Friday, January 13, 2006

LESSONS IN TANYA: Shabbat, January 14, 2006


Due to Shabbat observance, the Shabbat edition of Lessons In Tanya is sent on Friday. Shabbat Shalom!

Tevet 14, 5766 * January 14, 2006


Today's Lesson:

Likutei Amarim
Chapter Twelve

[In the previous chapters, the Alter Rebbe defined the terms
tzaddik and rasha.

The tzaddik, he explained, is one in whom the good qualities of his
divine soul vanquish the evil qualities of his animal soul, to the
extent of completely eradicating them. A rasha, conversely, is one
in whom the evil qualities of his animal soul overcome the good of
his divine soul, causing him to sin in thought, speech or action.

In this, the twelfth chapter, the term Beinoni - the "intermediate
man" who is neither tzaddik nor rasha - will be defined.

The Beinoni, the Alter Rebbe explains, is one whose practical conduct
in thought, speech and action is dictated solely by the divine soul;
it has the upper hand over the animal soul.

The Beinoni accomplishes this by not allowing himself to be dominated
in any way by the animal soul, even for the shortest duration, never
thinking, speaking and surely not acting in a sinful manner. The
garments of the divine soul alone - namely thought, speech and action
in Torah and mitzvot - are those used by the Beinoni.

Nevertheless, with respect to the essence of the divine and animal
souls, i.e., their respective faculties of intellect and emotion, the
divine soul does not dominate the animal soul, and the latter remains
powerful enough to arouse desires for physical matters. However,
through constant vigilance the Beinoni keeps these desires in check,
never permitting them any practical manifestation].

The Beinoni ("intermediate man") is he in whom the evil [of the animal
soul] never attains enough power to conquer the "small city" [i.e.,
the body, which is likened to a small city which the divine and animal
soul both wish to dominate], so as to clothe itself in the body and
make it sin.

That is to say, the three "garments" of the animal soul - namely
thought, speech and action originating in the kelipah - [i.e.,
forbidden thought, speech and action, which derive their vitality
from kelipah, as explained in previous chapters) are, in the Beinoni,
so subdued that they] do not prevail within him over the divine soul
to the extent of clothing themselves in the body - [neither] in the
brain [so that the brain think forbidden thoughts with the animal
soul's garment of thought] nor in the mouth [to speak forbidden words
- the garment of speech] nor in any of the other 248 organs [to act in
a forbidden manner - the garment of action - in none of these do the
garments of the animal soul clothe themselves] to cause them to sin
and to defile them, G-d forbid, [in which case he would be a rasha,
not a Beinoni].

Only the three garments of the divine soul, they alone manifest
themselves in the body, these being the thought, speech and action
related to the 613 commandments of the Torah.

The Beinoni has *never* committed any transgression, *nor* will he
*ever* transgress; the name "rasha" has never been applied to him,
however temporarily, not even for a moment, throughout his life.

[The Rebbe notes: "The question is well known ...."; i.e.,
with regard to the statement that the Beinoni is one who has
never transgressed, the following question is commonly raised:

Is it not possible, through repentance and subsequent divine
service, that one attain the rank of Beinoni despite his previous
sins? After repenting one can rise even to the level of tzaddik;
surely, then, the rank of Beinoni is not beyond his reach!

The Rebbe answers this question in the following manner:

When the Alter Rebbe states that the Beinoni has never transgressed,
he does not mean that the Beinoni never sinned in his life as a human
being, but that in his life as a Beinoni he has no history of sin.

The Beinoni's present spiritual state is such that sin - in the past
as well as in the future - has no place in his life. He would not sin
even if he were subject to the same temptations and trials which led
him to sin in the past. It is therefore true to state that from the
perspective of his present state he has never sinned.

Likewise, the Alter Rebbe's statement that the Beinoni "will never
sin" is to be understood in the same vein. The intention is not that
it is impossible for him to sin; he does not, after all, lose his
freedom of choice. Rather, as explained above, his present state is
such that it precludes his sinning in the future, despite the trials
that the future may bring.

To be classified as a true Beinoni, one must fulfill these conditions.

For if one's spiritual state precludes his sinning only under
present conditions, but he would succumb to sin were he subject to
the temptations of the past or those the future may bring, then he
is, in potentia, a rasha; he could and would sin, except that the
prevailing circumstances are not sufficiently conducive for him to
do so.

In the same vein, the Alter Rebbe concludes, "The name `rasha'
(referring to one who sins in thought, speech or action) has never
(again, in his state of Beinoni) been applied to him, however
temporarily .....'." For the Beinoni has reached a state where sin
is precluded under any circumstances, whether of the past or future.

It remains to be understood, however, why such a lofty person is
considered merely a Beinoni, not a tzaddik. This matter is now

However, the essence and being of the divine soul, which are its ten
faculties, do not hold undisputed sovereignty and sway over the
"small city" - [the body.

