In ch. 26, the Alter Rebbe stated that both depression and dullness of heart produce a state of sluggishness which prevents a person from overcoming the evil inclination of the animal soul. He therefore outlined in chs. 26-28 methods of overcoming depression arising from various causes. In this chapter, the Alter Rebbe will discuss means of dealing with “dullness of heart” (timtum halev) after describing this state more clearly.

Those whose souls are of the level of beinonim must seek means of contending with yet another difficulty.

אַךְ עוֹד אַחַת צָרִיךְ לָשִׁית עֵצוֹת בְּנַפְשׁוֹת הַבֵּינוֹנִים,

Occasionally, and even frequently, they experience a dullness of the heart, as though it had turned to stone, and, try as they might, they cannot open their heart in prayer, which is by definition the “service of the heart.”1

אֲשֶׁר לִפְעָמִים וְעִתִּים רַבִּים יֵשׁ לָהֶם טִמְטוּם הַלֵּב שֶׁנַּעֲשֶׂה כָּאֶבֶן, וְלֹא יָכוֹל לִפְתּוֹחַ לִבּוֹ בְּשׁוּם אוֹפֶן לַעֲבוֹדָה שֶׁבַּלֵּב זוֹ תְּפִלָּה.

Chasidut explains that prayer is the “service of the heart” in a twofold sense: (a) It takes place in the heart, for in prayer, one strives to extend his intellectual apprehension of G‑dliness into the realm of emotions experienced in the heart—the love and fear of G‑d, and (b) the object of prayer is the heart, for in prayer, one tries to transform the nature of his heart—to steer it away from the mundane desires to which it naturally inclines and to direct it instead toward a yearning for the spiritual and the G‑dly. To accomplish both these objectives of prayer, the heart must of course be open and receptive, and thus, timtum halev is a major hindrance.

Also, the heaviness in his heart prevents him at times from waging war against the evil impulse in sanctifying himself in permitted matters.

וְגַם, לִפְעָמִים לֹא יוּכַל לְהִלָּחֵם עִם הַיֵּצֶר, לְקַדֵּשׁ עַצְמוֹ בְּמוּתָּר לוֹ, מִפְּנֵי כְּבֵדוּת שֶׁבְּלִבּוֹ.

As the Alter Rebbe explained in ch. 27, it is the task of the beinoni to suppress the desires of his heart, e.g., by not eating as soon as he has the urge to do so. This requires a battle with one’s evil impulse, which demands that he gratify all of his desires. When his heart is dull, heavy, and insensitive, he cannot fight the evil impulse.

In this case, the advice given in the holy Zohar 2 is, as the president of the academy of Gan Eden said: “A wooden beam which does not catch fire should be splintered, and similarly, a body into which the light of the soul does not penetrate should be crushed,” and thereby, the body becomes receptive to the soul’s light, as the Zohar concludes.

וְזֹאת הִיא עֵצָה הַיְּעוּצָה בַּזֹּהַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ, דְּאָמַר רַב מְתִיבְתָּא בְּגַן עֵדֶן: "אָעָא דְּלָא סָלִיק בֵּיהּ נְהוֹרָא – מְבַטְּשִׁין לֵיהּ כוּ'. גּוּפָא דְּלָא סָלִיק בֵּיהּ נְהוֹרָא דְנִשְׁמְתָא – מְבַטְּשִׁין לֵיהּ כוּ'".

In the analogy quoted from the Zohar, we see that the wood is made receptive to the flame, rather than the flame being increased or improved to the point where it overwhelms the wood, and similarly with the insensitive heart. Timtum halev must be eradicated (by removing its underlying cause, as the Alter Rebbe will soon conclude), rather than overwhelmed (by increasing the intellectual light of contemplation on the greatness of G‑d).

The reference to the “light of the soul” which, in this case, does not penetrate the body means 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.

פֵּירוּשׁ "נְהוֹרָא דְנִשְׁמְתָא", שֶׁאוֹר הַנְּשָׁמָה וְהַשֵּׂכֶל אֵינוֹ מֵאִיר כָּל כָּךְ לִמְשׁוֹל עַל חוּמְרִיוּת שֶׁבַּגּוּף.

Thus, although he understands and meditates in his mind on the greatness of G‑d, yet that which he understands is not apprehended and implanted in his mind to the point where it enables him to prevail over the coarseness of the heart because of the degree of their (the mind and heart’s) coarseness and crassness.3

וְאַף שֶׁמֵּבִין וּמִתְבּוֹנֵן בְּשִׂכְלוֹ בִּגְדוּלַּת ה', אֵינוֹ נִתְפָּס וְנִדְבָּק בְּמוֹחוֹ כָּל כָּךְ שֶׁיּוּכַל לִמְשׁוֹל עַל חוּמְרִיּוּת הַלֵּב, מֵחֲמַת חוּמְרִיּוּתָן וְגַסּוּתָן.

The cause of this deficiency is the arrogance of the kelipah of the animal soul, which exalts itself above the holiness of the light of the divine soul so that it obscures and darkens its light.

וְהַסִּיבָּה – הִיא גַסּוּת הַקְּלִיפָּה, שֶׁמַּגְבִּיהַּ עַצְמָהּ עַל אוֹר קְדוּשַּׁת נֶפֶשׁ הָאֱלֹהִית, וּמַסְתֶּרֶת וּמַחֲשִׁיכָה אוֹרָהּ.

Therefore, one must crush it and cast it down to the ground, just as in the previously quoted analogy, the beam is splintered so that it will catch fire.

