We have learned (Niddah, end of ch. 3):1 “An oath is administered to him:

תַּנְיָא [בְּסוֹף פֶּרֶק ג' דְּנִדָּה]: "מַשְׁבִּיעִים אוֹתוֹ,

Before a Jew is born, an oath is administered to him in heaven, charging him:

‘Be righteous and be not wicked; and even if the whole world judging you by your actions tells you that you are righteous, regard yourself as wicked.’”

תְּהִי צַדִּיק וְאַל תְּהִי רָשָׁע. וַאֲפִילוּ כָּל הָעוֹלָם כּוּלּוֹ אוֹמְרִים לְךָ צַדִּיק אַתָּה – הֱיֵה בְעֵינֶיךָ כְּרָשָׁע".

The soul of a Jew descends into a body for a purpose—in order to fulfill a specific spiritual mission in this world. To enable him to fulfill it, a heavenly oath is administered to him that he “be righteous and not wicked” and concurrently that he regard himself as wicked and not righteous. The root (בע) of the verb מַשְׁבִּיעִים (“an oath is administered”) is virtually identical with the root (בע) of the verb מַשְׂבִּיעִים (“one causes [him] to be sated”). Accordingly, the oath charging him to be righteous may also be understood to mean that the soul is thereby invested (“sated”) with the power that enables it to fulfill its destiny in life on earth.

This calls for explanation, for we have learned in the Mishnah (Avot, ch. 2),2 “Be not wicked in your own estimation.”

וְצָרִיךְ לְהָבִין, דְּהָא תְּנַן [אָבוֹת פֶּרֶק ב']: "וְאַל תְּהִי רָשָׁע בִּפְנֵי עַצְמֶךָ".

How, then, can we say that an oath is administered to the soul that it regard itself as wicked when this directly contradicts the Mishnaic injunction not to regard oneself as wicked?3

Furthermore, if a person considers himself wicked, he will be grieved at heart and depressed,

וְגַם, אִם יִהְיֶה בְעֵינָיו כְּרָשָׁע – יֵרַע לְבָבוֹ וְיִהְיֶה עָצֵב,

and consequently will not be able to serve G‑d joyfully and with a contented heart,

וְלֹא יוּכַל לַעֲבוֹד ה' בְּשִׂמְחָה וּבְטוּב לֵבָב,

Apart from the previously mentioned contradiction from the Mishnah, an additional question is now raised. A cardinal principle in the service of G‑d is that it be performed with joy—joy at the privilege of serving Him either through performing a positive command or by refraining from that which is prohibited. How then can one be required to take an oath to consider himself wicked, when this will cause him to be depressed, making it impossible for him to serve G‑d with joy?

Furthermore, just as the first part of the oath, “Be righteous and be not wicked,” is vital to his success in realizing his life’s mission, so, too, the fulfillment of the second part of the oath, that he consider himself wicked, is imperative. How can this possibly be so, when such an attitude hinders his joyful service of G‑d?

while if his heart will not be at all grieved by this self-appraisal,

וְאִם לֹא יֵרַע לְבָבוֹ כְּלָל מִזֶּה,

I.e., if we should propose that in order to fulfill the oath, the person will indeed regard himself as wicked but at the same time will resolve that his wickedness shall not perturb him so as not to encumber his joyful service of G‑d,

he may be led to irreverence, G‑d forbid, by such an attitude, with sin perturbing him not at all.

יָכוֹל לָבוֹא לִידֵי קַלּוּת, חַס וְשָׁלוֹם.

For although his original resolve that being wicked will not perturb him stems only from his sincere desire to serve G‑d with joy, yet such a resolution may very well lead to a situation where wickedness will truly not disturb him.

However, the [above] matter will be more clearly understood after a preliminary discussion of the true meaning of “righteous” and “wicked.”

אַךְ הָעִנְיָן,

We find in the Gemara five distinct types: a righteous man who prospers, materially as well as spiritually—he knows only good; a righteous man who suffers, in both a material as well as spiritual sense: spiritually, he has not yet vanquished all his evil, and in the material sense, too, he is wanting;

כִּי הִנֵּה מָצִינוּ בַּגְּמָרָא ה' חֲלוּקּוֹת: צַדִּיק וְטוֹב לוֹ, צַדִּיק וְרַע לוֹ,

a wicked man in whom there is some good and who prospers; a wicked man who suffers spiritually and materially; and an intermediate man—the beinoni.

