There was a video circling recently of two teenagers being rude and disrespectful to police officers, filmed and shared by the teens themselves. They mocked, taunted and jeered at the officers, accusing them of doing nothing on the job and just collecting a paycheck. While the repulsive behavior of said teens made me want to give them a piece of my mind, I was filled with admiration for the policemen. They kept their cool and didn’t respond to the kids. They were visibly containing themselves, using every ounce of self-control to maintain their dignity and not lash out at the boys.

We could all use some restraint sometimes. There are times when we are ready to lose it, about to explode in anger at another. There are times when we could be severely tempted to sin when forbidden desires seem to beckon. The animal soul can get dangerously close to getting us to transgress, and yet we don’t actually have to act on its desires. Welcome to the world of the Beinoni, who is not free of temptation like the tzaddik, nor does he indulge like the Rasha.

The Beinoni is synonymous with self-control—a person who does not express anything ung-dly in thought, speech or action. Very human, he feels the desire to do the wrong thing. But it stops right there. He excels at impulse control, using every ounce of willpower to fight the temptation, diverting his attention to holier pursuits.

This is the revolutionary concept taught in Chapter 12 of Tanya: You and I have the natural ability to be a Beinoni. It is not a spiritual ability per se, but a neurological one. My mind can control my heart, and therefore, it is my greatest tool to assist me in the battle against the animal soul’s wants.

Tanya Bit: My goal in life is not to be a tzaddik but a Beinoni, exhibiting self-control one situation at a time.

(Inspired from Chapter 12 of Tanya)