Likutei Amarim Chapter 14/15, Class # 4/1

Chapter 14

וכן כל מיני מטעמים ומעדנים נעשים כך חמת מלא כו׳

So, too, one may learn to despise gluttony by reflecting that all dainties and delicacies similarly become “vessels full of waste.”

וכן כל תענוגי עולם הזה: החכם רואה הנולד מהן, שסופן לרקוב ולהיות רמה ואשפה

Likewise with regard to all the pleasures of this world: the wise man foresees what becomes of them; they ultimately rot and become worms and refuse.

In this way one cultivates an abhorrence of worldly pleasures.

וההפך, להתענג ולשמוח בה׳ על ידי התבוננות בגדולת אין סוף ברוך הוא כפי יכולתו

Conversely, one should train himself to delight and rejoice in G‑d, by reflecting, to the best of his ability, on the greatness of the blessed Ein Sof.

אף שיודע בנפשו שלא יגיע למדרגה זו באמת לאמיתו, כי אם בדמיונות

He may well know that he will not attain this degree of loathing evil and delighting in G‑dliness with the fullest measure of truth, but will only imagine it.

He will fancy that he truly abhors evil and delights in G‑dliness; why, then, should he exert himself merely to produce a fantasy (especially in the service of G‑d, where sincerity is essential)?

אף על פי כן הוא יעשה את שלו, לקיים את השבועה שמשביעים: תהי צדיק

Nevertheless, he should do his part to uphold the oath administered to him to “Be a tzaddik,”

וה׳ יעשה הטוב בעיניו

And G‑d will do as He sees fit — whether to grant him the level of tzaddik, or not.


Furthermore, emulating the tzaddik in loathing evil and delighting in G‑d produces another benefit for the Beinoni:

שההרגל על כל דבר שלטון, ונעשה טבע שני

Habit reigns supreme in all matters; it becomes second nature.

וכשירגיל למאס את הרע, יהיה נמאס קצת באמת

Therefore, when one accustoms himself to loathe evil, he will begin to find it truly loathsome, to some extent.

וכשירגיל לשמח נפשו בה׳ על ידי התבוננות בגדולת ה׳

And when he accustoms himself to rejoice in G‑d through reflecting on His greatness,

הרי באתערותא דלתתא אתערותא דלעילא, וכולי האי ואולי יערה עליו רוח ממרום

then, [on the principle that] “an arousal of man below brings a corresponding arousal above,” perhaps after all this effort of his, “a spirit [Ruach] from above will descend upon him,”

ויזכה לבחינת רוח משרש איזה צדיק שתתעבר בו, לעבוד ה׳ בשמחה אמיתית

and it will be granted him that the [soul-level of] Ruach, originating in the soul of some tzaddik, will be “impregnated” in him, so that he may serve G‑d with joy.

Kabbalah speaks of the soul of a tzaddik “impregnating” another’s soul with its faculties so that the latter may serve G‑d as the tzaddik does. (This concept is somewhat akin to gilgul — transmigration — where a soul is attached to some object or animal, or another human being, except that in the case of gilgul the soul is chained to and dominated by the body to which it attaches, whereas in the case of “impregnation” it is not; the soul of the tzaddik serves merely as an additional spiritual charge for the soul of the recipient.)

In our context, the “impregnation” of the Beinoni’s soul with the (Ruachoriginating in) the tzaddik’s soul enables the Beinoni to experience a delight in G‑d that he could not attain on his own.

כדכתיב: שמחו צדיקים בה׳

Thus is it written,10 “Rejoice, O tzaddikim, in G‑d.”

This alludes also to the idea that when two types of tzaddikim are joined together (the verse addresses tzaddikim, in the plural form), when the Beinoni— called a “lower-level tzaddik” — is impregnated with the soul of a tzaddik — a “higher-level tzaddik” — they both rejoice in G‑d, for the tzaddik imparts his delight in G‑dliness to the Beinoni.11

ותתקיים בו באמת השבועה שמשביעים: תהי צדיק

In this way, the oath charging him to “be a tzaddik” will be truly fulfilled.

In the previous chapters, the Alter Rebbe discussed the difference between the tzaddik and the Beinoni. The tzaddik has no evil inclination. Since there is no longer any evil in his own soul, evil holds no attraction for him. In the Beinoni,however, the evil remains strong. The Beinoni therefore finds evil desirable, and it is only through the constant vigilance and struggle of his divine soul that he is able to prevent his animal soul from implementing its desires in thought, speech and action.

Beg. of Chapter 15

ובזה יובן מה שכתוב

With this distinction in mind, we may understand the verse:1

ושבתם וראיתם בין צדיק לרשע, בין עובד אלקים לאשר לא עבדו

“And you will return and see the difference between the righteous man and the wicked one, between he who serves G‑d and he who serves Him not.”

The Talmud2 raises the question: The term “righteous man” is identical with “he who serves G‑d,” and “the wicked man” is obviously “he who serves Him not.” Why, then, does the text repeat the contrast? In answer, the Talmudstates: “Both ‘he who serves G‑d’ and ‘he who serves Him not’ are fully righteous; yet one who reviews his studies one hundred times cannot compare to he who reviews his studies 101 times.”3

However, this answer seems to clarify only the second set of seemingly repetitive terms — “the wicked man” and “he who serves Him not.” Far from being wicked, “he who serves Him not” is so described only because he reviews his Torah studies no more than 100 times. Yet we remain with the difficulty posed by the first set of identical descriptions — “the righteous man” and “he who serves G‑d.” In fact, the above-quoted Talmudic interpretation of the verse adds yet a third category: “he who serves Him not,” yet is also righteous! It is this difficulty that the Alter Rebbe now resolves, based on his previous distinction between the tzaddik and the Beinoni.

שההפרש בין עובד אלקים לצדיק הוא שעובד הוא לשון הוה, שהוא באמצע העבודה

The difference between “he who serves G‑d” (oved) and a righteous man(tzaddik) is that “he who serves G‑d,” written in the present tense, describes one who is still presently laboring in his divine service.

שהיא המלחמה עם היצר הרע, להתגבר עליו, ולגרשו מהעיר קטנה

This service consists of the struggle against one’s evil nature with the aim of overpowering it, and banishing it from the “small city” i.e., the body, which is like a city whose conquest is the objective of both the good and the evil nature,4

שלא יתלבש באברי הגוף

so that it should not vest itself in the organs of the body through evil thought, speech or action.5 Doing battle against his evil nature is the avodah (“service”) of “he who serves G‑d.”

שהוא באמת עבודה ועמל גדול להלחם בו תמיד

This constant battle with one’s evil nature truly entails much effort (“service”) and toil.

והיינו הבינוני

This is the Beinoni.

It is he who must wage this battle; it is the Beinoni who is called “he who serves G‑d,” for he is actively engaged at present in his service.

אבל הצדיק נקרא עבד ה׳ בשם התואר

The tzaddik, on the other hand, is designated “a servant (eved) of G‑d,” as a title conferred on the person himself; it is not merely a description of one’s active role as is the designation “one who serves.”

כמו שם חכם או מלך, שכבר נעשה חכם או מלך

The term “servant” is similar to the title “sage” or “king”, bestowed on one who has already become a sage or king.

כך זה כבר עבד וגמר לגמרי עבודת המלחמה עם הרע, עד כי ויגרשהו וילך לו, ולבו חלל בקרבו

So, too, he (the tzaddik) has already effected and completely accomplished his “service” of waging war with the evil in him. He has banished it and it is gone from him, leaving the seat of evil nature in his heart6 “void within him.” Having completed this task, the tzaddik has earned the title “servant of G‑d.”

We now see that the expressions “a righteous man” and “he who serves G‑d” are not repetitious; “he who serves G‑d” is not a description of a tzaddik but of aBeinoni.

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to discuss the difference between “he who serves G‑d” and “he who serves Him not,” who, as the Talmud declares, is notwicked.

1. Yeshayahu 59:2.
2. Tehillim 5:12.
3. Sotah 3a.
4. Berachot 17a.
5. Bamidbar 18:7.
6. See further, ch. 43.
7. Introduction to Tikkunei Zohar 1b.
8. This appears to be the Alter Rebbe’s intention in citing Tikkunei Zohar. However, the Rebbe remarks: “This bears examination.” Possibly, the Rebbe is implying doubt as to whether the Alter Rebbe understands the mention of tzaddikim in Tikkunei Zohar as referring to those souls born with the capacity to become tzaddikim, since the other qualities mentioned there — especially those that characterize the “gibborim, who prevail with might over their Yetzer Hara” — are not hereditary, but are attained by dint of one’s efforts. On the other hand, “gibborim” may refer to souls that are inherently inclined toward Gevurah, as are “chassidim” toward Chesed, and so on.
9. Berachot 5a.
10. Tehillim 97:12.
11. Yet, as the Rebbe points out, his own soul is not transformed (to the rank of the tzaddik); it is merely activated by the soul of the tzaddik. Thus, this does not contradict the statement: “You have created tzaddikim,” as explained above at length.

FOOTNOTES for (beg.) Chapter 15.
1. Malachi 3:18.
2. Chagigah 9b.
3. The significance of the 101st revision will be explained further in this chapter.
4. Kohelet 9:14; Nedarim 32b; and see above, ch. 9.
5. See ch. 12.
6. See ch. 1.

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