After elaborating in the previous chapter on the ongoing battle between the divine and animal soul over mastery of a Jew’s body, the Alter Rebbe now proceeds to explain that one who vanquishes his animal soul and transforms its evil into good is a tzaddik.

This level of tzaddik comprises two general categories. The “perfect tzaddik,” also called the “tzaddik who knows only good,” is he who has transformed all the evil of his animal soul to good, while he who has not completely eradicated and converted the evil within him is termed “an imperfect tzaddik” and “a tzaddik who knows (i.e., possesses some vestige of) evil.”

The difference between the two sets of descriptive terms—“complete” and “incomplete” tzaddik and the tzaddik “who knows only good” or “who knows evil”—is as follows. The former set describes the degree of the tzaddik’s love of G-d, for it is this love that earns for him the title “tzaddik.” In the case of the “complete tzaddik,” it is a complete and perfect love, while the love of the “incomplete tzaddik” is imperfect. The latter set of terms refers to the conversion of the animal soul’s evil to good; an individual in whom it has been entirely transformed is termed “a tzaddik who knows only good,” whereas one in whom a vestige of evil remains is termed “a tzaddik who knows evil.”

It goes without saying that “evil” in this context refers only to the promptings of evil that may be harbored in the heart, not, of course, to actual evil expressed in thought, speech, or action.

When a person causes his divine soul to prevail over the animal soul,

וְהִנֵּה, כְּשֶׁהָאָדָם מַגְבִּיר נַפְשׁוֹ הָאֱלֹהִית

and when he wages war against the animal soul to the extent that he banishes and eradicates its evil from its abode within him, namely, the left part [of the heart],

וְנִלְחָם כָּל כָּךְ עִם הַבַּהֲמִית, עַד שֶׁמְּגָרֵשׁ וּמְבַעֵר הָרָע שֶׁבָּהּ מֵחָלָל הַשְּׂמָאלִי,

as is written: “And you shall eradicate the evil from your midst,”1 which implies that one ought to eradicate the evil within himself,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "וּבִעַרְתָּ הָרָע מִקִּרְבֶּךָ",

(The person who has in fact eradicated evil from his heart has not only banished the external, practical expression of evil—evil thoughts, words, or actions—but has eradicated the evil itself: it has no place in his heart; he no longer desires evil.)

as to one who achieves this goal but finds that the evil has nevertheless not actually been converted into good, in which case his entire capacity for desire would now be directed only toward good and holiness, since with him, this is not the case,

וְאֵין הָרָע נֶהְפָּךְ לְטוֹב מַמָּשׁ –

he is called “an incomplete tzaddik.”

נִקְרָא "צַדִּיק שֶׁאֵינוֹ גָמוּר"

[He is also called] “a tzaddik who knows evil,” meaning that some vestige of evil still lingers within him, in the left part [of his heart],

וְ"צַדִּיק וְרַע לוֹ". דְּהַיְינוּ, שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ עֲדַיִין מְעַט מִזְּעֵר רָע בֶּחָלָל הַשְּׂמָאלִי,

except that it finds no expression at all, not even in evil desires, because [the evil,] by reason of its minuteness, is subjugated and nullified by the good and cannot therefore be sensed.2

אֶלָּא שֶׁכָּפוּף וּבָטֵל לַטּוֹב מֵחֲמַת מִיעוּטוֹ,

Hence, he (the tzaddik) may imagine that he has driven it out, and it has quite disappeared.

וְלָכֵן, נִדְמֶה לוֹ כִּי "וַיְגָרְשֵׁהוּ וַיֵּלֶךְ לוֹ" כּוּלּוֹ לְגַמְרֵי,

In truth, however, had all the evil in him departed and disappeared, it would have been converted into actual good.3

אֲבָל בֶּאֱמֶת, אִלּוּ חָלַף וְהָלַךְ לוֹ לְגַמְרֵי כָּל הָרָע שֶׁבּוֹ – הָיָה נֶהְפָּךְ לְטוֹב מַמָּשׁ.

This requires explanation: Perhaps the incomplete tzaddik feels no desire for evil because he indeed no longer has any evil, having converted it to good; why must we say that he only imagines himself to be altogether free of evil?

