The rank of benoni is one that is attainable by every man, and each person should strive after it. Every person can at any time or hour be an "intermediate," because the "intermediate" man does not revile evil— for that is a feeling entrusted to the heart, and not all times are alike. [His task is] only to "turn away from evil and do good," in actual practice— in deed, speech or thought, wherein the choice, ability and freedom are given to every man that he may act, speak and think even what is contrary to the desire of his heart and diametrically opposed to it. Even when the heart craves and desires a material pleasure, whether permitted or, G‑d forbid, prohibited, he can steel himself and divert his attention from it altogether, declaring to himself, "I will not be wicked even for a moment, because I will not be parted and separated, Heaven forefend! from the One G‑d under any circumstances, being mindful of the admonition, 'Your iniquities interpose between you and G‑d.' Nay, my real desire is to unite my nefesh, ruach and neshamah with Him, through investing them in His blessed three garments, namely, in action, speech and thought dedicated to G‑d, His Torah and His commandments, by virtue of the love of G‑d that is hidden in my heart, as in the heart of all Jews, who are called 'lovers of Thy Name.' Even the most unworthy among the worthless is capable of sacrificing himself for the sanctity of G‑d; surely, I am not inferior to him. It is only that a spirit of folly has overcome him, and he imagines that committing a sin will not affect his Jewishness and his soul will not be severed thereby from the G‑d of Israel, forgetting also about his love of G‑d which is hidden in his heart. But as for me, I have no desire to be such a fool as he to deny the truth!"

It is different, however, with something that is entrusted to the heart, namely, that the evil should actually be despised in the heart and abhorred with absolute hatred, or even not quite so absolutely. This cannot be attained, truly and sincerely, except through great and intense love of G‑d, the kind of ecstatic love and Divine bliss which is akin to the World to Come. Of this experience the Rabbis said, "Thy world wilt thou see in thy life,..." and not every man can attain this state, for this is in the nature of a gracious reward, as is written, "I will make your priestly office a rewarding service, .. ." as is explained elsewhere. Therefore did Job say, "Thou didst create tzaddikim... ." It is also found in Tikunei Zohar, that in the souls of [the people of] Israel there are many kinds of gradations and distinctions— pious men, strong men who gain mastery over their nature, scholars of the Torah, prophets,... tzaddikim, and so forth. Note there.

Now we can understand the redundancy of the oath, "Be righteous (tzaddik) and be not wicked," which is unintelligible at first glance: Since he is warned, "Be righteous!" where is the need to put him on oath again that he shall not be wicked? The answer is, that inasmuch as not everyone is privileged to become a tzaddik, nor has a person the full advantage of choice in this matter to experience true delight in G‑d and to actually and truly abhor evil; he is consequently adjured a second time: "Thou shalt," at any rate, "not be wicked!" Here the right of choice and freedom is extended to every person, to check the drive of his heart's desire and to conquer his nature, so that he shall not be wicked even for a moment throughout his life, whether in the realm of "turn away from evil" or in that of "do good," there being no "good" other than Torah, that is the "Study of the Torah which balances them all."

Nevertheless, a person must set aside specific periods in which to commune with his soul in order to cultivate the abhorrence of evil, as, for example, reminding himself of the admonition of our Sages that "Woman is a vessel full of filth,.. ," and in like manner. So, too, all dainties and delicacies turn into a "vessel full of filth." Likewise in regard to all pleasures of this world, the wise man foresees what becomes of them, for in the end they rot and become worms and dung. Conversely, [let him] delight and rejoice in G‑d by reflection on the greatness of the blessed En Sof, to the best of his capacity. He may well realise that he cannot attain to this degree with a full measure of truth except in illusion; nevertheless he should do his part in an effort to uphold the oath administered to him, "Be righteous," and G‑d will do as He sees fit. Furthermore, habitude reigns supreme in any sphere and becomes second nature. Therefore if he accustoms himself to despise evil, it will to some extent become despicable in truth; similarly, when he accustoms himself to gladden his heart in G‑d, through reflection on His greatness— for self-impulsion induces heavenly inspiration. With all that, perhaps a spirit from above will descend upon him, and he will merit something of the spirit (ruach) that is rooted in some tzaddik that will attach itself to him, so that he may serve G‑d with true joy, as is written, "Rejoice, O ye tzaddikim, in G‑d." Then will in truth be fulfilled in him the avowed oath: "Be righteous."