Yet, because the evil of the animal soul has not the sole authority and dominion over the “city,” for the good of the divine soul (situated in the brain) has its say as well, it is unable to implement this desire by clothing itself in the limbs of the body,

רַק מִפְּנֵי שֶׁלֹּא לוֹ לְבַדּוֹ מִשְׁפַּט הַמְּלוּכָה וְהַמֶּמְשָׁלָה בָּעִיר, אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְהוֹצִיא תַּאֲוָתוֹ מִכֹּחַ אֶל הַפּוֹעַל, לְהִתְלַבֵּשׁ בְּאֵבְרֵי הַגּוּף

[to engage] in deed, speech, or actual thought—

בְּמַעֲשֶׂה דִּבּוּר וּמַחֲשָׁבָה מַמָּשׁ,

“actual” thought meaning: to concentrate his attention on worldly pleasures [with a view to] devising means of satisfying the lust of his heart.

לְהַעֲמִיק מַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ בְּתַעֲנוּגֵי עוֹלָם הַזֶּה אֵיךְ לְמַלֹּאת תַּאֲוַת לִבּוֹ,

The beinoni’s desire for worldly pleasures will cause thoughts of such matters to rise from the heart to his mind; these thoughts are beyond his control, beyond the sphere of dominance of his divine soul. He can, however, control his “actual”—i.e., conscious and willful—thought so that immediately as he becomes aware of the forbidden thoughts he dismisses them from his mind, not permitting himself to dwell on them nor to think how to implement them (as the Alter Rebbe will state at greater length further in this chapter).

Returning now to his statement that the divine soul of the beinoni keeps the desires of his animal soul in check, preventing their expression in deed, speech, and actual thought, the Alter Rebbe explains why this is possible:

because the brain rules over the heart (as it is written in Raaya Mehemna, Parashat Pinchas2) by virtue of its innately created nature.

כִּי הַמּוֹחַ שַׁלִּיט עַל הַלֵּב [כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּרַעְיָא מְהֵימְנָא פָּרָשַׁת פִּינְחָס] בְּתוֹלַדְתּוֹ וְטֶבַע יְצִירָתוֹ,

For man was so created from birth that every person may, with the power of the will in his brain—i.e., the will created of his mind’s understanding—restrain himself and control the drive of his heart’s lust,

שֶׁכָּךְ נוֹצַר הָאָדָם בְּתוֹלַדְתּוֹ, שֶׁכָּל אָדָם יָכוֹל בִּרְצוֹנוֹ שֶׁבְּמוֹחוֹ לְהִתְאַפֵּק וְלִמְשׁוֹל בְּרוּחַ תַּאֲוָתוֹ שֶׁבְּלִבּוֹ,

preventing his heart’s desires from finding expression in deed, word, and thought, when the mind understands the evil inherent in such deed, word, or thought,

שֶׁלֹּא לְמַלֹּאת מִשְׁאֲלוֹת לִבּוֹ בְּמַעֲשֶׂה דִּבּוּר וּמַחֲשָׁבָה,

and [he can, if his mind wills it] divert his attention completely from that which his heart craves [and turn his attention] to the exactly opposite direction.

וּלְהַסִּיחַ דַּעְתּוֹ לְגַמְרֵי מִתַּאֲוֹת לִבּוֹ אֶל הַהֵפֶךְ לְגַמְרֵי,

This principle of mind over heart holds true even where the restraint of one’s desires is dictated by simple logic, without motives of holiness; the demands of the mind’s logic are, alone, sufficiently powerful to steer one’s attention in a direction diametrically opposite to that which his heart craves.

If this is true whatever his motives, it is true particularly in the direction of holiness.

וּבִפְרָט אֶל צַד הַקְּדוּשָּׁה,

When, motivated by the knowledge that his lustful thoughts are sinful and thoughts of Torah and mitzvot good and praiseworthy, one seeks to divert his attention from the former to the latter so that both his goal and his motives are holy, his mind’s will is particularly effective in mastering his heart and thoughts.