רָשָׁע וְטוֹב לוֹ, רָשָׁע וְרַע לוֹ, וּבֵינוֹנִי.

The Gemara explains:4 “the righteous man who prospers” is the consummate lit., “complete” tzaddik;

וּפֵירְשׁוּ בַּגְּמָרָא: "צַדִּיק וְטוֹב לוֹ – צַדִּיק גָּמוּר,

Once he has achieved this level, physical suffering—to cleanse the soul from the impurities of sin—is unnecessary; he therefore prospers materially as well.

the “righteous man who suffers” is the imperfect lit., “incomplete” tzaddik.

צַדִּיק וְרַע לוֹ – צַדִּיק שֶׁאֵינוֹ גָמוּר".

He therefore experiences some measure of material suffering, thereby cleansing the soul while it is yet clothed in the body, so that he will not have to endure any spiritual suffering in the World to Come.

Accordingly, the Gemara is not referring to two tzaddikim on the same spiritual level, one of whom prospers while the other suffers; rather, it speaks of two distinct levels of tzaddikim. The Gemara thus cites only two characterizations regarding the tzaddik—“consummate” and “imperfect” (lit., “complete” and “incomplete”). The terms “who prospers” or “who suffers” do not indicate his spiritual level: they merely describe his resultant material status.

In Raaya Mehemna (Parashat Mishpatim),5 it is explained that “the righteous man who suffers” is one whose evil nature is subservient to his good nature.6

וּבְרַעְיָא מְהֵימְנָא פָּרָשַׁת מִשְׁפָּטִים פֵּירַשׁ: צַדִּיק וְרַע לוֹ – שֶׁהָרָע שֶׁבּוֹ כָּפוּף לַטּוֹב וְכוּ',

He is a tzaddik who still retains some vestige of evil, albeit subservient to his good nature. Accordingly, a “righteous man who prospers” is a tzaddik in whom there is only good, since he has totally transformed his evil nature.

According to the Zohar (of which Raaya Mehemna is a part), the terms “who prospers” and “who suffers” also indicate and describe the level of the tzaddik. The “tzaddik who prospers” is a tzaddik in whom there is only good—the evil within him having already been transformed to good; the “tzaddik who suffers” is a tzaddik of lower stature—one who still harbors some evil.

However, we must now understand why redundant titles are given to each level of tzaddik: “complete tzaddik” and “tzaddik who prospers”; “incomplete tzaddik” and “tzaddik who suffers.” If the “complete tzaddik” is the “tzaddik who prospers” (i.e., in whom there is only good) and the “incomplete tzaddik” is the “tzaddik who suffers” (i.e., retains a vestige of evil), why then is it necessary to give each tzaddik two appellations?

The explanation provided further (in ch. 10) is that each descriptive term denotes a specific aspect of the divine service of the tzaddik. The terms “complete tzaddik” and “incomplete tzaddik” denote the level of service of the tzaddik’s G‑dly soul, i.e., the tzaddik’s love of G‑d, for it is by virtue of this love that he is called “tzaddik.” The “complete tzaddik” is he who has attained perfection in his love of G‑d in a manner of ahavah betaanugim (“love of delights”)—the serene love of fulfillment. The tzaddik whose ahavah betaanugim is as yet imperfect is called the “incomplete (or unperfected) tzaddik.”

The terms “tzaddik who prospers” and “tzaddik who suffers” denote the tzaddik’s status vis-à-vis his efforts in transforming his animal soul to holiness. For the tzaddik, through his lofty service of ahavah betaanugim, transforms the evil within him into holiness and good. The designation “tzaddik who prospers” indicates that he has already totally transformed the evil within him and now good alone remains, while the “tzaddik who suffers” is one who has not yet managed to totally transform the evil within him to good; a vestige of it still remains.

The explanations that follow make it abundantly clear that the evil referred to here is no more than an amorphous evil still harbored in the heart of the “incomplete tzaddik.” For the tzaddik has no association with actual evil that manifests itself in thought or speech and most certainly not with the evil that finds expression in actions.

In the Gemara (end of ch. 9 of Berachot),7 [it is stated] that the righteous are “judged” i.e., motivated and ruled by their good nature, their good nature having the final say; the wicked are judged i.e., motivated and ruled by their evil nature, their evil nature having the final say;

וּבַגְּמָרָא סוֹף פֶּרֶק ט' דִּבְרָכוֹת: "צַדִּיקִים – יֵצֶר טוֹב שׁוֹפְטָן כוּ', רְשָׁעִים – יֵצֶר הָרָע שׁוֹפְטָן,

intermediate men are “judged” by both the good and evil nature.8

בֵּינוֹנִים – זֶה וָזֶה שׁוֹפְטָן וְכוּ'.

Rabbah declared: “I, for example, am a beinoni.” Said Abbaye to him, “Master, you make it impossible for any creature to live….”

אָמַר רַבָּה: כְּגוֹן אֲנָא בֵּינוֹנִי. אָמַר לֵיהּ אַבַּיֵּי: לֹא שָׁבִיק מַר חַיֵּי לְכָל בִּרְיָּה וְכוּ'".

Abbaye argued thus: “If you are a beinoni, then all those on a lower level than you fall into the category of the wicked, concerning whom our Sages say:9 ‘The wicked, even while alive, are considered dead.’ By calling yourself a beinoni, you thus make it impossible for anyone to live.”

To understand all the aforesaid clearly [an explanation is called for].

וּלְהָבִין כָּל זֶה בַּאֵר הֵיטֵב,

In addition to the question which will soon follow—that according to the common conception of a beinoni as a person having half mitzvot and half transgressions, how could a great sage like Rabbah mistake himself for a beinoni—a further question is implied:

If a beinoni is simply one having half mitzvot and half transgressions, then his status is readily identifiable, and there is no possible room for debate.

And also to understand the statement of Job (Bava Batra, ch. 1)10: “L-rd of the universe! You have created righteous men, You have created wicked men…,”

וְגַם לְהָבִין מַה שֶּׁאָמַר אִיּוֹב [בָּבָא בַּתְרָא פֶּרֶק א']: "רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם, בָּרָאתָ צַדִּיקִים בָּרָאתָ רְשָׁעִים כוּ'",

for He does not decree [which persons are to be] righteous and wicked.

וְהָא ‘צַדִּיק' וְ'רָשָׁע' לֹא קָאָמַר!

The Gemara11 relates that G‑d decrees that a child about to be born will be wise or foolish, strong or weak, and so on. However, whether the child will be righteous or wicked, G‑d does not say: this is not predetermined; rather, it is left to the individual’s free choice.

How, then, are we to understand Job’s plaint, “You have created righteous men, You have created wicked men”?12

We must also understand the essential nature (mahut) of the rank of the beinoni.

וְגַם לְהָבִין מַהוּת מַדְרֵגַת הַבֵּינוֹנִי,

The mahut of a tzaddik is righteousness; the mahut of the wicked man is evil. What is the mahut—the essential nature—of the beinoni?

He is certainly not one whose deeds are half virtuous and half sinful; for if this were so, how could Rabbah err in [classifying] himself as a beinoni,

שֶׁבְּוַדַּאי אֵינוֹ מֶחֱצָה זְכֻיּוֹת וּמֶחֱצָה עֲוֹנוֹת, שֶׁאִם כֵּן, אֵיךְ טָעָה רַבָּה בְּעַצְמוֹ לוֹמַר שֶׁהוּא בֵּינוֹנִי,

when it is known that “his mouth never ceased studying [the Torah],”13 so much so that even the Angel of Death had no dominion over him.14

וְנוֹדָע דְּלָא פָסִיק פּוּמֵיהּ מִגִּירְסָא, עַד שֶׁאֲפִילוּ מַלְאַךְ הַמָּוֶת לֹא הָיָה יָכוֹל לִשְׁלוֹט בּוֹ,

Such was Rabbah’s diligence that he did not neglect his studies for even one moment. Qualitatively, too, his learning was on so high a plane that the Angel of Death was unable to overpower him.

How, then, could he err in considering that half his deeds were sinful, G‑d forbid?

וְאֵיךְ הָיָה יָכוֹל לִטְעוֹת בְּמֶחֱצָה עֲוֹנוֹת חַס וְשָׁלוֹם?

Furthermore, when can a person be considered a beinoni? For at the time one sins until he repents he is deemed completely wicked,

וְעוֹד, שֶׁהֲרֵי בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁעוֹשֶׂה עֲוֹנוֹת נִקְרָא רָשָׁע גָּמוּר

(and if he was sinful and then repented, thus ceasing to be wicked, he is deemed completely righteous15).

[וְאִם אַחַר־כָּךְ עָשָׂה תְּשׁוּבָה – נִקְרָא צַדִּיק גָּמוּר],

Even he who violates a minor prohibition of the Rabbis is termed wicked, as is stated in Yevamot, ch. 2,16 and in Niddah, ch. 1.17

וַאֲפִילוּ הָעוֹבֵר עַל אִיסּוּר קַל שֶׁל דִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים – מִקְרֵי רָשָׁע, כִּדְאִיתָא בְּפֶרֶק ב' דִּיבָמוֹת וּבְפֶרֶק קַמָּא דְנִדָּה.

Moreover, even he who himself does not sin but has the opportunity to forewarn another against sinning and fails to do so is termed wicked (Shevuot, ch. 618).

וַאֲפִילוּ מִי שֶׁיֵּשׁ בְּיָדוֹ לִמְחוֹת וְלֹא מִיחָה נִקְרָא רָשָׁע [בְּפֶרֶק ו' דִּשְׁבוּעוֹת].

All the more so, he who neglects any positive law which he is able to fulfill,

וְכָל שֶׁכֵּן וְקַל וָחֹמֶר, בִּמְבַטֵּל אֵיזוֹ מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר לוֹ לְקַיְּימָהּ,

for instance, whoever is able to study Torah and does not do so,

כְּמוֹ כָּל שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר לוֹ לַעֲסוֹק בַּתּוֹרָה וְאֵינוֹ עוֹסֵק,

to whom our Sages19 have applied the verse, “Because he has despised the word of the L-rd (i.e., the Torah)…[that soul] shall be utterly cut off….”20

שֶׁעָלָיו דָּרְשׁוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: "כִּי דְּבַר ה' בָּזָה וְגוֹ' הִכָּרֵת תִּכָּרֵת וְגוֹ'".

It is thus plain that such a person is called wicked, more so than he who violates a prohibition of the Sages.

וּפְשִׁיטָא דְּמִקְרֵי רָשָׁע טְפֵי מֵעוֹבֵר אִיסּוּר דְּרַבָּנָן.

This being so, we must conclude that the beinoni is not guilty even of the sin of neglecting to study Torah.

וְאִם כֵּן, עַל כָּרְחֲךָ הַבֵּינוֹנִי אֵין בּוֹ אֲפִילוּ עֲוֹן בִּיטּוּל תּוֹרָה,

A sin most difficult to avoid and counted among those sins that people transgress daily.21

This is why Rabbah mistook himself for a beinoni.

וּמִשּׁוּם הָכֵי טָעָה רַבָּה בְּעַצְמוֹ לוֹמַר שֶׁהוּא בֵּינוֹנִי

Since a beinoni is innocent even of neglecting Torah study, Rabbah could [mistakenly] consider himself a beinoni, even though he scrupulously observed even the most minor commandments and never ceased from his studies.

As for what is written in the Zohar III, p. 231: “He whose sins are few [is classed as a ‘righteous man who suffers’],”

וּמַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב בַּזֹּהַר חֵלֶק ג' דַּף רל"א: כָּל שֶׁמְּמוּﬠָטִין ﬠֲוֹנוֹתָיו וְכוּ',

implying that even according to the Zohar, the meaning of a “righteous man who suffers” is one who does have sins, albeit few; and if so, a beinoni must be one who is in part virtuous and in part sinful,

this is the query of Rav Hamnuna to Elijah.

