וצדיק שאינו גמור הוא שאינו שונא הסטרא אחרא בתכלית השנאה

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

ולכן אינו מואס גם כן ברע בתכלית

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

וכל שאין השנאה והמיאוס בתכלית, על כרחך נשאר איזה שמץ אהבה ותענוג לשם

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

ולא הוסרו הבגדים הצואים לגמרי מכל וכל

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.

ולכן לא נהפך לטוב ממש, מאחר שיש לו איזה אחיזה עדיין בבגדים הצואים

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,

אלא שהוא בטל במיעוטו וכלא חשיב

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.

ולכן נקרא צדיק, ורע כפוף ובטל לו

Indeed, he is therefore called צדיק ורע לו, which means (not only “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.

ועל כן גם אהבתו לה׳ אינה בתכלית

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.

ולכן נקרא צדיק שאינו גמור

He is therefore called an “incomplete tzaddik.”

For, 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.

והנה מדרגה זו מתחלקת לרבבות מדרגות, בענין בחינת מיעוט הרע הנשאר מאחד מארבעה יסודות רעים

Now, this level — that of the “incomplete tzaddik” who “knows evil” — is subdivided into myriads of levels, consisting of [varying degrees in] the quality of the minute remaining evil [deriving] from [any] one of the four “evil elements” of which the animal soul is composed (see ch. 1).

In one tzaddik the remaining evil may consist of the element of Water, in another the evil may consist of a spark of the element of Fire, and so on. This subdivision of levels is qualitative, based on the type of remaining evil.

The Alter Rebbe will now describe (as it were) a quantitative subdivision, depending on the degree to which the evil loses its identity within the good. In one tzaddik the vestigial evil may be such that the proportion of good to evil could be described as 60:1; the evil in another tzaddik may be more minute, so that it is overwhelmed by a proportion of good that is 1000:1; and so on.

Yet, to borrow a term from the law concerning non-kosher foodstuffs, where in certain cases of error the rule is that even a preponderance of 60 parts (kosher) to 1 (non-kosher) is sufficient to render the entire mixture kosher (since the non-kosher food is no longer capable of tainting the mixture with its flavor), we may likewise say in our case that a preponderance of good over evil to the degree of 60:1 is also capable of preventing the expression and perception of the remaining evil.

In the Alter Rebbe’s words:

ובענין ביטולו במיעוטו

[The subdivision] also takes into account the degree to which [the remaining evil] is nullified [in the good] because of its minuteness,

בששים על דרך משל, או באלף ורבבה וכיוצא, על דרך משל

whether in sixty [times as much good], for example, or in a thousand, or ten thousand, and so on.

והן הם בחינת צדיקים הרבים שבכל הדורות

These various sublevels in the ranks of “incomplete tzaddikim” are the levels of the numerous tzaddikim found in all generations, all of whom belong to the category of the “incomplete tzaddik,”

כדאיתא בגמרא, דתמניסר אלפי צדיקיא קיימי קמיה הקדוש ברוך הוא

as we find in the Gemara,1 “Eighteen thousand tzaddikim stand before the Holy One, blessed be He.”

Thus, though many attain the level of tzaddik, they are in fact “incomplete tzaddikim.”

אך על מעלת צדיק גמור, הוא שאמר רבי שמעון בר יוחאי: ראיתי בני עליה והם מועטים כו׳

But concerning the rank of the “complete tzaddik,” Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai’s statement2 applies: “I have seen ’superior men‘ (bnei aliyah) and they are but few.”

שלכן נקראים בני עליה, שמהפכין הרע ומעלים אותו לקדושה

The reason that [the complete tzaddikim] are called bnei aliyah (literally: “men of ascent”) is that they convert evil and make it ascend to holiness.

כדאיתא בזהר בהקדמה, שכשרצה רבי חייא לעלות להיכל רבי שמעון בן יוחאי שמע קלא נפיק ואמר

It is similarly written in the introduction to the Zohar,3 that when Rabbi Chiyya wished to ascend to the heichal (heavenly shrine) of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, he heard a voice come out and say:

מאן מנכון די חשוכא מהפכן לנהורא, וטעמין מרירו למיתקא עד לא ייתון הכא וכו׳

“Whichever of you, before coming here, have converted the darkness of the world to light (holiness), and [have transformed] the bitter taste of their animal soul and evil inclination to sweetness (holiness)[only these may enter].”