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LESSONS IN TANYA: Shabbat, February 15, 2014

Today’s Tanya Lesson
Adar I 15, 5774 · February 15, 2014
Likutei Amarim, end of Chapter 29


עוד ישים אל לבו רוב חלומותיו שהם הבל ורעות רוח, משום שאין נפשו עולה למעלה, וכמו שכתוב: מי יעלה בהר ה׳…נקי כפים וגו׳

Let him further consider his dreams in order to humble his spirit; for one may learn more about himself from his dreams than from his waking, conscious thoughts.For the most part, they are “vanity, and an affliction of the spirit,” 1 for his soul does not ascend heavenward during his sleep; since it is written: 2“Who shall ascend the mountain of the Lord?” — meaning, in our context, “Whose soul shall rise heavenward while he sleeps, to see and absorb matters of Torah and holiness, which will in turn be reflected in his dreams?” And the next verse gives the answer: “He that has clean hands and a pure heart” — implying that the soul of one whose hands and heart are not pure, does not ascend, and that is why his dreams are a patchwork of vanity and foolishness.

ואינון סטרין בישין אתיין ומתדבקן ביה, ומודעין ליה בחלמא מילין דעלמא וכו׳, ולזמנין דחייכן ביה ואחזיאו ליה מילי שקר, וצערין ליה בחלמיה כו׳, כמו שכתוב בזהר ויקרא דף כ״ה עמוד א׳ ועמוד ב׳ , עיין שם באריכות

Furthermore, “those originating from the ’evil side‘ come and attach themselves to him and inform him in his dreams of mundane affairs… and sometimes mock him and show him false things and torment him in his dreams,” and so on, as stated in the Zohar on Vayikra (p. 25a,b). See it there discussed at length.

We thus see from the Zohar that one may evaluate himself by studying the content of his dreams. Thereby, he can humble his spirit even if he finds himself free of sin, and in this way he may crush the sitra achra within him, as explained above.

והנה כל מה שיאריך בעניינים אלו במחשבתו, וגם בעיונו בספרים, להיות לבו נשבר בקרבו, ונבזה בעיניו נמאס ככתוב, בתכלית המיאוס, ולמאס חייו ממש, הרי בזה ממאס ומבזה הסטרא אחרא ומשפילה לעפר ומורידה מגדולתה וגסות רוחה וגבהותה, שמגביה את עצמה על אור קדושת נפש האלקית להחשיך אורה

The longer he reflects on these matters, both in his own thoughts and by delving deeply into books which speak of these matters, in order to break down his heart within him and render himself shamed and despised in his own eyes, as is written in the Scriptures, so utterly despised that he despises his very life, — the more he despises and degrades thereby thesitra achra, casting it down to the ground and humbling it from its haughtiness and pride and self-exaltation, wherewith it exalts itself over the light of the divine soul’s holiness, obscuring its radiance.

Up to now, the Alter Rebbe has proposed means of crushing the sitra achra within one’s animal soul by humbling his own spirit through intellectual contemplation. He now turns to another method, that of “raging” against one’s evil impulse, without entering into an analysis of his spiritual level.

וגם ירעים עליה בקול רעש ורוגז להשפילה, כמאמר רז״ל: לעולם ירגיז אדם יצר טוב על יצר הרע, שנאמר: רגזו וגו׳

He should also thunder against it (the sitra achra) with a strong and raging voice in order to humble it, as our Sages state, 3 “A person should always rouse the good impulse against the evil impulse, as it is written, 4‘Rage, and sin not.’”

דהיינו לרגוז על נפש הבהמית, שהיא יצרו הרע, בקול רעש ורוגז במחשבתו, לומר לו: אתה רע ורשע ומשוק׳ ומתועב ומנוול וכו׳, ככל השמות שקראו לו חכמינו ז״ל, באמת

This means that one should rage — in his mind — against the animal soul, which is his evil empulse, with a voice of stormy indignation, saying to it: “Indeed, you are truly evil and wicked, abominable, loathsome and disgraceful,” and so forth, using all the epithets by which our Sages have called it. 5

עד מתי תסתיר לפני אור אין סוף ברוך הוא הממלא כל עלמין, היה הוה ויהיה בשוה, גם במקום זה שאני עליו כמו שהיה אור אין סוף ברוך הוא לבדו קודם שנברא העולם, בלי שום שינוי

“How long will you obscure the light of the blessed Ein Sof, which pervades all the worlds; which was, is, and will be the same, even in the very place where I stand, just as the light of the blessed Ein Sof was alone before the world was created — utterly unchanged;

כמו שכתוב: אני ה׳ לא שניתי, כי הוא למעלה מהזמן וכו׳

as it is written: 6 ’I, the L-rd, have not changed,‘ i.e., the fact of creation has wrought no change in Him, for He transcends time, and so on? And therefore, the fact that it is now ’after‘ creation, cannot affect Him.

