Ch. 14, Class # 3

Continuation of Chapter 14

ובזה יובן כפל לשון השבועה: תהי צדיק ואל תהי רשע

Now we may understand the repetitious wording in the oath administered to every Jew before birth, “Be a tzaddik and be not a rasha” (as quoted from the Talmud in the opening words of Tanya).

דלכאורה תמוה, כי מאחר שמשביעים אותו: תהי צדיק, למה צריכים להשביעו עוד שלא יהיה רשע

At first glance it seems unintelligible: once he is charged to “be a tzaddik,”implying clearly that he not be a rasha, why the need to adjure him again not be arasha?

אלא משום שאין כל אדם זוכה להיות צדיק, ואין לאדם משפט הבחירה בזה כל כך, להתענג על ה׳ באמת, ושיהיה הרע מאוס ממש באמת

The answer is that inasmuch as not everyone is privileged to become a tzaddik,nor has a person the full advantage of choice in this matter of experiencing true delight in G‑d and of actually and truly abhorring evil,

ולכן משביעים שנית: אל תהי רשע על כל פנים

[each person] is consequently adjured a second time: “You shall, at any rate, not be a rasha.”

Even if a person is not privileged to become a tzaddik he should at the very least not be a rasha, being instead a Beinoni.

שבזה משפט הבחירה והרשות נתונה לכל אדם

With regard to this (not being a rasha) the right of choice and freedom is extended to every man,

למשול ברוח תאותו שבלבו ולכבוש יצרו, שלא יהיה רשע אפילו שעה אחת כל ימיו

to control the spirit of lust in his heart and to conquer his nature, so that he shall not be wicked for even one moment throughout his life.

בין בבחינת סור מרע בין בבחינת ועשה טוב, ואין טוב אלא תורה

[This applies] both in the realm of “turning away from evil” — refraining from transgression, and in that of “doing good” — performing all the positive mitzvot in which he is obligated; and especially the mitzvah of Torah study, which is specifically termed “good”, as our Sages say,9 “There is no ‘good’ other than Torah,”

דהיינו תלמוד תורה שכנגד כולן

meaning the study of Torah, which “balances (i.e., is equal to) all [the other mitzvotcombined].”

By reason of the freedom of choice granted him, one is expected to surmount even the difficulty of faithfully observing this most difficult mitzvah of Torah study.

For this reason the oath is administered a second time. Even if one does not have the opportunity to become a tzaddik, it is still possible for him — and therefore expected of him — not to be a rasha.

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to state that everyone should strive to emulate the tzaddik’s service of G‑d, although he may never actually reach the rank oftzaddik. Specifically, one should train oneself to loathe worldly pleasures; and, conversely, he should try to awaken in himself a delight in the love of G‑d, which is accomplished through reflecting deeply on His greatness. Thereby one fulfills the charge, “Be a tzaddik,” to the best of his ability.

אך אף על פי כן צריך לקבוע לו עתים גם כן לשית עצות בנפשו להיות מואס ברע

Nevertheless, though it has been said that not every person can loathe evil and attain the “love of delights” characteristic of a tzaddik — and we are dealing here with a Beinoni — yetone must also set aside specific periods to seek for himself means of abhorring evil —i.e., of loathing worldly pleasures.

כגון בעצת חכמינו ז״ל: אשה חמת מלאה צואה, וכהאי גוונא

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