There is yet an additional aspect that the benonim must contend with, namely, that occasionally and even frequently, they experience a dullness of the heart, which becomes like a stone, and the person is unable, try as he might, to open his heart to the "Service of the heart," namely, prayer. Also, at times, he is unable to wage war against the evil impulse, so as to sanctify himself in the things that are permissible, because of the heaviness that is in his heart.

In this case, the advice given in the holy Zohar is, as the president of the Heavenly Academy said in the Gan Eden: "A wooden beam that will not catch fire should be splintered...; a body into which the light of the soul does not penetrate should be crushed...."

The reference to the "Light of the soul" is that the light of the soul and of the intellect does not illuminate to such an extent as to prevail over the coarseness of the body. For, although he understands and contemplates in his mind on the greatness of G‑d, this is not apprehended and implanted in his mind to a degree that would enable him to prevail over the coarseness of the heart because of [the nature of] this coarseness and crassness,

the cause being the arrogance of the kelipah, which exalts itself above the light of the holiness of the divine soul, obscuring and darkening the light thereof. Therefore one must crush it and cast it down to the ground, that is to say, by setting aside appointed times for humbling oneself and considering oneself despicable and contemptible, as is written, "A broken heart, a broken spirit"— this is the sitra achra, which is the very man himself in "intermediate" people, in whose heart the vital soul which animates the body is in its native strength; hence it is the very man himself. Whereas with regard to the divine soul within him it is said, "The soul which Thou gavest within me is pure." Note the words "Which Thou gavest within me," implying that man himself is not [identified with] the pure soul— except in the case of tzaddikim, in whom the contrary is true, namely, that the "pure soul," i.e., the divine soul, is the man, while their body is called "The flesh of man."

Compare the statement of Hillel the Elder to his disciples, who, when going to eat, used to say that he was going to perform an act of kindness to the "Lowly and poor creature," by which he meant his body, which he regarded as if it were foreign to him. Therefore he used the expression that he was "Performing an act of kindness" towards it in giving it food, because he himself was nothing else but the divine soul, since it alone animated his body and flesh, inasmuch as in the tzaddikim the evil that was in the vital soul pervading his blood and flesh, had been transformed into good and absorbed into the very holiness of the divine soul.

With an "intermediate," however, since the substance and essence of the vitalising animal soul, which is derived from the sitra achra, and pervades his blood and flesh, has not been transformed into good, it surely constitutes the man himself.

If so, he is removed from G‑d with utmost remoteness, for the lusting drive in his animal soul is capable of lusting also after forbidden things which are contrary to His blessed Will, even though he does not crave their actual fulfillment, G‑d forbid; yet they are not truly scorned by him as by the tzaddikim, as explained above (ch. 12). In this he is inferior and more loathsome and abominable than unclean animals and insects and reptiles, as is mentioned above, and as is written, "But I am a worm, and not a man...."

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

Especially so, if he calls to mind the contamination of his soul with the sin of youth, and the blemish he has wrought in the supernal worlds— where everything is timeless, and it is as if he had caused his blemish and defilement this very day, G‑d forbid. And although he had sincerely repented already, yet the essence of repentance is in the heart, and in the heart are found many distinctions and gradations, and everything is according to what kind of a man he is and according to the time and place, as is known to the knowing.

Consequently now, at this time, when he regards himself and sees that "The light of the soul does not penetrate into him," it is evident that today his repentance has not been accepted, and his sins [still] separate him, or that it is desired to raise him to a more sublime level of repentance, coming more deeply from the heart. Therefore King David said, "And my sin is ever before me."

And even he who is innocent of the grievous sins of youth should set his heart to fulfil the counsel of the holy Zohar to be of the "masters of accounts," that is to say, he should keep a reckoning with his soul regarding all the thoughts, utterances and actions that have come and gone, since he came into being and until the present day, as to whether they all came from the direction of holiness, or from the direction of impurity— the Lord deliver us!— these being all the thoughts, utterances and actions that are not [dedicated] to G‑d, and His will and service, for this is the meaning of sitra achra, as has been explained above (ch. 6). And it is known that every time a person thinks holy thoughts, he becomes at that time a "vehicle" for the hechalot (chambers) of holiness, whence these thoughts originate, and vice versa, becoming at that time an unclean "vehicle" for the hechalot of impurity, whence all impure thoughts originate. So, too, with speech and action.

In addition, he must earnestly remember that most of his dreams are vanity and affliction of the spirit, because his soul does not rise upward, as it is written, "Who shall ascend the mountain of the Lord? He that hath clean hands and a pure heart." But "those originating from the evil side, come and attach themselves to him and report to him in his dreams of mundane affairs... and often mock him and show him false things and torment him in his dreams," and so on, as stated in the Zohar on Vayikra [II], (p. 25a, b). See it there discussed at length.