וְלָזֹאת, צָרִיךְ לְבַטְּשָׁהּ וּלְהַשְׁפִּילָהּ לֶעָפָר,

The Alter Rebbe now proceeds to explain how this is accomplished. He points out that the personality of the beinoni is his animal soul. (When a beinoni says “I,” he is referring to his animal soul.) Thus, by crushing his own spirit, he crushes the sitra achara and thereby enables the light of the soul and intellect to penetrate himself.

This means that one must crush the sitra achara and cast it to the ground by setting aside appointed times for humbling oneself and considering himself “despicable and contemptible,”4 as it is written.

דְּהַיְינוּ, לִקְבּוֹעַ עִתִּים לְהַשְׁפִּיל עַצְמוֹ, לִהְיוֹת "נִבְזֶה בְעֵינָיו נִמְאָס", כַּכָּתוּב,

Now “a broken heart [leads to] a broken spirit,”5 the “spirit” being the sitra achara, which, in the case of beinonim, is the very man himself.

וְ"לֵב נִשְׁבָּר" – "רוּחַ נִשְׁבָּרָה", הִיא הַסִּטְרָא אָחֳרָא, שֶׁהִיא הִיא הָאָדָם עַצְמוֹ בַּבֵּינוֹנִים,

For in his heart, the vital soul which animates the body is in its full strength as it was at birth; hence, it is indeed the very man himself.

שֶׁנֶּפֶשׁ הַחִיּוּנִית הַמְחַיָּה הַגּוּף, הִיא בְּתָקְפָּהּ כְּתוֹלַדְתָּהּ בְּלִבּוֹ, נִמְצָא – הִיא הִיא הָאָדָם עַצְמוֹ.

With regard to the divine soul within him, it is said: “The soul which You gave within me is pure.”6 The word “(within) me” cannot be understood as referring to the body alone: the body cannot speak for itself as a complete man. Thus, it must refer also to the (animating) soul. Therefore, the words “(which You gave) within me” imply that the man himself who is saying these words is not identified with the “pure soul,” i.e., the divine soul is a thing apart, which has been “placed within” this “me”—the body and animal soul—except in the case of tzaddikim.

וְעַל נֶפֶשׁ הָאֱלֹהִית שֶׁבּוֹ נֶאֱמַר: "נְשָׁמָה שֶׁנָּתַתָּ בִּי טְהוֹרָה הִיא", "שֶׁנָּתַתָּ בִּי" דַּיְיקָא, מִכְּלָל, שֶׁהָאָדָם עַצְמוֹ אֵינֶנּוּ הַנְּשָׁמָה הַטְּהוֹרָה, כִּי אִם בַּצַּדִּיקִים,

With them, the contrary is true: the man himself is the “pure soul,” i.e, the divine soul, while their body is called “the flesh of man,” i.e., secondary to the man himself—the divine soul.

שֶׁבָּהֶם הוּא לְהֵפֶךְ, שֶׁנְּשָׁמָה הַטְּהוֹרָה שֶׁהִיא נֶפֶשׁ הָאֱלֹהִית – הוּא הָאָדָם, וְגוּפָם נִקְרָא – "בְּשַׂר אָדָם".

It was in this sense that Hillel the Elder would say to his disciples when he went to eat that he was going to do a favor to the “lowly and poor creature,”6 meaning his body. He regarded his body as a foreign thing and therefore used this expression—that he was doing it a favor by giving it food. For he himself was nothing other than the divine soul. It alone animated his body and flesh, inasmuch as in tzaddikim the evil that was in the vital soul pervading their blood and flesh has been transformed into good and completely absorbed into the holiness of the divine soul, and thus, the divine soul is the man himself.

וּכְמַאֲמַר הִלֵּל הַזָּקֵן לְתַלְמִידָיו כְּשֶׁהָיָה הוֹלֵךְ לֶאֱכוֹל, הָיָה אוֹמֵר, שֶׁהוּא הוֹלֵךְ לִגְמוֹל חֶסֶד עִם הָעֲלוּבָה וַעֲנִיָּה – הוּא גוּפוֹ, כִּי כְּמוֹ זָר נֶחְשַׁב אֶצְלוֹ, וְלָכֵן אָמַר, שֶׁהוּא גּוֹמֵל חֶסֶד עִמּוֹ בְּמַה שֶּׁמַּאֲכִילוֹ, כִּי הוּא עַצְמוֹ אֵינוֹ רַק נֶפֶשׁ הָאֱלֹהִית לְבַד, כִּי הִיא לְבַדָּהּ מְחַיָּה גּוּפוֹ וּבְשָׂרוֹ, שֶׁהָרָע שֶׁהָיָה בַּנֶּפֶשׁ הַחִיּוּנִית הַמְלוּבֶּשֶׁת בְּדָמוֹ וּבְשָׂרוֹ – נִתְהַפֵּךְ לְטוֹב, וְנִכְלַל בִּקְדוּשַּׁת נֶפֶשׁ הָאֱלֹהִית מַמָּשׁ, בַּצַּדִּיקִים.

With a beinoni, however, since the substance and essence of the vitalizing animal soul (stemming from the sitra achara), which pervades his blood and flesh, has not been transformed into good, it indeed constitutes the man himself, and therefore, by crushing his own spirit, the beinoni actually crushes the sitra achara.

אֲבָל בַּבֵּינוֹנִי, מֵאַחַר שֶׁמַּהוּתָהּ וְעַצְמוּתָהּ שֶׁל נֶפֶשׁ הַחִיּוּנִית הַבַּהֲמִית שֶׁמִּסִּטְרָא אָחֳרָא, הַמְלוּבֶּשֶׁת בְּדָמוֹ וּבְשָׂרוֹ, לֹא נֶהְפַּךְ לְטוֹב – הֲרֵי הִיא הִיא הָאָדָם עַצְמוֹ.