ואתה מנוול וכו׳ מכחיש האמת הנראה לעינים, דכולא קמיה כלא ממש באמת, בבחינת ראייה חושיית

But you, repulsive one (and so forth) deny the truth which is so plainly visible — that all is truly as nothing in His presence — a truth which is so apparent as to be ’visible to the eye‘!

והנה על ידי זה יועיל לנפשו האלקית להאיר עיניה באמת יחוד אור אין סוף בראייה חושיית, ולא בחינת שמיעה והבנה לבדה

In this way he will help his divine soul, enlightening its eyes to perceive the truth of the unity of the infinite light of Ein Sof as though with physical sight, and not merely through the lesser perception of “hearing” and understanding.

כמו שכתוב במקום אחר, שזהו שרש כל העבודה

For, as explained elsewhere, this is the core of the whole [divine] service.

Intellectual comprehension — i.e., the “hearing” — of G‑dliness can lead only to a desire and longing for G‑d; the level of perception described as “sight” leads far higher — to one’s self-nullification before Him.

והטעם: לפי שבאמת אין שום ממשות כלל בסטרא אחרא, שלכן נמשלה לחשך שאין בו שום ממשות כלל, וממילא נדחה מפני האור

The reason that humbling the spirit of the sitra achra is effective in crushing it is that in truth there is no substance whatever in the sitra achra. That is why it is compared to darkness, which has no substance whatsoever, and is automatically banished by the presence of light.

וכך הסטרא אחרא, אף שיש בה חיות הרבה, להחיות כל בעלי חיים הטמאים, ונפשות אומות העולם, וגם נפש הבהמית שבישראל, כנ״ל, מכל מקום הרי כל חיותה אינה מצד עצמה, חס ושלום, אלא מצד הקדושה, כנ״ל, ולכן היא בטלה לגמרי מפני הקדושה, כביטול החשך מפני האור הגשמי, רק שלגבי קדושת נפש האלקית שבאדם, נתן לה הקב״ה רשות ויכולת להגביה עצמה כנגדה, כדי שהאדם יתעורר להתגבר עליה להשפילה על ידי שפלות ונמיכת רוחו, ונבזה בעיניו נמאס

Similarly with the sitra achra. Indeed, it possesses abundant vitality with which to animate all the impure animals and the souls of the nations of the world, and also the animal soul of the Jew, as has been explained. 7Yet this vitality is not its own, G‑d forbid, but stems from the realm of holiness, for the realm of holiness is the source of all life, including even the life-force of the sitra achra, as has been explained above. 8 Therefore it is completely nullified in the presence of holiness, as darkness is nullified in the presence of physical light. Its power lies only in the fact that in regard to the holiness of man’s divine soul, G‑d has given it (— the sitra achra)permission and ability to raise itself against it (— the divine soul), in order that man should be roused to overpower it and to humble it by means of the humility and submission of his spirit, and by being abhorrent and despised in his own eyes — for through this he humbles the sitra achra and abhors it.

ובאתערותא דלתתא: אתערותא דלעילא, לקיים מה שכתוב: משם אורידך, נאם ה׳

The arousal of man below to crush the sitra achra causes an arousal above, to fulfill what is written: 9 “From there will I bring you down, says G‑d”to the sitra achra, which seeks to rise against G‑dliness and to obscure it.

דהיינו שמסירה מממשלתה ויכלתה, ומסלק ממנה הכח ורשות שנתן לה להגביה עצמה נגד אור קדושת נפש האלקית

This means that He deprives it of its dominion and power, and withdraws from it the strength and authority which had been given it to rise up against the light of the holiness of the divine soul.

ואזי ממילא בטילה ונדחית, כביטול החשך מפני אור הגשמי

Thereupon it automatically becomes nullified and is banished, just as darkness is nullified before physical light.

וכמו שמצינו דבר זה מפורש בתורה גבי מרגלים, שמתחלה אמרו: כי חזק הוא ממנו, אל תקרי ממנו כו׳, שלא האמינו ביכולת ה׳, ואחר כך חזרו ואמרו: הננו ועלינו וגו׳

Indeed, we find this explicitly stated in the Torah in connection with the Spies sent by Moses to scout out the Holy Land. At the outset they declared: 10“For he (the enemy) is stronger than we,” and, interpreting the word ממנו , the Sages say: 11

“Read not ‘than we,’ but ‘than He,’” meaning that they had no faith in G‑d’s ability to lead them into the Holy Land. But afterwards they reversed themselves and announced: 12 “We will readily go up [to conquer the Land].”