הִיא שְׁאֵלַת רַב הַמְנוּנָא לְאֵלִיָּהוּ,

But according to Elijah’s answer [ibid.], the meaning of a “righteous man who suffers’’ is as stated in Raaya Mehemna on Parashat Mishpatim, quoted above i.e., that the “righteous man who suffers” is one whose evil nature is subservient to his good nature.

אֲבָל לְפִי תְּשׁוּבַת אֵלִיָּהוּ שָׁם, פֵּירוּשׁ "צַדִּיק וְרַע לוֹ" הוּא כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּרַﬠְיָא מְהֵימְנָא פָּרָשָׁה מִשְׁפָּטִים דִּלְﬠֵיל.

And the Torah has seventy facets (modes of interpretation).22

וְשִׁבְﬠִים פָּנִים לַתּוֹרָה:

The Rebbe notes that the words, “And the Torah has seventy facets,” help us understand Rav Hamnuna’s query. It is difficult to understand how Rav Hamnuna would even entertain the notion that a “righteous man who suffers” is one who actually sins, inasmuch as all the abovementioned questions clearly lead us to assume the opposite. Rav Hamnuna’s query, however, was prompted only by the fact that “the Torah has seventy facets,” and he thought that this was possibly one of these facets.

As for the well-known saying23 that one [whose deeds and misdeeds are] equally balanced is called a beinoni, while [he who has] a majority of virtues outweighing his sins is called a tzaddik,

וְהָא דְּאָמְרִינָן בְּעָלְמָא, דְּמֶחֱצָה עַל מֶחֱצָה מִקְרֵי בֵּינוֹנִי, וְרוֹב זְכֻיּוֹת מִקְרֵי צַדִּיק,

this is only a borrowed name, i.e., a figurative use of the term borrowed from its true usage in order to emphasize a particular point. Thus the names beinoni and tzaddik, denoting a balance between merits and sins, are in fact but borrowed names

הוּא שֵׁם הַמּוּשְׁאָל

used in regard to reward and punishment,

לְעִנְיַן שָׂכָר וְעוֹנֶשׁ,

because one is judged according to the majority [of his deeds],

לְפִי שֶׁנִּדּוֹן אַחַר רוּבּוֹ,

and he is termed “righteous’’ in reference to his verdict, since he is acquitted at his trial.

וּמִקְרֵי צַדִּיק בְּדִינוֹ מֵאַחַר שֶׁזּוֹכֶה בַּדִּין,

It is only in this legal sense that the term tzaddik is applied to one who performs more good deeds than evil.

If, however, we seek to truly define the distinct qualities and ranks of tzaddikim and beinonim,

אֲבָל לְעִנְיַן אֲמִיתַּת שֵׁם הַתּוֹאַר וְהַמַּעֲלָה שֶׁל מַעֲלַת וּמַדְרֵגוֹת חֲלוּקוֹת צַדִּיקִים וּבֵינוֹנִים,

our Sages have remarked that the righteous are “judged” i.e., motivated and ruled, solely by their good nature, as it is written, “And my heart is a void within me,”24

אָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: "צַדִּיקִים יֵצֶר טוֹב שׁוֹפְטָן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וְלִבִּי חָלַל בְּקִרְבִּי"

meaning that he i.e., David, the author of this verse was devoid of an evil nature, having slain it through fasting.

– שֶׁאֵין לוֹ יֵצֶר הָרָע, כִּי הֲרָגוֹ בְּתַעֲנִית;

David extirpated his evil nature through fasting; other ways, too, are possible.

We thus see from the Gemara that the definition of tzaddik in its true sense applies to the person who has rid himself of his evil nature.

But whoever has not attained this degree of ridding himself of his evil nature, even though his virtues outnumber his sins, is not at all at the level and rank of tzaddik.

אֲבָל כָּל מִי שֶׁלֹּא הִגִּיעַ לְמַדְרֵגָה זוֹ, אַף שֶׁזְּכֻיוֹתָיו מְרוּבִּים עַל עֲוֹנוֹתָיו – אֵינוֹ בְּמַעֲלַת וּמַדְרֵגַת צַדִּיק כְּלָל.

In fact, not only has he not reached the rank of tzaddik, he has not yet attained even the level of beinoni, as has been demonstrated above.