Thus is it written: “Then I saw that wisdom surpasses folly as light surpasses darkness.”3

כְּדִכְתִיב: "וְרָאִיתִי שֶׁיֵּשׁ יִתְרוֹן לַחָכְמָה מִן הַסִּכְלוּת, כִּיתְרוֹן הָאוֹר מִן הַחוֹשֶׁךְ";

Clearly, the use of analogy indicates that a difficult and unfamiliar idea is to be clarified by comparison with a simple, familiar one. However, nothing seems to be gained by equating wisdom and folly with light and darkness; both are equally comprehensible.

Even assuming that the reference here is to a deeper aspect of “wisdom,” namely holiness (as in Ecclesiastes’ depiction of man’s inclination for good as “a poor and wise child”4), and that “folly” refers to evil (as in his portrayal of the evil inclination as “an old and foolish king”), there is still no need for analogy. Clearly, holiness is vastly superior to evil.

Rather, the Alter Rebbe goes on to explain, the analogy is used here to illustrate how wisdom is superior to folly: The superiority of light over darkness is manifest in the ability of a tiny ray of light to banish a great deal of darkness. Furthermore, the light need not battle darkness to banish it; the darkness disappears as a matter of course with the appearance of light. In the same way is the wisdom of holiness superior to the folly of evil. A mere ray of holiness suffices to banish—as a matter of course—a great deal of evil folly.

In the Alter Rebbe’s words:

This [analogy] means that just as light has superiority, power and dominion over darkness,

פֵּירוּשׁ, כְּמוֹ שֶׁהָאוֹר יֵשׁ לוֹ יִתְרוֹן וּשְׁלִיטָה וּמֶמְשָׁלָה עַל הַחוֹשֶׁךְ,

so that a little physical light banishes a great deal of darkness,5 which is displaced automatically and inevitably without any effort on the part of the light,

שֶׁמְּעַט אוֹר גַּשְׁמִי דּוֹחֶה הַרְבֵּה מִן הַחשֶׁךְ, שֶׁנִּדְחֶה מִמֶּנּוּ מֵאֵלָיו וּמִמֵּילָא,

so is there driven away, automatically, much foolishness of the kelipah and sitra achara of the animal soul located in the left part of the heart,

כָּךְ נִדְחֶה מִמֵּילָא סִכְלוּת הַרְבֵּה שֶׁל הַקְּלִיפָּה וְסִטְרָא אָחֳרָא שֶׁבֶּחָלָל הַשְּׂמָאלִי

(as indeed, our Sages say, “A man does not sin unless a spirit of folly enters him”6).

[כְּמַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: "אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן נִכְנַס בּוֹ רוּחַ שְׁטוּת וְכוּ'"],

Thus, our Sages described the desires of the animal soul as “folly.” Hence, they are automatically banished by the wisdom of the divine soul that is in the brain,

מִפְּנֵי הַחָכְמָה שֶׁבַּנֶּפֶשׁ הָאֱלֹהִית שֶׁבַּמּוֹחַ,

which desires to rule alone over the “city”—the body—and to pervade the entire body by means of its aforementioned7 three garments,

אֲשֶׁר רְצוֹנָהּ לִמְשׁוֹל לְבַדָּהּ בָּעִיר, וּלְהִתְלַבֵּשׁ בִּשְׁלֹשָׁה לְבוּשֶׁיהָ הַנִּזְכָּרִים לְעֵיל, בְּכָל הַגּוּף כּוּלּוֹ כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל,

namely thought, speech, and action, connected with the 613 mitzvot of the Torah, as discussed above.8

שֶׁהֵם מַחֲשָׁבָה דִּבּוּר וּמַעֲשֶׂה שֶׁל תַּרְיַ"ג מִצְוֹת הַתּוֹרָה, כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל.