Anyone who has not attained this standard of waging such a strenuous war against his body,

וְכָל שֶׁלֹּא הִגִּיעַ לִידֵי מִדָּה זוֹ, לְהִלָּחֵם עִם גּוּפוֹ מִלְחָמָה עֲצוּמָה כָּזוֹ –

has not yet measured up to the quality and dimension of the war waged daily within the kal shebekalim against the evil nature, which burns like a fiery flame,

עֲדַיִין לֹא הִגִּיעַ לִבְחִינַת וְעֵרֶךְ מִלְחֶמֶת הַיֵּצֶר הַבּוֹעֵר כְּאֵשׁ לֶהָבָה,

so that it (this powerful evil impulse) be humbled and broken through the fear of G-d.

לִהְיוֹת נִכְנָע וְנִשְׁבָּר מִפְּנֵי פַּחַד ה'.

This, then, is the standard by which everyone must judge himself: Does he battle against his evil impulse (during prayer and similarly in the other areas of divine service that the Alter Rebbe will soon discuss) as intensely as the kal shebekalim must battle against his?

So, too, with one’s kavanah in the Grace after Meals and in the benedictions, whether those said prior to eating or those recited before performing a mitzvah, all of which requires a battle with one’s evil impulse,

וְכֵן בְּעִנְיַן בִּרְכַּת הַמָּזוֹן וְכָל בִּרְכוֹת הַנֶּהֱנִין וְהַמִּצְוֹת בְּכַוָּנָה,

not to mention one’s intention in performing a mitzvah—that it be done (solely) for the sake of a mitzvah, i.e., for G-d’s sake; this requires a still greater effort, and in this, one will surely find himself wanting.

וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר כַּוָּנַת הַמִּצְוֹת לִשְׁמָן.

Similarly with regard to the battle required in the matter of one’s occupation in Torah study, one must struggle to study far more than what is demanded by his innate or accustomed desire by means of a mighty battle with his body.

וְכֵן בְּעִנְיַן עֵסֶק לִימּוּד הַתּוֹרָה, לִלְמוֹד הַרְבֵּה יוֹתֵר מֵחֶפְצוֹ וּרְצוֹנוֹ לְפִי טִבְעוֹ וּרְגִילוּתוֹ עַל יְדֵי מִלְחָמָה עֲצוּמָה עִם גּוּפוֹ.

When one studies Torah only as much as his natural inclination or habituated diligence dictates, he requires no effort or struggle at all. But in order to match the struggle of the kal shebekalim, one must study far, far more than he would by nature or habit, as the Alter Rebbe continues:

For to study a fraction more than is one’s wont entails but a minor tussle. It neither parallels nor bears comparison with the war of the kal shebekalim against his evil impulse, which burns like fire,

כִּי הַלּוֹמֵד מְעַט יוֹתֵר מִטִּבְעוֹ הֲרֵי זוֹ מִלְחָמָה קְטַנָּה, וְאֵין לָהּ עֵרֶךְ וְדִמְיוֹן עִם מִלְחֶמֶת הַיֵּצֶר הַבּוֹעֵר כְּאֵשׁ,

for which he is nonetheless called utterly wicked (rasha gamur) if he does not conquer his impulse so that it be subdued and crushed before G-d.

דְּמִקְרֵי "רָשָׁע גָּמוּר" אִם אֵינוֹ מְנַצֵּחַ יִצְרוֹ, לִהְיוֹת נִכְנָע וְנִשְׁבָּר מִפְּנֵי ה'.

Similarly, unless one struggles with his evil impulse to study much more than his nature or habit demands, he is no less wicked than the kal shebekalim.

But one may object to this reasoning. How, one may say, can I, in all honesty, compare my shortcomings to those of the kal shebekalim? I am lacking merely in the quality of the good that I do, whilst he actually and actively violates prohibitions enumerated in the Torah. To this, the Alter Rebbe counters:

What difference is there between the category of “turn away from evil’’—in which the kal shebekalim fails by active violation and the category of “do good”—in which he fails by neglecting to exert himself in prayer, Torah study, and the like?

וּמַה לִּי בְּחִינַת "סוּר מֵרָע", וּמַה לִּי בְּחִינַת "וַעֲשֵׂה טוֹב" –

To be sure, there are differences between the two categories. Each has its own unique spiritual effects, its own specific intentions. But these differences pertain only to the person performing the mitzvah. The essential point in a mitzvah, however, is that it is an expression of the will of the Only and Unique G-d, and in this, there is no difference whatsoever between the two categories, as the Alter Rebbe continues.

Both are the commandments of the Holy King, the Only and Unique One, blessed be He.

הַכֹּל הִיא מִצְוַת הַמֶּלֶךְ הַקָּדוֹשׁ, יָחִיד וּמְיוּחָד בָּרוּךְ־הוּא.

The failings of the observant individual in the quality of his prayer, Torah study, and so on are therefore comparable to the transgressions of the kal shebekalim.

So, too, with other commandments requiring a struggle, one may find that he does not wage war adequately against his evil impulse, especially in matters involving money,

וְכֵן בִּשְׁאָר מִצְוֹת, וּבִפְרָט בְּדָבָר שֶׁבְּמָמוֹן,

such as the service (“labor”) of charity, i.e., giving charity in a manner involving “labor”—far more than is his wont, and the like.

כְּמוֹ עֲבוֹדַת הַצְּדָקָה וּכְהַאי גַּוְנָא.