With a beinoni, however, since the substance and essence of the vitalizing animal soul (stemming from the sitra achara), which pervades his blood and flesh, has not been transformed into good, it indeed constitutes the man himself, and therefore, by crushing his own spirit, the beinoni actually crushes the sitra achara.

אֲבָל בַּבֵּינוֹנִי, מֵאַחַר שֶׁמַּהוּתָהּ וְעַצְמוּתָהּ שֶׁל נֶפֶשׁ הַחִיּוּנִית הַבַּהֲמִית שֶׁמִּסִּטְרָא אָחֳרָא, הַמְלוּבֶּשֶׁת בְּדָמוֹ וּבְשָׂרוֹ, לֹא נֶהְפַּךְ לְטוֹב – הֲרֵי הִיא הִיא הָאָדָם עַצְמוֹ.

The Alter Rebbe now proceeds to suggest various lines of reasoning that the beinoni may use in order to humble and crush his spirit—and thereby the sitra achara of his animal soul. The first of these follows from the point just concluded, that the personality of the beinoni is, in fact, an expression of the sitra achara—the animal soul.

If so, that he is actually the animal soul, he is removed from G-d with the utmost remoteness. For the lusting drive in his animal soul is capable of lusting also after forbidden things, which are contrary to G-d’s will.

וְאִם כֵּן הוּא רָחוֹק מֵה' בְּתַכְלִית הָרִיחוּק, שֶׁהֲרֵי כֹּחַ הַמִּתְאַוֶּה שֶׁבְּנַפְשׁוֹ הַבַּהֲמִית, יָכוֹל גַּם כֵּן לְהִתְאַוּוֹת לִדְבָרִים הָאֲסוּרִים שֶׁהֵם נֶגֶד רְצוֹנוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ,

While he does not desire to do them (these forbidden things) in actual practice, G-d forbid, yet they are not truly repulsive to him as they are to tzaddikim, as explained above (in ch. 12).

אַף שֶׁאֵינוֹ מִתְאַוֶּה לַעֲשׂוֹתָם בְּפוֹעַל מַמָּשׁ חַס וְשָׁלוֹם, רַק שֶׁאֵינָם מְאוּסִים אֶצְלוֹ בֶּאֱמֶת, כְּבַצַּדִּיקִים, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְעֵיל [פֶּרֶק י"ב].

There, the Alter Rebbe explains that after his prayers, when the love of G-d is no longer revealed in his heart, a beinoni can feel a craving for material pleasures, whether they be permitted or forbidden—except that in the case of forbidden matters, he does not actually wish to implement his desires in forbidden actions; they remain instead in the category of “sinful thoughts.”

In this, he is inferior to and more loathsome and abominable than unclean animals and insects and reptiles, as mentioned above—for even they do not transgress against G-d’s will (see ch. 24), and since he does do so (in his mind, at least), he is worse than they,

וּבָזֶה הוּא גָּרוּעַ וּמְשׁוּקָּץ וּמְתוֹעָב יוֹתֵר מִבַּעֲלֵי חַיִּים הַטְּמֵאִים וּשְׁקָצִים וּרְמָשִׂים כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל,

and as it is written: “But I am a worm and not a man….”7

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "וְאָנֹכִי תוֹלַעַת וְלֹא אִישׁ וְגוֹ'"

As a human being who chooses to lower himself to the level of a worm, I am worse than a worm, for it is a worm by creation rather than by choice.

But what of the times when the divine soul of the beinoni dominates him, such as during prayer, when he experiences a revealed love of G-d and there is no room in his heart for any mundane desires? To this, the Alter Rebbe answers:

(8Even when his divine soul gathers strength within him to arouse his love of G-d during prayer, this predominance of the divine soul is not altogether genuine, since it is transient and vanishes after prayer, as mentioned earlier, end of ch. 13.)

[וְגַם כְּשֶׁמִּתְגַּבֶּרֶת בּוֹ נַפְשׁוֹ הָאֱלֹהִית לְעוֹרֵר הָאַהֲבָה לַה' בִּשְׁעַת הַתְּפִלָּה – אֵינָהּ בֶּאֱמֶת לַאֲמִיתּוֹ לְגַמְרֵי, מֵאַחַר שֶׁחוֹלֶפֶת וְעוֹבֶרֶת אַחַר הַתְּפִלָּה, כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל סוֹף פֶּרֶק י"ג].