This is why our Sages have expounded:25 “The Almighty saw that the righteous were few, so He arose and planted i.e., and spread them in every generation,”

וְלָכֵן אָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה בַּמִּדְרָשׁ: "רָאָה הַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא בַּצַּדִּיקִים שֶׁהֵם מוּעָטִים – עָמַד וּשְׁתָלָן בְּכָל דּוֹר וָדוֹר וְכוּ',

[for,] as it is written, “The tzaddik is the foundation of the world.”26

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: וְצַדִּיק יְסוֹד עוֹלָם":

Thus, in each generation, there must be a tzaddik who serves as the “foundation of the world.”

This paucity of tzaddikim (“the righteous were few”) can be explained only if a tzaddik is he who has totally rid himself of his evil nature. Were the term tzaddik to mean one whose good deeds outweigh the evil, why then do our Sages say that “the righteous were few” when the overwhelming majority of Jews have more good deeds than evil!

However, the explanation of the matter, so that we better understand the levels of tzaddik and beinoni, as well as the various gradations within their ranks,

אַךְ בֵּיאוּר הָעִנְיָן,

[is to be found] in light of what Rabbi Chaim Vital wrote in Shaar Hakedushah (and in Etz Chaim, Portal 50, ch. 2)—

עַל פִּי מַה שֶּׁכָּתַב הָרַב חַיִּים וִיטַאל זִכְרוֹנוֹ לִבְרָכָה בְּשַׁעַר הַקְּדוּשָּׁה [וּבְעֵץ חַיִּים שַׁעַר נ' פֶּרֶק ב'],

that every Jew, whether righteous or wicked, possesses two souls,

דִּלְכָל אִישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל, אֶחָד צַדִּיק וְאֶחָד רָשָׁע, יֵשׁ שְׁתֵּי נְשָׁמוֹת,

as it is written, “And neshamot (souls) which I have made.”27

וּכְדִכְתִיב: "וּנְשָׁמוֹת אֲנִי עָשִׂיתִי",

Though the verse speaks of an individual Jew (as is indicated by the singular form of the word ruach (spirit) in the preceding phrase, “When the spirit of a man which emanates from Me will be humbled…”), the plural term souls is nevertheless used, indicating that every Jew possesses two souls.

These are two nefashot28two souls and life-forces.

שֶׁהֵן שְׁתֵּי נְפָשׁוֹת

One soul originates in the kelipah and sitra achara.

–נֶפֶשׁ אַחַת מִצַּד הַקְּלִיפָּה וְסִטְרָא אָחֳרָא,

Kelipah” means a shell or peel. G‑d created forces which conceal the G‑dly life-force found in all creation, as a peel covers and conceals a fruit. “Sitra achara” means “the other side”—the side of creation that is the antithesis of holiness and purity. (The two terms are generally synonymous.)

It is this nefesh (which originates in the kelipah and sitra achara) that is clothed in the blood of a human being, giving life to the body,

וְהִיא הַמִּתְלַבֶּשֶׁת בְּדַם הָאָדָם לְהַחֲיוֹת הַגּוּף,

as it is written, “For the nefesh of the flesh (i.e., the nefesh that sustains physical and corporeal life) is in the blood.”29

וּכְדִכְתִיב: "כִּי נֶפֶשׁ הַבָּשָׂר בַּדָּם הִיא",

From [this nefesh] stems all the evil characteristics, deriving from the four evil elements within it.

וּמִמֶּנָּה בָּאוֹת כָּל הַמִּדּוֹת רָעוֹת, מֵאַרְבַּע יְסוֹדוֹת רָעִים שֶׁבָּהּ,

Just as the four physical elements of Fire, Air, Water, and Earth are the foundation of all physical entities, so, too, is this nefesh comprised of four corresponding spiritual elements. Since they derive from kelipah and evil, they themselves are evil, and from them, in turn, one’s evil characteristics come into being.

