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When the Animal Soul Wins the Battle, but Not the War

When the Animal Soul Wins the Battle, but Not the War

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You could punch it, kick it, ignore it or wrestle with it, but it will never be defeated. This is the personality of the G‑dly soul, which never gives up the good fight against the animal soul.

In Chapter 11 of Tanya, we are introduced to another categoryIt will never be defeated of people: people who sometimes stumble. Their animal soul gets the better of them, and they let down their guard, going against G‑d’s will temporarily. Thanks to their G‑dly soul, however, they will regret their actions and ask G‑d to forgive them. Sooner or later, they may fall again, but will repeat the cycle of repentance. Welcome to the world of the Rasha, or the category of the “The wicked who are full of remorse.”

There’s a wide range in the category of Rasha. There are “the wicked who know good”—those people who may sin only in thought, only in speech or only in action. Then there are people who will sin in all three categories, or in various degrees of duration and frequency. Yet even when “the wicked who know good” intentionally (or even unintentionally) allow the animal soul to win a battle, the animal soul doesn’t win the war. After the fact, the G‑dly soul pipes up, causing the person to sincerely repent to G‑d, who forgives the Rasha for acting out.

Then there is a small percentage of people who have shut down the voice of their G‑dly soul so much that they don’t even hear it. They may consistently go against G‑d’s will without a second thought of remorse. They are called “the wicked who know only evil” since they are not even conscious of their G‑dly soul. However, even in such a case, their G‑dly soul is still ever-present, albeit in a distant manner. That is why, regardless of how many sins a Jew has committed, “Over every gathering of any 10 Jews rests the Shechinah (the Divine Presence).”

Tanya Bit: The animal soul can temporarily win over the G‑dly soul, but the G‑dly soul always perseveres.

(Inspired from Chapter 11 of Tanya)

Sara Blau is a teacher and extracurricular director at Beth Rivkah High School. She is a wife, mother, and author of several children“s books.
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