The Alter Rebbe now proceeds to suggest various lines of reasoning that the beinoni may use in order to humble and crush his spirit—and thereby the sitra achara of his animal soul. The first of these follows from the point just concluded, that the personality of the beinoni is, in fact, an expression of the sitra achara—the animal soul.

If so, that he is actually the animal soul, he is removed from G‑d with the utmost remoteness. For the lusting drive in his animal soul is capable of lusting also after forbidden things, which are contrary to G‑d’s will.

וְאִם כֵּן הוּא רָחוֹק מֵה' בְּתַכְלִית הָרִיחוּק, שֶׁהֲרֵי כֹּחַ הַמִּתְאַוֶּה שֶׁבְּנַפְשׁוֹ הַבַּהֲמִית, יָכוֹל גַּם כֵּן לְהִתְאַוּוֹת לִדְבָרִים הָאֲסוּרִים שֶׁהֵם נֶגֶד רְצוֹנוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ,

While he does not desire to do them (these forbidden things) in actual practice, G‑d forbid, yet they are not truly repulsive to him as they are to tzaddikim, as explained above (in ch. 12).

אַף שֶׁאֵינוֹ מִתְאַוֶּה לַעֲשׂוֹתָם בְּפוֹעַל מַמָּשׁ חַס וְשָׁלוֹם, רַק שֶׁאֵינָם מְאוּסִים אֶצְלוֹ בֶּאֱמֶת, כְּבַצַּדִּיקִים, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְעֵיל [פֶּרֶק י"ב].

There, the Alter Rebbe explains that after his prayers, when the love of G‑d is no longer revealed in his heart, a beinoni can feel a craving for material pleasures, whether they be permitted or forbidden—except that in the case of forbidden matters, he does not actually wish to implement his desires in forbidden actions; they remain instead in the category of “sinful thoughts.”

In this, he is inferior to and more loathsome and abominable than unclean animals and insects and reptiles, as mentioned above—for even they do not transgress against G‑d’s will (see ch. 24), and since he does do so (in his mind, at least), he is worse than they,

וּבָזֶה הוּא גָּרוּעַ וּמְשׁוּקָּץ וּמְתוֹעָב יוֹתֵר מִבַּעֲלֵי חַיִּים הַטְּמֵאִים וּשְׁקָצִים וּרְמָשִׂים כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל,

and as it is written: “But I am a worm and not a man….”7

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "וְאָנֹכִי תוֹלַעַת וְלֹא אִישׁ וְגוֹ'"

As a human being who chooses to lower himself to the level of a worm, I am worse than a worm, for it is a worm by creation rather than by choice.

But what of the times when the divine soul of the beinoni dominates him, such as during prayer, when he experiences a revealed love of G‑d and there is no room in his heart for any mundane desires? To this, the Alter Rebbe answers:

(8Even when his divine soul gathers strength within him to arouse his love of G‑d during prayer, this predominance of the divine soul is not altogether genuine, since it is transient and vanishes after prayer, as mentioned earlier, end of ch. 13.)

[וְגַם כְּשֶׁמִּתְגַּבֶּרֶת בּוֹ נַפְשׁוֹ הָאֱלֹהִית לְעוֹרֵר הָאַהֲבָה לַה' בִּשְׁעַת הַתְּפִלָּה – אֵינָהּ בֶּאֱמֶת לַאֲמִיתּוֹ לְגַמְרֵי, מֵאַחַר שֶׁחוֹלֶפֶת וְעוֹבֶרֶת אַחַר הַתְּפִלָּה, כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל סוֹף פֶּרֶק י"ג].

The Alter Rebbe explains there that only that which is permanent and unchanging can be described as “true.” Relative to the rank of beinoni, this arousal of the divine soul during prayer may be considered “truthful,” since the beinoni is capable of generating it always—whenever he prays. It cannot, however, be described as “absolutely truthful” (emet la’amito) since it is not constant, occurring only during prayer.

Especially so if he calls to mind the contamination of his soul with the sin of youth and the blemish he has wrought thereby in the supernal worlds—the source of his soul. The fact that they were sins of “youth,” belonging to a time and to a spiritual level from which he may presently be far removed, is irrelevant in these supernal worlds—where everything is timeless, and it is as if he had caused the blemish and defiled himself this very day, G‑d forbid.

וּבִפְרָט כְּשֶׁיִּזְכּוֹר טוּמְאַת נַפְשׁוֹ בְּחַטַּאת נְעוּרִים, וְהַפְּגַם שֶׁעָשָׂה בָּעֶלְיוֹנִים, וְשָׁם הוּא לְמַעְלָה מֵהַזְּמַן, וּכְאִלּוּ פָּגַם וְנִטְמָא הַיּוֹם – חַס וְשָׁלוֹם – מַמָּשׁ.

True, he may already have repented sincerely and thereby removed the blemish and cleansed himself. But the essence of repentance is in the heart, and in the heart, there are many distinctions and levels. Moreover, everything depends on what kind of a man he is (—the greater his stature, the higher the level of repentance required of him) and on the time and place in which he now stands, as is known to the knowing.

וְאַף שֶׁכְּבָר עָשָׂה תְּשׁוּבָה נְכוֹנָה, הֲרֵי עִיקַּר הַתְּשׁוּבָה – בַּלֵּב, וְהַלֵּב, יֵשׁ בּוֹ בְּחִינוֹת וּמַדְרֵגוֹת רַבּוֹת, וְהַכֹּל לְפִי מַה שֶּׁהוּא אָדָם, וּלְפִי הַזְּמַן וְהַמָּקוֹם, כַּיָּדוּעַ לַיּוֹדְעִים.

