Monday, July 02, 2007

A Preview of Part 3 of Tanya Ch. 17

As I'd said a while back, I've caught up to where I'd gone in my work on Tanya, and I have to go on from here chapter to chapter. That's slow going, so it occured to me to do the following. Every once in a while, as when I come upon a more complex section like this one, I'll provide a simple reworking of the context in my own words like the one below, then I'll round it off with my own inisghts and those of the meforwhim when I can. So here's the gist of section 3 of ch. 17.



Now, this breakdown between the optimal and second-best means we’d spoken of above is only true for outright benoni’im, not for those of us who have either never achieved benoni-ism, or who have but faltered.

After all, rashai’im are said to be controlled by their heart (Bereishit Rabbah 34:10) rather than to be in control of it; so the advice would be fruitless. That’s not say by the way that a rasha is born that way necessarily, for the most part their inability to control their hearts are a natural consequence of their sins, and is an outcome of the principle that “one sin brings about another one” (Pirkei Avot 4:2).

In any event, rashai’im are considered to be “dead” while alive anyway (Berachot 18B), since they’re not doing what they were born to do and thus aren’t living for all intents and purposes. So the advice offered is irrelevant to them on that level as well, as the Torah is only helpful for the living.

The point is that what rashai’im would have to do in order to benefit from the advice offered above first off would be to do teshuvah what they’d done. That would break off the husks that separate them from G-d so severely (see Isaiah 59:2).

For when one’s heart is broken, the husks associated with his sins are then broken too (see Zohar 3:240, 3:8, and 3:5A according to the comments of the Rabbi Moshe Zacuto there). As what that does, kabbalistically speaking, is hoist up the lower letter “heh” from its descent into exile into the peripherals, in keeping with the mystical notion of the “Exile of the Shechina”. For we’re taught that “when they (the Jewish Nation) were exiled to Edom, the Shechina was (exiled) with them” (Megilla 29A).

What that means to say is that when someone acts like an “Edomite”, he drags the G-dly sparks that animate the three soul-elements within his animalistic spirit down to that level, where they remain as long as he’s a rasha. His heart rules over him as a consequence, and his soul is “in exile” then, so to speak. But when his heart is broken, the unholy husk is broken, too, the forces of evil are dispersed, and the lower “heh” then ascends.

(c) 2007 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman