Sunday, January 22, 2006

LESSONS IN TANYA: Monday, January 23, 2006


Tevet 23, 5766 * January 23, 2006


Today's Lesson:

Likutei Amarim
Chapter Fifteen

[In the previous chapters, the Alter Rebbe discussed the difference
between the tzaddik and the Beinoni. The tzaddik has no evil

Since there is no longer any evil in his own soul, evil holds no
attraction for him. In the Beinoni, however, the evil remains strong.

The Beinoni therefore finds evil desirable, and it is only through the
constant vigilance and struggle of his divine soul that he is able to
prevent his animal soul from implementing its desires in thought,
speech and action].

With this [distinction in mind], we may understand the verse: (1)
"And you will return and see the difference between the righteous man
and the wicked one, between he who serves G-d and he who serves Him

[The Talmud (2) raises the question: The term "righteous man" is
identical with "he who serves G-d," and "the wicked man" is obviously
"he who serves Him not." Why, then, does the text repeat the

In answer, the Talmud states: "Both `he who serves G-d' and `he who
serves Him not' are fully righteous; yet one who reviews his studies
one hundred times cannot compare to he who reviews his studies 101
times." (3)

However, this answer seems to clarify only the second set of seemingly
repetitive terms - "the wicked man" and "he who serves Him not."
Far from being wicked, "he who serves Him not" is so described only
because he reviews his Torah studies no more than 100 times. Yet we
remain with the difficulty posed by the first set of identical
descriptions - "the righteous man" and "he who serves G-d." In fact,
the above-quoted Talmudic interpretation of the verse adds yet a third
category: "he who serves Him not," yet is also righteous!

It is this difficulty that the Alter Rebbe now resolves, based on his
previous distinction between the tzaddik and the Beinoni].

The difference between "he who serves G-d" (oved) and a righteous man
(tzaddik) is, that "he who serves G-d," written in the present tense,
describes one who is still presently laboring in his divine service.

This service consists of the struggle against one's evil nature with
the aim of overpowering it, and banishing it from the "small city"
[i.e., the body, which is like a city whose conquest is the objective
of both the good and the evil nature], (4) so that it should not vest
itself in the organs of the body through evil thought, speech or
action. (5) [Doing battle against his evil nature is the avodah
("service") of "he who serves G-d]."

This constant battle with one's evil nature truly entails much effort
("service") and toil. This is the Beinoni.

[It is he, who must wage this battle; it is the Beinoni who is called
"he who serves G-d," for he is actively engaged at present in his

The tzaddik, on the other hand, is designated "a servant (eved) of
G-d," as a title [conferred on the person himself; it is not merely
a description of one's active role as is the designation "one who

[The term "servant" is] similar to the title "sage" or "king",
bestowed on one who has already become a sage or king.

So, too, he [the tzaddik] has already effected and completely
accomplished his "service" of waging war with the evil in him. He
has banished it and it is gone from him, leaving [the seat of evil
nature in] his heart, (6) "void within him." [Having completed this
task, the tzaddik has earned the title "servant of G-d."

We now see that the expressions "a righteous man" and "he who serves
G-d" are not repetitious; "he who serves G-d" is not a description of
a tzaddik but of a Beinoni.

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to discuss the difference between "he who
serves G-d" and "he who serves Him not," who, as the Talmud declares,
is not wicked].

In the category of Beinoni there are also two levels: "He who serves
G-d" and "he who serves Him not."

Yet he [who "serves Him not]" is not wicked, [although he does not
wage war with his evil nature], for never in his life has he committed
even a minor transgression [in the realm of negative commandments].

He has also fulfilled all the [positive] commandments which he was
able to fulfill, including the precept of Torah study - which is equal
to all the other commandments combined - to the extent that his mouth
never ceased from study, [despite the difficulty involved in this].

Yet [he is still described as one who "does not serve G-d," for he
does not wage any battle against his evil inclination to vanquish it
through the aid of the Divine light that illuminates the G-dly soul
abiding in the brain, which rules over the heart - as explained
above (7) - [that the G-dly soul and the Divine light illuminating it
are the Beinoni's answer to his evil inclination. He ("who serves Him
not') does not struggle with it] - for his evil inclination does not
oppose him at all in an attempt to deter him from his Torah study and
divine service, and thus he need not wage any war against it.

So it is, for example, with one who is by nature an assiduous student
due to his stolid temperament, and who is also free of conflict with
sexual desire due to his frigid nature; and similarly with other
mundane pleasures [he need not exert himself to master a desire for
them], for he naturally lacks any feeling for enjoyment.

For this reason he does not need to contemplate so much on the
greatness of G-d to consciously create a spirit of knowledge and fear
of G-d in his mind in order to guard himself from transgressing any
prohibitive commandments.

[He also need not create] a love of G-d in his heart, [which would
motivate him] to bind himself to Him through fulfilling the [positive]
commandments and through Torah study which equals all [the other
commandments together].

The hidden love of G-d found in the heart of all Jews, who are
called (8) "the lovers of His name," is sufficient for him [to
motivate his fulfilling the commandments], since he is naturally so

[For a Jew who must engage in battle with his evil inclination,
the love hidden in his heart is not enough. He must arouse it to an
active, conscious state. For the person who is free of conflict with
evil, however, this hidden love (together with his naturally favorable
character traits) is sufficient].

For this reason, he is not considered "one who is serving G-d" at

For this latent love is not of his making or achievement by any means.
It is our inheritance, bequeathed by our Patriarchs to the entire
Jewish nation, as will be explained further. (9)

[With this the Alter Rebbe concluded the thought that within the level
of Beinoni there are two sub-categories - "he who serves G-d," and
"he who serves Him not."

He now goes on to say that even one who is not naturally endowed with
traits favorable to G-d's service, may yet come under the category of
"he who serves Him not]."

So, too, he who is not inherently studious, but has accustomed himself
to study diligently, so that this habit has become his second nature;
thus, [diligence is now natural for him], - for him, too, the hidden
love of G-d is now sufficient, unless he wishes to study more than he
usually does.

[To do so, he must arouse a conscious love of G-d in his heart. Only
such a love can supply the strength necessary to free himself from the
restraints of his acquired nature].


1. Malachi 3:18.
2. Chagigah 9b.
3. The significance of the 101st revision will be explained further in
this chapter.
4. Kohelet 9:14; Nedarim 32b; and see above, ch. 9.
5. See ch. 12.
6. See ch. 1.
7. See chs. 12 and 13.
8. Tehillim 69:37.
9. Chs. 18, 19, and 44.


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