Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Tanya Ch. 10 (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. 10


Let's see now how different people respond to this inner struggle to squelch and master our untoward side. We'll find that some do quite well at it, even extraordinarily so; others do more or less poorly; and that the great preponderance of us sometimes do well and other times not.

We'll concentrate first upon the eminently successful ones, the righteous or tzaddikim. First off, let it never be forgotten that zaddikim -- no matter how pious -- are human, hence that they have an animalistic spirit like the rest of us. It’s just that they have fought against its wish to dominate them, won, and thus they need no longer fight; and that they're steady in their righteousness from that point onward without ever tottering (Biur Tanya) [1]. But we'll see that there are all sorts of tzaddikim.

So let's peek now into the inner life of the righteous.



[1] At the very beginning of his comments to this section Maskil L’Eitan depicts two wars that both a complete and an incomplete tzaddik would have to have fought and won to gain their status. He'd first had to have protected his G-dly spirit from the animalistic spirit's onslaughts, and then he'd have to had fought aggressively to push the animalistic spirit back into its original "camp", the left side of the heart.

What Maskil L’Eitan doesn't depict at that point, though, is a third battle that the *complete* tzaddik would have to have entered into in order to indeed be one which the incomplete one wouldn't have entered. The complete tzaddik would have to have used the "spoils of battle" -- the animalistic spirits urges to do, say, and think wrongful things -- for G-dly purposes. But that will become clearer later on.

(Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org )

Rabbi Feldman's translation of "The Gates of Repentance" has been reissued and can be ordered from here
Rabbi Yaakov Feldman has also translated and commented upon "The Path of the Just", and "The Duties of the Heart" (Jason Aronson Publishers). His new work on Maimonides' "The Eight Chapters" will soon be available.
Rabbi Feldman also offers two free e-mail classes on www.torah.org entitled
"Spiritual Excellence" and "Ramchal"