Ch. 15, Class # 3


End of Chapter 15

With this the Alter Rebbe concluded the thought that within the level ofBeinoni there are two sub-categories — “he who serves G‑d,” and “he who serves Him not.”

He now goes on to say that even one who is not naturally endowed with traits favorable to G‑d’s service, may yet come under the category of “he who serves Him not.”

וכן אף מי שאינו מתמיד בלמודו בטבעו, רק שהרגיל עצמו ללמוד בהתמדה גדולה, ונעשה ההרגל לו טבע שני

So, too, he who is not inherently studious, but has accustomed himself to study diligently, so that this habit has become his second nature; thus, diligence is now natural for him,—

די לו באהבה מסותרת זו, אלא אם כן רוצה ללמוד יותר מרגילותו

for him, too, the hidden love of G‑d is now sufficient, unless he wishes to study more than he usually does.

To do so, he must arouse a conscious love of G‑d in his heart. Only such a love can supply the strength necessary to free himself from the restraints of his acquired nature.

ובזה יובן מ״ש בגמרא דעובד אלקים היינו מי ששונה פרקו מאה פעמים ואחד, ולא עבדו היינו מי ששונה פרקו מאה פעמים לבד

This explains the Talmudic statement10 that “he who serves G‑d” refers to one who revises his studies 101 times, while “he who serves Him not” refers to one who revises his studies only 100 times.

It seems strange that this 101st revision should outweigh all the previous hundred, and should earn the student the designation of “he who serves G‑d.” However, when we appreciate the struggle one must face in order to learn more than is his custom, this is readily understood, as the Alter Rebbe goes on to explain.

והיינו משום שבימיהם היה הרגילות לשנות כל פרק מאה פעמים

This is so because in those Talmudic days, it was customary to review each lesson one hundred times.

Thus, to review one hundred times did not require any effort; it was second nature. Only the 101st revision, which required effort beyond the student’s custom, could gain him the appellation of “he who serves G‑d.”

כדאיתא התם בגמרא משל משוק של חמרים, שנשכרים לעשר פרסי בזוזא ולאחד עשר פרסי בתרי זוזי, מפני שהוא יותר מרגילותם

The Talmud illustrates this by the analogy of the market of the donkey drivers. The drivers would charge one zuz for ten parsi (Persian miles), but demandedtwo zuz for driving 11 parsi, for driving an eleventh mile exceeded their customary practice.

ולכן זאת הפעם המאה ואחת היתרה על הרגילות שהורגל מנעוריו שקולה כנגד כולן

Therefore, this 101st revision, which is beyond the normal practice to which the student has been accustomed since his childhood, is equivalent to all the previous one hundred revisions combined.

ועולה על גביהן ביתר שאת ויתר עז, להיות נקרא עובד אלקים

In fact its quality surpasses them in its greater strength and power, so that it is only this one extra revision which entitles the student to be called “he who serves G‑d.”

מפני שכדי לשנות טבע הרגילות, צריך לעורר את האהבה לה׳ על ידי שמתבונן בגדולת ה׳ במוחו

For in order to change his habitual nature he must arouse within himself the love of G‑d, by contemplating G‑d’s greatness in his mind,

לשלוט על הטבע שבחלל השמאלי המלא דם הנפש הבהמית שמהקליפה

in order to master the nature that is in the left part of the heart, the seat of the animal soul, which is full of the blood of the animal soul originating in kelipah,

שממנה הוא הטבע

whence comes this nature; and the power of his love enables him to transcend his nature.

וזו היא עבודה תמה לבינוני

And this — to overpower one’s animal soul through a love of G‑d generated by meditation — is a perfect service for a Beinoni.

או לעורר את האהבה המסותרת שבלבו

An alternate type of service for a Beinoni is to arouse to a revealed state the love of G‑d inherently found hidden in his heart,

למשול על ידה על הטבע שבחלל השמאלי

thereby to control the nature that is in the left part of the heart.

שזו נקרא גם כן עבודה

This,too, is called serving G‑d, although an imperfect service—

להלחם עם הטבע והיצר על ידי שמעורר האהבה המסותרת בלבו

to wage war against his nature and inclination by arousing the love hidden in his heart.

מה שאין כן כשאין לו מלחמה כלל

If, however, he wages no war at all — not engaging even in the lesser struggle of arousing the love hidden within him, e.g., when he studies only to the limits of his natural diligence, then although he employs his hidden love of G‑d in his divine service,11 yet —

אין אהבה זו מצד עצמה נקראת עבודתו כלל

This love in itself can in no way be credited to his service and he is therefore called “he who serves Him not.”

To be designated “one who serves G‑d,” the Beinoni must engage in a struggle with his evil inclination, either through a love of G‑d born of meditation or at least by arousing his hidden love.

——— ● ———

FOOTNOTES

10. Chagigah 9b.

11. He must employ at least his hidden love of G‑d to motivate him to study Torah, for although he may be studious by nature yet he still desires his bodily comforts more than the constant study that displaces them.

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