Holidays   Shabbat   Chabad-houses   Chassidism   Subscribe   Calendar   Links B"H
The Weekly Publication for Every Jewish Person
Archives Current Issues Home Current Issue

Tanya for Wednesday, 23 Tevet, 5778 - January 10, 2018

As Divided for a Regular Year

Tanya for 23 Tevet

22 Tevet, 5778 - January 9, 201824 Tevet, 5778 - January 11, 2018

Chapter Fifteen

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

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 not."

[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 contrast?

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 service].

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 serves."

[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 inclined.

[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 all.

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. (Back to text) Malachi 3:18.

  2. (Back to text) Chagigah 9b.

  3. (Back to text) The significance of the 101st revision will be explained further in this chapter.

  4. (Back to text) Kohelet 9:14; Nedarim 32b; and see above, ch. 9.

  5. (Back to text) See ch. 12.

  6. (Back to text) See ch. 1.

  7. (Back to text) See chs. 12 and 13.

  8. (Back to text) Tehillim 69:37.

  9. (Back to text) Chs. 18, 19, and 44.

  • Daily Lessons
  • Weekly Texts & Audio
  • Candle-Lighting times

    613 Commandments
  • 248 Positive
  • 365 Negative

  • BlackBerry
  • iPhone / iPod Touch
  • Java Phones
  • Palm Pilot
  • Palm Pre
  • Pocket PC
  • P800/P900
  • Moshiach
  • Resurrection
  • For children - part 1
  • For children - part 2

  • Jewish Women
  • Holiday guides
  • About Holidays
  • The Hebrew Alphabet
  • Hebrew/English Calendar
  • Glossary

  • by SIE
  • About
  • Chabad
  • The Baal Shem Tov
  • The Alter Rebbe
  • The Rebbe Maharash
  • The Previous Rebbe
  • The Rebbe
  • Mitzvah Campaign

    Children's Corner
  • Rabbi Riddle
  • Rebbetzin Riddle
  • Tzivos Hashem

  • © Copyright 1988-2009
    All Rights Reserved
    L'Chaim Weekly