To explain this, the Alter Rebbe continues with a clarification of the term “complete tzaddik.” The explanation in brief:

As stated in the previous chapter, the complete tzaddik is able to convert his evil to good only by dint of his great love of G-d, a love known as “love of delights.” Accordingly, the “incomplete tzaddik,” who has yet to attain to this lofty level of love, has obviously not yet accomplished this conversion.

“Love of delights,” then, is the ultimate criterion of where the tzaddik stands vis-à-vis the eradication of his evil.

In the Alter Rebbe’s words:

The explanation of the matter is as follows:

וּבֵיאוּר הָעִנְיָן,

A “complete tzaddik,” in whom the evil has been converted into good and who is consequently called “a tzaddik who knows [only] good,”

כִּי הִנֵּה, צַדִּיק גָּמוּר שֶׁנֶּהְפַּךְ הָרָע שֶׁלּוֹ לְטוֹב, וְלָכֵן נִקְרָא "צַדִּיק וְטוֹב לוֹ",

has attained this level by completely removing [his] filthy garments from evil.

הוּא עַל־יְדֵי הֲסָרַת "הַבְּגָדִים הַצּוֹאִים" לְגַמְרֵי מֵהָרָע,

This means: he despises utterly the pleasures of this world, finding it repugnant to derive from them that pleasure which other people derive,

דְּהַיְינוּ, לִמְאוֹס מְאֹד בְּתַעֲנוּגֵי עוֹלָם־הַזֶּה לְהִתְעַנֵּג בָּם בְּתַעֲנוּגוֹת בְּנֵי אָדָם

namely, the pleasure of merely gratifying the physical appetite instead of using this pleasure toward the service of G-d.

לְמַלֹּאת תַּאֲוַת הַגּוּף בִּלְבָד, וְלֹא לַעֲבוֹדַת ה',

Physical pleasures dedicated to serving G-d are in fact holy: e.g., the pleasure of “enjoying the Shabbat” with food and drink. It is not such pleasure that is repugnant to the tzaddik but pleasure for the sake of self-indulgence.

He despises such pleasures, for they are derived from and receive their spiritual sustenance from the kelipah and sitra achara, the very antithesis of holiness.

מִפְּנֵי הֱיוֹתָם נִמְשָׁכִים וְנִשְׁפָּעִים מֵהַקְּלִיפָּה וְסִטְרָא אָחֳרָא.

The “complete tzaddik” utterly hates whatever is of the sitra achara

וְכָל מַה שֶּׁהוּא מֵהַסִּטְרָא אָחֳרָא – הַצַּדִּיק גָּמוּר הוּא שׂוֹנְאוֹ בְּתַכְלִית הַשִּׂנְאָה,

because of his great love, a “profuse love of delights,” and his superior degree of affection for G-d and His holiness, as mentioned above (in ch. 9, where the Alter Rebbe explained that “love of delights” is the ultimate level in the love of G-d). To resume: Because of the tzaddik’s great love for G-d and holiness, he utterly hates the kelipah and sitra achara,

מֵחֲמַת גּוֹדֶל אַהֲבָתוֹ לַה' וּקְדוּשָּׁתוֹ בְּאַהֲבָה רַבָּה בְּתַּעֲנוּגִים וְחִיבָּה יְתֵרָה הַנִּזְכָּרִים לְעֵיל,

since they, i.e., holiness and kelipah, are antithetical; his love of G-d therefore evokes a commensurate degree of hatred for sitra achara.

כִּי הֵם זֶה לְעוּמַּת זֶה,

So it is written: “I hate them with a consuming hatred,” says King David of those who oppose G-d, “they have become enemies to me; search me,” he says to G-d, “and know my heart.”4

כְּדִכְתִיב: "תַּכְלִית שִׂנְאָה שְׂנֵאתִים, לְאוֹיְבִים הָיוּ לִי, חָקְרֵנִי וְדַע לְבָבִי וְגוֹ'",

This means: “By searching me and knowing how great is the love of You borne in my heart, You will know how great is my hatred toward Your enemies,” for, as stated, love is the measure of hate.

Hence, according to the abundance of love toward G-d, so is the extent of hatred toward the spiritual sitra achara which nurtures the physical pleasures and the utter repugnance of the evil of physical pleasures,

וּכְפִי עֵרֶךְ גּוֹדֶל הָאַהֲבָה לַה', כָּךְ עֵרֶךְ גּוֹדֶל הַשִּׂנְאָה לְסִטְרָא אָחֳרָא וְהַמִּיאוּס בָּרַע בְּתַכְלִית,

Since the sitra achara is spiritual and hence distant from physical man, the term “hatred” is appropriate to it; with regard to the evil of physical pleasures, which are closer to man, the term “repugnant” is applicable: the repugnance of having something odious placed before one’s very eyes.

for repugnance is as much the exact opposite of love as is hatred.

