Ch. 31, Class # 3

Continuation of Chapter 31.

והנה לעתים צריך לעורר בחינת גבורות הקדושות כדי להמתיק הדינים,שהם בחינת נפש הבהמית ויצר הרע כששולט חס ושלום על האדם,

At times one must arouse the holy attributes of severity (gevurot) in order to temper (lit., “sweeten”) stern judgements, which in this context denote the animal soul and the evil inclination, whenever it (the latter) dominates a man, G‑d forbid,

כי אין הדינים נמתקין אלא בשרשן

for stern judgements i.e., restraints on one’s spiritual wellbeing can only be “sweetened” by means of their source.

All evil is simply a degenerate form of the attribute of severity (gevurot) that derives from the realm of holiness. Myriad “contractions” (tzimtzumim) and descents of this attribute transform it to evil, the evil of kelipah. Naturally, this includes also the sitra achra of one’s animal soul and his evil impulse. In order to elevate or “sweeten” evil, to return evil to the realm of holiness, it is necessary to bring its source to bear on it. In terms of one’s divine service, this means crushing one’s evil impulse by merirut, bitter remorse, which derives its vitality from the holy attribute of severity — the source of the evil impulse.

ולכן אמרו רז״ל: לעולם ירגיז אדם יצר הטוב

For this reason our Sages said: 8 “One should always incite the good inclination to anger [against the evil inclination].”

Since anger stems from the attribute of severity, it is capable of “sweetening” the evil inclination.

והיינו בכל עת שרואה בנפשו שצריך לכך

The word “always” (“one should always incite…”) is, however, to be understood in a qualified sense. Joy, not severity, is usually the proper setting for divine service. Thus, when our Sages state that one should always incite the good inclination, this means — whenever he finds it necessary for himself; as, for example, when one sees that the arrogance of his animal soul does not permit the light of his divine soul to penetrate his heart, causing timtum halev.

אך שעת הכושר שהיא שעה המיוחדת וראויה לכך לרוב בני אדם

However, the appropriate time for this “anger” of the divine soul at the animal soul, meaning, the time which is opportune and fitting for most people,

היא בשעה שהוא עצב בלאו הכי ממילי דעלמא, או כך בלי שום סבה

is when one is in any case depressed over mundane matters, or just so, without any discernible cause. 9

אזי היא שעת הכושר להפך העצב, להיות ממרי דחושבנא הנ״ל

This is an opportune time for redirecting the depression toward spiritual matters, to be among the “masters of accounts” mentioned above, i.e., to engage in soul-searching and spiritual stocktaking,

ולקיים מאמר רז״ל: לעולם ירגיז וכו׳ כנ״ל

and to fulfill the previously mentioned teaching of our Sages, that one should always incite his good inclination against his evil inclination, since both of these paths harness the attribute of severity.

ובזה יפטר מהעצבות שממילי דעלמא

He will thus also be rid of the depression brought on by mundane matters.

I.e., redirecting his depression into soul-searching, and into anger at his evil inclination, will dispel the mundane depression.

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Footnotes 

8. Berachot 5a.
9. From a superficial reading, it would appear that the Alter Rebbe advocates spiritual accounting at such a time when one is in any case depressed simply so that the depression resulting from this accounting will not hinder one from joyful service of G-d. However, the expression, “the time which is opportune and fitting for spiritual stocktaking…” clearly indicates that one’s depressed state actually aids him in some way in this self- evaluation. For when one is in a joyful frame of mind on account of his physical well-being, it is difficult for him to shift to a reflective, introspective one, and to feel truly saddened by his spiritual failures; being in a state of depression simplifies the process.We find a similar correlation between one’s physical circumstances and his spiritual objectives in the following statement of the Sages: “When the Temple stood, the joy `of the festivals’ consisted of eating `the sacrificial’ meat; now that the Temple is no longer, the joy lies in drinking wine.” (Pesachim 109a) Although the festivals were given for our souls to rejoice in holiness (“…And Your people Israel will rejoice in You“), yet meat and wine are prescribed, so as to harmonize the moods of body and soul.