Before beginning ch. 35, it will be worthwhile to note once again that the Tanya is based on the verse, “For the matter (of observing Torah and mitzvot) is very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.”

This verse asserts that the Torah is easily fulfilled through all of man’s three forms of expression (also called the “garments of the soul”): thought (“in your heart”), speech (“in your mouth”), and action (“that you may do it”). In a deeper sense, the phrase “in your heart” refers also to the emotions of love and fear of G-d; they, too, are “very near to you,” i.e., easily attainable.

Concerning this latter statement, the Alter Rebbe points out (in ch. 17) that this claim appears contrary to our experience; in fact, it is by no means an easy matter for us to acquire the love and fear of G-d.

In answer, he explains that the phrase “that you may do it” qualifies and describes the emotions intended in the words “in your heart,” thus: What sort of love and fear of G-d is “very near to you…in your heart?” The love and fear which serve to motivate one’s practical observance of the mitzvot (even though such love and fear are not experienced in the heart as fiery, spiritual emotions). Intellectual contemplation of G-d’s greatness will lead one to an intellectual appreciation (“love”) of G-d and an awe (“fear”) of Him, which will in turn affect the heart (since, by nature, the mind rules the heart). The heart will then be motivated and will resolve to observe all the mitzvot in the spirit of this “love” or “fear.”

The Alter Rebbe then went on to say that even he who is not suited to such intellectual contemplation may also attain a love and fear of G-d by revealing the natural love hidden in the heart of every Jew. This love also contains an element of fear, the fear of separation from G-dliness. Thus, it is indeed “very near” and easy to serve G-d “in one’s heart,” i.e., out of both the love and fear of G-d.

Yet, from the wording of the verse (“It is very near to you…in your mouth, and…heart, that you may do it”), it is evident that however necessary the love and fear of G-d may be, the actual, practical observance of the mitzvot is paramount. In the following chapters, the Alter Rebbe explains the superiority of the practical aspect of mitzvot over this seemingly more “spiritual” aspect.

It is also important to bear in mind the Alter Rebbe’s definition of the rank of beinoni: The beinoni is he who is not guilty of any sin, whether in action, in speech, or even in thought.

The inner evil of his animal soul, however, retains its native strength and is capable of arousing forbidden desires in his heart; only by constant vigilance does the beinoni prevent these desires from finding expression in his actions, words, and (conscious) thoughts.

Let us elucidate still further the term “that you may do it” in the verse, “For the matter is very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it,” where, as mentioned, the climax of the verse is its emphasis on action.

וְהִנֵּה, לְתוֹסֶפֶת בֵּיאוּר תֵּיבַת "לַעֲשׂוֹתוֹ",

Let us also understand, in a very small measure, the purpose in creating beinonimto be and remain forever on the level of beinonim, for, as explained in ch. 14, the souls of the beinonim are usually incapable of rising to the level of tzaddik through their own will and effort: they were created to be beinonim;

וְגַם לְהָבִין מְעַט מִזְּעֵיר תַּכְלִית בְּרִיאַת הַבֵּינוֹנִים

also, [the purpose of] their souls’ descent to this world, being clothed within an animal soul deriving from the kelipah and sitra achara, the very antithesis of the (divine) soul.

וִירִידַת נִשְׁמוֹתֵיהֶם לָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה, לְהִתְלַבֵּשׁ בַּנֶּפֶשׁ הַבַּהֲמִית שֶׁמֵּהַקְּלִיפָּה וְסִטְרָא אָחֳרָא,

Since they will not be able to banish [the animal soul] throughout their lives, nor [even] dislodge it from its place in the left part of the heart,

מֵאַחַר שֶׁלֹּא יוּכְלוּ לְשַׁלְּחָהּ כָּל יְמֵיהֶם, וְלִדְחוֹתָהּ מִמְּקוֹמָהּ מֵחָלָל הַשְּׂמָאלִי שֶׁבַּלֵּב

so that no [evil] imaginings rise from it to the brain,

שֶׁלֹּא יַעֲלוּ מִמֶּנָּה הִרְהוּרִים אֶל הַמֹּחַ,‏

inasmuch as in the beinonim, the essence of the animal soul derived from the kelipah remains in its full strength and potency as at birth,

כִּי מַהוּתָהּ וְעַצְמוּתָהּ שֶׁל נֶפֶשׁ הַבַּהֲמִית שֶׁמֵּהַקְּלִיפָּה – הִיא בְּתָקְפָּהּ וּבִגְבוּרָתָהּ אֶצְלָם כְּתוֹלַדְתָּהּ,

except that its “garments,” i.e., its forms of expression as evil thought, speech, and action, do not clothe themselves in their body, as mentioned above in ch. 12, where the Alter Rebbe explains that by means of constant battle with his animal soul, the beinoni prevents the budding evil of this soul from expressing itself in his thought, speech, and action.

רַק שֶׁלְּבוּשֶׁיהָ אֵינָם מִתְלַבְּשִׁים בְּגוּפָם כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל,

However, since the beinoni succeeds only in suppressing the “garments” of the animal soul but can never, despite all his efforts, effect any change in the essential, evil nature of the animal soul itself, the question arises:

Why then did their souls descend to this world, to strive in vain, G-d forbid, waging war all their lives against their evil inclination yet never being able to vanquish it?

