Saturday, January 14, 2006

LESSONS IN TANYA: Sunday, January 15, 2006


Tevet 15, 5766 * January 15, 2006


Today's Lesson:

Likutei Amarim
(Middle of Chapter Twelve)

Yet, because the evil of the animal soul has not the sole authority
and dominion over the "city", [for the good of the divine soul,
situated in the brain, has its say as well], it [the evil] is unable
to implement this desire by clothing itself in the limbs of the body,
[to engage] in deed, speech, or actual thought - ["actual" thought
meaning] to concentrate his attention on worldly pleasures [with a
view to] devising means of satisfying the lust of his heart, because
the brain rules over the heart (as it is written in Ra'aya Mehemna,
Parshat Pinchas (2)) by virtue of its innately created nature.

[The Beinoni's desire for worldly pleasures will cause thoughts of
such matters to rise from the heart to his mind; these thoughts are
beyond his control, beyond the sphere of dominance of his divine soul.

He can, however, control his "actual" - i.e., conscious and wilfull
thought, so that immediately he becomes aware of the forbidden
thoughts he dismisses them from his mind, not permitting himself to
dwell on them, nor to think how to implement them (as the Alter Rebbe
will state at greater length further in this chapter).

Returning now to his statement that the divine soul of the Beinoni
keeps the desires of his animal soul in check, preventing their
expression in deed, speech and actual thought, the Alter Rebbe
explains why this is possible].

For man was so created from birth, that every person may, with the
power of the will in his brain - [i.e., the will created of his mind's
understanding] - restrain himself and control the drive of his heart's
lust, preventing his heart's desires from finding expression in deed,
word and thought, [when the mind understands the evil inherent in such
deed, word or thought], and [he can, if his mind will it] divert his
attention completely from that which his heart craves [and turn his
attention] to the exactly opposite direction.

[This principle of mind over heart holds true even where the restraint
of one's desires is dictated by simple logic, without motives of
holiness; the demands of the mind's logic are, alone, sufficiently
powerful to steer one's attention in a direction diametrically
opposite to that which his heart craves. If this is true whatever his
motives, it is true] particularly in the direction of holiness.

[When, motivated by the knowledge that his lustful thoughts are
sinful, and thoughts of Torah and mitzvot good and praiseworthy,
one seeks to divert his attention from the former to the latter,
so that both his goal and his motives are holy, his mind's will
is particularly effective in mastering his heart and thoughts].

[For] thus is it written: (3) "Then I saw that wisdom surpasses
folly as light surpasses darkness."

[Clearly, the use of analogy indicates that a difficult and unfamiliar
idea is to be clarified by comparison with a simple, familiar one.

However, nothing seems to be gained by equating wisdom and folly with
light and darkness; both are equally comprehensible.

Even assuming that the reference here is to a deeper aspect of
"wisdom", namely holiness (as in Ecclesiastes' depiction of man's
inclination for good as "a poor and wise child' (4)), and that
"folly" refers to evil (as in his portrayal of the evil inclination as
"an old and foolish king"), there is still no need for analogy.
Clearly, holiness is vastly superior to evil.

Rather, the Alter Rebbe goes on to explain, the analogy is used here
to illustrate how wisdom is superior to folly: The superiority of
light over darkness is manifest in the ability of a tiny ray of light
to banish a great deal of darkness. Furthermore, the light need not
battle darkness to banish it;

the darkness disappears as a matter of course with the appearance of
light. In the same way is the wisdom of holiness superior to the folly
of evil. A mere ray of holiness suffices to banish - as a matter of
course - a great deal of evil folly.

In the Alter Rebbe's words]:

This [analogy] means that just as light has superiority, power
and dominion over darkness, so that a little physical light banishes
a great deal of darkness, which is displaced automatically and
inevitably, [without any effort on the part of the light], so is there
driven away, automatically, much foolishness of the kelipah and sitra
achra [of the animal soul located] in the left part of the heart, (as
indeed our Sages say, (5) "A man does not sin unless a spirit of folly
enters him").

[Thus our Sages described the desires of the animal soul as "folly".
Hence they are automatically banished] by the wisdom of the divine
soul that is in the brain, which desires to rule alone over the
"city" - [the body] - and to pervade the entire body by means of its
aforementioned (6) three garments, namely thought, speech and action
connected with the 613 mitzvot of the Torah, as discussed above. (7)

[In the Beinoni, this desire of the divine soul in the brain - that IT
ALONE pervade his thought, speech and action, and hence his entire
body - controls the lustful desires which the animal soul arouses in
his heart. Moreover, it prevents their actual expression because of
the natural supremacy of mind over heart and of holiness over evil.

But if the divine soul of the Beinoni indeed dominates his every area
of practical expression, alone dictating his every thought, word and
deed, why is he not considered a tzaddik?


2. Zohar III, p. 224a. The doctrine of the inherent supremacy of
"intellect over emotion" is one of the basic, though not original,
tenets of ChaBaD. Cf. Rambam, Moreh Nevuchim III, 8.
3. Kohelet 2:13.
4. Kohelet 4:13.
5. Sotah 3a.
6. Ch. 4.
7. Ch. 9.


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