The central point of the above discussion was that through the occurence of evil thoughts in one’s mind, and through one’s battle against them, the sitra achra is subdued, causing great pleasure above.
The Alter Rebbe now goes on to say that this subjugation of the sitra achra and the consequent Divine pleasure are brought about not only by one’s struggle against thesitra achra when it attempts to lead one to sin (as in our case, where the lack of a struggle against evil thoughts, and the continued meditation on them would constitute a sin). Rather, one produces the same effect by struggling with one’s nature in abstaining from permitted matters. For as explained in ch. 6, any permitted action done without the specific intention of leading one to the serving of G‑d (as, for example, eating in order to obtain strength for Torah study or performing the mitzvot) derives its vitality from thesitra achra. (This term simply means “the other side,” i.e., the absence of holiness.) Only an action so directed can draw its vitality from the realm of holiness. Therefore, whenever one refrains from doing even a permissible act (in which this intention is lacking) in order to subdue the sitra achra, he gives rise to Divine pleasure.
ולא עוד, אלא אפילו בדברים המותרים לגמרי
Furthermore, not only by fighting his evil thoughts does one subdue the sitra achra,but even in matters that are fully permissible,
כל מה שהאדם זובח יצרו אפילו שעה קלה, ומתכוין לאכפיא לסטרא אחרא שבחלל השמאלי
every act of sacrificing one’s impulse, even if only for a short while i.e., if he delays partaking of even the permissible and essential, with the intention of subduing the sitra achra in the left part of his heart, achieves this end.
כגון שחפ׳ לאכול, ומאחר סעודתו עד לאחר שעה או פחות
For example: when he wants to eat but delays his meal for an hour or less,
ועוסק בתורה באותה שעה
and during that time he studies Torah.
For if he occupies himself with other physical matters, he does not subdue the sitra achra by postponing his meal, since he is in any case indulging his animal soul; but if he studies Torah during that time then even when the delay of his meal does not gain him any time for Torah study, for he would have studied Torah regardless (as will soon be stated), and despite the fact that he eventually does eat, yet he subdues the sitra achraby the mere effort of postponing his meal, and thereby he brings about the Divine pleasure caused by every subjugation of the sitra achra.
כדאיתא בגמרא: שעה רביעית מאכל כל אדם, שעה ששית מאכל תלמידי חכמים
As the Gemara states: 1 “The fourth hour [of the day] is when all men eat, but the sixth hour is the mealtime for scholars,”
והיו מרעיבים עצמם שתי שעות לכוונה זו
because they would go hungry for two hours with this intention,
אף שגם אחר הסעודה היו לומדים כל היום
although even after the meal they would study all day.
וכן אם בולם פיו מלדבר דברים שלבו מתאוה מאד לדברם מענייני העולם
So too if one restrains his mouth from saying things which he greatly desires to say, concerning mundane matters — even where is nothing wrong with the words per se, yet he refrains from speaking them precisely because he feels a desire to do so;
וכן בהרהורי מחשבתו
and likewise regarding the thoughts of his mind he suppresses an urge to think about some mundane matter.
אפילו במעט מזעיר דאתכפיא סטרא אחרא לתתא
Even by the slightest subjugation of the sitra achra here below,
אסתלק יקרא דקודשא בריך הוא וקדושתו לעילא הרבה
the glory of G‑d and His holiness is greatly elevated on high.