Whenever and wherever one is less tempted by a particular sin, a deeper and loftier level of repentance is expected of him for having committed that sin than at a time when he is more strongly tempted and must fight more insistently to resist that temptation. Similarly, time and place create other differences with respect to repentance. Therefore, judging by one’s present situation, his earlier repentance may be inadequate in erasing his past sins. Perhaps, then, the absence of a higher form of repentance required of him now causes his sins to interpose between himself and G‑d, preventing the light of his soul from penetrating his heart—as the Alter Rebbe continues:

Consequently, now, at this time, when observing himself he sees that “the light of the soul does not penetrate into him,” it is evident that either (a) today his repentance has not been accepted and his sins [still] separate him from G‑dliness or (b) it is desired that he be raised to a more sublime level of repentance, coming from a point yet deeper in his heart than his earlier repentance.

וְלָכֵן, עַכְשָׁיו בְּשָׁעָה זוֹ, שֶׁרוֹאֶה בְּעַצְמוֹ דְּלָא סָלִיק בֵּיהּ נְהוֹרָא דְנִשְׁמְתָא, מִכְּלָל, שֶׁהַיּוֹם לֹא נִתְקַבְּלָה תְּשׁוּבָתוֹ, וַעֲוֹנוֹתָיו מַבְדִּילִים, אוֹ, שֶׁרוֹצִים לְהַעֲלוֹתוֹ לִתְשׁוּבָה עִילָּאָה יוֹתֵר, מֵעוּמְקָא דְלִבָּא יוֹתֵר.

Far from indicating Divine displeasure, the rejection of his repentance in this latter case points to Divine favor: a desire to raise this person to yet greater heights of repentance. Hence the difficulties in his divine service and the timtum halev—so that he will call forth greater resources from within himself and repent more deeply.

For this reason, King David said, despite the fact that he was a tzaddik, who was also able to say of himself: “My heart is a void within me,”9 which means (as Rashi comments, “The evil impulse is as if dead within me”10—despite this, he would still say:) “My sin is constantly before me.”11

וְלָכֵן אָמַר דָּוִד: "וְחַטָּאתִי נֶגְדִּי תָמִיד".

Why was it necessary for a man of David’s caliber to constantly bear in mind his past sins? Surely he had repented for them adequately! Obviously, then, the memory is necessary in order to spur one on to greater heights within the ranks of holiness, to deeper levels of repentance, as said earlier.12

Even he who is innocent of the grievous sins of youth, but wants to attain a broken spirit, should set his heart to fulfill the counsel of the holy Zohar13—to be “a master of accounts.”

וְגַם מִי שֶׁהוּא נָקִי מֵחַטֹּאות נְעוּרִים הַחֲמוּרִים, יָשִׂים אֶל לִבּוֹ לְקַיֵּים מַאֲמַר זֹהַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ, לִהְיוֹת מִ"מָּארֵי דְחוּשְׁבָּנָא",

This means that he should do the spiritual accounting described below as a “master,” a proprietor, to whom each set of figures represents either a profit or a loss that directly affects him—rather than as a “servant,” a hired accountant, who can view whatever bottom line eventuates with academic detachment.

This means that he should take stock with his soul of all his thoughts, utterances, and actions that have come and gone since the day he came into being and until the present day. Were they all of the realm of holiness or of the realm of impurity (G‑d deliver us)? This latter realm includes also any thought, utterance, or action not directed toward G‑d, His will, and His service even when they are not actually sinful, since this is the meaning of the term sitra achara: not necessarily “evil” but simply “the other side”—the “side” (realm) that is not holy; thus, anything that does not contain holiness belongs to the realm of impurity, as explained earlier (in ch. 6).

דְּהַיְינוּ, לַעֲשׂוֹת חֶשְׁבּוֹן עִם נַפְשׁוֹ, מִכָּל הַמַּחֲשָׁבוֹת וְהַדִּיבּוּרִים וְהַמַּעֲשִׂים שֶׁחָלְפוּ וְעָבְרוּ מִיּוֹם הֱיוֹתוֹ עַד הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה, אִם הָיוּ כּוּלָּם מִצַּד הַקְּדוּשָּׁה, אוֹ, מִצַּד הַטּוּמְאָה רַחֲמָנָא לִצְּלָן, דְּהַיְינוּ, כָּל הַמַּחֲשָׁבוֹת וְהַדִּיבּוּרִים וְהַמַּעֲשִׂים אֲשֶׁר לֹא לַה' הֵמָּה וְלִרְצוֹנוֹ וְלַעֲבוֹדָתוֹ, שֶׁזֶּהוּ פֵּירוּשׁ לְשׁוֹן "סִטְרָא אָחֳרָא", כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל [בְּפֶרֶק ו'].

Now, it is known that whenever a person thinks holy thoughts, he becomes, during that time, a “chariot” for the “chambers” (heichalot) of holiness whence these thoughts originate, or, more precisely, whence their vitality originates.

וּמוּדַעַת זֹאת, כִּי כָּל עֵת שֶׁהָאָדָם מְחַשֵּׁב מַחֲשָׁבוֹת קְדוֹשׁוֹת – נַעֲשֶׂה מֶרְכָּבָה בְּעֵת זוֹ לְהֵיכְלוֹת הַקְּדוּשָּׁה, שֶׁמֵּהֶן מוּשְׁפָּעוֹת מַחֲשָׁבוֹת הַלָּלוּ.