כִּי הַמִּיאוּס הוּא הֵפֶךְ הָאַהֲבָה מַמָּשׁ כְּמוֹ הַשִּׂנְאָה.

In any event, we have established that this tzaddik’s utter despisal of evil is predicated on his loving G-d to the greatest degree. He is therefore called a “complete tzaddik,” since the quality by virtue of which he is termed a tzaddik, i.e., his love of G-d, is on the highest and most complete level. He is also called a “tzaddik who knows only good”—he possesses only good, having transformed all the evil within him to good.

Hence, the “incomplete tzaddik,” whose “love of delights” is imperfect, must also be lacking in his hatred of evil. This, in turn, indicates that he retains some vestige of evil, albeit unfelt. He is therefore called “a tzaddik who knows evil.”

The “incomplete tzaddik” is he who does not hate the sitra acharathe spiritual kelipot—with an absolute hatred;

וְצַדִּיק שֶׁאֵינוֹ גָמוּר, הוּא שֶׁאֵינוֹ שׂוֹנֵא הַסִּטְרָא אָחֳרָא בְּתַכְלִית הַשִּׂנְאָה,

therefore, he also does not find evil—physical desires and pleasures—absolutely repugnant.

וְלָכֵן אֵינוֹ מוֹאֵס גַּם כֵּן בָּרַע בְּתַכְלִית.

As long as his hatred and abhorrence of evil are not absolute, perforce he must have retained some vestige of love and pleasure toward it.

וְכָל שֶׁאֵין הַשִּׂנְאָה וְהַמִּיאוּס בְּתַכְלִית, עַל כָּרְחֲךָ נִשְׁאַר אֵיזֶה שֶׁמֶץ אַהֲבָה וְתַעֲנוּג לְשָׁם,

The “filthy garments” in which the animal soul had been clothed, meaning (as explained above) the evil inclination and the lusting after worldly pleasures, have [obviously] not been completely shed from it.

וְלֹא הוּסְרוּ "הַבְּגָדִים הַצּוֹאִים" לְגַמְרֵי מִכֹּל וָכֹל,

Therefore, too, [the evil] of the animal soul has not actually been converted to good since it still has some hold on the “filthy garments,” i.e., the desires for pleasure in which the animal soul had previously “clothed” and expressed itself,

וְלָכֵן לֹא נֶהְפַּךְ לְטוֹב מַמָּשׁ, מֵאַחַר שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ אֵיזֶה אֲחִיזָה עֲדַיִין בַּ"בְּגָדִים הַצּוֹאִים",

except that this vestige of evil is imperceptible and cannot express itself in evil desires, etc., because [the evil] is nullified [in the good] by reason of its minuteness and is accounted as nothing, i.e., the overwhelming preponderance of good prevents the evil from being sensed and from finding expression.

אֶלָּא שֶׁהוּא בָּטֵל בְּמִיעוּטוֹ וּכְלָא חֲשִׁיב,

Indeed, he is therefore called צַדִּיק וְרַע לוֹ, which means (not only “a tzaddik who knows (retains) evil,” but also) “a tzaddik whose evil is [his, i.e.,] subjugated and surrendered to him,” to the good within him. Such a tzaddik is identified with the good, since he is overwhelmingly good.

וְלָכֵן נִקְרָא צַדִּיק וְרַע – כָּפוּף וּבָטֵל – לוֹ.

Perforce, then, the fact that he retains some evil indicates that his love of G-d is also not complete, for a complete love of G-d would have converted all the evil within him to good.

וְעַל כֵּן, גַּם אַהֲבָתוֹ לַה' אֵינָהּ בְּתַכְלִית,

He is therefore called an “incomplete tzaddik.”

וְלָכֵן נִקְרָא צַדִּיק שֶׁאֵינוֹ גָמוּר.

As explained above, the terms “complete” and “incomplete” denote the tzaddik’s level of love for G-d, and the terms “who knows only good” and “who knows evil” denote the degree of his eradication and transformation of evil.