ואף מי שבתורת ה׳ חפצו, ויהגה בה יומם ולילה לשמה

Even if one’s entire aspiration is in G‑d’s Torah, which he studies day and night for its own sake,

אין זו הוכחה כלל שנדחה הרע ממקומו

this is still no proof whatever that the evil has been dislodged from its place.

אלא יכול להיות שמהותו ועצמותו הוא בתקפו ובגבורתו במקומו בחלל השמאלי

Perhaps, rather, the essence and substance of the evil are in their full strength and might in its abode in the left part of the heart,

רק שלבושיו שהם מחשבה דבור ומעשה של נפש הבהמית אינן מתלבשים במוח והפה והידים ושאר אברי הגוף

except that its garments — namely, the thought, speech and action of the animal soul — are not invested in the brain, mouth and hands and other parts of the body, to think and do that which is forbidden,

מפני ה׳ שנתן שליטה וממשלה למוח על הלב

because G‑d has granted the mind supremacy and dominion over the heart.

ולכן נפש האלקית שבמוח מושלת בעיר קטנה, אברי הגוף כולם

Therefore the divine soul in the mind rules over the “small city,” i.e., [over] all the parts of the body,

שיהיו לבוש ומרכבה

making them,the body’s organs, serve as “garment and vehicle”

I.e., as a means of expression (“garment”) that is totally subservient to its user (as is a “vehicle” to its rider); thus, because of its G‑d-given supremacy, the divine soul is able to use the body’s organs as a “garment and vehicle” —

לשלשת לבושיה שיתלבשו בהם, שהם מחשבה דבור ומעשה של תרי״ג מצות התורה

through which its three “garments” — namely, the thought, speech and action of the Torah’s 613 commandments — are expressed (“clothed”).

It may be, then, that with regard to this individual’s thinking and speaking words of Torah and performing the mitzvot, the divine soul rules over the body; in this area the divine soul has the upper hand and the animal soul is subservient.

אבל מהותה ועצמותה של נפש האלקית אין לה שליטה וממשלה על מהותה ועצמותה של נפש הבהמית בבינוני

However, in its essence and substance the divine soul has no preponderance over the essence and substance of the animal soul, in the case of a Beinoni,

כי אם בשעה שאהבת ה׳ הוא בהתגלות לבו

except at those times when his love for G‑d manifests itself in his heart

בעתים מזומנים כמו בשעת התפלה וכיוצא בה

on propitious occasions such as during prayer and the like.

Then, as mentioned in the previous chapter, the Beinoni is aroused to a burning love of G‑d that causes the evil of the animal soul to be nullified before the goodness of the divine soul.

ואף גם זאת הפעם

Even then, during those times when the divine soul gains the upper hand over the animal soul,

אינה רק שליטה וממשלה לבד

it is limited to preponderance and dominion alone, i.e., the divine soul succeeds in dominating the animal soul, not in vanquishing it, in the sense of nullifying its essence.

כדכתיב: ולאום מלאום יאמץ

As is written of the battle between Jacob and Esau,1 allegorically representing the war between the good and evil in man’s soul: “And one nation shall prevail over the other.” Jacob, exemplifying the good, merely prevails over Esau, the evil, but does not succeed in totally vanquishing him.

כשזה קם זה נופל, וכשזה קם כו׳

This agrees with our Sages‘ comment on this verse: “When this one rises and prevails that one falls, and when that one rises…[this one falls].”

The animal soul, although it had “fallen” during prayer, is afterwards able to “rise” and rally once again, indicating that the divine soul had not succeeded in vanquishing it even during prayer, for which reason even its dominance is only temporary.2

שנפש האלקית מתאמצת ומתגברת על נפש הבהמית במקור הגבורות, שהיא בינה

Thus, the divine soul gains strength and ascendancy over the animal soul, in the source of strength [“Gevurot”], which is understanding [“Binah”] —

In the Kabbalah’s description of the Sefirot, Binah is the source of Gevurah. In terms of one’s divine soul, this means that the source of its strength (“Gevurah”) to combat the animal soul is found in its faculty of understanding (“Binah”), the faculty with which it understands the greatness of G‑d.

להתבונן בגדולת ה׳ אין סוף ברוך הוא, ולהוליד אהבה עזה לה׳ כרשפי אש בחלל הימני שבלבו

[Thus, when the divine soul gains strength…over the animal soul…during prayer,] pondering on the greatness of G‑d, the blessed Ein Sof, and [thereby] giving birth to intense and flaming love of G‑d in the right part of his heart;

ואז אתכפיא סטרא אחרא שבחלל השמאלי

and then when the divine soul dominates the animal soul with its intense and revealed love of G‑d, the sitra achra (the evil of the animal soul) in the left part of the heart is subjugated.