Becoming a “chariot” means that he becomes completely subservient to these heichalot to the same degree that a vehicle, having no will of its own, is completely subservient to its driver’s will.14 When he meditates on the love of G‑d, for example, he becomes a “vehicle” for the supernal “chamber of love,” and so on.

Conversely, when he thinks impure thoughts, he becomes an unclean “vehicle” for the heichalot of impurity, from where all impure thoughts originate. So, too, with speech and action.

וְכֵן לְהֵפֶךְ, נַעֲשֶׂה מֶרְכָּבָה טְמֵאָה בְּעֵת זוֹ לְהֵיכְלוֹת הַטּוּמְאָה, שֶׁמֵּהֶן מוּשְׁפָּעוֹת כָּל מַחֲשָׁבוֹת רָעוֹת, וְכֵן בְּדִבּוּר וּמַעֲשֶׂה.

Thus, even one who cannot call to mind any past sins can humble his spirit by contemplating how often he has become a vehicle for impurity through his thoughts, words, and actions which, though not sinful, were still of the realm of the sitra achara—since they were not directed toward G‑dliness.

Let him further consider his dreams in order to humble his spirit, for one may learn more about himself from his dreams than from his waking, conscious thoughts. For the most part, they are “vanity and an affliction of the spirit,”15 because his soul does not ascend heavenward during his sleep, since it is written: “Who shall ascend the mountain of the L-rd?”16meaning, in our context, “Whose soul shall rise heavenward while he sleeps to see and absorb matters of Torah and holiness, which will in turn be reflected in his dreams?” And the next verse gives the answer: “He that has clean hands and a pure heart”—implying that the soul of one whose hands and heart are not pure does not ascend, and that is why his dreams are a patchwork of vanity and foolishness.

עוֹד יָשִׂים אֶל לִבּוֹ, רוֹב חֲלוֹמוֹתָיו, שֶׁהֵם הֶבֶל וּרְעוּת רוּחַ, מִשּׁוּם שֶׁאֵין נַפְשׁוֹ עוֹלָה לְמַעְלָה, וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "מִי יַעֲלֶה בְּהַר ה', נְקִי כַפַּיִם וְגוֹ'",

Furthermore, “those originating from the ‘evil side’ come and attach themselves to him and inform him in his dreams of mundane affairs…and sometimes mock him and show him false things and torment him in his dreams,” and so on, as stated in the Zohar on Vayikra (p. 25a, b). See it there discussed at length.

וְ"אִינוּן סִטְרִין בִּישִׁין אָתְיָין וּמִתְדַּבְּקָן בֵּיהּ וּמוֹדְעִין לֵיהּ בְּחֶלְמָא מִילִּין דְּעָלְמָא וְכוּ', וּלְזִמְנִין דְּחַיְיכָן בֵּיהּ וְאַחֲזִיאוּ לֵיהּ מִילֵּי שְׁקָר וְצַעֲרִין לֵיהּ בְּחֶלְמֵיהּ כוּ'", כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּזֹּהַר וַיִּקְרָא [דַּף כ"ה עַמּוּד א' וְעַמּוּד ב'], עַיֵּין שָׁם בַּאֲרִיכוּת.

We thus see from the Zohar that one may evaluate himself by studying the content of his dreams. Thereby, he can humble his spirit even if he finds himself free of sin, and in this way, he may crush the sitra achara within him, as explained above.

The longer he reflects on these matters, both in his own thoughts and by delving deeply into books which speak of these matters, 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,3 so utterly despised that he despises his very life—

וְהִנֵּה, כָּל מַה שֶּׁיַּאֲרִיךְ בְּעִנְיָינִים אֵלּוּ בְּמַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ וְגַם בְּעִיּוּנוֹ בִּסְפָרִים, לִהְיוֹת לִבּוֹ נִשְׁבָּר בְּקִרְבּוֹ, וְ"נִבְזֶה בְעֵינָיו נִמְאָס" כַּכָּתוּב, בְּתַכְלִית הַמִּיאוּס, וּלְמָאֵס חַיָּיו מַמָּשׁ,

the more he despises and degrades thereby the sitra achara, 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 divine soul’s holiness, obscuring its radiance.

הֲרֵי בָּזֶה מְמָאֵס וּמְבַזֶּה הַסִּטְרָא אָחֳרָא וּמַשְׁפִּילָהּ לֶעָפָר, וּמוֹרִידָהּ מִגְּדוּלָּתָהּ וְגַסּוּת רוּחָהּ וְגַבְהוּתָהּ, שֶׁמַּגְבִּיהַּ אֶת עַצְמָהּ עַל אוֹר קְדוּשַּׁת נֶפֶשׁ הָאֱלֹהִית לְהַחֲשִׁיךְ אוֹרָהּ.

Up to now, the Alter Rebbe has proposed means of crushing the sitra achara within one’s animal soul by humbling his own spirit through intellectual contemplation. He now turns to another method, that of “raging” against one’s evil impulse, without entering into an analysis of his spiritual level.