The three soul-powers of intellect and the seven emotional faculties
are referred to as the "essence" of the divine soul, in contrast with
the soul's "garments" (thought, speech and action), which serve merely
as outlets and means of expression for the soul's essential faculties.

For, as shall be explained later, the faculties of the animal soul,
too, exercise some degree of control over the body, through awakening
in one's heart desires for worldly pleasures, which in turn cause
forbidden thoughts to enter his mind].

Only, at specific times, [do the faculties of the divine soul hold
undisputed sovereignty over the Beinoni with the animal soul having
no effect whatever on him], such as during the recital of the Shema
or the Amidah.

At this time [of prayer], the Supernal Intellect above is in a
sublime state - [it is a time of great spiritual illumination in
the higher spiritual worlds]; likewise below - [in this physical
world] - the time [of prayer] is propitious for every man [to ascend
to a higher spiritual level].

Then, [during the recital of Shema or during prayer], [the Beinoni]
binds his CHaBaD - [his intellectual faculties, consisting of
Chochmah, Binah and Daat] - to G-d, meditating deeply on the
greatness of the blessed Ein Sof, and arousing [through this
meditation] a burning love [of G-d] in the right part of his heart;
[for, as explained in previous chapters, meditation on G-d's greatness
arouses the love of Him within one's heart.

This love, in turn, leads the Beinoni to desire] to cleave to Him
by means of fulfilling the Torah and its commandments out of love.

[The realization that only the fulfillment of Torah and mitzvot will
fulfill his desire to become one with G-d channels the Beinoni's love
into a desire to observe Torah and mitzvot].

This [arousal of love for G-d, and its accompanying resolve to
adhere to Torah and mitzvot and thereby to cleave to Him], is the
essential subject of the Shema, which Biblical (deoraysa)
commandment enjoins us to recite; likewise, the Rabbinically
ordained (derabbanan) blessings preceding and following [the Shema]
are a preparation enabling us to fulfill [that which we recite in]
the Shema, as explained elsewhere. (1)

At such time, [during the Shema or prayer, when the love of G-d burns
in the heart of the Beinoni], the evil in the left part of his heart
[the animal soul's principal area of manifestation] is subjected to
and is nullified before the goodness [i.e., the love of G-d] that
spreads into the right part of the heart, [where the divine soul is
manifest], from the CHaBaD faculties in the brain which are bound [in
meditation] to the greatness of the blessed Ein Sof.

[Contemplating G-d's greatness with the three intellectual faculties
- Wisdom, Understanding and Knowledge (CHaBaD) - arouses and diffuses
a love of G-d in (the right part of) the heart.

This arousal of love, causes the evil of the animal soul to be
nullified in the good of the divine soul now pervading the heart.

During the time of prayer, therefore, when the Beinoni arouses his
love of G-d through meditation, his animal soul is inactive, and he
feels no inclination for physical pleasures. Thus, during prayer the
Beinoni's divine soul is his "undisputed sovereign," as the Alter
Rebbe stated above].

[But this state of affairs lasts only for the duration of the
spiritually-charged time of prayer]. After prayer, however,
when the intellect of the blessed Ein Sof is no longer in a state
of sublimity, [i.e., when the spiritual illumination engendered by
prayer ceases], the evil [of the animal soul] in the left part of
the heart reawakens, and he [the Beinoni once again] feels a desire
for the lusts of this world and its delights, [since the evil of the
Beinoni's animal soul remains undiminished even after prayer, as the
Alter Rebbe will explain shortly].


1. Generally speaking, the blessings recited over the performance
of a mitzvah are a Rabbinic contribution to the Biblical mitzvah.
This contribution may be understood as follows.
Every mitzvah is a channel drawing down holiness upon the soul of
the Jew performing it. In order that one be a fitting vessel for
this sanctity, the Sages ordained that he recite a blessing before
performing the mitzvah. The connection between the blessing and
the mitzvah is always clear: The blessing actually mentions the
particular commandment to be performed and thanks G-d for
sanctifying us by commanding us to perform it. For example, the
blessing over the tefillin concludes with the words, " .... and He
commanded us to don the tefillin." In the case of the blessings
said before reciting the Shema, however, it is not clear what the
blessings accomplish. They do not mention the mitzvah of reciting
these passages, nor have they any apparent connection with their
contents. Why were they ordained to be said at this particular

In ch. 49, the Alter Rebbe gives the following explanation.

The intention behind the reading of the Shema is that one should
come to "love G-d your L-rd with all your heart, soul and might"
(as the Alter Rebbe states in our text). To achieve this, one must
prepare himself by contemplating those matters which evoke the
love of G-d.

To this end, the Sages instituted two blessings. The first
describes aspects of the greatness of G-d - how the loftiest
angels are utterly nullified before Him, how He is far removed
from them, and so forth. The second berachah speaks of His
great love for the Jewish People, how He draws them close to Him,
and so on. After meditating on the ideas expressed in these
blessings one is indeed ready to fulfill the precept of Shema -
to fill his heart with the love of G-d.


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