Saturday, January 21, 2006

LESSONS IN TANYA: Sunday, January 22, 2006


Tevet 22, 5766 * January 22, 2006


Today's Lesson:

Likutei Amarim
(Conclusion of Chapter Fourteen)

Now we may understand the repetitious wording in the oath
[administered to every Jew before birth], "Be a tzaddik and be not
a rasha' [as quoted from the Talmud in the opening words of Tanya].

At first glance it seems unintelligible: once he is charged to "be
a tzaddik," [implying clearly that he not be a rasha], why the need
to adjure him again not be a rasha?

The answer is that inasmuch as not everyone is privileged to become
a tzaddik, nor has a person the full advantage of choice in this
matter of experiencing true delight in G-d and of actually and truly
abhorring evil, [each person] is consequently adjured a second time:
"You shall, at any rate, not be a rasha."

[Even if a person is not privileged to become a tzaddik he should
at the very least not be a rasha, being instead a Beinoni].

With regard to this [not being a rasha] the right of choice and
freedom is extended to every man, to control the spirit of lust in
his heart and to conquer his nature, so that he shall not be wicked
for even one moment throughout his life.

[This applies] both in the realm of "turning away from evil" -
[refraining from transgression], and in that of "doing good" -
[performing all the positive mitzvot in which he is obligated]; and
[especially the mitzvah of Torah study, which is specifically termed
"good", as our Sages say], (9) "There is no `good' other than Torah,"
meaning the study of Torah, which "balances [i.e., is equal to] all
[the other mitzvot combined]."

[By reason of the freedom of choice granted him, one is expected
to surmount even the difficulty of faithfully observing this most
difficult mitzvah of Torah study.

For this reason the oath is administered a second time. Even if one
does not have the opportunity to become a tzaddik, it is still
possible for him - and therefore expected of him - not to be a rasha.

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to state that everyone should strive to
emulate the tzaddik's service of G-d, although he may never actually
reach the rank of tzaddik. Specifically, one should train oneself to
loathe worldly pleasures; and, conversely, he should try to awaken in
himself a delight in the love of G-d, which is accomplished through
reflecting deeply on His greatness. Thereby one fulfills the charge,
"Be a tzaddik," to the best of his ability].

Nevertheless, [though it has been said that not every person can
loathe evil and attain the "love of delights" characteristic of
a tzaddik - and we are dealing here with a Beinoni - yet] one must
also set aside specific periods to seek for himself means of abhorring
evil - [i.e., of loathing worldly pleasures].

For example, [following] the advice of our Sages [on overcoming a lust
for women, let one reflect on their words], "Woman is a vessel full of
filth," and the like.

So, too, [one may learn to despise gluttony by reflecting that] all
dainties and delicacies similarly become "vessels full of waste."

Likewise with regard to all the pleasures of this world: the wise man
foresees what becomes of them; they ultimately rot and become worms
and refuse. [ In this way one cultivates an abhorrence of worldly

Conversely, [one should train himself] to delight and rejoice in G-d,
by reflecting, to the best of his ability, on the greatness of the
blessed Ein Sof.

He may well know that he will not attain this degree [of loathing evil
and delighting in G-dliness] with the fullest measure of truth, but
will only imagine it.

[He will fancy that he truly abhors evil and delights in G-dliness;
why, then, should he exert himself merely to produce a fantasy
(especially in the service of G-d, where sincerity is essential)?

Nevertheless, he should do his part to uphold the oath administered to
him to "Be a tzaddik," and G-d will do as He sees fit - [whether to
grant him the level of tzaddik, or not].

Furthermore, [emulating the tzaddik in loathing evil and delighting
in G-d produces another benefit for the Beinoni]: Habit reigns supreme
in all matters; it becomes second nature.

Therefore, when one accustoms himself to loathe evil, he will
begin to find it truly loathsome, to some extent. And when he
accustoms himself to rejoice in G-d through reflecting on His
greatness, then, [on the principle that] "an arousal of man below
brings a corresponding arousal above," perhaps after all this
[effort of his], "a spirit [Ruach] from above will descend upon
him," and it will be granted him that the [soul-level of] Ruach,
originating in the soul of some tzaddik, will be "impregnated" in
him, so that he may serve G-d with joy.

[Kabbalah speaks of the soul of a tzaddik "impregnating" another's
soul with its faculties so that the latter may serve G-d as the
tzaddik does.

(This concept is somewhat akin to gilgul - transmigration - where
a soul is attached to some object or animal, or another human being,
except that in the case of gilgul the soul is chained to and dominated
by the body to which it attaches, whereas in the case of
"impregnation" it is not; the soul of the tzaddik serves merely as
an additional spiritual charge for the soul of the recipient.)

In our context, the "impregnation" of the Beinoni's soul with the
(Ruach originating in) the tzaddik's soul enables the Beinoni to
experience a delight in G-d that he could not attain on his own].

Thus is it written, (10) "Rejoice, O tzaddikim, in G-d."

[This alludes also to the idea that when two types of tzaddikim are
joined together (the verse addresses tzaddikim, in the plural form),
when the Beinoni - called a "lower-level tzaddik" - is impregnated
with the soul of a tzaddik - a "higher-level tzaddik" - they both
rejoice in G-d, for the tzaddik imparts his delight in G-dliness to
the Beinoni]. (11)

In this way, the oath charging him to "be a tzaddik" will be truly


9. Berachot 5a.
10. Tehillim 97:12.
11. Yet, as the Rebbe points out, his own soul is not
transformed (to the rank of the tzaddik); it is merely
activated by the soul of the tzaddik. Thus, this does not
contradict the statement: "You have created tzaddikim," as
explained above at length.


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