Just as it is of critical importance for a baal teshuvah to carry out the successive stages of [gor’in and mosifin] — taking away from the powers of the animal soul and increasing [the expression] of the G‑dly soul — so too, all people [should follow the same pattern in their Divine service]. At the initial stages of Divine service, one must cut away and reduce the desires of his animal soul. In the spirit of the phrase,1 “Forget your people and your father’s house,” one must abandon his previous habits. This is the beginning of Divine service: to remove one’s material orientation and the coarse layer of evil [that accompanies it].

(This pattern was indeed followed by the early chassidim2 when they drew close to G‑dliness and [began to] involve themselves in Divine service. The first stage of their Divine service was making a firm resolution to simply avoid any matter to which they had a desire and a heartfelt attraction, even if the matter was permissible. In doing so, they broke their desire. They were very successful in this, [following the pattern of]3 “Breaking them corrects them.” By breaking [their desires], they laid a foundation and basis for the next stage of correcting [their conduct], enabling their Divine service to be complete in all areas.) This is the service of gor’in:to reduce the self-expression of the animal soul.

[To focus on the core of the issue:] “G‑d made one opposite the other.”4 Just as the G‑dly soul possesses both intellect and emotions, so too, the animal soul possesses intellect and emotions.5 Nevertheless, the animal soul’s primary dimension is emotion. This is indicated by its name, the “animal soul.” For a human possesses knowledge and an animal does not.6 Feelings7 are the fundamental aspect of an animal’s makeup and its feelings are not determined by intellect at all.

A person also possesses emotions. Nevertheless, his emotions are determined by his intellect and the intellect weakens the emotions. An animal, by contrast, possesses only feelings,8 and those feelings are powerful. Similarly, the makeup of the animal soul is fundamentally emotional [and its feelings are] very powerful. The G‑dly soul, by contrast, is fundamentally intellectual.

In truth, the two souls have different sources. The G‑dly soul is rooted in the paradigm of Tikkun9 and is fundamentally intellectual in nature. The animal soul, by contrast, is rooted in the paradigm of Tohu10 and is fundamentally emotional in nature. As is well known, the “first seven kings” represent “separate branches.” This term refers to the emotional attributes of Tohu which are distinct, [unrelated] Sefiros. None of these Sefiros could tolerate any other Sefirah, and certainly not a Sefirah with an opposite tendency. For example, in the world of Tohu, the Sefirah of Chessed (“kindness”) could not tolerate any other Sefirah,and certainly not the [opposite] Sefirah of Gevurah (“might”). Instead, each one said:11 “I will reign.” For this reason, [the Sefiros of Tohu] were shattered, [as alluded to by the phrase:]12 “He reigned and he died.”

The paradigm of Tikkun, by contrast, is characterized primarily by the intellect and the interrelation [between qualities] that intellect generates,13 an interrelation that is internal in nature, as reflected in the kabbalisticstatement:14 “[G‑d’s] name Mah;15 it is the pathway16 of Atzilus,” and it establishes an interrelation among the Sefiros. By contrast, the Sefiros of Tohu are [mere individual] points without any interrelation at all. Indeed, they clash with one another. When the Sefiros of Tohu “shattered” and “fell,”the souls of animals and the animal soul within man were brought into being from its sparks.

The animal soul does possess an intellectual potential. Although it is primarily dominated by feelings, it nevertheless also possesses intellect. That intellect derives from the “face of man” included within the “face of the ox.”17 In particular, [these capacities of intellect and emotion within the animal soul] represent two different levels.18 The intellectual dimensions are referred to as “the animal soul” (because as a whole, its character is [still motivated by] animalistic drives) and the emotions are called the yetzer hara, because its character is evil.

On this basis, [we can understand what is demanded of us when speaking of] gor’in:that we must take away [the expression] of the animal soul. Not only must the evil characteristics [of the yetzer hara] be eliminated in their entirety (as will be explained),19 even its intellectual dimensions must be removed.

This task is accomplished by the G‑dly soul’s inherent power to conquer. For the G‑dly soul possesses the potential to overcome the animal soul, even when the animal soul possesses its full strength and power, i.e., as it is rooted and mired in undesirable emotional qualities. Even then, the G‑dly soul has the power and strength to overcome it and rule over its spirit of desire. (This comes as a result of the G‑dly soul being satiated [with Divine power prior to its descent], as explained in other sources.)19

[To highlight a parallel:] A person has the power to rule over an animal. Although from the standpoint of brute strength alone, an animal is more powerful than aman, nevertheless, aman has the potential to rule over an animal even when it possesses its full strength and power.

The manner [in which a person] breaks [his animal soul must be straightforward], without any dialogue or give and take [within his own being]. Instead, the G‑dly soul must issue a decree to the animal soul that it must separate itself from [its desires] in actual fact. The G‑dly soul should not enter into discussion [with the animal soul] or explain to it [the reasons for such a decree], because “With words, a servant will not be disciplined.”20 (This is particularly true when the animal soul is in its strength; in its evil character. At that time, it is not a vessel to hear anything.) Instead, the G‑dly soul should thunder against it with a loud and angry voice, ruling over it and restraining it, not allowing it to do what it wants at all — whether it involves eating, drinking, speaking, or the like — or indeed, in any manner whatsoever. In this way, the material orientation and the crudeness of the animal soul is broken.


Every person must carry out the service of gor’in, taking away the self-expression of the animal soul, be it emotional or intellectual. This is accomplished by the G‑dly soul, which has the power to overcome the animal soul, even when the animal soul is at its full strength.