This explains the Talmudic statement that “he who serves G-d” refers to one who reviews his studies 101 times, while “he who serves Him not” refers to one who reviews his studies only one hundred times.

וּבָזֶה יוּבַן מַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב בַּגְּמָרָא, דְּ"עוֹבֵד אֱלֹהִים" – הַיְינוּ מִי שֶׁשּׁוֹנֶה פִּרְקוֹ מֵאָה פְעָמִים וְאֶחָד, וְ"לֹא עֲבָדוֹ" – הַיְינוּ מִי שֶׁשּׁוֹנֶה פִּרְקוֹ מֵאָה פְעָמִים לְבַד.

It seems strange that this 101st revision should outweigh all the previous hundred and should earn the student the designation of “he who serves G-d.” However, when we appreciate the struggle one must face in order to learn more than is his custom, this is readily understood, as the Alter Rebbe goes on to explain.

This is so because in those Talmudic days, it was customary to review each lesson one hundred times.

וְהַיְינוּ, מִשּׁוּם שֶׁבִּימֵיהֶם הָיָה הָרְגִילוּת לִשְׁנוֹת כָּל פֶּרֶק מֵאָה פְעָמִים,

Thus, to review one hundred times did not require any effort; it was second nature. Only the 101st revision, which required effort beyond the student’s custom, could gain him the appellation of “he who serves G-d.”

The Talmud illustrates this by the analogy of the market of the donkey drivers. The drivers would charge one zuz for ten parsi (Persian miles) but demanded two zuz for driving eleven parsi, for driving an eleventh mile exceeded their customary practice.

כִּדְאִיתָא הָתָם בַּגְּמָרָא מָשָׁל מִשּׁוּק שֶׁל חַמָּרִים שֶׁנִּשְׂכָּרִים לְעֶשֶׂר פַּרְסֵי בְּזוּזָא וּלְאַחַד עָשָׂר פַּרְסֵי בִּתְרֵי זוּזֵי, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא יוֹתֵר מֵרְגִילוּתָם,

Therefore, this 101st revision, which is beyond the normal practice to which the student has been accustomed since his childhood, is equivalent to all the previous one hundred revisions combined.

וְלָכֵן, זֹאת הַפַּעַם הַמֵּאָה וְאַחַת, הַיְתֵרָה עַל הָרְגִילוּת שֶׁהוּרְגַּל מִנְּעוּרָיו – שְׁקוּלָה כְּנֶגֶד כּוּלָּן,

In fact, its quality surpasses them in its greater strength and power so that it is only this one extra revision which entitles the student to be called “he who serves G-d.”

וְעוֹלָה עַל גַּבֵּיהֶן בְּיֶתֶר שְׂאֵת וְיֶתֶר עֹז, לִהְיוֹת נִקְרָא "עוֹבֵד אֱלֹהִים";

For in order to change his habitual nature, he must arouse within himself the love of G-d by contemplating G-d’s greatness in his mind

מִפְּנֵי שֶׁכְּדֵי לְשַׁנּוֹת טֶבַע הָרְגִילוּת, צָרִיךְ לְעוֹרֵר אֶת הָאַהֲבָה לַה' עַל יְדֵי שֶׁמִּתְבּוֹנֵן בִּגְדוּלַּת ה' בְּמוֹחוֹ,

in order to master the nature that is in the left part of the heart, the seat of the animal soul, which is full of the blood of the animal soul originating in kelipah,

לִשְׁלוֹט עַל הַטֶּבַע שֶׁבֶּחָלָל הַשְּׂמָאלִי הַמָּלֵא דַּם הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַבַּהֲמִית שֶׁמֵּהַקְּלִיפָּה,

whence comes this nature, and the power of his love enables him to transcend his nature.

שֶׁמִּמֶּנָּה הוּא הַטֶּבַע,

And this—to overpower one’s animal soul through a love of G-d generated by meditationis a perfect service for a beinoni.

וְזוֹ הִיא עֲבוֹדָה תַמָּה לַבֵּינוֹנִי.

An alternate type of service for a beinoni is to arouse to a revealed state the love of G-d inherently found hidden in his heart,

אוֹ לְעוֹרֵר אֶת הָאַהֲבָה הַמְסוּתֶּרֶת שֶׁבְּלִבּוֹ,

thereby to control the nature that is in the left part of the heart.

לִמְשׁוֹל עַל יָדָהּ עַל הַטֶּבַע שֶׁבֶּחָלָל הַשְּׂמָאלִי,

This, too, is called serving G-d, although an imperfect service—

שֶׁזּוֹ נִקְרָא גַּם כֵּן עֲבוֹדָה,

to wage war against his nature and inclination by arousing the love hidden in his heart.

לְהִלָּחֵם עִם הַטֶּבַע וְהַיֵּצֶר, עַל יְדֵי שֶׁמְּעוֹרֵר הָאַהֲבָה הַמְסוּתֶּרֶת בְּלִבּוֹ.

If, however, he wages no war at all—not engaging even in the lesser struggle of arousing the love hidden within him, e.g., when he studies only to the limits of his natural diligence, then although he employs his hidden love of G-d in his divine service,10 yet

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן כְּשֶׁאֵין לוֹ מִלְחָמָה כְּלָל,

this love in itself can in no way be credited to his service, and he is therefore called “he who serves Him not.”

אֵין אַהֲבָה זוֹ מִצַּד עַצְמָהּ נִקְרֵאת עֲבוֹדָתוֹ כְּלָל:

To be designated “one who serves G-d,” the beinoni must engage in a struggle with his evil inclination, either through a love of G-d born of meditation or at least by arousing his hidden love.