He who starves himself is sated; he who satisfies himself is starved, is a principle concerning physical pleasures. Our sages tell us, 1The greater the person, the greater his Evil Impulse. The cause of this greater Evil Inclination is the person himself. 2Since he considers himself great, he uses his Torah knowledge to rationalize his self-gratification. This results in an increased propensity toward Evil.

Before beginning to study Chasidus, a person may be gross to a degree unbefitting his scholarship and piety. For man is born a wild colt, 3 following his natural traits, adoring himself and taking pride in his virtues. Thus one may conduct himself according to the dictates of the Torah, violating no prohibitions and fulfilling the positive duties as required, yet, as Nachmanides observes in his commentary, 4 one can be abominable within the strict framework of the Torah.

It is distressing that so many pious and learned people who behave according to Torah law, often employ so many devious arguments to justify themselves. They exploit their scholarship to purify the impure. 5 Furthermore, there are some who do possess fine characters, who conduct themselves according to the exhortations of Musar, but who are nonetheless brutish and deluded in their self-appraisal. One meets pious people, who are punctilious in religious observance, possessing of fine traits of character, yet are small-minded and complacent with their level of attainment.

Even intellectuals and scholars, devotees of the school of Chakira, are for the most part arrogant and self-styled sages whose character traits are not the most admirable. The more they advance intellectually, the more their arrogance grows.

The reason for this is that sin lies at the door, 6 and, The imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth. 7 The Evil Impulse enters man at birth, takes root, and grows through indulgence in desires and passions for food and drink and other physical needs. To be sure, whatever he does is permitted by the Torah-he eats and drinks only permitted foods, but he is drawn to them, desires them and derives pleasure from them.