וְאִם כֵּן, לָמָּה זֶּה יָרְדוּ נִשְׁמוֹתֵיהֶם לָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה לִיגַע לָרִיק חַס וְשָׁלוֹם, לְהִלָּחֵם כָּל יְמֵיהֶם עִם הַיֵּצֶר, וְלֹא יָכְלוּ לוֹ?

It was explained in the previous chapters that the ongoing battle waged by the beinoni in preventing his evil inclination from asserting itself in thought, speech, and action causes prodigious pleasure Above. How then can we complain that the battle is in vain? Yet, were this divine pleasure the sole object of the battle, there would be no reason for having the divine soul clothed within the animal soul; on the contrary, the two souls ought then to be separate and distinct from each other so that whenever the divine soul emerges victorious from a particular struggle (against the desire of the animal soul to act or speak evilly), it would then act alone, without the participation of the animal soul. Since the divine soul is clothed within the animal soul, the objective obviously lies in perfecting the animal soul itself. From this perspective, the battle of the beinoni does indeed seem futile, since all his efforts have no effect on the evil nature of the animal soul.

Let this forthcoming explanation be their solace, to comfort them in a double measure of aid and to gladden their hearts in G-d, Who dwells among them in their Torah and [divine] service. I.e., the explanation will show them how to find comfort and joy in the G-dly light that abides within them when they study the Torah and when they engage in the service of G-d.

וּתְהִי זֹאת נֶחָמָתָם, לְנַחֲמָם בְּכִפְלַיִים לְתוּשִׁיָּה, וּלְשַׂמֵּחַ לִבָּם בַּה' הַשּׁוֹכֵן אִתָּם בְּתוֹךְ תּוֹרָתָם וַעֲבוֹדָתָם.

[The abovementioned difficulties will be resolved] by clarifying first the comment of the Yenuka (quoted in the Zohar, Parashat Balak1) on the verse: “The wise man’s eyes are in his head.”2

וְהוּא, בְּהַקְדִּים לְשׁוֹן הַיַּנּוּקָא [בַּזֹּהַר פָּרָשַׁת בָּלָק] עַל פָּסוּק: "הֶחָכָם עֵינָיו בְּרֹאשׁוֹ" –

The Zohar comments: “Where else are a man’s eyes?… Surely, then, the meaning of the verse is as follows:

"וְכִי בְּאָן אֲתַר עֵינוֹי דְּבַר נַשׁ כוּ', אֶלָּא קְרָא הָכֵי הוּא וַדַּאי,

We have learned that a man must not go four cubits while bareheaded. Why? Because the Shechinah (the Divine Presence) rests upon his head.

דִּתְנַן: לֹא יְהַךְ בַּר נַשׁ בְּגִילּוּיָא דְּרֵישָׁא אַרְבַּע אַמּוֹת, מַאי טַעֲמָא, דִּשְׁכִינְתָּא שַׁרְיָא עַל רֵישֵׁיהּ,

[Therefore] every wise man has his eyes, i.e., his interest and concern, and hence also his speech [concentrated] “in his head,” i.e., in that light of the Shechinah which rests and abides above his head.

וְכָל חָכָם עֵינוֹהִי וּמִילּוֹי בְּרֵישֵׁיהּ אִינּוּן, בְּהַהוּא דְּשַׁרְיָא וְקַיְּימָא עַל רֵישֵׁיהּ,

Now, when his “eyes” i.e. his interest and his concern are there, he must know that this light kindled above his head i.e., the light that shines upon his soul requires oil,

וְכַד עֵינוֹי תַּמָּן, לִנְדַּע, דְּהַהוּא נְהוֹרָא דְּאַדְלִיק עַל רֵישֵׁיהּ – אִצְטְרִיךְ לְמִשְׁחָא,

for man’s body is the wick that retains the luminous flame, and the light is kindled above it,

בְּגִין דְּגוּפָא דְבַר נַשׁ אִיהוּ פְּתִילָה, וּנְהוֹרָא אַדְלִיק לְעֵילָא,

and [thus,] King Solomon cried out, saying, “Let there be no lack of oil above your head,”3

וּשְׁלֹמֹה מַלְכָּא צָוַח וְאָמַר: וְשֶׁמֶן עַל רֹאשְׁךָ אַל יֶחְסַר,

for the light over his head requires oil, meaning good deeds—the good deeds that man performs are the oil which supplies the light illuminating his soul,

דְּהָא נְהוֹרָא דִּבְרֹאשׁוֹ אִצְטְרִיךְ לְמִשְׁחָא, וְאִינּוּן עוֹבָדָאן טָבָאן,

and for this reason, “the wise man’s eyes are in his head”—to ensure that he never lacks oil (good deeds) for this light.

וְעַל דָּא הֶחָכָם עֵינָיו בְּרֹאשׁוֹ",

The quotation from the Zohar ends here.

עַד כָּאן לְשׁוֹנוֹ.