He should also thunder against it (the sitra achara) with a strong and raging voice in order to humble it, as our Sages state, “A person should always rouse the good impulse against the evil impulse, as it is written,17 ‘Rage, and sin not.’”18

וְגַם, יַרְעִים עָלֶיהָ בְּקוֹל רַעַשׁ וְרוֹגֶז לְהַשְׁפִּילָהּ, כְּמַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: "לְעוֹלָם יַרְגִּיז אָדָם יֵצֶר טוֹב עַל יֵצֶר הָרָע, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: רִגְזוּ וְגוֹ'",

This means that one should rage—in his mind—against the animal soul, which is his evil impulse, with a voice of stormy indignation, saying to it: “Indeed, you are truly evil and wicked, abominable, loathsome, and disgraceful,” and so forth, using all the epithets by which our Sages have called it.19

דְּהַיְינוּ, לִרְגּוֹז עַל נֶפֶשׁ הַבַּהֲמִית, שֶׁהִיא יִצְרוֹ הָרָע, בְּקוֹל רַעַשׁ וְרוֹגֶז בְּמַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ, לוֹמַר לוֹ: "אַתָּה רָע וְרָשָׁע וּמְשׁוּקָּץ וּמְתוֹעָב וּמְנֻוָּול וְכוּ' – כְּכָל הַשֵּׁמוֹת שֶׁקָּרְאוּ לוֹ חֲכָמֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה – בֶּאֱמֶת;

“How long will you obscure the light of the blessed Ein Sof, which pervades all the worlds, which was, is, and will be the same, even in the very place where I stand, just as the light of the blessed Ein Sof was alone before the world was created—utterly unchanged,

עַד מָתַי תַּסְתִּיר לִפְנֵי אוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא, הַמְמַלֵּא כָּל עָלְמִין, הָיָה הֹוֶה וְיִהְיֶה בְּשָׁוֶה, גַּם בְּמָקוֹם זֶה שֶׁאֲנִי עָלָיו, כְּמוֹ שֶׁהָיָה אוֹר אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא לְבַדּוֹ קוֹדֶם שֶׁנִּבְרָא הָעוֹלָם, בְּלִי שׁוּם שִׁינּוּי,

as it is written: ‘I, the L-rd, have not changed,’20 i.e., the fact of creation has wrought no change in Him, for He transcends time, and so on? And therefore, the fact that it is now after’ creation cannot affect Him.

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "אֲנִי ה' לֹא שָׁנִיתִי", כִּי הוּא לְמַעְלָה מֵהַזְּמַן וְכוּ',

“But you, repulsive one (and so forth) deny the truth which is so plainly visible—that all is truly as nothing in His presence—a truth which is so apparent as to be ‘visible to the eye’!”

וְאַתָּה מְנֻוָּול וְכוּ', מַכְחִישׁ הָאֱמֶת הַנִּרְאֶה לָעֵינַיִם, דְּכוּלָּא קַמֵּיהּ כְּלָא מַמָּשׁ בֶּאֱמֶת, בִּבְחִינַת רְאִיָּיה חוּשִׁיִּית".

In this way, he will help his divine soul, enlightening its eyes to perceive the truth of the unity of the infinite light of the Ein Sof

וְהִנֵּה, עַל יְדֵי זֶה יוֹעִיל לְנַפְשׁוֹ הָאֱלֹהִית, לְהָאִיר עֵינֶיהָ בֶּאֱמֶת יִחוּד אוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף

as though with physical sight and not merely through the lesser perception of “hearing” and understanding,

בִּרְאִיָּה חוּשִׁיִּית, וְלֹא בְּחִינַת שְׁמִיעָה וַהֲבָנָה לְבַדָּהּ,

for, as explained elsewhere, this is the core of the whole [divine] service.

כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּמָקוֹם אַחֵר, שֶׁזֶּהוּ שֹׁרֶשׁ כָּל הָעֲבוֹדָה.

Intellectual comprehension—i.e., the “hearing”—of G‑dliness can lead only to a desire and longing for G‑d; the level of perception described as “sight” leads far higher—to one’s self-nullification before Him.

The reason that humbling the spirit of the sitra achara is effective in crushing it is that in truth, there is no substance whatsoever in the sitra achara. That is why it is compared to darkness, which has no substance whatsoever, and is automatically banished by the presence of light.

וְהַטַּעַם, לְפִי שֶׁבֶּאֱמֶת אֵין שׁוּם מַמָּשׁוּת כְּלָל בַּסִטְרָא אָחֳרָא, שֶׁלָּכֵן נִמְשְׁלָה לְחֹשֶׁךְ שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ שׁוּם מַמָּשׁוּת כְּלָל, וּמִמֵּילָא נִדְחֶה מִפְּנֵי הָאוֹר,

Similarly with the sitra achara. Indeed, it possesses abundant vitality with which to animate all the impure animals and the souls of the nations of the world and also the animal soul of the Jew, as has been explained.21 Yet this vitality is not its own, G‑d forbid, but stems from the realm of holiness, for the realm of holiness is the source of all life, including even the life-force of the sitra achara, as has been explained above.22 Therefore, it is completely nullified in the presence of holiness, as darkness is nullified in the presence of physical light. Its power lies only in the fact that in regard to the holiness of man’s divine soul, G‑d has given it (—the sitra achara) permission and ability to raise itself against it (—the divine soul) in order that man should be roused to overpower it and to humble it by means of the humility and submission of his spirit and by being abhorrent and despised in his own eyes—for through this, he humbles the sitra achara and abhors it.

