Monday, February 05, 2007

Tanya Ch. 14 (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. 14


We’re nearly finished with this second part of the book that has laid-out the diversity of inner beings, so let’s clear up a number of other quandaries found in the very first chapter. We’ll begin, though, by offering a word-for-word translation of a very important, compelling statement RSZ makes at the very beginning of this chapter (which we referred to in the previous one).

It reads, “The quality of benoni-ism is everyone's (to be had), it's one that everyone strives for; (and indeed,) everyone can become a benoni at any time”.

Let's bypass the idea in the middle of this complex sentence that benoni-ism is a quality that “everyone strives for" just now and concentrate instead on the point that “the quality of benoni-ism is everyone's (to be had)” and that “everyone can become a benoni at any time”.

What that means to say is that while few of us could ever hope to become a tzaddik, each one of us *can* become a benoni, regardless of our history, despite our makeup, and in an instant. We'd just need to truly repent for our sins and decide there and then never again to do, say, or think anything we're not to (see comment 2 to Ch. 12).

After all, benoni-ism is “very near-at-hand to you -- in your mouth and in your heart -- so that you can do (i.e., achieve) it” (Deuteronomy 30:14), as has been stressed. And that's so because, as the middle section of our quote points out, it's the quality that “everyone strives for” -- or should, at least (Maskil L'Eitan) -- since on some level each one of us wants to draw close to G-d.

(c) 2007 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

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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.
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