garments of evil clothe themselves in him - [he transgresses
in thought, in speech, as well as in action]; also, the evil causes
him to commit more heinous sins, and [to sin] more frequently.

Yet [he, too, is nevertheless described as a "rasha who knows good,"
for] intermittently between one sin and the next he experiences
remorse, and thoughts of repentance enter his mind, [arising] from the
aspect of good that is [still] in his soul, that gathers a degree of
strength in the interim.

However, the good within him does not strengthen itself sufficiently
to vanquish the evil so that he can rid himself entirely of his sins,
and be as one who confesses [his sins] and abandons [them once and for

Concerning such a person, the Rabbis of blessed memory have said,
(8) "The wicked are full of remorse," [i.e., between sins. It is also
possible that even while sinning they regret their actions, but feel
themselves unable to master their desires].

These represent the majority of the wicked, in whose soul there still
lingers some good - [and it is this good which causes these feelings
of vexation and remorse in their mind and heart.

We thus see that there are many levels within the rank of the "rasha
who knows good," ranging from one who sins only rarely, only in minor
matters, and with the involvement of only one soul-garment, to him who
sins often, grievously, and with all three soul-garments.

Yet they all come under the same heading of the "rasha who knows
good," the difference between them being to what degree the good
within them is dominated by the evil - in direct contrast to the
rank of the "tzaddik who knows evil," where there are various degrees
of dominance of the evil by the good.

Having defined the "rasha who knows good," the Alter Rebbe now turns
to consider the "rasha who knows (only) evil"]:

But he who never feels contrition, and in whose mind no thoughts of
repentance at all ever enter, is called a "rasha who knows (only)

For only the evil in his soul has remained in him, having so prevailed
over the good that the latter has departed from within him, and the
good now stands in a manner of makkif over him, [i.e., the good hovers
over him, so to speak, in an aloof and external manner, so that he has
no conscious awareness of it.

Yet, since he still possesses good, albeit as a makkif, for after all,
he possesses a divine soul] -

Therefore have the Sages said, (9) "Over every [gathering of any] ten
Jews rests the Shechinah (the Divine Presence)."

[That is to say, even if they are all in the category of the "rasha
who knows (only) evil," the Shechinah still hovers over them; for they
too possess good in a manner of makkif. Since at such a gathering the
Shechinah is present only in the externally encompassing way of
makkif, not entering the consciousness of those assembled, therefore
their correspondingly makkif level of good is sufficient to enable
them to receive this revelation.

With regard to the subject of the Jew whose animal soul prevails over
his divine soul, the following story bears mention.

A certain freethinker once asked of the Tzemach Tzedek: The word
Yehudim ("Jews") is normally spelled in the Book of Esther with one
letter yud before the final letter. Why is it that when the word is
used there in connection with the harsh decree against the Jews, it
is spelled with two letters yud?

The Tzemach Tzedek answered: Yud is numerically equivalent to ten; it
represents the ten soul-powers possessed by both the divine and animal
souls. There are Jews who conduct their lives solely according to the
dictates of the divine soul's ten powers, while in other Jews the
animal soul prevails, and their conduct is dictated also by the animal
soul's ten powers. Haman planned to exterminate all the Jews, even
those who were of two yuds, i.e., those ruled by the ten evil soul-
powers as well.

But the man persisted: Why then is the word spelled several times with
two yuds even after the decree was repealed? To which the Tzemach
Tzedek responded: After suffering under Haman's evil decree and
ultimately witnessing G-d's salvation, even those Jews repented and
became equals of their brethren whose lives were led by the dictates
of the divine soul and good inclination. Thus, concluded the Tzemach
Tzedek, the two yuds (yud, or yid, is also Yiddish for "Jew") became


1. Kohelet 7:14.
2. Yoma 29a. Cf. Chiddushei Aggadot of Maharsha, ad. loc.; Netivot
Olam of Maharal, Netiv HaPerishut.
3. Devarim 23:10.
4. Ketubbot 46a.
5. 3:4.
6. Yoma 86a.
7. Tanya, Iggeret HaTeshuvah, ch. 1.
8. Nedarim 9b. (So cited in early sources, though not to be found in
current editions of the Talmud).
9. Sanhedrin 39a.


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