וְכָךְ הַסִּטְרָא אָחֳרָא, אַף שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהּ חַיּוּת הַרְבֵּה, לְהַחֲיוֹת כָּל בַּעֲלֵי חַיִּים הַטְּמֵאִים וְנַפְשׁוֹת אוּמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם, וְגַם נֶפֶשׁ הַבַּהֲמִית שֶׁבְּיִשְׂרָאֵל כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל, מִכָּל מָקוֹם, הֲרֵי כָּל חַיּוּתָהּ אֵינָהּ מִצַּד עַצְמָהּ חַס וְשָׁלוֹם, אֶלָּא מִצַּד הַקְּדוּשָּׁה כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל, וְלָכֵן הִיא בְּטֵלָה לְגַמְרֵי מִפְּנֵי הַקְּדוּשָּׁה, כְּבִיטּוּל הַחֹשֶׁךְ מִפְּנֵי הָאוֹר הַגַּשְׁמִי. רַק שֶׁלְּגַבֵּי קְדוּשַּׁת נֶפֶשׁ הָאֱלֹהִית שֶׁבָּאָדָם, נָתַן לָהּ הַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא רְשׁוּת וִיכוֹלֶת לְהַגְבִּיהַּ עַצְמָהּ כְּנֶגְדָּהּ, כְּדֵי שֶׁהָאָדָם יִתְעוֹרֵר לְהִתְגַּבֵּר עָלֶיהָ, לְהַשְׁפִּילָהּ עַל יְדֵי שִׁפְלוּת וּנְמִיכוּת רוּחוֹ, וְ"נִבְזֶה בְעֵינָיו נִמְאָס".

The arousal of man below to crush the sitra achara causes an arousal above to fulfill what is written: “From there will I bring you down, says G‑d”23 to the sitra achara, which seeks to rise against G‑dliness and to obscure it.

וּבְאִתְעָרוּתָא דִלְתַתָּא – אִתְעָרוּתָא דִלְעֵילָּא, לְקַיֵּים מַה שֶּׁנֶּאֱמַר: "מִשָּׁם אוֹרִידְךָ , נְאֻם ה'",

This means that He deprives it of its dominion and power and withdraws from it the strength and authority which had been given it to rise up against the light of the holiness of the divine soul.

דְּהַיְינוּ, שֶׁמְּסִירָהּ מִמֶּמְשַׁלְתָּהּ וִיכָלְתָּהּ, וּמְסַלֵּק מִמֶּנָּה הַכֹּחַ וּרְשׁוּת שֶׁנִּתַּן לָהּ לְהַגְבִּיהַּ עַצְמָהּ נֶגֶד אוֹר קְדוּשַּׁת נֶפֶשׁ הָאֱלֹהִית,

Thereupon, it automatically becomes nullified and is banished, just as darkness is nullified before physical light.

וַאֲזַי, מִמֵּילָא בְּטֵילָה וְנִדְחֵית, כְּבִיטּוּל הַחֹשֶׁךְ מִפְּנֵי אוֹר הַגַּשְׁמִי.

Indeed, we find this explicitly stated in the Torah in connection with the spies sent by Moses to scout out the Holy Land. At the outset, they declared: “For he (the enemy) is stronger than we,”24 and, interpreting the word מִמֶּנּוּ, the Sages say: “Read not ‘than we,’ [but ‘than He,’]”25 meaning that they had no faith in G‑d’s ability to lead them into the Holy Land. But afterward, they reversed themselves and announced: “We will readily go up [to conquer the Land].”26

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁמָּצִינוּ דָּבָר זֶה מְפוֹרָשׁ בַּתּוֹרָה גַּבֵּי מְרַגְּלִים, שֶׁמִּתְּחִלָּה אָמְרוּ: "כִּי חָזָק הוּא מִמֶּנּוּ" – "אַל תִּקְרֵי מִמֶּנּוּ כוּ'", שֶׁלֹּא הֶאֱמִינוּ בִּיכוֹלֶת ה', וְאַחַר כָּךְ חָזְרוּ וְאָמְרוּ: "הִנֶּנּוּ וְעָלִינוּ וְגוֹ";

Whence did their faith in G‑d’s ability return to them? Our teacher Moses, peace unto him, had not shown them in the interim any sign or miracle concerning this, which would restore their faith. He had merely told them that G‑d was angry with them and had sworn not to allow them to enter the Land.27

וּמֵאַיִן חָזְרָה וּבָאָה לָהֶם הָאֱמוּנָה בִּיכוֹלֶת ה'? הֲרֵי לֹא הֶרְאָה לָהֶם מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּינוּ עָלָיו הַשָּׁלוֹם שׁוּם אוֹת וּמוֹפֵת עַל זֶה בֵּנְתַיִים, רַק שֶׁאָמַר לָהֶם אֵיךְ שֶׁקָּצַף ה' עֲלֵיהֶם וְנִשְׁבַּע שֶׁלֹּא לַהֲבִיאָם אֶל הָאָרֶץ;

What value did this Divine anger and oath have to them if in any case they did not believe in G‑d’s ability to subdue the thirty-one kings28 who reigned in the Land at that time, for which reason they had had no desire whatsoever to enter the Land?

וּמַה הוֹעִיל זֶה לָהֶם, אִם לֹא הָיוּ מַאֲמִינִים בִּיכוֹלֶת ה' חַס וְשָׁלוֹם לִכְבּוֹשׁ ל"א מְלָכִים, וּמִפְּנֵי זֶה לֹא רָצוּ כְּלָל לִיכָּנֵס לָאָרֶץ?

Surely, then, the explanation is as follows: Israelites themselves are “believers, [being] the descendants of believers.”29 Even while they stated, “The enemy is stronger than He,” their divine soul still believed in G‑d. They professed a lack of faith in His ability only because the sitra achara clothed in their body in the person of their animal soul had risen against the light of the holiness of the divine soul, with its characteristic impudent arrogance and haughtiness, without sense or reason.