ומאין חזרה ובאה אליהם האמונה ביכולת ה׳, הרי לא הראה להם משה רבנו עליו השלום שום אות ומופת על זה בנתיים, רק שאמר להם איך שקצף ה׳ עליהם ונשבע שלא להביאם אל האר׳

Whence did their faith in G‑d’s ability return to them? Our teacher Moses, peace unto him, had not shown them in the interim any sign or miracle concerning this, which would restore their faith. He had merely told them that G‑d was angry with them and had sworn not to allow them to enter the Land. 13

ומה הועיל זה להם אם לא היו מאמינים ביכולת ה׳, חס ושלום, לכבוש ל״א מלכים, ומפני זה לא רצו כלל ליכנס לאר׳

What value did this Divine anger and oath have to them, if in any case they did not believe in G‑d’s ability to subdue the thirty-one kings14 who reigned in the Land at that time, for which reason they had had no desire whatever to enter the Land?

אלא ודאי מפני שישראל עצמן הם מאמינים בני מאמינים, רק שהסטרא אחרא המלובשת בגופם הגביה עצמה על אור קדושת נפשם האלקית, בגסות רוחה וגבהותה בחוצפה בלי טעם ודעת

Surely, then, the explanation is as follows: Israelites themselves are15“believers, [being] the descendants of believers.” Even while they stated, “The enemy is stronger than He,” their divine soul still believed in G‑d. They professed a lack of faith in His ability only because the sitra achra clothed in their body in the person of their animal soul had risen against the light of the holiness of the divine soul, with its characteristic impudent arrogance and haughtiness, without sense or reason.

ולכן מיד שקצף ה׳ עליהם והרעים בקול רעש ורוגז: עד מתי לעדה הרעה הזאת וגו׳ במדבר הזה יפלו פגריכם וגו׳ אני ה׳ דברתי אם לא זאת אעשה לכל העדה הרעה הזאת וגו׳, וכששמעו דברים קשים אלו, נכנע ונשבר לבם בקרבם, כדכתיב: ויתאבלו העם מאד, וממילא נפלה הסטרא אחרא מממשלתה וגבהותה וגסות רוחה

Therefore as soon as G‑d became angry with them, and thundered angrily: 16 “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation…,Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness…I, G‑d, have spoken: I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation…,” — their heart was humbled and broken within them when they heard these stern words, as it is written,17 “And the people mourned greatly.” Consequently, the sitra achratoppled from its dominion, from its haughtiness and arrogance.

וישראל עצמן הם מאמינים

But the Israelites themselves i.e., as far as their divine soul was concerned had believed in G‑d all along.

Therefore, as soon as they were released from the dominion of the sitra achra, they proclaimed, “We will readily go up…” There was no need of a miracle to convince them of G‑d’s ability. All that was necessary was to divest the sitra achra of its arrogance, and this was accomplished by G‑d’s “raging” at them.

Similarly with every Jew: When the light of his soul does not penetrate his heart, it is merely due to the arrogance of the sitra achra, which will vanish as soon as he rages at it.

ומזה יכול ללמוד כל אדם שנופלים לו במחשבתו ספיקות על אמונה כי הם דברי רוח הסטרא אחרא לבדה, המגביה עצמה על נפשו, אבל ישראל עצמן הם מאמינים כו׳

Every person in whose mind there occur doubts concerning faith in G‑d can deduce from this episode of the Spies that these doubts are nothing but the empty words of the sitra achra which raises itself against his divinesoul. But Israelites themselves are believers…

וגם הסטרא אחרא עצמה אין לה ספיקות כלל באמונה, רק שניתן לה רשות לבלבל האדם בדברי שקר ומרמה להרבות שכרו

Furthermore, the sitra achra itself entertains no doubts at all concerning faith. As explained in ch. 22, the kelipah in its spiritual state (i.e., when not clothed in the human body) does not deny G‑d’s sovereignty. It has merely been granted permission to confuse man with false and deceitful words, in order that he may be more richly rewarded for mastering it.

כפיתויי הזונה לבן המלך בשקר ומרמה ברשות המלך, כמו שכתוב בזהר הקדוש

In this it is similar to the harlot who attempts to seduce the king’s son through falsehood and deceit, with the king’s approval, as in the parablenarrated in the holy Zohar.18

The parable: A king hires a harlot to seduce his son, so that the prince will reveal his wisdom in resisting her wiles. The harlot herself, knowing the king’s intention, does not want the prince to submit to temptation. Similarly with the sitra achra: it is merely fulfilling its G‑d-given task in attempting to lure man away from G‑d, but actually desires that man resist it, thereby earning a greater reward.

However, this is true only of the spiritual kelipah which is the source of the animal soul. The animal soul and evil impulse as clothed within man, on the other hand, are truly evil, and their unequivocal aim is to entice man to do evil.

