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Chapter 27

Chapter 27

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Should the sadness, however, not come from worry over sins, but from evil thoughts and desires that enter his mind— if they enter not during Divine Service but whilst he is occupied with his own affairs and with mundane matters and the like, he should, on the contrary, be happy in his portion in that, though they enter his mind, he averts his mind from them in order to fulfil the injunction, "That ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye go astray." The verse does not speak of the righteous, to refer to them as "going astray,' G-d forbid, but of "Intermediates" (benonim) like him, in whose mind do enter erotic thoughts whether of an innocent nature, and so on; when he averts his mind from them, he is fulfilling this injunction. Indeed, the Rabbis, of blessed memory, have said, "He who has passively abstained from committing a sin, receives a reward as though he had performed a precept." Consequently, he should rejoice at his compliance with the injunction as when performing an actual positive precept.

On the contrary, such sadness is due to conceit in that he does not recognise his position. Hence he is sad at heart because he has not attained the rank of a tzaddik, inasmuch as the righteous are certainly not troubled by such foolish thoughts. For had he recognised his station, that he is very far from the rank of a tzaddik, and would that he be a benoni and not a wicked person even for a single moment throughout his life— then, surely, this is the quality of the "Intermediates" and their service: To subdue the evil impulse and thought rising from the heart to the brain, and completely to avert the mind therefrom, thrusting the temptation away with both hands, as has been explained earlier.

And with every thrust wherewith he expels it from his mind, the sitra achra down below is suppressed, and, since the "Stimulus from below causes a stimulus from above," the sitra achra above which soars like an eagle, is also suppressed, in accordance with Scripture, "Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord." Thus the Zohar, Parshat Terumah (p. 128) extolls the great satisfaction before Him, blessed be He, when the sitra achra is subdued here below, for then the glory of the Holy One, blessed be He, rises above all, more than by any praise, and this ascent is greater than all else, and so forth.

Therefore, no person should feel depressed, nor should his heart become exceedingly troubled, even though he be engaged all his days in this conflict, for perhaps because of this was he created and this is his service— constantly to subjugate the sitra achra.

It is concerning this that Job said, "Thou hast created wicked men"— not that they shall actually be wicked, G-d forbid, but that they shall share the temptations of the wicked in their thoughts and meditations alone and that they shall eternally wage war to avert their minds from them in order to subdue the sitra achra; yet they would not be able to annihilate it completely, for that is accomplished by the tzaddikim.

For there are two kinds of gratification before Him, blessed be He: one, from the complete annihilation of the sitra achra and the conversion of bitter to sweet and of darkness to light, by the tzaddikim; the second, when the sitra achra is subdued whilst it is still at its strongest and most powerful and soars like an eagle, whence the Lord brings her down through the effort of the benonim below. This is indicated in the verse, "And make me delicacies such as I love." The word mataamim ("delicacies") is in the plural, to indicate two kinds of gratification, and the words are those of the Shechinah to her children, the community of Israel, as explained in the Tikunim. The analogy is to material food, where there are two kinds of relishes: one of sweet and luscious foods, and the other of tart or sour articles of food which have been well spiced and garnished so that they are made into delicacies to quicken the soul.

This is what is alluded to in the verse, "The Lord hath made everything for His sake; also the wicked unto the day of evil," meaning that the wicked man shall repent of his evil and turn his evil into "day" and light above, when the sitra achra is subdued and the glory of the Holy One, blessed be He, is brought forth on high.

Moreover, even in the case of things that are fully permissible, the more of his impulse that a man sacrifices, even if only for a while, with the intention of subduing the sitra achra in the left part— as for example, when he wants to eat but postpones his meal for an hour or less, and during that time he occupies himself in the Torah, as is stated in the Gemara that the fourth hour is the time when all men eat, but the sixth hour is the time when scholars eat, because they used to starve themselves for two hours with this intention, although after the meal, also, they studied all day; so, too, if he restrains his mouth from uttering words that his heart longs to express concerning mundane matters; likewise with the thoughts of his mind, even in the least way, whereby the sitra achra is subdued below— the glory and holiness of the Holy One, blessed be He, goes forth above to a great extent,

and from this holiness issues a sublime holiness on man below, to assist him with a great and powerful aid in serving Him, Who is blessed.

This is also what the Rabbis meant, "If a man consecrates himself in a small measure down below, he is sanctified much more from above," apart from his having fulfilled the positive commandment of the Torah, "Sanctify yourselves, and be ye holy" by dedicating himself [through abstemiousness] in permissible things. The meaning of "Sanctify yourselves" is "You shall make yourselves holy," that is to say, although in truth one is not holy and separated from the sitra achra, for it is at its strength and might, as at its birth, in the left part, yet one subdues his evil impulse and sanctifies himself— then "Shall ye be holy," that is to say, in the end one will be truly holy and separated from the sitra achra, by virtue of being sanctified in a great measure from above, and being helped to expel it from his heart little by little.

Published and copyright by Kehot Publication Society, all rights reserved.
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