Namely: anger and pride [emanate] from the element of Fire, which rises upward;

דְּהַיְינוּ: כַּעַס וְגַאֲוָה – מִיסוֹד הָאֵשׁ שֶׁנִּגְבָּהּ לְמַעְלָה,

Once ignited by anger and pride, a man (like fire) soars aloft. Pride is the state of considering oneself superior to others. Anger, too, is an offshoot of pride. Would a person not be proud, he would not be angered when someone defied his will.

the appetite for pleasures [emanates] from the element of Water, for water promotes the growth of all kinds of pleasurable things;

וְתַאֲוַת הַתַּעֲנוּגִים – מִיסוֹד הַמַּיִם, כִּי הַמַּיִם מַצְמִיחִים כָּל מִינֵי תַּעֲנוּג,

The ability of water to make pleasurable things grow indicates that concealed within it is the element of pleasure. Thus, the appetite for pleasure derives from the element of Water.

frivolity and scoffing, boasting and idle talk [emanate] from the element of Air: like air, they lack substance;

וְהוֹלֵלוּת וְלֵיצָנוּת וְהִתְפָּאֲרוּת וּדְבָרִים בְּטֵלִים – מִיסוֹד הָרוּחַ,

and sloth and melancholy [emanate] from the element of Earth.

וְעַצְלוּת וְעַצְבוּת – מִיסוֹד הֶעָפָר.

Earth is characterized by heaviness. A man encumbered by sloth and melancholy likewise senses a heaviness of the limbs.

From this soul stems also the good traits inherent in every Jew’s character, such as compassion and benevolence.

וְגַם מִדּוֹת טוֹבוֹת שֶׁבְּטֶבַע כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּתוֹלְדוֹתָם, כְּמוֹ רַחֲמָנוּת וּגְמִילוּת חֲסָדִים – בָּאוֹת מִמֶּנָּה.

But since this is a nefesh of kelipah and evil, how do good characteristics come from it? This matter is now addressed.

For in the [case of the] Jew, this soul of kelipah is derived from the kelipah called “nogah,” which also contains good; and the good within this nefesh gives rise to these positive natural traits.

כִּי בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל נֶפֶשׁ זוֹ דִּקְלִיפָּה, הִיא מִקְּלִיפַּת נוֹגַהּ, שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהּ גַּם כֵּן טוֹב,

[This kelipah] is from the esoteric “Tree of Knowledge [which is comprised] of good and evil.”30

וְהִיא מִסּוֹד "עֵץ הַדַּעַת טוֹב וָרָע":

The souls of the nations of the world, however, emanate from the other, unclean kelipot, which contain no good whatsoever,

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן נַפְשׁוֹת אוּמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם, הֵן מִשְּׁאָר קְלִיפּוֹת טְמֵאוֹת, שֶׁאֵין בָּהֶן טוֹב כְּלָל,

as is written in Etz Chaim, Portal 49, ch. 3, that all the good that the nations do is done out of selfish motives.

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּעֵץ חַיִּים שַׁעַר מ"ט פֶּרֶק ג'. וְכָל טִיבוּ דְּעָבְדִין הָאוּמּוֹת לְגַרְמַיְיהוּ עָבְדִין,

Since their nefesh emanates from kelipot which contain no good, it follows that any good done by them is for selfish motives.

So the Gemara31 comments on the verse, “The kindness of the nations is sin”32—that all the charity and kindness done by the nations of the world is only for their self-glorification….

וְכִדְאִיתָא בַּגְּמָרָא עַל פָּסוּק: "וְחֶסֶד לְאוּמִּים חַטָּאת" –שֶׁכָּל צְדָקָה וָחֶסֶד שֶׁאוּמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם עוֹשִׂין, אֵינָן אֶלָּא לְהִתְיַיהֵר כוּ':

When a Jew acts in a benevolent manner, he is motivated mainly out of concern for the welfare of his fellow. The proof of this is that were his fellow not to need his help, this would give him greater pleasure than the gratification derived from his act of kindness.

Concerning the nations of the world, however, this is not so. Their motivation is not the welfare of their fellow; rather, it stems from a self-serving motive—the desire for self-glorification, a feeling of gratification, and the like.

It should be noted that among the nations of the world, there are also to be found those whose souls are derived from kelipat nogah.33 Called “the pious ones of the nations of the world,” these righteous individuals are benevolent not out of selfish motives but out of a genuine concern for their fellow.