The longer he will reflect on these matters in his thoughts, delving deeply also into books, in order to break down his heart within him and render himself shamed and despised in his own eyes, as is written in the Scriptures, so utterly despised that he despises his very life— the more he despises and degrades thereby the sitra achra, casting it down to the ground and humbling it from its haughtiness and pride and self-exaltation, wherewith it exalts itself over the light of the holiness of the divine soul, obscuring its effulgence. He must also thunder against it with a strong and raging voice in order to humble it, as the Rabbis state, "A person should always rouse the good impulse against the evil impulse, as it is written, 'Rage, and sin not.'" That is to say, one must rage against the animal soul, which is his evil impulse, with stormy indignation in his mind, saying to it: "Thou art evil and wicked, abominable, loathsome and disgraceful, ..." with all the epithets by which our Sages, of blessed memory, have rightly called it, "... How long wilt thou conceal from me the light of the blessed En Sof, which pervades all the worlds; which was, is, and will be the same, including also this place where I stand, just as the light of the blessed En Sof was alone before the world was created, without any change, as is written, 'For I, the Lord, have not changed,' for He transcends time, and so forth? But thou, who is repulsive ..., dost deny the truth, which is plain to see, by physical sight, that everything in His presence is truly like nothing at all."

In this way he will help his divine soul to enlighten her eyes with the truth of the unity of the light of the En Sof, with a perceptive vision and not merely by cognition alone, as it were, as is explained elsewhere that this is the core of the whole [Divine] Service.

And the explanation is that in truth there is no substance whatever in the sitra achra, wherefore it is compared to darkness which has no substance whatever and, consequently is banished in the presence of light. Similarly the sitra achra which, although it possesses abundant vitality wherewith to animate all impure animals and the souls of the nations of the world; and also the animal soul of the Jew, as has been explained, nevertheless has no vitality of its own, G‑d forbid, but [derives it] from the realm of holiness, as has been explained above. Therefore it is completely nullified in the presence of holiness, as darkness is nullified before physical light, except that in regard to the holiness of the divine soul in man, the Holy One, blessed be He, has given [the animal soul] permission and ability to raise itself against [the divine soul] in order that man should be challenged to overcome it and to humble it by means of the humility and submission of his spirit and his abhorring in himself that which is despicable. And "Through the impulse from below comes an impulse from Above," to fulfil what is written, "Thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord," namely, depriving it of its dominion and power and withdrawing from it the strength and authority which had been given it to rise up against the light of the holiness of the divine soul; whereupon it inevitably becomes nullified and is banished, just as darkness is nullified before physical light.

Indeed, we find this explicitly stated in the Torah in connection with the Spies who, at the outset declared, "For he is stronger than we"— "Read not 'than we,' but 'than He,' "etc., for they had no faith in G‑d's ability. But afterwards they reversed themselves and announced, "Lo, we will readily go up... ," Whence did their faith in G‑d's ability return to them? Our teacher Moses, peace unto him, had not meanwhile shown them any sign or wonder concerning this. He had only told them that the Lord was angry with them and had sworn not to allow them to enter the Land. Why should this have influenced them, and of what avail was this to them, if they did not believe, Heaven forfend, in the Lord's ability to subdue the thirty-one kings, for which reason they had no desire whatever to enter the Land?

But undoubtedly, since the Israelites themselves are "Believers, the descendants of believers," except that the sitra achra— which is clothed in their bodies— had risen against the light of the holiness of their divine soul, in her impudent haughtiness and arrogance, without sense or reason— now, therefore, as soon as the Lord had become angered against them and thundered angrily, "How long shall I bear with this evil congregation. . . . Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness.... I the Lord have spoken, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation," their heart was humbled and broken within them when they heard these stern words, as is written, "And the people mourned greatly." Consequently, the sitra achra toppled from its dominion, from its haughtiness and arrogance, leaving the Israelites to their inborn faith.

From the above, every person in whose mind enter doubts as to [his] faith, can deduce that they are nothing more than empty words of the sitra achra, which raises itself against his soul. But the Israelites themselves are faithful... , Furthermore, the sitra achra itself entertains no doubts about faith, except that she has been given permission to confuse man with words of falsehood and deceit, in order that he may acquire greater rewards, as the harlot seeks to seduce the king's son with falsehood and deceit, with the king's approval, as [in the parable] mentioned in the holy Zohar.