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Tanya
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Chapter 13

Chapter 13

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Therewith will be understood the commentary of our Sages that "'Intermediate' people are judged by both [the good and evil natures], for it is written, 'He stands at the right hand of the poor man, to save him from them that judge his soul.'" Note that they did not say "ruled" by both, G-d forbid, because where the evil nature gains any control and dominion over the "small city," even though but temporarily, one is at such times deemed "wicked."

The evil nature [in the benoni], however, is no more than, for example, a magistrate or judge who gives his opinion on a point of law, yet it is not necessarily a final decision to be implemented in deed, for there is another magistrate or judge who is contesting this opinion. It is, therefore, necessary to arbitrate between the two, and the final verdict rests with the arbitrator.

Similarly, the evil nature states its opinion in the left part of the heart, which thence ascends to the brain for contemplation. Immediately it is challenged by the second judge, the divine soul in the brain extending into the right part of the heart, the abode of the good nature. The final verdict comes from the arbitrator— the Holy One, blessed be He, who comes to the aid of the good nature, as our Sages said, "If the Almighty did not help him, he could not overcome his evil inclination." The help comes by means of the glow radiated by the Divine light, which illuminates the divine soul that it may gain the upper hand and mastery over the folly of the fool and evil nature, in the manner of the excellence of light over darkness, as stated above.

Yet, inasmuch as the evil in the [heart's] left part of the benoni is in its innate strength, craving after all the pleasures of this world, not having been nullified in its minuteness in relation to the good, nor having been relegated from its position to any degree— except in so far as it has no authority and power to diffuse itself throughout the limbs of the body, because the Holy One, blessed be He, "Stands at the right hand of the poor man," helping him and irradiating his divine soul— such a person is likened to a "wicked man." In the words of our Sages, "Even if the whole world tells you that you are righteous, in your own eyes regard yourself as if you were wicked"— not as actually wicked. But one should consider oneself to be an "intermediate" person and not accept the world's opinion which would have him believe that the evil in him has been dissolved by the good, which is the category of a tzaddik. Rather should he consider himself in his own estimation as if the very essence of the evil is in its full strength and might, in the left part, as from birth, and that nothing of it has ceased or departed; on the contrary, with the passing of time it has gained strength, because the man has indulged it considerably, in eating and drinking and other mundane pursuits.

Even one whose whole aspiration is in G-d's Torah, which he studies day and night for its own sake, this is still no proof whatever that the evil has been dislodged from its place, but it may still be that its essence and substance are in their full strength and might in its abode in the left part, except that its garments— the thought, speech and act of the animal soul— are not invested in the brain, mouth and hands and the other parts of the body, because G-d has given the mind supremacy and dominion over the heart. Therefore the divine soul in the intellect rules over the [entire] "small city," i.e., all the parts of the body, making them a garment and vehicle for her three garments, wherein to be clothed, to wit, the thought, speech and act of the 613 commandments of the Torah.

However, in its essence and substance, the divine soul in the benoni has no preponderance over the animal soul, except at the time when his love for G-d manifests itself in his heart on propitious occasions, such as during prayer and the like. Even then it is limited to preponderance and dominion alone, as is written, "And one nation shall prevail over the other," that is, when one rises the other falls, and vice versa. Thus, when the divine soul gains strength and ascendancy over the animal soul, in the source of gevurot which is binah, through pondering on the greatness of G-d, the blessed En Sof, thereby generating intense and flaming love of G-d in the right part of his heart— then the sitra achra in the left part is subdued. But it is not entirely abolished, in the case of the benoni; it is so only in a tzaddik, concerning whom it is said, "My heart is void within me." The latter despises and hates evil with a consummate hatred and contempt, or without quite such complete hatred, as is explained above.

But in an "intermediate" person it is, by way of example, similar to a sleeping man, who can awaken from his sleep. So is the evil in the "intermediate" person dormant, as it were, in the left pan, during the recital of the Shema and the Prayer [Amidah], when his heart is aglow with the love of G-d, but later it can wake up again. For this reason Kabbah considered himself as though he were a benoni, though his mouth never ceased from study, and his desire was in G-d's Torah, day and night, with the passionate craving and longing of a soul yearning for G-d with overwhelming love, such as experienced during the reciting of the Shema and Amidah. Hence he appeared in his own eyes like an "intermediate" who prays all day, as, indeed, our Sages have said, "Would that a man prayed the whole day long!"

Now, this quality of love of which we speak in the case of the "intermediate" people which is attained at the time of prayer by virtue of the preponderance of the divine soul, etc., is, in comparison with the degree attained by the tzaddikim who serve G-d in perfect truth, not called "true service" at all, since it passes and disappears after prayer, and it is written, "The lip of truth shall be established for ever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment." Nevertheless, in relation to the rank of the "intermediate" people, it is regarded as a truly perfect service in terms of their [level of] truth, in each man relative to his standing in the ranks of the "intermediate." For in their case, too, their love, during their prayers, may be termed "the lip of truth shall be established for ever," since their divine soul has the power to reawaken this kind of love constantly, during its preponderance in time of prayer day after day, by means of an appropriate [mental] preparation, each soul according to its intrinsic quality and rank. For Truth is the attribute of Jacob, who is called the "Middle bolt which secures [everything] from end to end," from the highest gradations and degrees to the end of all grades. And in each gradation and plane it fixes its bolt through the most central point, which is the point and quality of its attribute of Truth. The attribute of Truth is an unbounded inheritance which has no limit upwards to the highest degrees, while all lower gradations and degrees are as hothing compared with those that are superior to them. (As is known to those who are familiar with the Esoteric Discipline, that the quality which is, as it were, the "head" and "intellect" of lower grades, is inferior to the so-called "soles" and "feet" of the grades above them. Compare the statement of our Sages, "The feet of the chayyot measure up to all.")

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