אבל לא נתבטל לגמרי בבינוני, אלא בצדיק, שנאמר בו: ולבי חלל בקרבי

But it is not entirely abolished, in the case of the Beinoni; it is so only in a tzaddik, concerning whom it is said,3 “My heart is void4 within me.” The abode in the heart usually occupied by the evil inclination is void in the heart of a tzaddik.

והוא מואס ברע ושונאו בתכלית השנאה והמיאוס, או שלא בתכלית השנאה כנ״ל

He — the tzaddik —despises and loathes evil with a consummate hatred if he is a “complete” tzaddik, or without quite such utter hatred if he is an “incomplete” tzaddik, as explained above in ch. 10.

אבל בבינוני הוא דרך משל כאדם שישן, שיכול לחזור וליעור משנתו

All the above applies to the tzaddik. But in a Beinoni [the evil] merely lies dormant, as with a sleeping man, for example, who can awaken from his sleep at any time and reactivate his faculties.

כך הרע בבינוני הוא כישן בחלל השמאלי

So is the evil in the Beinoni dormant, as it were, in the left part of the heart, not functioning at all, not even desiring physical pleasures —

בשעת קריאת שמע ותפלה, שלבו בוער באהבת ה׳

during the recital of the Shema and Amidah, when his heart is aglow with the love of G‑d, causing the evil of the animal soul to be dormant.

ואחר כך יכול להיות חוזר וניעור

[Therefore,] after prayer it can reawaken.

The Alter Rebbe will now describe an even higher level of Beinoni — one who is permeated throughout the day with the same degree of love for G‑d that he feels during prayer. The animal soul of such a Beinoni is permanently dormant. Accordingly, we will understand how it was possible for Rabbah to classify himself mistakenly as a Beinoni.

In ch. 1 it was proved that the term Beinoni could not refer (as a literal interpretation would lead us to believe) to a person half of whose deeds are virtuous and half sinful. Were this so, how could such a sage like Rabbah, who never neglected his Torah study for even a moment, make the mistake of classifying himself as a Beinoni?

However, the Alter Rebbe’s definition of Beinoni as one who does not sin in practice, does not seem to satisfy this difficulty. Indeed, as the Alter Rebbe explained in ch. 12, a Beinoni never sins; yet he has sinful desires. Rabbah, who was in fact a tzaddik, must have known full well that he was free of such desire. How then could he even mistakenly classify himself as a Beinoni?

According to the discussion which now follows concerning the level of the Beinoni who never even desires evil, this matter is readily understood:

ולכן היה רבה מחזיק עצמו כבינוני, אף דלא פסיק פומיה מגירסא

For this reason Rabbah considered himself a Beinoni, though his mouth never ceased from Torah study,

ובתורת ה׳ חפצו יומם ולילה בחפיצה וחשיקה ותשוקה

and his desire was in [studying] G‑d’s Torah day and night, with a craving, desire and longing,

ונפש שוקקה לה׳ באהבה רבה, כבשעת קריאת שמע ותפלה

his soul yearning for G‑d with overwhelming love, such as that experienced during the recitation of the Shema and the Amidah.

During prayer, as mentioned above, the Beinoni’s heart is aroused to a love of G‑d so passionate that he does not feel the evil of his animal soul at all. Rabbah, however, experienced this arousal of love not only during prayer but throughout the day. Therefore, his animal soul was always dormant and he never desired mundane matters.

ונדמה בעיניו כבינוני המתפלל כל היום

It was therefore possible for him to consider himself a Beinoni, for he appeared in his own eyes as a Beinoni who prays all day, i.e., a Beinoni who throughout the day retains the level attained during prayer,

וכמאמר רז״ל: הלואי שיתפלל אדם כל היום כלו

as, indeed, our Sages have said,5 “Would that a man pray the whole day long!”

Such a Beinoni is constantly ablaze with the love of G‑d, and consequently his desire for evil is always dormant, as explained. Therefore, the absence of any evil desires did not conclusively prove to Rabbah that he was a tzaddik; it was still possible for him to maintain that he was a Beinoni — a Beinoni “who prays all day long.”

What emerges from all that has been said is that even during prayer when the Beinoni succeeds in arousing his love of G‑d and rendering the evil dormant, his divine soul has merely prevailed over his animal soul but has not vanquished it, for which reason it is possible for this state to cease after prayer. Therefore, the Beinoni’s level of divine service is not considered truthful when compared to the service of the tzaddik. For “truth” implies continuity and consistency.

The Alter Rebbe goes on to explain that nevertheless, the Beinoni’s love — relative to his standing — is considered a true form of service.