In the context of the parable, this may be described as follows: The harlot originally commissioned by the king subcontracts a second harlot, and the second a third, and so on. As the actual executor of the mission becomes successively further removed from the king, the original intention is lost, and finally the prince is approached by a harlot who has her own intentions in mind, not those of the king, as she attempts to seduce the prince.

In any event, we see that any doubts one may have concerning faith in G‑d, are merely the empty words of the sitra achra. The soul within every Jew, however, believes in G‑d with a perfect faith.

1. See ch. 6.
2. Tehillim 24:3,4.
3. Berachot 5a.
4. Tehillim 4:5.
5. Sukkah 52a.
6. Malachi 3:6.
7. Chs. 6, 7.
8. Chs. 6, 22.
9. Ovadiah 1:4.
10. Bamidbar 13:31.
11. Sotah 35a; Menachot 53b.
12. Bamidbar 14:40.
13. Ibid., v. 39.
14. Enumerated in Yehoshua 12.
15. Bamidbar Rabbah 7:5.
16. Bamidbar 14:27, 29, 35.
17. Ibid., v. 39.
18. II, 163a. See above, end of ch. 9
The Tanya of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, elucidated by Rabbi Yosef Wineberg    More articles…  |   RSS Listing of Newest Articles by this Author

Translated from Yiddish by Rabbi Levy Wineberg and Rabbi Sholom B. Wineberg. Edited by Uri Kaploun.
Published and copyright by Kehot Publication Society, all rights reserved.

LESSONS IN TANYA: Friday, February 14, 2014
Today’s Tanya Lesson
Adar I 14, 5774 · February 14, 2014
Likutei Amarim, middle of Chapter 29

וגם מי שהוא נקי מחטאות נעורים החמורים ישים אל לבו לקיים מאמר זהר הקדש: להיות ממארי דחושבנא

Even he who is innocent of the grievous sins of youth, but yet wants to attain a broken spirit, should set his heart to fulfill the counsel of the holy Zohar1— to be “a master of accounts.”

This means that he should do the spiritual accounting described below as a “master”, a proprietor, to whom each set of figures represents either a profit or a loss that directly affects him — rather than as a “servant”, a hired accountant, who can view whatever bottom line eventuates with academic detachment.

דהיינו לעשות חשבון עם נפשו מכל המחשבות והדיבורים והמעשים שחלפו ועברו מיום היותו עד היום הזה, אם היו כולם מצד הקדושה, או מצד הטומאה, רחמנא לצלן, דהיינו כל המחשבות והדיבורים והמעשים אשר לא לה׳ המה, ולרצונו ולעבודתו, שזהו פירוש לשון סטרא אחרא כנ״ל פרק ו׳

This means that he should take stock with his soul of all his thoughts, utterances and actions that have come and gone since the day he came into being and until the present day. Were they all of the realm of holiness, or of the realm of impurity (G‑d forbid)? This latter realm includesalso any thought, utterance or action not directed toward G‑d, His Will and His service even when they are not actually sinful, since this is the meaning of the term sitra achra: not necessarily “evil”, but simply “the other side” — the “side” (realm) that is not holy; thus anything that does not contain holiness belongs to the realm of impurity, as explained earlier, in ch. 6.

ומודעת זאת כי כל עת שהאדם מחשב מחשבות קדושות נעשה מרכבה בעת זו להיכלות הקדושה, שמהן מושפעות מחשבות הללו

Now, it is known that whenever a person thinks holy thoughts he becomes, during that time, a “chariot” for the “chambers” (heichalot) of holiness whence these thoughts originate, or, more precisely, whence their vitality originates.

Becoming a “chariot” means that he becomes completely subservient to theseheichalot, to the same degree that a vehicle, having no will of its own, is completely subservient to its driver’s will. 2 When he meditates on the love of G‑d, for example, he becomes a “vehicle” for the supernal “chamber of love,” and so on.

וכן להפך, נעשה מרכבה טמאה בעת זו להיכלות הטומאה שמהן מושפעות כל מחשבות רעות, וכן בדבור ומעשה

Conversely, when he thinks impure thoughts he becomes an unclean “vehicle” for the heichalot of impurity, whence all impure thoughts originate. So, too, with speech and action.

Thus, even one who cannot call to mind any past sins can humble his spirit by contemplating how often he has become a vehicle for impurity through his thoughts, words and actions which, though not sinful, were still of the realm of the sitra achra — since they were not directed toward G‑dliness.

1. See Zohar III, 178a.
2. See ch. 23.

The Tanya of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, elucidated by Rabbi Yosef Wineberg    More articles…  |   RSS Listing of Newest Articles by this Author

Translated from Yiddish by Rabbi Levy Wineberg and Rabbi Sholom B. Wineberg. Edited by Uri Kaploun.
Published and copyright by Kehot Publication Society, all rights reserved.

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