אֶלָּא וַדַּאי, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁיִּשְׂרָאֵל עַצְמָן הֵם "מַאֲמִינִים בְּנֵי מַאֲמִינִים", רַק שֶׁהַסִּטְרָא אָחֳרָא הַמְלוּבֶּשֶׁת בְּגוּפָם הִגְבִּיהַּ עַצְמָהּ עַל אוֹר קְדוּשַּׁת נַפְשָׁם הָאֱלֹהִית בְּגַסּוּת רוּחָהּ וְגַבְהוּתָהּ, בְּחוּצְפָּה בְּלִי טַעַם וָדַעַת,

Therefore, as soon as G‑d became angry with them and thundered angrily: “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation…your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness…I, G‑d, have spoken: I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation…,”30

וְלָכֵן, מִיָּד שֶׁקָּצַף ה' עֲלֵיהֶם, וְהִרְעִים בְּקוֹל רַעַשׁ וְרוֹגֶז: "עַד מָתַי לָעֵדָה הָרָעָה הַזֹּאת וְגוֹ'", "בַּמִּדְבָּר הַזֶּה יִפְּלוּ פִגְרֵיכֶם וְגוֹ", "אֲנִי ה' דִּבַּרְתִּי, אִם לֹא זֹאת אֶעֱשֶׂה לְכָל הָעֵדָה הָרָעָה הַזֹּאת וְגוֹ'",

—their heart was humbled and broken within them when they heard these stern words, as it is written, “And the people mourned greatly.”31 Consequently, the sitra achara toppled from its dominion, from its haughtiness and arrogance.

וּכְשֶׁשָּׁמְעוּ דְּבָרִים קָשִׁים אֵלּוּ, נִכְנַע וְנִשְׁבַּר לִבָּם בְּקִרְבָּם, כְּדִכְתִיב: "וַיִּתְאַבְּלוּ הָעָם מְאֹד", וּמִמֵּילָא, נָפְלָה הַסִּטְרָא אָחֳרָא מִמֶּמְשַׁלְתָּהּ וְגַבְהוּתָהּ וְגַסּוּת רוּחָהּ,

But the Israelites themselves i.e., as far as their divine soul was concerned had believed in G‑d all along.

וְיִשְׂרָאֵל עַצְמָן הֵם מַאֲמִינִים.

Therefore, as soon as they were released from the dominion of the sitra achara, they proclaimed, “We will readily go up….” There was no need of a miracle to convince them of G‑d’s ability. All that was necessary was to divest the sitra achara of its arrogance, and this was accomplished by G‑d’s “raging” at them.

Similarly, with every Jew: When the light of his soul does not penetrate his heart, it is merely due to the arrogance of the sitra achara, which will vanish as soon as he rages at it.

Every person in whose mind there occurs doubts concerning faith in G‑d can deduce from this episode of the spies that these doubts are nothing but the empty words of the sitra achara, which raises itself against his divine soul. But Israelites themselves are believers….

וּמִזֶּה יָכוֹל לִלְמוֹד כָּל אָדָם שֶׁנּוֹפְלִים לוֹ בְּמַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ סְפֵקוֹת עַל אֱמוּנָה, כִּי הֵם דִּבְרֵי רוּחַ הַסִּטְרָא אָחֳרָא לְבַדָּהּ, הַמַּגְבִּיהַּ עַצְמָהּ עַל נַפְשׁוֹ, אֲבָל יִשְׂרָאֵל עַצְמָן הֵם "מַאֲמִינִים כוּ'".

Furthermore, the sitra achara itself entertains no doubts at all concerning faith. As explained in ch. 22, the kelipah in its spiritual state (i.e., when not clothed in the human body) does not deny G‑d’s sovereignty. It has merely been granted permission to confuse man with false and deceitful words in order that he may be more richly rewarded for mastering it.

וְגַם הַסִּטְרָא אָחֳרָא עַצְמָהּ, אֵין לָהּ סְפֵיקוֹת כְּלָל בֶּאֱמוּנָה, רַק שֶׁנִּיתַּן לָהּ רְשׁוּת לְבַלְבֵּל הָאָדָם בְּדִבְרֵי שֶׁקֶר וּמִרְמָה, לְהַרְבּוֹת שְׂכָרוֹ,

In this, it is similar to the harlot who attempts to seduce the king’s son through falsehood and deceit with the king’s approval, as in the parable narrated in the holy Zohar.32

כְּפִיתּוּיֵי הַזּוֹנָה לְבֶן הַמֶּלֶךְ בְּשֶׁקֶר וּמִרְמָה בִּרְשׁוּת הַמֶּלֶךְ, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּזֹּהַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ:

The parable: A king hires a harlot to seduce his son so that the prince will reveal his wisdom in resisting her wiles. The harlot herself, knowing the king’s intention, does not want the prince to submit to temptation. Similarly with the sitra achara: it is merely fulfilling its G‑d-given task in attempting to lure man away from G‑d but actually desires that man resist it, thereby earning a greater reward.

However, this is true only of the spiritual kelipah, which is the source of the animal soul. The animal soul and evil impulse as clothed within man, on the other hand, are truly evil, and their unequivocal aim is to entice man to do evil.

In the context of the parable, this may be described as follows: The harlot originally commissioned by the king subcontracts a second harlot, and the second a third, and so on. As the actual executor of the mission becomes successively further removed from the king, the original intention is lost, and finally, the prince is approached by a harlot who has her own intentions in mind, not those of the king, as she attempts to seduce the prince.

In any event, we see that any doubts one may have concerning faith in G‑d are merely the empty words of the sitra achara. The soul within every Jew, however, believes in G‑d with a perfect faith.