Sunday, October 29, 2006

Tanya Ch. 6 (Part 1)

“Nearly Everybody”: The Inner Life and Struggles of the Jewish Soul

(Based on “Tanya: Collected Discourses of R. Schneur Zalman of Liadi”)

by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman


Ch. 6


It’s hard to overlook the phenomenon, it’s so prevalent and over-arching, still and all it’s curious isn’t it that each and every thing in this world has a parallel, mirror opposite. Good and bad, light and dark, early and late, etc. As if the world itself needed two countervailing poles to balance it and allow it to avoid toppling off into space. Despite the curiousness of it, though, it’s a fact. And Solomon alluded to it when he said that “G-d made the one as well as the other” (Ecclesiastes 7:14).

Yet we mustn’t ever forget for a moment that it was indeed G-d who “made the one as well as the other” and who set the whole idea of antitheses in motion. As such, we dare not think that since there are opposites all about us, that there must be opposing ultimate sources as well [1]!

The same dynamic holds forth in the spiritual realm, too. As such, for each and every element of G-dliness there’s an opposite, countervailing element of un-G-dliness. Hence everything we said about the G-dly spirit in past chapters holds true for the animalistic spirit as well -- with obvious differences.

The next few chapters will begin to lay out the practical implications of all this in terms of our inner lives and our subsequent service to G-d, and the rest of the work will carry on from there.


[1] For like (non-fraternal) twins, each opposing pole does indeed gestate in its own “egg”, yet both are products of the same “mother”. We find an allusion to this in the Torah’s account that, “Rebecca... conceived, and the (twin) children struggled together within her.... She went to inquire of G-d... (who) said to her, ‘Two nations are in your womb... ’” (Genesis 25: 21-23). In fact the twins were Jacob and Esau who are the paradigms of a G-dly and animalistic spirit, and their struggle in the womb alludes to our own struggles to overcome the Esau in our midst.

(c) 2006 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

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