The Alter Rebbe explains there that only that which is permanent and unchanging can be described as “true.” Relative to the rank of beinoni, this arousal of the divine soul during prayer may be considered “truthful,” since the beinoni is capable of generating it always—whenever he prays. It cannot, however, be described as “absolutely truthful” (emet la’amito) since it is not constant, occurring only during prayer.

Especially so if he calls to mind the contamination of his soul with the sin of youth and the blemish he has wrought thereby in the supernal worlds—the source of his soul. The fact that they were sins of “youth,” belonging to a time and to a spiritual level from which he may presently be far removed, is irrelevant in these supernal worlds—where everything is timeless, and it is as if he had caused the blemish and defiled himself this very day, G-d forbid.

וּבִפְרָט כְּשֶׁיִּזְכּוֹר טוּמְאַת נַפְשׁוֹ בְּחַטַּאת נְעוּרִים, וְהַפְּגַם שֶׁעָשָׂה בָּעֶלְיוֹנִים, וְשָׁם הוּא לְמַעְלָה מֵהַזְּמַן, וּכְאִלּוּ פָּגַם וְנִטְמָא הַיּוֹם – חַס וְשָׁלוֹם – מַמָּשׁ.

True, he may already have repented sincerely and thereby removed the blemish and cleansed himself. But the essence of repentance is in the heart, and in the heart, there are many distinctions and levels. Moreover, everything depends on what kind of a man he is (—the greater his stature, the higher the level of repentance required of him) and on the time and place in which he now stands, as is known to the knowing.

וְאַף שֶׁכְּבָר עָשָׂה תְּשׁוּבָה נְכוֹנָה, הֲרֵי עִיקַּר הַתְּשׁוּבָה – בַּלֵּב, וְהַלֵּב, יֵשׁ בּוֹ בְּחִינוֹת וּמַדְרֵגוֹת רַבּוֹת, וְהַכֹּל לְפִי מַה שֶּׁהוּא אָדָם, וּלְפִי הַזְּמַן וְהַמָּקוֹם, כַּיָּדוּעַ לַיּוֹדְעִים.

Whenever and wherever one is less tempted by a particular sin, a deeper and loftier level of repentance is expected of him for having committed that sin than at a time when he is more strongly tempted and must fight more insistently to resist that temptation. Similarly, time and place create other differences with respect to repentance. Therefore, judging by one’s present situation, his earlier repentance may be inadequate in erasing his past sins. Perhaps, then, the absence of a higher form of repentance required of him now causes his sins to interpose between himself and G-d, preventing the light of his soul from penetrating his heart—as the Alter Rebbe continues:

Consequently, now, at this time, when observing himself he sees that “the light of the soul does not penetrate into him,” it is evident that either (a) today his repentance has not been accepted and his sins [still] separate him from G-dliness or (b) it is desired that he be raised to a more sublime level of repentance, coming from a point yet deeper in his heart than his earlier repentance.

וְלָכֵן, עַכְשָׁיו בְּשָׁעָה זוֹ, שֶׁרוֹאֶה בְּעַצְמוֹ דְּלָא סָלִיק בֵּיהּ נְהוֹרָא דְנִשְׁמְתָא, מִכְּלָל, שֶׁהַיּוֹם לֹא נִתְקַבְּלָה תְּשׁוּבָתוֹ, וַעֲוֹנוֹתָיו מַבְדִּילִים, אוֹ, שֶׁרוֹצִים לְהַעֲלוֹתוֹ לִתְשׁוּבָה עִילָּאָה יוֹתֵר, מֵעוּמְקָא דְלִבָּא יוֹתֵר.

Far from indicating Divine displeasure, the rejection of his repentance in this latter case points to Divine favor: a desire to raise this person to yet greater heights of repentance. Hence the difficulties in his divine service and the timtum halev—so that he will call forth greater resources from within himself and repent more deeply.

For this reason, King David said, despite the fact that he was a tzaddik, who was also able to say of himself: “My heart is a void within me,”9 which means (as Rashi comments, “The evil impulse is as if dead within me”10—despite this, he would still say:) “My sin is constantly before me.”11

וְלָכֵן אָמַר דָּוִד: "וְחַטָּאתִי נֶגְדִּי תָמִיד".

Why was it necessary for a man of David’s caliber to constantly bear in mind his past sins? Surely he had repented for them adequately! Obviously, then, the memory is necessary in order to spur one on to greater heights within the ranks of holiness, to deeper levels of repentance, as said earlier.12